China wants strong defense; Never seek hegemony on 5 Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; Japan, Philippines using rule of law pretext


Xi Jinping stresses building strong frontier defense

Senior Chinese leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Zhang Gaoli meet with representatives attending a national meeting on frontier and coast defense in Beijing, China, June 27, 2014. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping called for efforts to build a strong and solid frontier defense network for both territorial land and water at a national meeting held here on Friday.

Xi said, upon mentioning frontier defense, one cannot help thinking China’s modern history when the country was so weak and destitute that it was for everyone to bully.

Foreign aggressors broke China’s land and sea defense for hundreds of times, plunging the Chinese nation into the abysm of calamity, Xi added, calling on the people not to forget the history of humiliation and to build a strong frontier.

Xi urged China’s frontier defenders to meticulously monitor over and control the frontier and to mount actions to defend the country’s maritime right, while implementing an overall national security outlook.

Furthermore, Xi called for efforts from both the military and civilian communities to strike a balance between frontier defense and economic development, staunchly safeguarding frontier security, stability and prosperity.

Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli also attended the meeting. – Xindua

Xi pledges China will never seek hegemony

President re-affirms vow at meeting with leaders of Peaceful Coexistence doctrine’s founding countries
Xi pledges China will never seek hegemony
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday delivered a keynote speech at a commemoration marking the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.[Photo/Xinhua]

Xi pledges China will never seek hegemony

Chinese President Xi Jinping (front row C), Myanmar President U Thein Sein (front row 4th L) and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari (front row 4th R) together with delegates from China, India and Myanmar attending a conference marking the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence pose for a group picture during their meeting in Beijing, capital of China, June 28, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

China will never seek hegemony, no matter how strong it becomes, President Xi Jinping said on Saturday at a high-profile meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

“China does not accept the logic that a strong country is bound to become hegemonic, and neither hegemony nor militarism is in the Chinese DNA,” Xi said in a speech, as he played host to leaders from Myanmar and India to commemorate the anniversary.

Citing poems and old sayings from the three countries, Xi called for dialogue based on equality to resolve disputes and joint efforts to preserve regional peace.

He also announced the establishment of a friendship award and an outstanding scholarship related to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. 

Xi pledges China will never seek hegemony

Myanmar leader hails ties

Observers said Xi’s remarks and the first meeting of leaders of all three of the peace code’s founding countries since its inception sought to assure the world of China’s peaceful development amid simmering tension in the East and South China seas.

It will take time for China, or any growing power, to be fully accepted by the world. But China will prove its intentions with its actions, based on the five principles, which can play a bigger role in the current international community, they added.

In 1954, the leaders of China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. They are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful coexistence.

The joint commemoration – especially the presence of Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein and India’s Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari – shows those two countries’ efforts to push forward the peace code and their relationship with China, said Zhang Jiuhuan, former director of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

Having guided the rapid development of ties between China and Southeast Asia, the principles could also lead to the resolution of issues between China and some Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, said Zhang, who is also a former Chinese ambassador to Singapore and Thailand.

Wang Fan, vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University, said the five principles could be developed to become a mechanism to guarantee the spirit’s future implementation.

East Asia – divided by an outdated alliance system – lacks a sound multilateral platform for cooperation. So the five principles under a mechanism could better restrict all concerned parties, he said.

Ansari also called for “a new paradigm for global action”, “a framework in which opportunities and challenges for the betterment of our societies coexist”.

The five principles “can act as a catalyst”, he said in a speech at the meeting.

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

Japan, Philippines using rule of law pretext
BEIJING, June 27 — A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday said Japan and the Philippines have infringed on other countries’ interests under the pretext of rule of law.

“Some countries are provoking and stirring up tensions on the one hand and vilifying other countries under the pretext of rule of law,” Qin Gang said at a daily press briefing.

Qin’s comments came after Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday called for use of “the rule of law” to solve regional disputes, at a time when both countries are embroiled in separate rows with China.

Qin said China has always been committed to working with relevant countries and resolving the disputes on the basis of historical facts and international laws.

He also said China does not accept the international arbitration put forward by some countries, not because it is afraid to do so. The country is only “exercising the legitimate rights of signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

In early June, the Permanent Court of Arbitration asked China to submit evidence on its territorial claims in the South China Sea within six months for a procedural review of the suit filed by the Philippines.

China aims to properly resolve issues and protect regional peace and stability, which is also in line with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea , according to Qin.

“Some countries have infringed on the legitimate interests of other countries under the pretext of rule of law,” he added, urging Japan and the Philippines to reflect on their acts in accordance with international laws and the norms guiding international relations.

(Xinhua)AFP

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FIFA World Cup gambling on the go, technologies got smarter


Fifa-world-cup-2014


KUALA LUMPUR: Illegal betting for this year’s World Cup is set to hit a record high – thanks to smart technology which will allow punters to place bets from anywhere and at anytime.

Federal Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division (D7) principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Roslee Chik said the total bets for the last World Cup in South Africa four years ago amounted to more than RM438mil nationwide.

“We expect this year’s tournament to surpass that amount as syndicates and gamblers are using smartphones rather than laptops.

“In the 2010 World Cup, we only had to deal with syndicates and gamblers using laptops but now smartphones have become the tool of the bookies,” he said.

Some of the gambling apps that are easily available are M88 Sports, IBCBET and SBOBET.

“We have started preparations in the last three weeks and we are ready to come down hard on anyone involved in illegal football betting,” SAC Roslee told a press conference in Bukit Aman yesterday.

Betting on football matches is illegal in Malaysia and even those who place bets on betting websites that are legal in other countries will face action.

Johor police have also set up a taskforce in every district to check on gambling activities and will focus on premises such as cybercafés and restaurants that offer live matches.

Johor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff had these words of advice for those likely to get into bigger trouble by borrowing from loan sharks: “Just enjoy the games. There is no need to bet.”

Sabah police have set up eight teams for the Ops Soga 5 to combat football betting activities.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm Omar Mammah said the police did not want to reveal details of their operations so they could catch the bookies and the gamblers by surprise.

According to SAC Roslee, although police arrested 143 people in 2010, including bookies and those who placed bets, most of them could not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

The youngest among those arrested was 15 and the oldest was 73. There were also 22 women and nine Indonesians.

He added that a total of 270 premises were raided nationwide during the month-long tournament and RM110,124 seized.

“We have learned some lessons and have improved our strategies.

“We will use the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Act 2001 (Amlata) and enforcement will be more stringent,” he said.

SAC Roslee said bets for the World Cup would increase as the tournament progressed, with the stake getting higher for the quarter-final, semi-final and the final.

It is learnt that a minimum bet could from between RM200 and RM300 and they could go up to hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

SAC Roslee vowed the police would use the Prevention of Crime Act to catch syndicate members as a last resort.

“We will also work closely with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission to identify illegal gaming facilities and websites,” he said.

SAC Roslee added they were also looking into amending existing gambling laws, to enable the authorities to have more bite against illegal gambling syndicates as syndicates are using the Internet with servers based overseas.

“It is hard to get cooperation from the authorities in countries where gambling is legal,” he said.

- Contributed by Farik zolkepli, Yuen Meikeng, Randeep Singh, Aida Ahmad, Stephanie Lee, & Farhaan Shah

Related article Avoiding the gambling disease

Football Every Day Webcast to keep up with the samba beat

PETALING JAYA: The greatest show on earth has kicked off and the Football Every Day Webcast will be keeping up with the samba beat on a daily basis throughout the tournament’s duration.

With seasoned faces as well as fresh ones, join football crazy fans Zack Yusof, Daryl Goh, Ian Yee, Brian Martin and Nelsen Ng as they get together to run the rule over each day’s matches.

This time around, viewers and footie fans alike stand a chance to walk away with a pair of the latest Adidas Battle Pack Footwear worth up to RM800 and dining vouchers from SOULed Out.

To win, simply send us your most wacky and creative photo or video selfies of you and your friends enjoying the World Cup.

Entries can be submitted by email to football@thestar.com.my or via Twitter at @switchup.tv. Make sure to include your full name, IC and contact numbers.

The Star’s Football Every Day webcast can be viewed at www.Switchup.tv.

Smartphones causing a spike in betting among youth

PETALING JAYA: Internet gambling has become more rampant among young people, especially since it has become so easy to bet using smartphones.

Those aged between 17 and 30 now make up 75% of online gamblers. The other 25% consists largely of those aged between 31 and 42.

Data from Gamblers Rehab Centre (GRC) Malaysia received between 2007 and last year show that the number of online gamblers who received counselling have increased from just 16 cases in 2007 to 112 last year.

“We received an average of 120 gamblers seeking help from us every year.

“Due to the popularity of smartphones, internet gambling has become more common,” said the GRC in a statement.

“There is no age minimum and it is open to everyone. The only qualification is the amount of money one has in the account,” it said.

The GRC said online gambling on credit was operated by illegal syndicates that set up their own websites and appointed agents to get clients to open trading accounts.

“They will give their clients credits to bet. This type of gambling is very popular, especially among school students,” it said.

Any losses or wins would be transacted via the account on a fixed day of the week.

“Since it does not require any cash deposit, it causes many to lose control and fall into the whirlpool of gambling.

“In order to win back lost money or to repay their debts, clients tend to borrow money from loan sharks, who in fact, are partners in the whole operation,” the GRC said.

However, there are a few types of online gambling games which do not involve money and are found on Facebook, said GRC, adding that such games might encourage some to move on to “real” online gambling.

The GRC has conducted awareness seminars in schools and other places to prevent people from picking up the habit.

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Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet; World’s largest Internet hacker


Foreign Tech firms_ThreatsCompanies asked by Washington to use online services to spy on customers

Foreign technology services providers such as Google and Apple can become cybersecurity threats to Chinese users, security analysts said, one week after China announced that it will put in place a security review on imported technology equipment.

Other major tech companies, such as Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and Facebook, were required by the US National Security Agency to transfer their users’ information, according to Wan Tao, founder of Intelligence Defense Friends Laboratory, an independent institution focusing on cybersecurity in China.

Wan said that online services have become a major way for the US to steal information globally.

Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet

Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet

Ning Jiajun, a senior researcher at the Advisory Committee for State Informatization, said, “Previously, the US asked companies to install wiretapping software on their technological products, but if users found and shut down related functions, its ‘plan’ would fail,” he said.

For instance, information on a Chinese organization can be stolen when it places an order on an international shopping website, he said.

With technologies such as cloud computing and big data getting popular, information can be collected and analyzed immediately, which means the damage can be much greater and more difficult to prevent, analysts said.

“It can be said that those who master online services can get more information in cyberspace,” said Du Yuejin, director at the National Engineering Laboratory for Cyber Security Emergency Response Technology.

Last month, China’s Internet Media Research Center issued a report saying the NSA makes use of large technology companies for its wiretapping plans, including Prism, which was unmasked by former NSA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, asking them to collect information on their users and urging them to hand in the data regularly.

The report also said that the NSA has taken iOS and Android, two leading mobile operating systems applied to iPhone and Samsung, as the “gold mine” of data.

The NSA grabbed users’ information and stored most of it for analysis by invading database and communication networks of Yahoo and Google, while it has also controlled applications on smartphones with Britain, said the report released at the end of May.

“The US, in fact, could get these users’ information or conduct the wiretapping by attacking the network instead of ‘cooperating’ with the enterprises, but it might take more time and money,” said Wan.

The actions of the NSA have put huge pressure on US technology companies, as customers from Paris to Sao Paulo and from Beijing to Berlin worry about their privacy being invaded.

US President Barack Obama held two discussions with CEOs of major US technology companies in the past six months about the NSA snooping, which led to a “reform” of the NSA to focus on protecting US citizens’ privacy, but with little improvement on foreign organizations and citizens.

In May, John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, wrote a letter to Obama urging Washington to stop using the company for surveillance of its customers, according to an Al Jazeera report.

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- Contributed By CAO YIN (China Daily)

World’s largest Internet hacker

The spying actions of the US have underscored the urgency of formulating common rules for activities in cyberspace

Last month, the United States Attorney-General Eric Holder announced the indictments of five Chinese military personnel on cyber espionage charges, accusing them of hacking into US companies in the nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. This has seriously compromised relations with China and sabotaged the bilateral cybersecurity cooperation that had been put back onto a normal track after overcoming setbacks.

With the indictments, the US has tried to present itself as the largest victim of cyberattacks, when in fact it is the Cold War mentality and troublemaking of the US that have precipitated the instability and insecurity in cyberspace. If the US doesn’t change its behavior, all peoples in the world may become victims of Internet insecurity.

In June 2013, Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Bureau contractor, revealed US intelligence agencies were conducting large-scale network spy programs, such as PRISM, Xkeyscore and others, across the world. His disclosures indicated the omnipotence of the US’ Internet surveillance and cyberattacks, which range from spying on communication metadata and backbone networks to the monitoring of short message services, instant messaging and video chats; from spying on ordinary people to spying on enterprises, universities, military units and even heads of state, not to mention the revelations about the US’ cyber warfare capabilities.

Aside from its cyber command that has been rapidly growing, the US’ marine, land and air forces have also set up their own cyber headquarters. Cyber combat capabilities are already regarded as part of the weaponry of the US’ fighting forces. A series of US cyber combat programs have been revealed, from Stuxnet to Fslame and X-Plan, all of which indicate that the US has mastered more complicated means and more threatening abilities than other countries in terms of cyberattacks.

The latest indictments against the five Chinese military personnel have also reminded people of a series of previous cyber espionage claims against China by the US. In February 2013, Mandiant, a US cybersecurity firm, released a report accusing China’s military of plotting hacker attacks against US enterprises. After that, many in the US, including the president and senior government officials, expressed a tough stance toward China and threatened economic sanctions against it. Some even suggested that US enterprises “hacked” by China should make cyber counterattacks in retaliation. Such groundless accusations of Chinese cyberattacks have drastically tainted the US’ domestic political environment toward China and also frozen cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries.

The Chinese government has consistently advocated a new type of major-power relations with the US, and it has refrained from overreacting to Washington’s “threatening signals”. Even after the Snowden revelations, the Chinese government still adhered to the principles of no-conflict, no-confrontation, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, and it is actively pushing for cooperation with the US in cybersecurity and working for the establishment of a cybersecurity work panel under the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue framework.

All the evidence indicates that it is the US that is the world’s largest Internet hacker and that the global cyber arms race triggered by the US’ actions poses the largest threat to global cybersecurity. The US has so far cited “for the sake of national security” as the only excuse for its pervasive Internet espionage. The US should know that a country cannot put its national security above the interests and national security of other countries and the basic norms of international relations. The double standards the US has embraced in cybersecurity have damaged its credibility and compromised its image as a responsible power.

To enjoy the dividends of the booming Internet sector and communication technologies, cyberspace must be peaceful, safe, open and cooperative. Cyberspace should not be a field for either a cold or hot war, and the latest developments have once again underscored the importance and urgency for formulating common rules for cyber activities.

The US indictments of the Chinese military personnel are not conducive to global efforts to maintain the stability and security of cyberspace. The US, by taking advantage of its technological and military dominance, has established a cyber hegemony. It is hoped the US can lead the global Internet sector to develop in a healthy direction, as it once spearheaded the progress of Internet technologies for human progress.

- Contributed By Tang Lan (China Daily) The author is deputy director of the Institute of Information and Social Development Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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US-China cyber-battles intensify


The United States has accused some Chinese of hacking into American companies’ computers but the US itself has been engaging in massive spying of foreign companies and trade officials.

Reports of US spying have sparked anger in many countriesUS spying vs China

WE live in a world where “spying” by electronic means is now pervasive and practically no one or institution that uses telephones, smart phones, emails and the internet is protected from intelligence gathering.

This much we know, from the media revelations emerging from files leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency.

They showed that the US has been tapping the telephones and emails of Americans and others around the world in a sweeping and systematic way.

It was revealed that even the top political leaders of Germany, Indonesia and Brazil had their mobile phones tapped, leading their countries to protest against such a bold intrusion of privacy and national security.

Last week, the intelligence issue was highlighted again when the US Justice Department indicted five individuals who are members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

They were accused of hacking into the computers of American companies in the nuclear power, steel, aluminium and solar power industries to obtain trade secrets for the benefit of Chinese state owned enterprises.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denounced the allegations as baseless and said China “never engages in the activity of stealing commercial secrets through the internet”, and accused the US of hypocrisy.

It is common knowledge that intelligence agencies use all kinds of devices to gather information and spy on foreigners as well as their own citizens.

The US has the most sophisticated system with the broadest coverage, as the Snowden files revealed.

By charging China of spying on specific American companies for the commercial benefit of Chinese enterprises, the US was trying to draw a very fine line.

It would have been clearly double standards to accuse other countries of spying on government personalities or agencies or on civilians, as the US itself has been shown to be more systematically doing this than any other country.

In announcing the indictment on the five Chinese, the US Attorney General said the hacking was conducted to advantage Chinese enterprises, a tactic that the US denounces.

“We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to US companies, or US commercial sectors.”

But in fact the US does spy on companies and trade policy makers and negotiators of other countries, presumably in order to obtain a commercial advantage.

Two articles by David Sanger in the New York Times last week commented on the “fine line” the US attempts to draw between spying for the benefit of specific companies, and for overall commercial advantage.

He gave examples of revelations of US agencies targeting foreign companies.

These include Huawei, a major Chinese internet and communications company.

According to his article, the Snowden documents showed that one purpose of this spying was to “get inside Huawei’s systems and use them to spy on countries that buy the company’s equipment.

“Huawei officials said they failed to understand how that differed meaningfully from what the United States has accused the Chinese of doing.

The US agency also hacked into the computers of Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, which has data on Brazil’s offshore oil reserves and perhaps its plans for allocating licences for exploration to foreign companies. State owned oil companies in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Africa are also intelligence targets.

The NSA also went into the computers of China Telecom, one of the largest providers of mobile phone and Internet services in Chinese cities, and Pacnet, the Hong Kong-based operator of undersea fibre optic cables.

“Once inside those companies’ proprietary technology, the NSA would have access to millions of daily conversations and emails that never touch American shores,” said Sanger.

The NSA spied on Joaquín Almunia, the antitrust commissioner of the European Commission, who had brought charges against several US companies.

In each of these cases, American officials insist the US was never acting on behalf of specific American companies, but the government does not deny it routinely spies to advance American economic advantage as part of national security, said the Sanger article.

This includes spying on European or Asian trade negotiators, using the results to help American trade officials and thus the American industries and workers they are trying to bolster.

According to Sanger, the United States spies regularly for economic advantage when the goal is to support trade talks. When the US was negotiating in the 1990s to reach an accord with Japan, it bugged the Japanese negotiator’s limousine and the main beneficiaries would have been US auto companies and parts suppliers.

The US is also “widely believed to be using intelligence in support of trade negotiations underway with European and Asian trading partners. But in the view of a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations, that is fair game.”

An earlier New York Times article, citing Snowden documents, also revealed that the US and Australian agencies gathered intelligence on Indonesia and a law firm acting for it during US-Indonesia trade negotiations.

This line the US is attempting to draw between what is illegitimate (spying to benefit particular companies) and legitimate (spying to broadly benefit companies and the economy) is not appreciated nor accepted by other countries.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Contributed by Global Trends Martin Khor
Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre since 1 March 2009. He replaced Dr. Yash Tandon who was the Executive Director of the South Centre from 2005-2009

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Terrorists attack crowded Chinese market, strongly condemned by international community!


Terrorists Attach_Chinese market

Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows.

The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a ‘serious violent terrorist incident’ by China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Two 4×4 vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market, Xinhua news agency reported, citing witness reports.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows+17
Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows

The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a 'serious violent terrorist incident' by China's Ministry of Public Security+17
The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a ‘serious violent terrorist incident’ by China’s Ministry of Public Security
Photos posted on social media site, Weibo, show bodies and debris from the market strewn about the streets

Photos posted on social media site, Weibo, show bodies and debris from the market strewn about the street

 

A picture allegedly from the bomb site, shows a man lying on the street after explosions rocked through Urumqi in China's north-west

A picture allegedly from the bomb site, shows a man lying on the street after explosions rocked through Urumqi in China’s north-west
Explosives were flung out of the vehicles, and one of the vehicles exploded.

One witness told Reuters he saw the aftermath of the blasts on his way to work
‘The air was full of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of sobbing,’ he said. ‘There were simply too many (casualties), old folks who were at the morning market.’

Sources: Dailymail.co.uk

Video: International community strongly condemns Urumqi terror attack

The international community has strongly condemned the terrorist attack. World leaders and internati…

Strong condemnation of the terrorist attack that claimed over 31 lives in China’s northwestern city of Urumqi poured in from the international community on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the victims of the attack, which took place at a morning market earlier on Thursday and left 94 injured, via a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the message, Putin strongly condemned the bloody crime, saying he hoped the organizers will be found and prosecuted, and confirmed Moscow’s interest in further strengthening Russia-China cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism.

Putin also sent condolences to the relatives of those killed and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms the killing and injuring of many innocent people.

Karzai offered his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of China and called the attack “an act by the enemies of peace and stability who don’t want to see our region grow secure, stable and developed.”

The president stressed that the Afghan people, more so than others, can well understand such pains and grief as they have long been victims of terrorist attacks.

He also expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to those injured.

The South African government condemned all forms and manner of terrorism.

“We believe that terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned,” the country’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.

France, Hungary and Greece, as well as the European Union (EU), also lashed out at the terrorist activity and showed sympathy with those who fell victim, with the EU branding it a “senseless act of violence.”

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal expressed his country’s solidarity with the government and the people of China in this ordeal.

Hungary was shocked by the Urumqi attack, stressing that terrorist activities targeting innocent civilians are severe crimes and can not be accepted under any circumstances.

Greece also strongly condemned the act, expressing solidarity with the Chinese people.

“We condemn in the most unequivocal manner the deadly terrorist attack carried out today in China, in the city of Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region,” Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement released by the ministry.

“We express our solidarity with the Chinese people and our condolences to the families of the victims, and we wish those who were injured a speedy recovery,” he added.

“The European Union condemns this senseless act of violence and extends its heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told Xinhua on Thursday.

Australia’s ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, has joined the global chorus of condemnation, reporting that the Australian government is concerned by reports of the explosions in Urumqi.

“We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to the victims of the attack and their families,” she said.

“The Australian government deplores all forms of terrorism and condemns any attack on innocent people.”

Pakistan also voiced its condemnation and showed sympathy with the government and the people of China.

Iran said acts of violence and extremism targeting innocent people anywhere in the world are condemned and such moves have no connection with the principles of Islam at all, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

Vietnam strongly condemned the terrorist attack and extended deep condolences to the Chinese people and relatives of the victims. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said he hoped that the culprits would be brought to justice.

Also on Thursday, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev condemned the violence, expressing the SCO’s strong indignation and deep sorrow.

“We express deep-felt condolence to the victims and convey sincere solace to relatives of the victims and the injured people,” Mezentsev said in a statement.

It is the priority of the SCO to fight terrorism, the statement said, adding the international community should further boost cooperation to combat terrorist activities effectively.

The Palestinian presidency condemned the terrorist attack. – Xinhua

“We condemn with the strongest words this heinous crime,” Nemer Hammad, political advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas told Xinhua.

“We support our Chinese friends, and wish speedy recovery to the injured, as well as prosperity, safety and stability to the people of China,” Hammad added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China has the confidence and capability to crack down upon the audacious terrorists.

“The violence, a further indication of the terrorists’ anti-human, anti-society and anti-civilization nature, should be condemned by the Chinese people and society,” Hong said.

In response to the attack, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish terrorists and spare no efforts in maintaining stability, asking local authorities to solve the case quickly, put the injured under proper care and offer condolences to families of the victims.

Two vehicles, without license plates, broke through roadside fences and plowed into people at an open air market in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Thursday morning. Explosive devices were set off, causing the deaths of at least 31 people and injuring 94 others.

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New security structure needed: Trust, collaboration key to Asian security


CICA Shanghai

The fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), under the theme of “enhancing dialogue, confidence and coordination, and on jointly constructing a new Asia with peace, stability and cooperation,” was held in Shanghai Wednesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech calling for a proactive outlook on Asian security and a new security cooperation framework. The intertwined key words have sketched the contours of this summit.

When it comes to Asia, scholars from all around the world will focus on two phenomena: economic growth and security dilemma. The economic development of Asia has promoted the interdependence and integration of interests among nations in this region, which constitute the resources of Asian security at the present stage. Meanwhile, many Asian countries feel insecure, which has little to do with a country’s size and strength. Though it is a large and powerful Asian state, China doesn’t have a better sense of security than smaller countries.

With a myriad of leftover conundrums, Asian countries have become interest-conscious as quickly as economic growth. Nonetheless, Asia is in dire need of an efficient security mechanism as well as common consensus to achieve it.

Asia has long been affected by external forces and in particular the US to a large degree. Washington has forged military alliances with several Asian countries and sometimes targeted a third party, making it all the more difficult for Asia to entirely cast off the specter of the Cold War. The US “rebalancing to Asia” policy conforms to its global strategy, inevitably increasing the cost of achieving Asian security.

Across the fairly intricate tapestry of Asian security, there is no difference between small and big powers in terms of security guarantee. Various messages further fuel contradictions and disorders in the region and add to strategic uncertainty.

Asian countries need to distinguish between realities and wishes and learn to compromise. It is unrealistic for some countries to quit counting on Washington in the short term but all Asian nations should recognize Uncle Sam cannot tide them over the security dilemma. Therefore, they should divert more attention to coordinating security concerns among themselves.

Security in Asia will eventually be realized through increasing mutual trust and cooperation in this region. We welcome external powers to play a constructive role in this process but object to their biased interference that will only increase the possibility of regional conflicts.

China is a rarely patient country in the world and spares no efforts to promote peace, which is a starting point and pillar for permanent peace in Asia. Resolution to safeguard peace may constitute the invisible bottom line despite numerous potential flashpoints in Asian security. – Global Times

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 Shanghai, a traditional financial center in Asia, will witness a new security framework that could change the global political structure.
 

The Obama government will now be forever remembered not just as the “we spy” government but as the “we spy and lie” government. Spy charges expose U.S. cyber hegemony mentality

The United States has indulged in its cyber hegemony mentality again as it filed ungrounded commercial cyber espionage charges against five Chinese military officers.

Chinese Ambassador CuiTiankai on May 20 accused the United States of hypocrisy for charging five Chinese nationals of alleged commercial espionage, citing EdwardSnowden’s revelations of US spying operations worldwide.
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Al-Shabaah terrorist members enter Malaysia as students and tourists!


Al-shabaah_somalitangkapKey arrest: Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Unit officers detaining the 34-year-old Somali, believed to be a member of Al-Shabaab terrorist group, in Selangor.

Hunt on for more Somalis

KUALA LUMPUR: The police counter terrorism division has launched a manhunt for at least five other members of the Somali terrorist group Al-Sha­baab who entered the country as college students and tourists.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ah­­mad Zahid Hamidi said the hunt was to ensure that Malaysia did not be­­come a training ground for militant groups.

“Malaysia has never compromised when it comes to militant activities. This (efforts to hunt terrorists) is done continuously,” he told reporters after visiting the Kamunting Pri­­son yesterday.

“We are hunting down several individuals. Some of them are married to local women. They have not set up bases in this country but they share the ideology.”

His comments came a day after a suspected Somali terrorist belonging to the Al-Shabaab group, which is active in Africa and the Middle East, was arrested in Selangor.

The 34-year-old was also on the most wanted list Interpol.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the man was believed to have entered Malaysia using student passes two years ago and studied in a private college.

Deputy IGP Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said police were using all resources to search and detain the remaining members.

Contributed by Malaysia Police nab man linked to Somalian terrorist group By G. Prakash – See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/police-nab-man-linked-to-somalian-terrorist-group#sthash.CzfpTtok.dpuf “We are focused on capturing these dangerous people,” he told The Star yesterday.

According to a source involved in the operation, the counter terrorism unit had been closely monitoring a group of five Al-Shabaab members who had entered the country using altered passports and signed up as students of top private colleges and public universities using fake identities and documents.

“There are strong indications that the group was trying to set up a base here to remain below surveillance.

“We believe authorities in Africa and Europe were closing in on them, forcing some members to flee to Malaysia,” the source said.

Asked why the militant group picked Malaysia, the source said the perception was that the country was “too welcoming”.

“Security at our entry points is deemed to be lax and this is luring the wrong kind of people. It is about time the systems in place are re­­vamped,” the source said.

So far, police have found no signs to suggest that Al-Shabaab had been attempting to recruit Malaysians or forge any form of cooperation with home-grown militants who were detained recently.

The arrest of the Somali man is not believed to be linked to the arrest of 11 Malaysians for involvement with militant groups in Syria and southern Philippines.

- Contributed by Farik Zolkepli

Visas only for qualified foreign students

PETALING JAYA: Foreign students coming into the country must have the required academic qualifications before they are issued student visas, said Education Malaysia Global Ser­­vices (EMGS) chief executive officer Mohd Yazid Abdul Hamid.

He said EMGS served as the first level of screening to ensure that only genuine students who had fulfilled the academic requirements were admitted and that the institutions that they appled for were pro–perly accredited.

“Once they have passed the academic screening, the Immigration department will conduct a security screening on the applicants,” Mohd Yazidsaid yesterday.

The EMGS is a one-stop-centre for international students and manages all aspects of their application.

This includes student passes, review of documents, compliance with academic requirements, issuance of student visas, medical screening and insurance coverage.

Mohd Yazid said records kept by EMGS served as a data bank to track the performance of the students.

“There are cases of those who abused their student visas. For such students, the colleges must submit attendance and academic results for yearly renewal of student visas.

“In this way, we can weed out visa holders who are not genuine students,” said Mohd Yazid.

He said foreign students had to achieve 80% class attendance and the minimum cummulative grade point average 2.0 to qualify for renewal of student visas.

- Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

Police nab man linked to Somalian terrorist group 

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said the individual was picked up by Bukit Aman’s special branch counter-terrorism division in Selangor. ― file picture

PETALING JAYA, May 9 — The arrest of a 34-year-old east African man, believed to be a member of Somali-based militant group Al-Shabaab which has links to Al-Qaeda, has raised questions on how he managed to enter the country and if he was involved with other local militants detained over the past few days.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin, had in a press statement yesterday, said the individual was picked up by Bukit Aman’s special branch counter-terrorism division in Selangor yesterday and is believed to be linked to the Somali-based Al-Shabaab terrorist group.

“He was listed under Interpol’s Red Notice wanted list for his alleged involvement with Al-Shabaab in east Africa,” the statement read.

“Police are investigating his activities in the country to identify if there were any Al-Shabaab terrorist links or members in the country or conducting activities that could jeapordise the nation’s security.”

He is being investigated under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.

Sources say the suspect, arrested at 4pm, has been in the country for “several weeks” and are not discounting the possibility of more Al-Shabaab members in the country.

Nine individuals, aged between 55 and 22, were arrested by the counter terrorism division on April 28 for their alleged involvement in militant activities.

Three of them were picked up in Kedah and six in Selangor. Another individual was arrested in Kuala Lumpur the following day while another suspect was nabbed in the city on May 2.

They were believed to have been planning to participate in the on-going civil war in Syria. Al-Shabaab enjoys close ties with Al-Qaeda and are believed to have aided Boko Haram militants in the attack on Nyanya Motor Park in Abuja last week claiming the lives of over 200 people.

It remains unclear if the foreigner was connected to the 11 locals arrested. Sources say it is highly unlikely but police will probe the matter.

IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had, in recent days, stressed the nation’s laws were adequate to protect Malaysia from militants and warned members of militant groups not to recruit Malaysian youths to join them.

The nation’s porous borders have been highlighted since Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 after two Iranians entered the country and boarded the Malaysia Airlines plane with fake passports.

Earlier this year, police rescued several Myanmar nationals smuggled into the country by a human trafficking syndicate through Thailand.

A series of kidnappings, abduction and robberies in Sabah’s waters, and the influx of foreigners entering the state, has also irked many parties, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, despite the establishment of the multi-million ringgit Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) after the Lahad Datu incursion early last year.

- Contributed by G. Prakash MalayMailOnline

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Philippine police fired at Chinese fishing boat; gunmen kidnapping farm manager and tourists…


Philippine cops

Captain recalls attack by Philippine police

“They rushed toward us in a boat and fired at us,” He Junting, captain of the fishing boat Qiongqionghai 03168, said Thursday when recalling an attack by Philippine police.

He’s boat was about 300 meters from Qiongqionghai 09063, which was seized by Philippine police at about 10 a.m. Tuesday in waters off the Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea, with 11 fishermen on board captured.

He drove his boat and rushed away after seeing the armed vessel. It encountered another armed boat later but safely got away.

“If we had not known the sea conditions around the Half Moon Shoal well, we would never have got away from them,” he told Xinhua.

“If we delayed a little bit, our nine fishermen aboard would have been seized,” he said.

The Half Moon Shoal is China’s inherent territory. It has rich fishing resources, good anchorages and harbors, the captain said.

“It is a traditional fishing ground for fishermen in Qionghai City, Hainan Province,” He said. “We have been fishing there many times.”

The Beidou navigation system installed on Qiongqionghai 09063 was switched off by the Philippine police, meaning the 11 fishermen lost contact with China, according to a Qionghai fishing administration official on condition of anonymity.

There are still 48 Chinese fishing boats in the waters off the Nansha Islands, according to the Qionghai municipal fishing administration station.

Police will make contacts with the boats four times a day and make sure to know their positions. They will guide fishing boats to leave dangerous sea areas if needed, said Yu Yi, head of the Tanmen township border police station of Qionghai City.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the Philippines to “immediately” release the detained fishermen and the boat.

China has demanded the Philippines “make rational explanations”, said spokeswoman Hua Chunying at the daily press briefing, warning the Philippine side to “take no more provocative action”.

Hua said a Chinese maritime police boat has arrived at the sea area. China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines have already lodged representations with the Philippine side.

Hua reiterated that China has undisputable sovereign rights over the sea area, including the Half Moon Shoal of Nansha Islands, where the incident occurred. – Xinhua

Another Chinese national kidnapped in Malaysia by Philippine gunmen

Once again a Chinese tourist is abducted from Sabah. Yes, again!

Indeed the word ‘again” epitomizes the vulnerability of Sabah’s marine defence, the loopholes in the state’s security, the woes of the state’s tourism industry, the deeply planted worries of the state’s residents, as well as the indignation of all Malaysians.

It is not just a scandal for Sabah, but a crying shame for the entire nation.

Are you kidding me? Just one month and now we have another tourist kidnapped from our territory.

Goodness! Why a Chinese national again?

Is it Abu Sayyaf again?

Public reactions have been a concoction of varying sentiments: shock, disbelief, frustration, anguish, humiliation…

More than a hundred Chinese passengers onboard MH370 are yet to be located while the young female Chinese tourist abducted from a Semporna resort is yet to be freed. And now we have the Chinese manager of a fish farm snatched away.

Many Chinese nationals have cancelled their travel plans to Malaysia after the MH370 and Semporna kidnapping incidents. So far no bookings have been received from Chinese travel agencies.

There were a total of 1.6 million Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia last year but according to estimates, the number will likely shrink by 400,000 to 800,000 this year.

With another Chinese national now kidnapped in Sabah, it is foreseeable that Chinese tourists will shun the country while other nationals might review their travel plans. To be honest, no one wants to visit a country that fails to guarantee foreigners’ safety.

This is not the first time Filipino terrorists have kidnapped hostages from Sabah in demanding exorbitant ransoms from the government. Last November, a Taiwanese couple was assaulted on Bon Bon island off Sabah. The husband was killed while the wife was abducted, to be released only after a large sum of ransom was paid to the kidnappers several months later.

In April 2000, some 21 people were kidnapped by Filipino militants, including 12 foreigners. The kidnappers released the hostages after US$20 million was paid by the Philippine government at the mediation of Libya.

Last February, armed Sulu terrorists breached our territorial waters to stake a claim on their ‘”ancestral land” culminating in bloody clashes with our military.

Have we done or learned anything after all this? Why do the terrorists roam so freely into our territory even after the formation of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM)? Why do our security forces appear so helpless in fending off these intruders, allowing them to do whatever they wish in our country?

We remain so helpless and powerless in the face of such blatant provocation from these lawless militants. We have not only surrendered their insatiable ransom demands but also the confidence of Malaysians towards this country as well as our international reputation and image.

- Mysinchew.

Sabah shaken by kidnapping of fish farm manager from Guangzhou

Crime scene: Comm Hamza (right) and Sabah crime division chief SAC Omar Mamah showing photos of the kidnapping location. — Bernama

LAHAD DATU: Fresh off a piracy case on Sunday, Sabah was shaken by the kidnapping of another Chinese national from an island nearby.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman has since announced that a curfew and travels restrictions would be imposed in high risk areas off the coast of Sabah.

The kidnapping of 34-year-old fish farm manager Yang Zai Lin from Guangzhou saw five Filipino gunmen in a brief shootout with the pursuing Malaysian security forces before they fled to Sibutu Island in the southern Philippines.

The kidnapping came about 28 hours after four pirates armed with M16 rifles attacked four fishermen and robbed them of their outboard engines late on Sunday at Tanjung Labian, close to Kampung Tanduo that was intruded by Sulu gunmen in February last year.

The 10-minute raid at 2.45am on Tuesday at Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd fish farm on Pulau Baik, close to the shores of Silam, about 30km south of Lahad Datu, has shocked Sabahans who are now questioning the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

The kidnappers, also armed with M16 rifles, had paddled their 40HP white boat to the fish farm, avoiding the security guard by moving towards a second jetty on the other side of the farm.

Sources said that two of the masked men headed straight to the room of a female cook and demanded to know the whereabouts of the Hong Kong-based owner of the fish farm.

On learning that the owner had left just a few hours before their arrival, after a four-day stay at the farm, they grabbed Yang who had come out to check on the commotion outside his room, which was adjacent to the cook’s room.

They pulled him to the waiting speedboat where the guard was being held.

However, the gunmen pushed the guard off the boat and sped off towards international waters.

Security forces were immediately notified of the kidnapping.

Due to the proximity of the incident to mainland, police set up roadblocks along the Tawau-Lahad Datu road while at sea they went on red alert under Ops Tutup.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said that at about 6.20am they spotted a 200HP speedboat close to the Malaysian border island of Mataking and as police tried to intercept the gunmen, gunfire was exchanged.

He said the gunmen managed to slip into Alice Reef and flee towards the Philippines’ Sibutu island.

He said they believed that the gunmen had switched from their 40HP boat to the higher powered 200HP speedboat to make their escape out of Sabah.

Disclosing they had asked assistance from the Philippines police, Comm Hamza added that they were also checking whether the same group was behind the act of piracy at Tanjung Labian on Sunday.

According to sources, the pirates in the Labian incident had used a black boat and had spoken in local Malay while in Silam they spoke in the Bajau dialect, common among the bajaus on both sides of the Malaysia-Philippines border.

However, they were not ruling out the possibility that they might be linked to each other.

On April 2, gunmen from southern Philippines snatched Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, from the Singamata Reef Resort in the neighbouring Semporna district.

Their whereabouts in southern Philippines remain unknown though the Malaysian authorities say that they are safe.

On Nov 15 last year, a Taiwanese woman Chang An Wei, 58, was kidnapped from the Pom Pom resort while her husband Li Min Hsu, 57, was killed when gunmen raided the Pom Pom resort. She was released a month later after an undisclosed ransom was paid

- The Star/Asia News Network

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Obama beefs up Philippines with military pact gives US access to air, sea bases


 Pinoy puppet powerObama’s Manila visit beefs up Philippines 

 US President Barack Obama is now in Manila, the last stop of his Asia tour, after his visit to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. This is Obama’s first visit to the Philippines in more than six years since he took office in January 2009. He hopes to reiterate and reinforce the US “pivot to Asia” strategy that has been struggling to gain footing.

Against the background of a drastically changing geopolitical landscape in the Asia-Pacific region with growing Chinese influence, the US is keen to rally its Asian allies to maintain and promote its status as an Asia-Pacific country.

The Philippines is among the most aggressive claimants of the South China Sea, and Washington keeps reassuring this state, which is a stronghold on the “first island chain” around China.

Apart from counterbalancing an increasingly assertive China by intensifying strategic cooperation with and pledging economic assistance to China’s surrounding countries, Washington also attempts to remold its image in the mind of its Asian allies, in particular when its European allies are losing confidence in the world’s greatest power because of the Ukraine crisis.

Now that London is behaving half-heartedly, Paris and Berlin have shown reluctance to impose harsher sanctions against Moscow over its integration of Crimea, Obama intends to exhibit his firm commitment to reassuring all allied nations by aiding the Philippines, a treaty ally that is both economically and militarily backward.

Defense and security issues are dominating Obama’s journey in Manila and economic concerns are another area on his agenda.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Monday morning signed a 10-year deal, allowing a bigger US military presence in the Philippines and better access of US troops to the country’s military bases, ports and airfields.

The Philippines was once home to two of the largest US naval and air force bases outside the continental US territory till the early 1990s. Now in light of China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, the White House is sparing no effort to beef up its military presence in one of the critical links around Beijing.

More than 100 left-wing activists demonstrated at the US embassy in Manila to oppose Obama’s visit and the military accord on April 23, despite the expectations from the Philippine military, business sector and local media for more US military equipment including advanced ships and aircraft .But it should be noted that the small-scale protest is a routine affair and therefore Aquino’s government is unlikely to pay special heed to it.

Also on the agenda for Obama’s Manila visit is economic cooperation and financial assistance.

The New York Times commented that given the wide spectrum of security difficulties the US is facing in Asia, promoting trading collaboration might be the best way for Obama to build credibility in his “rebalancing toward Asia” policy.

There is no denying that economic interaction with its Asian partners will help increase the US capital export.

Nevertheless, for the Philippines enmeshed in long-term economic debilitation, the number of cooperation programs the White House will offer may be quite limited.

Manila is in no way comparable to Tokyo or Seoul, the most vital economic pillars among the US’ Asian allies, a pragmatic Washington will not invest too much.

Obama’s pledges of economic packages, if there are any, will be more a show than substantial assistance.

Consequently, the Philippines will get little practical interests except some psychological comfort from its US ally, since Obama also refrains from drawing another red line on possible military action against Beijing.

Washington has deliberately been scheming to attract Manila to its geopolitical game in the Southeast Asia in a bid to continue the territorial rows over the South China Sea and counterbalance China’s rise.

Compiled by Global Times reporter Wang Xiaonan, based on an interview with Ji Qiufeng, professor of international relations at the School of History, Nanjing University.
 

Philippine pact gives US access to air, sea bases

Philippine pact gives US access to air, sea bases

US President Barack Obama chats with Philippine counterpart Benigno Aquino as he signs the guest book at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on Monday.[Photo / Agencies]


Obama backs Manila’s decision to seek int’l arbitration of territorial dispute

Washington secured a key part of its pivot to the Asia-Pacific region with a decadelong defense pact with Manila on Monday, as observers said the militarization of the region is playing with fire and makes a diplomatic settlement much harder.

The US-Philippine Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed on Monday at the Defense Ministry in Manila shortly before Obama’s arrival on the last stop of his four-country Asian tour.

The pact gives US forces temporary access to selected bases and allows them to base fighter jets and ships in the Philippines, as “part of a rebalancing of US resources towards fast-growing Asia and the Pacific”, Reuters said.

The US goal in Asia, Obama said on Monday, was not to contain or counter a rising China. However he “backed Manila’s efforts” to submit territorial problems with China to adjudication by international arbitration, AFP said.

The rhetoric has been charged recently between Beijing and Manila as the Philippines tried to boost its claims over China’s Huangyan Island and Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea and sought greater involvement from Washington.

“Manila’s efforts have dovetailed with Washington’s intention to shift to the economically booming Asian region, partly as a counterweight to China’s growing clout,” Associated Press said.

Rommel Banlaoi, an analyst at Manila’s Center for Intelligence and National Security, told Reuters that relations between the Philippines and China will deteriorate further as China “is averse to any Philippine government initiative to involve the US in its security agenda”.

“We are strengthening our relationship with the US at the expense of our relationship with China,” he said.

Jia Duqiang, a Southeast Asian studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the pact serves as a component of “the Obama administration’s ongoing plans to militarize issues that are rumbling in the Asia-Pacific region”, and this is “actually playing with fire”.

“We have seen Obama press the need for defense cooperation with US allies in almost every stop of his Asian trip, which illustrates Washington’s unchanged double approach in its dealings with China — dialogue plus coercion,” Jia said.

Responding to the pact on Monday, Beijing called for “relevant countries” to build more bridges to facilitate trust, regional peace, stability and prosperity.

“The US has said on different occasions that Washington has no intention of coercive moves against China, and it is necessary to examine the follow-up remarks and actions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

The defense deal was signed and announced “when tensions between China and its neighbors have been rising” and it is “the biggest policy achievement” of Obama’s trip to Asia, the Washington Post commented.

The Philippines was an American colony from 1898 to 1946, and their defense treaty, signed in 1951, is the oldest US treaty alliance in Asia. During the Cold War the US had a large military presence in the Philippines at Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.

But a greater US presence in the Philippines is a heated topic. Fiery debates in the Philippine Senate ultimately led to closing Subic Bay Naval Station, the last permanent US base in the country, in 1992.

Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, warned that rising tension concerning the South China Sea has radicalized public sentiment in some countries, which makes rational discussion over the issue at the diplomatic table “much harder”.

Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said a number of China-related remarks made by prominent US figures, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who visited China earlier this month, have sent a clear signal that “Washington is backing the Philippines”.

“These remarks run counter to the official US position that it does not take a position over the South China Sea issue,” Wu said.

Obama said at a news conference on Monday, “We welcome China’s peaceful rise. We have a constructive relationship with China.”

But Jia from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Philippines, more so than Japan or Vietnam, has fully endorsed the US strategy of containing China.

“Beijing should never have high expectations of Washington taking a fair approach over the South China Sea issue,” Jia said. “The tension in the South China Sea will probably worsen because Washington is determined more than ever to contain China in this regard,” Jia said.

- By Zhang Yunbi China Daily

Containment unlikely in Asian geopolitics 

Is it for containing China? This is a question that will be haunting the whole of East Asia during US President Obama’s ongoing trip to this area. Tokyo and Manila hope it is, but the facts will prove it is only their wishful thinking.

Obama’s four-country visit should have been done last October. But it was delayed because of the debt ceiling crisis and government shutdown. When voices about the US declining are rising dramatically, the top priority of Obama’s trip is to reassure its Asian allies to keep their faith in Washington.

Washington keeps declaring that it doesn’t pick sides in terms of the Sino-Japanese and Sino-Philippine territorial disputes. But it explicitly shows favor for Tokyo and Manila when frictions in these areas take place.

Washington tries to kill two birds with one stone by supporting its allies while avoiding irritating China, a delicate way to maintain the balance between business profits and political influence.

Obama putting off the October trip has already sent a signal that Asian allies must make way for US domestic affairs.

While in order to revive its declining economy, the US depends much more on China than these allies. Washington cannot bear a strategic confrontation of containment and counter-containment with China.

China’s Asia policy keeps holding the strategic initiative with restraint. Washington and its allies’ arrangements to contain China will probably end up in vain. They have no chips to bargain with China. In fact, both the US and its allies are calculating how to benefit from China’s growth.

China’s rise has become the biggest variable in the Asia-Pacific strategic framework. China shows to the world that it is committed to utilizing its power in a peaceful and restrained manner, and the US has also basically recognized a stronger China.

These two new developments are shaping a new Asia-Pacific order during China’s rise. There will be a new balance in this area, and no countries are able to break it.

Obama’s rebalance toward Asia is a rearrangement of the US presence in this area to maximize its interests. But the US is not powerful or ambitious enough to contain China in this area, or even strangle China before it rises to be a global power.

It is just an illusion for some Asian countries to contain China. In fact, there are many controversies concerning China’s rise within the US-led alliance.

Japan and the Philippines want a tough stand against China, but are also worried that Asia might become the victim of a Cold War-like confrontation between the US and China.

Containing China is a plausible option for several Asian countries, but it will be proven impossible in the real Asian geopolitical game.

Obama should know that his actions and remarks during this trip will keep making headlines, but he had better not stir up a situation that is even beyond his own control.

Global Times  2014-4-23 23:53:17

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NSA’s secret MYSTIC system is capable recording 100% of foreign country’s telephone calls


NSA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine – one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

http://wapo.st/1gyqVaz

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.” Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage.

At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

No other NSA program disclosed to date has swallowed a nation’s telephone network whole. Outside experts have sometimes described that prospect as disquieting but remote, with notable implications for a growing debate over the NSA’s practice of “bulk collection” abroad.

Bulk methods capture massive data flows “without the use of discriminants,” as President Barack Obama put it in January. By design, they vacuum up all the data they touch – meaning that most of the conversations collected by RETRO would be irrelevant to U.S. national security interests.

In the view of U.S. officials, however, the capability is highly valuable.

In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on “specific alleged intelligence activities.” Speaking generally, she said “new or emerging threats” are “often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an emailed statement, said that “continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate U.S. foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.”

Some of the documents provided by Snowden suggest that high-volume eavesdropping may soon be extended to other countries, if it has not been already. The RETRO tool was built three years ago as a “unique one-off capability,” but last year’s secret intelligence budget named five more countries for which the MYSTIC program provides “comprehensive metadata access and content,” with a sixth expected to be in place by last October.

The budget did not say whether the NSA now records calls in quantity in those countries, or expects to do so. A separate document placed high priority on planning “for MYSTIC accesses against projected new mission requirements,” including “voice.”

Ubiquitous voice surveillance, even overseas, pulls in a great deal of content from U.S. citizens who telephone, visit and work in the target country. It may also be seen as inconsistent with Obama’s Jan. 17 pledge “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security,” regardless of nationality, “and that we take their privacy concerns into account.”

In a presidential policy directive, Obama instructed the NSA and other agencies that bulk acquisition may be used only to gather intelligence on one of six specified threats, including nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The directive, however, also noted that limits on bulk collection “do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection.”

The emblem of the MYSTIC program depicts a cartoon wizard with a telephone-headed staff. Among the agency’s bulk collection programs disclosed over the past year, its focus on the spoken word is unique. Most of the programs have involved the bulk collection of either metadata – which does not include content – or text, such as email address books.

Telephone calls are often thought to be more ephemeral and less suited than text for processing, storage and search. Indeed, there are indications that the call-recording program has been hindered by the NSA’s limited capacity to store and transmit bulky voice files.

In the first year of its deployment, a program officer wrote that the project “has long since reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more than the bandwidth could handle.”

Because of similar capacity limits across a range of collection programs, the NSA is leaping forward with cloud-based collection systems and a gargantuan new “mission data repository” in Utah. According to its overview briefing, the Utah facility is designed “to cope with the vast increases in digital data that have accompanied the rise of the global network.”

Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said history suggests that “over the next couple of years they will expand to more countries, retain data longer and expand the secondary uses.”

Spokesmen for the NSA and the Office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declined to confirm or deny expansion plans or discuss the criteria for any change.

Based on RETRO’s internal reviews, the NSA has strong motive to deploy it elsewhere. In the documents and interviews, U.S. officials said RETRO is uniquely valuable when an analyst first uncovers a new name or telephone number of interest.

With up to 30 days of recorded conversations in hand, the NSA can pull an instant history of the subject’s movements, associates and plans. Some other U.S. intelligence agencies also have access to RETRO.

Highly classified briefings cite examples in which the tool offered high-stakes intelligence that would not have existed under traditional surveillance programs in which subjects were identified for targeting in advance. Unlike most of the government’s public claims about the value of controversial programs, the briefings supply names, dates, locations and fragments of intercepted calls in convincing detail.

Present and former U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide context for a classified program, acknowledged that large numbers of conversations involving U.S. citizens would be gathered from the country where RETRO operates.

The NSA does not attempt to filter out their calls, defining them as communications “acquired incidentally as a result of collection directed against appropriate foreign intelligence targets.”

Until about 20 years ago, such incidental collection was unusual unless a U.S. citizen was communicating directly with a foreign intelligence target. In bulk collection systems, which are exponentially more capable than the ones in use throughout the Cold War, calls and other data from U.S. citizens and permanent residents are regularly ingested by the millions.

Under the NSA’s internal “minimization rules,” those intercepted communications “may be retained and processed” and included in intelligence reports. The agency generally removes the names of U.S. callers, but there are several broadly worded exceptions.

An independent group tasked by the White House to review U.S. surveillance policies recommended that incidentally collected U.S. calls and emails – including those obtained overseas – should nearly always “be purged upon detection.” Obama did not accept that recommendation.

Vines, in her statement, said the NSA’s work is “strictly conducted under the rule of law.”

RETRO and MYSTIC are carried out under Executive Order 12333, the traditional grant of presidential authority to intelligence agencies for operations outside the United States.

Since August, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and others on that panel have been working on plans to assert a greater oversight role for intelligence gathering abroad. Some legislators are now considering whether Congress should also draft new laws to govern those operations.

Experts say there is not much legislation that governs overseas intelligence work.

“Much of the U.S. government’s intelligence collection is not regulated by any statute passed by Congress,” said Timothy H. Edgar, the former director of privacy and civil liberties on Obama’s national security staff. “There’s a lot of focus on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is understandable, but that’s only a slice of what the intelligence community does.”

All surveillance must be properly authorized for a legitimate intelligence purpose, he said, but that “still leaves a gap for activities that otherwise basically aren’t regulated by law because they’re not covered by FISA.”

Beginning in 2007, Congress loosened 40-year-old restrictions on domestic surveillance because so much foreign data crossed U.S. territory. There were no comparable changes to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and residents whose calls and emails now routinely cross international borders.

Vines noted that the NSA’s job is to “identify threats within the large and complex system of modern global communications,” where ordinary people share fiber-optic cables with legitimate intelligence targets.

For Peter Swire, a member of the president’s review group, the fact that U.S. citizens and foreigners use the same devices, software and networks calls for greater care to safeguard privacy.

“It’s important to have institutional protections so that advanced capabilities used overseas don’t get turned against our democracy at home,” he said.

© 2014, The Washington Post/http://www.ticotimes.net

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