China builds nuclear-powered deep-sea station


Not content with ambitious plans to dominate space exploration over the coming decades, China is also looking to master the ocean with the development of a deep-sea station which could be its first step towards large-scale underwater mining.

Plans for the nuclear powered mobile deep-sea station were unveiled earlier this year by China Ship Scientific Research Centre – the state-owned venture whose Jiaolong manned submersible recently reached depths of over 7,000 metres – according to South China Morning Post.

The craft would have dimensions of 60.2m x 15.8m x 9.7m, weigh about 2,600 tonnes, and have enough room for 33 crew members.

It would have propellers to move submarine-like underwater and several ports to allow smaller craft to dock with it, the report said.

On that note, a smaller prototype which could carry 12 crew on an 18-day expedition is currently in production, with an expected delivery date of 2015.

While China’s plans in space appear to revolve heavily around military strategy, its deep sea efforts have more to do with the country finding an answer to its current energy problems.

Drilling for oil and mining copper and other natural resources both appear to be high on the list of China’s deep-sea priorities, although technological limitations may hold back advances in the project for some time, the report claims.

When China wants something it usually succeeds in the end, however, so it would not be out of the question to see the launch of a full-sized deep-sea station by 2030, according to SCMP.

As with most elements of Chinese technology innovation, the PLA is never too far away – this deep-sea project is apparently funded by 863 Program, a hi-tech state scheme.

By Phil Muncaster

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Science

China plans nuclear deep-sea mining base

A Chinese company is set to build a nuclear-powered mobile deep-sea station in the western Pacific, according to local reports.

The China Ship Scientific Research Centre’s proposed station — which will have huge propellers to enable free movement in the ocean depths — will be manned by 33 crew for up to two months at a time and powered by a nuclear reactor.

Its main goal, according to reports in the South China Sea Post, will be to mine for precious metals. The nation, which recently announced it is stockpiling rare earth elements amid fears of shortages, would use the facilities to hunt mainly for copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and oil.

Underwater mining is typically a costly affair, full of potential dangers and problems. Canadian-owned Nautilus Minerals Inc was the first commercial copper-gold mining venture to be granted permission to explore the Bismarck Sea floor surrounding Papua New Guinea, but has already run into problems with environmentalists warning the mining could destroy marine life and cause devastating oil spills. China’s Tongling Non-ferrous Metals Group had signed up as the project’s very first customer in April 2012, but a dispute with Papua New Guinea also stands to halt the mining project’s 2013 launch completely

The Chinese company appears to be wary of these issues, and is therefore treading carefully, with plans for the bold venture slated for a more reasonable 2030 launch — according to experts the South China Sea Post spoke to — and a smaller 12-crew prototype capable of 18-day dives set to launch by 2015. The larger 60-metre-long craft will weigh in at 2,600 tonnes.

In preparation, the China Ship Scientific Research Centre has been engaging in test dives of manned vehicles — its Jiaolong model reached a record-breaking 7,020 metres at the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean on the same day that China’s Shenzhou-9 spacecraft docked at the Tiangong 1 space station.

Reports suggest that the project is being funded by the state’s 863 Program, a fund specifically for the development of innovative technologies, which has links with the military. Nevertheless, mining for oil and copper seem to be the most likely priorities on the agenda, with crew on the station able to spend two months at a time living and mining underwater.

Shanghai is hosting the 41st Underwater Mining Institute conference October 2012, and further details could potentially be revealed then. In the meantime, a look at the China Ship Scientific Research Centre’s website reveals fields of interest that range from manned submersibles such as the Jiaolong vessel to atmospheric one-man diving suits and autonomous underwater robots — the latter would be exponentially beneficial in aiding aquanauts during danger-filled underwater mining missions.

The centre also appears to be keen on waterslides. Definitely one to watch.

By Liat Clark WIRE. UK. CO

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American drone strikes slammed!


Strong criticisms have emerged against the use of drones for killing people in several countries.

THE use of drones by one state to kill people in other countries is fast emerging as an international human rights issue of serious public concern.

This was evident in the recent session (June 18-July 6) of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, both in the official meetings and in NGO seminars.

The use of drones, or pilotless aircraft operated by remote control, by the government in one country to strike at persons and other targets in other countries, has been increasingly used by the United States in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Instead of following clear legal standards, the practice of drone attacks has become a vaguely defined and unaccountable “licence to kill”, according to a 2010 report of a UN human rights special rapporteur.

According to an article in The Guardian, the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since 2002. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians.

The numbers killed have escalated significantly since Barack Obama became president.

Recent criticisms and concerns raised by officials, experts and governments about the use of drones include the high numbers of deaths and casualties of innocent civilians; possible violation of sovereignty and international human rights laws; lack of information, transparency and accountability; their being counter-productive; and the indirect encouragement to other countries to similarly use drone attacks.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay in her overall report to the Human Rights Council on June 18 said that during her recent visit to Pakistan she expressed serious concern over the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks particularly because it was unclear that all persons targeted were combatants or directly participating in hostilities.

She added that the “UN secretary-general has expressed concern about the lack of transparency on the circumstances in which drones are used, noting that these attacks raise questions about compliance with distinction and proportionality.”

She reminded the US of their international obligation to take all necessary precautions to ensure that attacks comply with international law and urged them to conduct investigations that are transparent, credible and independent, and provide victims with effective remedies.

On June 26, Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram told the council that his country was directly affected by the indiscriminate use of drones, and at least a thousand civilians, including women and children, have been killed in drone attacks.

“The government of Pakistan has maintained consistently that drone attacks are not only counter-productive but a violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Akram, adding that Pakistan’s Parliament has called for an immediate end to these attacks.

“Regrettably this call has not been heeded. The drone attacks continue in violation of the UN Charter, international human rights and international humanitarian law. The international human rights machinery must clearly reject attempts to justify these actions.”

At the council on June 16, Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, called for more transparency and accountability from the US, according to a IPS news report.

He urged that a framework be developed and adhered to, and pressed for accurate records of civilian deaths. “I think we’re in for very dangerous precedents that can be used by countries on all sides,” he said.

At an event organised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Heyns said the US drone attacks would encourage other states to flout human rights standards and suggested that some drone strikes may even be war crimes, according to a report in the London-based Guardian.

Criticisms are also coming from US groups and a former president. “The US has cobbled together its own legal framework for targeted killing, with standards that are far less stringent than the law allows,” Hina Shamsi, a director of the ACLU told the council on June 20, according to IPS.

Shamsi also took issue with the lack of transparency of military programmes based on what she called “a secret legal criteria, entirely secret evidence, and a secret process”.

“The international community’s concern about the US targeted killing programme is continuing to grow because of the unlawfully broad authority our government asserts to kill ‘suspected terrorists’ far from any battlefield, without meaningful transparency or accountability,” Shamsi told IPS.

The lack of a legal framework allows for drone strikes to be implemented at will, in non-conflict zones and on the basis of loosely defined terrorist threats, without permission from the host nation, added the IPS article.

“In essence, drones cancel out national sovereignty,” Tom Engelhardt, co-author of Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050, told IPS. “The rules of the game are one country’s sovereignty trumps that of another.”

Former US President, Jimmy Carter, writing in the New York Times (June 24), noted that the use of US drone attacks “continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.

“These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials as well as rights defenders in targeted areas affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organisations, aroused civilian populations against us … As concerned citizens we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms.”

Drones were originally developed to gather intelligence.

More than 40 countries have this technology and some have or are seeking drones that can shoot laser-guided missiles, according to a pioneering 2010 report by the then UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston.

They enable targeted killings with no risk to the personnel of the state carrying them out and can be operated remotely from the home state.

GLOBAL TRENDS By MARTIN KHOR

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Learn anything new from MCA Chua Vs DAP Lim Debate?


It’s debatable who triumphed

The second debate between MCA and DAP leadership was less about convincing the audience about whose policies had better served the people than two fierce Chinese leaders slugging it out for the Chinese vote.

THERE was much less hype in the run-up to the second debate between the two leading figures in Chinese politics.

The novelty of the DAP and MCA leadership going head-to-head in a public debate had passed.

Both MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had proven after the first debate that they are more than capable of taking on each other before a live audience.

As in the first debate, Lim had the advantage of being the top dog because he is the Chief Minister of Penang, an MP and an assemblyman.

Dr Chua, on the other hand, has only his party post to ride on and his party is struggling to regain the confidence of Chinese Malaysians.

Given that Lim is in charge of one of the most developed states in the country, he would have more bragging rights as regards the topic of the debate – “Whose policies benefit the country most?”

But not long after the opening remarks by both speakers, Lim went off the debate path and ventured into ceramah mode and after a while, Dr Chua felt compelled to address him on at that level.

Both launched into attack mode, with neither really answering the questions raised.

They were both more interested in scoring points with accusations rather than giving good, convincing answers on issues.

As Fui Soong, the CEO of the CENSE think-tank, said in her forthright way: “It was like cock-fighting. Lots of posturing and both men going at each other, back and forth. There was not enough intellectual content.”

In fact, the whole thing became rather childish at times, an example being when Dr Chua poked holes at Pakatan Rakyat’s Buku Jingga.

Lim, instead of defending the allegations, said that Dr Chua must have read the wrong Buku Jingga.

That is the sort of answer one would give at a ceramah and not at a national debate.

And no one could quite figure out why Lim was pushing for a debate between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He did that right at the start and again towards the end.

By the time the moderator called for a five-minute break, the two debaters had gone well off-topic and were instead taking well-aimed shots at each other.

Dr Chua had accused DAP of being a chauvinist party that is more interested in the “politics of hate and blame” rather than nation-building while Lim declared Barisan Nasional as corrupt and bashed Umno left, right and centre.

Lim is not exactly the best orator on the political ceramah circuit but he is a seasoned speaker and his ceramah style was in full display for much of the two hour-long session.

He had a lot of punchy and pithy lines.

But the thing about the ceramah mode of speaking is that it leans towards drama and exaggeration which is entertaining, but less suited for a debate audience.

Lim was in his street-fighter element when running down Barisan and mocking Umno.

This forum, which comes more than four years into his Penang tenure, would have been the ideal platform for Lim to showcase his achievements as the chief administrator.

But through much of the debate, he was far more successful in rubbishing Umno than convincing the audience that his government and his policies had benefited the people more than the policies of Barisan.

Dr Chua does not have the ceramah flamboyance of his rival.

But he has shown in both debates that his forte lies in being factual and analytical and he thinks quite well on his feet.

He is no drama king and he does not embellish the facts to entertain the people although he can be quite caustic in his rebuttals.

But as many who watched the debate would agree, it is evident that Dr Chua understands policies, is good at facts and figures and his experience in the Government comes across quite clearly.

For instance, when Lim tried to politicise the privatisation of the Penang port, Dr Chua argued the rationale of the move with statistics.

His other advantage was that he could sell the “Najib brand name” whereas Lim was rather reticent about the “Anwar brand” even while endorsing him as the prime minister candidate.

Dr Chua came across as rather staid and serious compared to Lim’s more showy style.

But Lim might want to moderate his ceramah style when speaking before a thinking audience.

He has what the Malays term a senyum kambing side about him when running down his opponents and while that goes down well with his supporters, those less acquainted with his style may find it sarcastic or even arrogant.

A little humility would have served him better.

He is the Chief Minister of a key state and he should try not to sound like an Opposition leader.

Both men started well but as the debate progressed, Lim’s ceramah style put him ahead.

However, Dr Chua made a much more sensible summing up while Lim went over the top with a rousing speech rather than a conclusion.

Said Fui: “I feel kind of cheated. I had expected more but I feel like I didn’t learn anything new.”

ANALYSIS By JOCELINE TAN

Chua vs Lim debate: DAP & MCA: Whose Policies Benefit the Country More?

Photo Gallery : Debate 2.0KUALA LUMPUR: MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP’s Lim Guan Eng took to the podium together for a second time in months on Sunday as both leaders took each other on over whose policies had better served the rakyat.

They engaged in a fiery two-hour debate themed DAP & MCA: Whose Policies Benefit The Country More at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre here yesterday, organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli).

In his opening remarks, the MCA president highlighted the policies and programmes put in place by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after he took over the nation’s helm.

Lim, who is Penang Chief Minister, spoke about the island state being the “most liveable city in the country” while attacking MCA ministers with a string of allegations.

At one point, Dr Chua, who spoke off the cuff, took a swipe at his debate adversary, chiding him for reading from a prepared text and turning the debate into a political ceramah.

Dr Chua noted that with the government’s policies in place, Malaysia’s share market continued to rise as proof of the local and foreign investors rejecting DAP’s theory of gloom and doom of the Malaysia economy.

He hit out at Pakatan Rakyat, saying that its ultimate aim was to grab power in the coming general election “at all costs”.

Likening Pakatan’s battle cry, Ubah (change) to “Power First, and Chaos thereafter”, Dr Chua said Pakatan was only good at instigating the people to hate the Government, demonising the country’s institutions and causing friction among the various races in the country.

He also pointed out that the coalition was known to be good at making promises to the people when more than 95% of their promises had yet to be fulfilled.

Lim spoke about the various improvements in Penang including poverty reduction, adding it was the first state to provide free WiFi access in public places.

He attacked MCA ministers – Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen over the ministry’s alleged RM1.8mil to maintain a Facebook page, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha for paying more attention to the tender for car number plates, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung for opposing local government elections and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai for allowing middlemen to be involved in the purchase of drugs.

The debate started with Lim’s opening remarks.

Guan Eng at the debate

Lim: “MCA is not qualified to talk about politics here, as it is not MCA who decides – it is Umno who decides.

“The MCA speaks only for the Chinese, and those from the Peninsula – not Sabah or Sarawak.

“It is different for DAP – we want to speak for all Malaysians. Malay, Chinese, Indians, Iban, Kadazan.

“We are all Malaysians. Look at the NFC scandal,” he said.

“Who gains? The cronies. The losers are the citizens of Malaysia.

“For last 50 years, consumed by race and religion. For the next 50 years, let us be consumed with the tasks of economic wellbeing.

“BN has never spoken truthfully to the people. Let Pakatan Rakyat speak truthfully to you.

Dr Chua stressing a point during the debate with Lim listening intently

“DAP believes a clean government can always perform better than a corrupt government.

“If Penang dares to review the assets of the CM, why is the PM afraid of reviewing his assets and those of his ministers?” he said.

Dr Chua: “Just now YAB asked why the PM didn’t want to debate with Anwar. I want to say here, it hasn’t happened because he is the prime minister. He is busy with the transformation policies, to improve the country. “From 2008 to 2011, the ease of doing business improved compared from 2003 to 2008. Malaysia is the fifth most favoured FDI nation in Asia.

“They haven’t been empty promises like those from Pakatan Rakyat. The promises were fulfilled. These three years, the rakyat has gotten what was promised under the leadership of Najib.”

“Anwar is full of rhetoric, no specifics, short on delivery. He has to convince us to translate this rhetoric into what we call delivery.

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“MCA has been involved in nation building from day one. We were the one involved in the fight against the communist insurgency, the resettlement of the Chinese in new villages, the fight for independence, the rights of citizenship after independence. That’s why citizens like Guan Eng are citizens of the country.

“We laid down the foundations. We have progressed, advocated integration not assimilation. That’s why Guan Eng is not called Sukarno Lim.

“This is all history. All part of nation building. DAP has no role to play.”

“What has PR done for us? No clear direction.

“Look at the four PR states, 95% of the promises are janji janji kosong.

A section of the crowd enjoying the debate

“Everyday tell the whole world you give hundred dollars to the old people.

“Two hundred to the newborn and they must be voters. We give RM200 to our newborn babies.

“State government giving RM100, RM200 all populist policies. Does not address fundamental problem of country.”

“DAP has only one thing to show. They collect a lot of money from the rakyat. Despite calls of accountability, transparency – nothing to show. Transparency, Accountability, where are they? Where has the money collected gone to?

Question: Mr President… Many urban voters perceive MCA has not done enough. The perception is that many urban voters are not supporting MCA. What would you do to try regain more support for MCA?

Dr Chua: We accept the fact this is a multiracial country and the policy of BN is the policy of balancing. DAP likes to tell the Chinese they are marginalised. The poverty rate of the Chinese is still lowest among three major races. Employment rates the highest. Property ownership largest. Cannot deny in the implementaion process there are people who benefit more than others, this is the bone of contention, causes a lot of Chinese to be angry with the government and MCA bears the burden of this.

“DAP tries to portray itself as a multiracial party, but only dares to contest in Chinese constituencies.

“Why don’t you contest in multiracial constituencies? We are a mono-ethnic party, but our aims are clear.

“In this country we have to balance the needs and sensitivities of all countries. No particular race will feel happy.

The crowd at the Debate 2.0

“In the same way we sometimes feel government giving too much to bumiputra. But some bumiputras not happy with government.”

Question: Many people still see DAP as Chinese-based party. Are you a Chinese party or multi-racial party, how would you try to win more support among other races if you are multiracial.

Lim: From the very start we are a multiracial party. Our chairman is Indian, we have Indian MPs, have Malay MPs and state assemblymen in the past. We are fair to all regardless of race and religion. Would like the MCA president know that not every Chinese rich as the MCA leaders.

Not every Chinese can apply for PR in Australia.

Don’t forget that the Chinese community pays the most taxes in Malaysia.

At the same time we want to see justice and see our Malay brothers and sisters are assisted.

Why is it poor Chinese can’t get scholarships but rich bumiputras can?

Don’t go and talk about DAP forming a kindergarten. We are a political party to determine the future of Malaysia.

TAR College is clearest example of failure of MCA. Why was it established? Because of unfair quota policies where qualified students cannot enter public universities. so you formed TAR College. Shame on you MCA.

Don’t say we haven’t built low cost housing. We have built. Don’t lie.

Question:Is MCA scared of Umno, that they don’t dare to question corruption claims? Is there equal partnership in BN?

Dr Chua: I take objection to that question to say MCA is sacared of Umno. Not a fair question. If I say – and I’ve always said – if the state Cabinet, state exco and federal Cabinet, all the discussions are taped. The government should declassify the tapes and then they understand better the role of MCA in a multiracial country.

Why is DAP so quiet about Anwar’s alleged account of RM3bil, this from a statutory declaration?

This is equal partnership, let me tell you PR claims equal partnership but until today PAS have never openly endorsed Anwar as prime minister.

You can’t even agree on a party common symbol and logo and register the party.

Question: I’ve read your Buku Jingga, stated among other things that if party win GE, forms central government they are going to abolish all road tolls, PTPTN and give income to houses that make less than RM4,000 to make up that amount. Lots of other goodies. How are you going to implement these policies bearing in mind annual revenue does not exceed RM200bil.

Lim: This the first time I’m hearing from a minister admitting corruption cost us RM26bil. Question is, what you doing about it? Are you accepting the fact that BN permits corruption? That’s why I say shame on you again.

Don’t talk about collections from public. When DAP organises dinners, we don’t give free dinners like MCA or Umno. We charge because we rely on public funds to survive. We don’t steal the government’s money. That is the difference between BN and PR, the difference between MCA and DAP.

I think you need to read the right Buku Jingga, I think you read the wrong one. Abolish tolls, estimate of RM35mil. If you don’t believe can be done, vote us into power and we show you can be done.

Question: On Chinese independent schools.

Dr Chua: I only wish DAP is more specific. Why is it not written more clearly they will build more Chinese schools? Independent schools? Recognise UEC?

I openly asked Anwar, are you going to build more Chinese schools? More independent schools?

Because if it is from DAP, I dont trust it. Why? Cos DAP will say this is not common policy framework.

Lim:We are not like MCA leaders who go to jail for cheating rakyat of its money.

When you talk about building of schools, judge by the deeds of the PR government in Selangor and Penang. We have given land, we have given funding, we have given funding every year. If PR can give to all these schools, independent, Indian, Chinese, every year funding, why BN cannot do so?

Don’t question our openess to allow independent Chinese schools.

When you talk about Anwar if PR wins power he will be Prime Minister.

Question: What national education policy should there be to generate competent citizens?

Lim:We cannot ignore the fact that human talent will be the future of our country.

Not a question of building human talent but retaining human talent.

Since Merdeka two million Malaysians left the country because they see no future for themselves or Malaysia.

They see they don’t have freedom, integrity or justice. That’s why we are fighting for freedom, democracy, integrity, justice. To fight corruption is not hard, only depends on whether you got political will. No laws (to combat corruption) in Penang but we have wiped out corruption in Penang, I am proud to say.

If we win power in Malaysia, we will do the same in Malaysia. That is why so many people are afraid.

Dr Chua: When people are educated or talented, they have economic independence and social mobility. Almost all developing countries face brain drain.

This no justification. That’s why when I say we trained 200,000 talented people, the Penang Chief Cminister says shame on us.

Look at our meritocracy policy, number of non-Malays in tertiary gone up. Last year, JPA gave more scholarships to all races, 20% to needy, disadvantaged in Sabah and Sarawak.

Talent Corp is another good example of reaching out. When we train talent they say shame on you. If you can’t do it, admit you can’t. No country in the world can meet needs of education for all citizens.

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