Brexit boosts bitcoin price, Is bitcoin a safe haven?


‘Brexit’ Boosts Bitcoin Price, But Too Early to Call it a Safe Haven

Despite the increase in the price of bitcoin amid the UK’s recent EU referendum, a new research note from Needham & Company asserts it might be too early to call the digital currency a “safe haven” asset.

Global bitcoin prices have risen nearly 6% over the day’s trading to reach a high of $680, a figure up more than $100 from a low of $561.46 on 23rd June. Market observers were quick to assert the increase, which occurred as sentiment in the ‘Brexit’ vote shifted, was a sign this uncertainty had encouraged new investment in the digital currency markets.

However, Needham said its researchers are “hesitant” to call bitcoin a safe haven alongside gold, US Treasurys, yen and USD.

The note reads:

“For one, calling it such obfuscates the fact that bitcoin is a high-risk and volatile investment and, second, bitcoin’s correlation to other traditional safe-haven assets has fluctuated significantly.”

Still, Needham called the ‘Brexit’ a positive for the digital currency market, as it shows that bitcoin has the potential to rally around marcoeconomic uncertainty and on developments within its own technical ecosystem.

“On the one hand, bitcoin is performing like a safe-haven asset but, on the other hand, its newness and dynamism do not resemble US Treasurys or gold,” the note reads.

Ultimately, the note concludes bitcoin might not fit into any existing asset definitions, concluding:

“We believe that bitcoin is something entirely different that does not fit into the normal buckets that investments are typically bracketed into.” – http://www.coindesk.com

Is bitcoin a safe haven against mainstream money mayhem?

We unlock the mystery of the digital currency with a cult following

bitcoin/ n. A type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

Eh? No wonder so many people are confused about bitcoin. What you see above is the Oxford Online Dictionary definition of what is probably the most fashionable currency in the world. I realise that’s not saying much: currencies don’t usually have cult followings. But if the euro is the nerd no one wants to be seen with, bitcoin is the coolest kid in the class.

Perhaps part of the attraction of bitcoin for techie types is the very fact that it’s such a mystery to everyone else, accustomed as we are to traditional currencies. That makes the bitcoin club very exclusive.

So what is a ‘digital currency’ anyway? How can any kind of real money exist only in a digital form? Well, the two things that enable it to work are a) the fact that there are a finite number of bitcoins in existence, and b) the clever bit of technology that underpins it: the blockchain.

The blockchain is, in a way, the best thing about bitcoin. Safe to say that whatever may happen to bitcoin in the ephemeral world of digital fads, blockchains have a serious future in the technology of payments and money transmission: central banks are already working on what that future might be. Essentially, a blockchain is a record of digital events: in the case of bitcoin, any change in ownership of any one ‘coin’. This record is impossible to change, so it can’t be edited after it has been confirmed. The only way of altering the blockchain is by adding to it, rather than erasing previous entries. And the record is not stored in just one place, but shared across hundreds or thousands of networked computers, making it harder to hack.

The other interesting thing is that the system is anonymous. Unlike a bank or Paypal, which request all sorts of personal details from you, bitcoin doesn’t care who you are. That makes it popular with people who don’t want their financial activities traced, whether because they are extreme libertarians or because they have something to hide. Many users feel a political affinity with the bitcoin concept of a currency that functions independently of any bank, government or institution full of men in suits. As one user told me: ‘Bitcoin doesn’t have a CEO; it has no ability to care either way about who uses it or why.’

But beyond those who want to hide, is bitcoin flourishing among everyday consumers? Well, it’s certainly a growth market. Plenty of people have given it a shot to see what the fuss is about, but it’s the drug-dealing and cybercrime fraternities that allegedly make up a large proportion of bitcoin turnover.

When, for example, the first Silk Road online market-place (a site which mostly sold drugs on the ‘dark web’, the part of the internet inaccessible through normal search engines) was shut down in 2013 by the FBI, the price of bitcoin saw a short-term crash because so many coins had been seized by the US authorities.

But one aficionado who has lived off bitcoin trading for the last two years told me: ‘It’s very convenient to paint the whole [bitcoin user] group as one homogenous entity. But I’ve met people from all sides of the political spectrum in bitcoin forums on the internet.’

What else is bitcoin good for? Charities are keen to use it, especially when transferring money to, say, Africa, because the transaction costs are much smaller than with services such as Western Union. A number of places and websites also accept bitcoin payment (full list at http://www.wheretospendbitcoins.co.uk), including the Pembury Tavern in Hackney, which was the first British pub to join this new marketplace.

But bitcoin, as with any other currency, is still at the mercy of exchange-rate fluctuations. Even the most dedicated bitcoin users agree on this point: it’s no more reliable than any other currency, and possibly less so. In the past, bitcoin prices against US dollars have fluctuated massively in short spaces of time — and with no central authority in control, its market is vulnerable to manipulation.

The same applies to bitcoin as an investment: will it stand the test of time? One benefit — so it is said — is that once 21 million bitcoins have been released, production will stop, meaning that your virtual cash could hold its value, on grounds of scarcity, more than a traditional currency. But some devotees have already raised the question of removing or raising that cap.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has also been showing more interest in the currency, with a bitcoin index introduced on the New York Stock Exchange last year. It also has been gaining traction in countries with unstable currencies or weak banking systems. If the mainstream financiers who brought the world to its knees in 2008 decide to embrace bitcoin, who knows what will happen to it.

So how about bitcoin as a hedge against the Brexit result, or a safe haven in the current round of financial turmoil? Whichever way the EU vote goes, it looks like sterling is in for a torrid time in the short to medium term, and shares have already gone into a bear market. So if you’re looking for somewhere safer to keep your cash, is bitcoin an option?

It’s certainly a volatile proposition: you might make money if your timing is exactly right but if there’s a sudden panic over bitcoin’s future, the bottom could fall out of this market very quickly indeed. There’s always a risk of cyberattack too, especially given that so many bitcoin users tend to be high-level techies.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that this is the first digital currency to go large — and just look at the fate of other web firsts. Few of the earliest social media networks are still going today; everyone in the digital arena is always looking for the new, new thing.

Bitcoin is an intriguing phenomenon, for sure, but its fate hangs in the balance. Would I risk putting my savings into such a mysterious thing? No, probably not. But a small punt? Well, in an uncertain world, it’s got to be worth a try.

Source: By Camilla Swift The Spectator

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Britain steps backward as EU faces decline: chaos but no negative impact, a windfall for children studying in UK


Britain steps backward as EU faces decline

The UK voted to leave the EU, with the Leave supporters beating Remain by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. The slight victory is likely to have opened a Pandora’s box in Europe, pushing the continent into chaos.

A lose-lose situation is already emerging. The British pound fell 10 percent at one stage on Friday. The euro fell 3 percent.

David Cameron announced he would quit as British prime minister. Scotland may start a new independence referendum.

There are also calls in the Netherlands and France for a similar exit referendum.

The UK is just over 300 years old. In its heyday it was known as an empire on which the sun never set, with colonies all over the world (Britain was the former imperial power – whose military forces repeatedly invaded China in the 19th century – and the rising Asian giant, now the world’s second-largest economy)

Now it is stepping back to where it was.

Britons are already showing a losing mind-set. They may become citizens of a nation that prefers to shut itself from the outside world.

The Leave advocates had been calculating whether their pensions were guaranteed or migrants were encroaching on their neighborhood. Bigger topics such as the country’s aspirations or its global strategy were overlooked.

Britain has been a special member of the EU. It has not joined the eurozone, nor adopted the Schengen agreement. France and Germany have been resentful of Britain’s half-hearted presence in the EU. In a sense, Britain’s exit may be a relief for both sides.

However, such relief is in effect a major setback for European integration. Such setbacks don’t happen in good times. Britain’s exit reflects the general decline of Europe.

The world’s center used to lie on the two sides of the Atlantic. Now the focus has shifted to the Pacific. East Asia has witnessed decades of high-speed growth and prosperity. Europe stays where it was, becoming the world’s center of museums and tourist destinations. Unfortunately, Europe is also close to the chaotic Middle East. Waves of refugees flood into Europe, coinciding with increasing terrorist attacks.

Europe is not able to resolve the problems it is facing. The public are confused and disappointed and extremism is steading.

The Leave grouping beat out the Remain supporters by only 4 percentage points, which could have resulted from some temporary reasons. Is it really fair to decide Britain’s future this way?

Such changes will benefit the US, which will lose a strong rival in terms of the dominance of its currency. Politically it will be easier for the US to influence Europe.

There is no direct political impact on Russia and China. For the Chinese people, who are at a critical time to learn about globalization and democracy, they will continue to watch the consequence of Britain’s embracing of a “democratic” referendum. – Global Times.

No negative impact from UK vote for Malaysia

 

Britain is still a hugely important economy in Europe, says Liew

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian property firms with developments in the United Kingdom say that their ventures will not be negatively impacted as a result of the June 23 referendum whereby British citizens voted to exit the European Union.

Eco World International Bhd executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that while the decisive win by the Brexit camp was unexpected, the group is optimistic that the results hold a silver lining going forward.

“Now that the results of the EU referendum are known, the long uncertainty which has caused many investors to hold back on decision making is finally over. Britain is still a hugely important economy in Europe with highly principled, professional and competent leaders,” he said in a statement.

Liew added that he has every confidence that the British government will do their utmost to take proactive measures to assuage post-Brexit concerns and move the UK forward on every front.

London’s position as a prime destination for global real estate investment is unlikely to change given that many of the fundamental drivers of demand are still intact. Chief among them are transparency of laws, sesurity and ease of ownership, and shortage of supply, among others, Liew noted.

EWI, which is en route to listing on Bursa Malaysia, has three projects in London, namely the London City Island Phase 2 in East London, Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms, and Wardian London facing the Canary Wharf. All three were launched last year.

“For EWI specifically, it should be noted that through our proposed initial public offering we will be raising equity in ringgit. Now that the sterling has dropped it means that the cost we have to inject into the UK to pay for the developments there will be lower,” he points out.

Meanwhile, in a statement reacting to the results of the UK referendum, Sime Darby Bhd, which is undertaking the Battersea Power Station project has reiterated its long term commitment to the venture.

“The results of the referendum is not expected to impact the viability of the project.

“We are confident the iconic development will continue to generate interest in the longer term and that London will continue to remain a key investment destination and financial centre,” it said.

Sime Darby has a 40% stake in Battersea. The other joint venture partners are SP Setia Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund with 40% and 20% respectively.

A research note by MIDF Research said global capital markets may take some time to adjust to the Brexit vote which could have adverse repercussions on businesses.

Its group managing director Datuk Mohd Najib Abdullah said that as a result of Brexit, the world is moving into a period of elevated uncertainty, with risk appetite plunging in a flight to safety and security.

As the UK is an important market for Malaysian exporters and an important source of foreign direct investments, any economic malaise from Europe will inevitably affect Malaysia in the longer term, Aboth directly and indirectly, MIDF said. – By afiq Isa The Star

Windfall for Malaysian parents of children studying in Britain 

Parents with children studying in Britain are heaving a sigh of relief because the pound has weakened following Brexit.

The ringgit closed at RM5.66 to the pound yesterday, a drop of 4.67% compared to a month ago when it was RM6.03.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman said tuition fees would be more affordable.

“For parents who couldn’t afford it initially, they may change their minds now,” she said when contacted.

She added that one should look at the positive instead of focusing on the negative implications.

A parent, who asked to be identified only as Auntie Chris, has a son studying biotechnology at Imperial College London, and said: “We are liquidating our accounts to take advantage of the drop in the pound, which is great news.”

She said her son, who is in his second year, planned to pursue his master’s in Britain after graduation but had put his plan on hold due to the strong pound.

“We asked him to work first, after graduating, due to the financial constraints but with the pound dropping significantly, going for his master’s may be back on the table,” she said.

Another parent, Azura Abdullah, said she did not expect her son’s tuition fees to increase any time soon.

Her son is a second-year law student at University of Exeter.

Some parents were fearful of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Despite the weakened pound, Azura felt the price of goods may increase in the short term because Britain could no longer leverage on EU trade deals, which could increase the cost of living there for her son.

“But we hope to offset this with the lower currency rate as the pound will devalue in the short to middle term,” Azura added.

Auntie Chris said she was worried that Britain’s decision may affect job prospects for Malaysians over there.

“If Britain goes into recession, it will affect job prospects for new graduates,” she said, adding that immigration controls may also be tightened following Brexit.

Chief executive officer and provost of the University of Nottingham Malaysia campus Prof Christine Ennew said parents should expect cheaper education.

“Students should be able to do more with their money in the UK, at least in the short term, say over the next couple of years,” she said.

Prof Ennew admitted that there could be some concerns over the issuing of student visas.

“However, Boris Johnson, one of the leading figures in the Brexit camp, has always been very supportive of international students and this should give some reassurance that the visa regime will not necessarily become harder for students from outside the EU,” she said.

She added that it was likely that EU students would be more affected than those from outside the union. – The Star

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Malaysia-China way to South China Sea disputes: a model of amicable consultations


Taking the cue from both China’s and Malaysia’s approach to South China Sea disputes.

 


Dialogue 06/05/2016 South China Sea & Sino-US ties – CCTV News – CCTV.com English

RECENTLY, the South China Sea disputes had been hyped up as a hotspot issue in regional security and discussed in almost every regional and international forum, resulting from the high-profile interference of and the manipulation by some powers outside the region.

In fact, this issue should be solved through negotiation and consultation by parties directly concerned.

Furthermore, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which has never been affected, has been misinterpreted by some country as “freedom exclusive to its own military vessels and planes” and flexing its muscles.

The illegal arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines has been labelled as a “benchmark of law-ruling” by the West, suggesting that judicial settlement is the only way to solve disputes in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the approach of non-conflicting and friendly consultation has been overshadowed by the noise and chaos.

One day, a friend of mine asked me, is Malaysia a claimant in the South China Sea? If yes, why is the Malaysia-China and Philippines-China relations poles apart? This is indeed a good question.

There is no essential difference between the two pairs of ties.

As China’s close neighbours, Malaysia and the Philippines have enjoyed traditional friendship with China.

Both were the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with China among Asean states. However, while the Malaysia-China relationship is “at the best time of history” and on the path to a new era of “Diamond 40 Years”, the Philippines-China relationship is experiencing severe difficulties.

The reason behind such a striking contrast lies in the different ways the two claimants chose to deal with the disputes with China.

While Malaysia has consistently been committed to maintaining friendly relationship, properly handling disputes, strengthening cooperation and enhancing comprehensive strategic partnership with China, the Philippine president Benigno Aquino III, on the contrary, misjudged the international situation, acted as a pawn of an outsider’s geopolitical strategy, and chose to confront China.

China and Malaysia Set a Model of Amicable Consultations

China and Malaysia enjoy a time-honoured friendship. There are lots of historical records in China about the Malay peninsula since the Tang and Song Dynasties.

In the 15th century, the Ming Dynasty established close relations with the Sultanate of Malacca. Over 600 years ago, Admiral Zheng He stationed at Malacca five times during seven voyages.

He promoted friendship, developed trade and maintained justice in the area. From Admiral Zheng, people have learned the essence of Chinese culture where peace and good neighbourliness always come first.

They do believe that China has no gene of expansion, plunder or aggression. Instead, China can be a trustworthy friend and reliable partner of Malaysia.

Then Prime Minister Tun Razak first adjusted the policy on China 42 years ago with strategic insight among Asean leaders in the context of the Cold War.

He went to China for “an ice-breaking trip” and signed the Communiqué of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Premier Zhou Enlai which opened a new chapter in bilateral relations. Since then, China and Malaysia have helped each other and overcome many difficulties hand in hand.

The relations between the two countries have taken a lead in China’s relations with Asean countries and set a model of friendship in the region.

After four decades, bilateral relations between China and Malaysia are full of vitality and stimulus with deeper mutual trust, frequent high-level visits, constant party-to-party and local exchanges and fruitful cooperation.

China has become Malaysia’s largest trading partner for seven years and Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Asean for eight years, and sixth largest in the world.

The bilateral trade volume has reached US$100bil (RM407.5bil). There are also many iconic cooperation projects.

The high-tech cooperation has reached the skies and seas. Malaysia has long been a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

Consulates-general in Kota Kinabalu and Penang and Nanning have been set up. The Malay Studies Centre was established in the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Confucius Institutes were set up in Universiti Malaya and Segi University.

Xiamen University Malaysia Campus welcomed its first batch of students this year. Pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang settled in Zoo Negara and gave birth to a baby panda named “Nuan Nuan”, reflecting our heartwarming bond.

Bilateral cooperation in finance, technology, defence and other fields is also striding forward. The seed sowed by the leaders has grown into a flourishing tree, blossomed and yielded fruits.

It is normal for neighbours to have differences and problems. Malaysia is one of the claimants in the South China Sea.

However, this has never hindered the development of our relations. The key is that the leaders of both countries weigh the situation in the perspective of history and experiences, recognise the trend of the world and always place cooperation and mutual development as a priority.

The leaders have frequently exchanged views on the issue of the South China Sea and reached a series of important consensus.

Both sides agree to deal with disputes through friendly consultations and dialogues, avoiding the issue of sabotaging the bilateral relations.

Furthermore, both China and Malaysia object to intervention by forces outside the region. When the Philippines was unilaterally pursuing the South China Sea arbitration case in May 2014, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib revisited China to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

During the visit, the Joint Communiqué signed by the leaders reaffirmed a series of important consensus.

Both sides emphasised that “all sovereign states directly concerned shall exercise self-restraint and settle their differences by peaceful means, through friendly consultations and negotiations, and in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.”

Both sides recognised that “intervention or involvement of parties not directly concerned could be counter-productive and further complicate the aforementioned differences.”

It is based on such consensus that the two sides have properly managed their differences, pushed forward their relations, benefited the two peoples and set a good example for regional countries in dealing with disputes.

Unilateral Arbitration is a Wrong Option

The Philippines’ conduct was contrary to Malaysia’s friendly and proper handling of the disputes with China.

In recent years, President Aquino abandoned the commitment of the former government, relied on a superpower to hype up the disputes in the South China Sea, and insisted on confronting China.

He became world “famous” as the arbitration case is a farce. When his term ends, apart from the severe consequences of undermining the China-Philippines traditional friendship, his political legacy will only be piles of bills from the tribunal.

China and the Philippines have a long history of friendly exchanges. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1975, only one year after China and Malaysia.

Until 2012 when the Philippines deliberately stirred up the Huangyandao Incident and went on a path of confrontation, relations between the two countries had developed soundly and stably with fruitful cooperation in various fields which brought tangible benefits to their two peoples.

For instance, it was China and the Philippines that first launched joint maritime seismic undertaking which became a precious endeavour in the South China Sea.

The two sides launched friendly negotiations and achieved positive outcome in establishing dialogue mechanism, carrying out pragmatic cooperation and promoting joint development.

During President Arroyo’s visit to China in 2007, both sides praised the relations between two countries as a “golden era”.

It is deeply regrettable that on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-Philippines relations in 2015, the bilateral ties were upset by the arbitration case, instead of entering a “diamond era” from the “golden era” as China and Malaysia has.

Compared with the breadth, depth and warmth of the friendly interaction between China and Malaysia, shouldn’t the Philippines introspect itself?

As a Chinese old saying goes, “close neighbors are more important than remote relatives.” Forces outside the region may come and go whenever they want, but China and Philippines are neighbours that cannot move away from each other.

As a country committed to regional peace and stability as well as promoting economic development, China sincerely welcomes all the regional countries to take a ride together for deeper mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

The Philippines’ inflexibility on the arbitration case will only sacrifice its own opportunities and interest.

Amicable Consultation is the Only Way Out

People in littoral states along the South China Sea have lived for a long time in peace and harmony, ready to help each other when in need. Although in the 1960s and 1970s, some changes took place and new problems emerged, China and Asean states have consistently engaged in dialogues and communication and maintained overall peace and stability at sea without interference from powers outside the region.

The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and Asean in 2002 has played an indispensable role.

Even if the South China Sea issue heats up, China will still stick to settling disputes through negotiation and consultation in a peaceful way. China has also proposed the “Dual Track Approach”, that is, the relevant disputes should be solved by the sovereign states directly concerned through consultation and negotiation, and that peace and stability in the South China Sea should be maintained through joint efforts of China and Asean member states.

The approach is in full accordance with international laws and practices, and has been supported by most of the Asean countries including Malaysia and Brunei which are also claimants in the South China Sea.

History will prove again that friendly consultation is the right way to settle the disputes in the South China Sea.

China is strongly opposed to the unilateral action by the Philippines and China’s position of non-acceptance and non-participation in the arbitration case will not change.

The new Philippine Government should discard illusions and return to the right track. As a matter of fact, Malaysia and Brunei have already set good examples.

Just as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated, the arbitration case is a knot that has impeded the improvement and development of China-Philippines relations.

As to how to untie the knot, it depends on the Philippines. China wishes that the new Philippine Government will make a wise choice in consideration to improving the relations and enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation between the Philippines and China.

The Philippines should cease its arbitral proceedings, refuse to be a pawn anymore and return to bilateral negotiation with China.

China is standing ready to commit itself to full and effective implementation of the DOC and making continuous efforts with all relevant parties to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Dr. Huang Huikang

The writer is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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China, the shy superpower


This once sleeping dragon has taken full flight but believes in flapping its wings softly to allay fears of its real intentions.

Vision and ambition: Xi (right) speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the end of the eighth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. — EPA

TWO years ago, it was predicted that China’s economy would surpass the United States as the world’s biggest. But instead of rejoicing and thumping its chest, the Chinese government strenuously sought to play it down.

This led to several articles on the Internet sporting headlines like “Why China doesn’t want to be number one”, “Why China hates being No. 1” and “China ‘fearful’ of becoming world’s number one economy”. This was in the first half of 2014.

Indeed, China was declared No. 1 by the end of that year but with the slowing down of its economy, it has slipped back to second place with the United States taking back the pole position.

Beijing must have heaved a sigh of relief but to many, China is still the power to reckon with. After all, the ambitious One Belt, One Road (Obor) Initiative launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 remains a key strategy, through which China will become an undisputed regional and global power.

In fact, even if its economy is now second to the United States, China is widely seen as the superpower of the 21st century. But that is also a title Beijing is extremely uncomfortable with and one which Chinese leaders reject vehemently.

“China is not a superpower, we are still a developing country … we have a long way to go to realise modernisation” was how Chinese premier Li Keqiang responded to questions from visiting editors from Asia News Network in Beijing on May 31.

Granted, China is a very big country and there are still millions among its 1.3 billion citizens who need to be lifted out of poverty. But by just about every yardstick, China measures up to superpowerhood.

By some reckoning, it achieved that status when it successfully detonated its first nuclear bomb in the late 1960s. Since then, it has built up a formidable military force with the world’s biggest standing army of 2.2 million.

Results from a survey in Australia and major Asian countries by a group of regional think tanks released last week showed that a wide majority of Australians and significant numbers of Asians already consider China more powerful than the United States.

China, once the sleeping dragon, is fully awake and airborne, creating huge turbulence and strong winds that are felt across the globe.

But no, “there are no grounds for China to become a superpower and neither does China have the intention to be one,” Li told the ANN editors.

Neither does it see itself as a Big Brother but a good friend to all, regardless of size and wealth.

The same consistent message of assurance was given by Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastruc­ture Investment Bank (AIIB), when he met the editors in a separate session.

The AIIB was one of the financial institutions created to support Obor, now renamed the Belt and Road Initiative, which came about because China was dissatisfied with existing multilateral lending entities like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.

But the AIIB has also created suspicion and skepticism over China’s motives.

The eloquent Jin, who fielded a wide range of questions, kept to the script which was to give the assurance that China had no ill intentions and that the AIIB would be fully transparent in its activities and guided by three principles in choosing the projects to fund, namely that they must be financially sustainable, environmentally friendly and socially acceptable.

What’s more, he pointed out that if the AIIB is so bad, why have 57 countries become members and another 30 on the waiting list?

Why indeed. While he admitted that the AIIB had an international trust and credibility issue, he bristled when I suggested that nations signed up because they were basically hedging their bets.

After all, which country wouldn’t want the chance to get their development projects funded by a new lender in town? It is no skin off their nose.

Neither did Jin take kindly to my comment that he had painted a very rosy picture of the bank and its aims.

“I take issue with you. I never pick the rosy pictures, I always pick the realistic pictures,” he said.

Yet for all his claims of openness and transparency, no editor could pin him down on details on the type of projects that the AIIB would fund and the shortcomings of existing development banks that led to the creation of the AIIB.

Instead, Jin quoted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, “Skepticism must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure”, substituting “selfishness” in the original text with “skepticism”.

Even though the editors met Jin and Li separately, their answers to all the questions were essentially same: China comes in peace; all it wants is cooperation and stability; it believes in prospering with its neighbours and has no desire to bully any country, no matter how small or weak; and it definitely has no wish to be a superpower.

As the Chinese say, you can talk till your saliva dries up but to no avail. China is just too massively important and influential, and it also harbours ambitions that go beyond military and economic ascendancy.

It is, as the BBC puts it, even “supersizing science” in its quest to become a global leader in science and technology. One of its most visible efforts is the building of the biggest radio telescope, the 500m Aperture Spherical Teles­cope, that when completed in September, will dwarf the current title holder, the 300m Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

It is also making huge investments in medical research and in the exploration of both inner and outer space. Its scientists have built a vessel to explore the world’s deepest oceanic trenches, all in the name of science.

But even that has reportedly spooked certain nations as they fear China will use its advanced marine technology to further its control in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which have been dragging on for years.

The world’s “beautiful game” too has caught China’s fancy. It wants to be a football superpower by 2050 and has unveiled a blueprint on how to achieve it: build at least 20,000 football training centres and 70,000 pitches by 2020, according to the BBC.

Clearly, this is a nation with great ambitions and many achievements that it can be justifiably proud of, so why such extreme modesty and humility in dealing with the world?

Back in 2014, various experts and observers gave their take on it. The general consensus was that one of the biggest reasons was China’s fear of responsibility as in the classic line, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Fortune.com opined that while the Chinese government would love to brag about its growing global influence, it is also pragmatic. It doesn’t want the “cumbersome international obligations” like being the world’s policeman and donor that are expected of a superpower or economic giant.

It would also seem that Chinese leaders believe taking the “softly, softly does it” line of diplomacy is most reassuring to the rest of the world and will create the least line of resistance to their overtures.

But it appears that this overly modest and diffident approach hasn’t quite worked as planned. Beijing may want to rethink its strategy because, to quote Shake­speare, it’s a case of “the lady doth protest too much, me thinks”.

By June H.L. Wong Sunday Star Focus

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The affliction that feeds on children


PEDOPHILIA is not a new sex crime. What is new is the attention that it is getting in the public arena in Malaysia especially after the case of Huckle (pic). In fact pedophilia has developed into the hot topic in Criminology.

A pedophile is an individual who prefers to have sex with children. They have an abnormal and an unnatural desire and attraction for sexual relations only with children.

Sexual abuse of the children can begin without people recognizing it because it can be a small act in everyday life.

Pedophiles come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. They are normally male, from any race, educated or uneducated, young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed. They can be religious or non-religious, a father, family member or trusted coworker or professional.

Just as Huckle used” wealth and status as Westerner” to exploit children, pedophiles hide behind the cloak of normality, morality and respectability within the community. Research revealed that nine out of ten are close to their mothers.

One of the most popular criminological theories is the notion that criminal behavior is learned in association with those who have criminal attitudes and values.

The majority of criminologists believe that the behavior of a pedophile is caused by environmental factors (nurture), involving upbringing and life experience of the individual. Furthermore, perpetrators confess that they themselves were child victims of sexual abuse.

However, recent studies revealed that individuals suffering from pedophilia are also fostered by genetic or biological traits which eventually lead to criminal behavior.

Colleen Berryessa, a Criminologist, stated that a 2014 Korean report on monozygotic twins with pedophilia, concluded that genetic influences appeared to be more important to the causes and development of pedophilia than environmental factors, including childhood abuse.

But there seems to be little or no agreement about what conclusively makes an individual cause pedophilia.

Experts also believe that there is no permanent treatment to cure pedophiles but some claim therapy treatment can work but is a challenge. Since pedophiles are sociopaths whose behavior is antisocial, lack sense of empathy and moral responsibility for their victims, the disorder is chronic and lifelong.

Studies show that pedophiles are repeat offenders after imprisonment or treatment.

The criminogenic asymmetries factor such as relaxed atmosphere, weaknesses in laws and enforcement produce criminal opportunity, motive for foreign pedophiles like Huckle himself to took advantage of the weak internal controls in a country to find victims. The penalty in their home country is normally more severe.

To fight this crime we need legislative changes, more effective laws, intelligence gathering and sharing, technology such as facial recognition and enhance investigation capabilities by training specialists.

Huckle operates a website called The Love Zone (TLZ) on the Dark Web, a hidden network used to maintain anonymity. His site consisted of photos of the children he abused and shared with other members.

The web is accessible only with specialized software or conducting deep web analysis. To make it more complicated; cybercriminals are often using encryption to protect their malicious data and communications.

There should also be increased focus on proper enforcement and skill level in conducting cybercrime investigations in order to reduce the use of the Dark Web in committing child sexual activities.

Crime prevention should be the priority for police but that should not be their sole responsibility. To prevent crime is the obligation of everyone in society and parents, schools and families have responsibility to ensure children are safe.

They must also instill in children a strong appreciation of right and wrong.

Parents, being the most important people in their children’s lives, must make sure children are not exposed to situations where irresponsible people can take advantage of them.

They must pay attention and respond when any adult seems overly focused on befriending a child, make a spot check on child nurseries and babysitters and do not allow a child to go alone on vacation or spend the night with someone other than those proven to be trustworthy and reliable.

Certainly do not assume that a person is reliable because of position, status, title or working in a place where children commonly gather.

At this point, our country still does not have a central registry for child abusers and pedophiles. The data is very important as it would contain the particulars of sex offenders, allowing law enforcement agencies to keep track and monitor the child sexual activities in our community. We need to protect our children.

By DATUK AKHBAR SATAR

Institute of Crime & Criminology, HELP University

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http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/focus/2016/06/10/protect-our-children-from-sex-offenders-malaysia-cannot-be-perceived-as-a-paradise-for-child-abusers/


The dynamics of elder abuse is different from child or domestic abuse. There needs to be specific laws that protect the elderly and safeguard their interests.

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Analysts pooh-pooh US Defence Secretary’s ‘self-isolation’ as an exaggeration


Analysts refute Ashton Carter’s China ‘self-isolation’ claims

SINGAPORE – US defense secretary’s China “self-isolation” claims were totally incorrect, local analysts said here on Saturday.

In a speech delivered here Saturday at the on-going Shangri-La Dialogue, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation, but analysts here refuted Carter’s remarks as one-sided and over-exaggerated.

As China develops, Asia-Pacific countries had built close relations with not only the United States but also China, which proves Carter’s China “self-isolation” claims at best “exaggerated,” said Huang Jing, Professor and Director of Center on Asia and Globalization, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

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Carter’s claims are misinterpreting China’s policies, and are not in line with the two countries’ consensus on forging new pattern of relationship, said Colonel Lu Yin, Associate Researcher from the Institute of Strategic Studies of China’s National Defense University.

The colonel noted that Carter’s remarks revealed logical paradoxes in the US rebalance strategy in the Asia-Pacific.

“I don’t see it possible that without efforts from China, the United States can realize its rebalance strategic in the Asia-Pacific region as well as achieve common prosperity as envisioned,” said Lu.

In his half-hour or so speech, the US defense secretary mentioned the word “principle” for as many as 37 times. In Professor Huang Jing’s view, it is fairly disputable that the United States does faithfully stick to principle.

When asked about the fact that not only China, but countries including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam all had similar construction actions, Carter said there are differences in the scale of such activities.

If one really sticks to principles, it doesn’t matter what scale the actions might be, any construction activity is against the principle, argued Professor Huang.

On matters of navigation freedom, the professor said that navigation freedom should be guaranteed, but any country’s freedom shall not be at the cost of posing threats to others.

Although tensions in the South China Sea are included in Carter’s speech, analysts pointed out that the US defense secretary had also elaborated on the fact that China and the United States do have cooperation potentials over a number of international agendas. To safeguard peace and stability in Asia-Pacific, the two countries need to cooperate.

Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that Carter actually adopted a relatively “mild” approach when addressing disputes in the Asia-Pacific and gave much emphasis on setting up security networks in the region.

William Choong, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security, said he thought the US-China relations are far more inclusive.

It’s a broader relationship, although they disagree on the South China Sea issue, they can agree on many other issues which are important, such as the cooperation in cyber space, the DPRK issue, and climate change, he said.

The two countries are preparing for their upcoming strategic economic dialogue as well, he noted.

“To put it very simply, even though there are tensions in the South China Sea, I think the relationship is broad enough and strong enough, and has enough institutional mechanism for both sides to avoid their differences and work on potential solutions,” said the researcher.

China refutes US defense secretary’s China ‘self-isolation’ claims

SINGAPORE – A high-ranking Chinese military official Saturday refuted US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s “self-isolation” claims about China.

“Carter’s claims are incorrect and do not accord with the actual situation,” Guan Youfei, director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the Chinese Central Military Commission, told the media.

Guan’s comments came after Carter’s claims at the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue that China’s military activities in the South China Sea would isolate itself.

Guan said the United States should learn lessons from the wars it had waged in the Asia-Pacific region after World War II and play a constructive role in the region.

Guan urged the United States to keep its security pledges, withdraw troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible, stop arms sale to China’s Taiwan and refrain from holding military drills on the Korean Peninsula.

Guan said China has made great efforts in promoting international and regional security cooperation since its reform and opening-up, and China’s achievements in areas such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and naval escort missions are obvious.

China will continue to enhance cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries under the Belt and Road initiative in various fields, the Chinese military official added.

The US defense secretary had earlier made similar accusations against China in a speech delivered at the US Naval Academy. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had responded, saying such claims reflected “American-style mentality” and “American-style hegemony.”

Sources: China Daily/Asia News Network

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Even the claimant countries in the waters want to prioritize safeguarding peaceful development in the region.

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But Carter won’t change his attitude. He represents a clique that is eager to sustain Washington’s hegemony in the Western Pacific by reinforcing military deployments and containing China’s peaceful rise.

Image for the news result

China urges US, Japan to stop pointing fingers on South China Sea

Everybody wins when the world invests in girls and women!


A good economy starts with healthy girls

Among the many provocative ideas that emerged from last week’s “Women Deliver” conference in Copenhagen, perhaps the most memorable was the concept that today’s most significant development is not taking the form of superhighways, skyscrapers and other massive structures, but rather the health and well-being of girls and women. And yet, it was stressed, much more development is needed in this regard.

The slogan for the gathering in Denmark – the biggest global conference on women’s health and rights in a decade – was “When the world invests in girls and women, everybody wins!”

In a video address opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, “It is time to put women and girls at the heart of development.”

That’s part and parcel of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals approved by world leaders last year, aimed at ending extreme poverty and shrinking inequality.

In the modern age, women’s rights have been mooted, debated and battled over for more than a century and shared centre stage during the democratic revolution of the 1960s and early ’70s, but only now is the movement’s rhetoric – so often unintentionally exclusive to women – being replaced with a message that embraces all of society.

As Princess Mary of Denmark pointed out at the conference, the “women’s agenda” is in fact a united and unifying agenda of benefit to humanity as a whole.

And this, added World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim, is why governments should not balk at investing money in the wellbeing of girls and women.

They are forever seeking World Bank loans to build infrastructure, he noted, and yet women “are their most precious infrastructure”.

There are good arguments backing up this claim. As an example, it is frequently overlooked that countries with more women in the workforce enjoy or are closer to achieving sustainable development. A study by McKinsey Global concluded that having as many women as men in the workforce would |add US$28 trillion to the world’s |gross domestic product every year.

Men nevertheless remain dominant in the workforce, the result of patriarchal tradition that erects barriers to full economic participation for millions of women around the planet. In underdeveloped regions the disparity routinely leads to tragic consequences, such as preventable deaths.

The mortality rate among women giving birth in Africa is one in six, compared to one in 9,000 in Europe. One African woman dies every two minutes due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Every year around the world 15 millions girls become child brides and as such are denied education and job opportunities. Thus they too cannot contribute to the economy.

The solution, said Jim and other global leaders speaking in Copenhagen, lies in investing in women and girls, a strategy that is crucial to meeting those Sustainable Development Goals that will benefit the entire human race. “It starts with a healthy girl,” he said, making the message as plain as could be.

Healthy girls are better equipped for education and work. Healthy young women have healthy pregnancies and are better able to be good mothers.

The simplicity of the notion doesn’t disguise the scale of the challenge beyond birth. Access to healthcare, including the full range of sexual- and reproductive-health services, must be financed and delivered. In 2014 around the world 22,000 women died while having unsafe abortions, and 80 per cent of those pregnancies resulted from lack of contraception. This too was preventable.

If women, and particularly teenage girls, can avoid unwanted pregnancy, the positive impact on their lives and thus on society is profound. Gone is a major obstacle to proper education, better economic opportunities and healthier lives. The same applies to child marriage.

Policymakers have to stop overlooking such proven arguments. Investment in the welfare of girls and women must continue to grow, especially in the areas of education and adolescent health. The return on the investment will extend beyond economic prosperity, to the happiness of society in general.

Source: The Nation/Asia News Network

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