Stay vigilant to Japan’s “China Threat”, right-wing ‘hawk’ Inada as new defense minister


Once again, in its latest defense white paper, Japan has shamelessly accused China of jeopardizing regional peace and stability, playing up the “China Threat” for its own right-wing agenda.

As the Abe administration moves Japan’s security policy further and further to the right, rebuilding the country as a military power, those neighboring nations who remember the past look on aghast.

The new defense paper adopts an even more confrontational tone compared to previous ones, accusing China of “changing the status quo by relying on its strength” and expressing “deep concern” over China’s activities in the East and South China seas.

If history is indeed a mirror, then surely that mirror reflects Japan’s recent record of stirring up regional trouble and enmity wherever and whenever it can. If there is any meddling with the status quo, it is easy to see that Japan is the meddlesome one.

In 2012, Tokyo stoked up tensions in the East China Sea through the transparent farce of “purchasing” the Diaoyu Islands. Warships and aircraft were dispatched to the islands’ waters and skies, harassing Chinese vessels and aircraft going about their lawful business.

On the South China Sea, Japan — far from an interested party — can’t seem to keep its nose out of the issue, pointing fingers at China and cheerleading for distant parties who also seek to interfere in the dispute.

And then in April, Japan sent warships to the Philippines, perhaps as a direct “thank-you” for the spurious South China Sea arbitration, laying bare its attempts to mount pressure on China.

The Abe administration has tinkered with the stability of the Asia-Pacific and conjured up security threats for no reason other than to justify a move to the right: a militarist move which includes, but is not limited to, easier arms trade, weaker civilian control over the military, and these controversial security bills.

This year’s white paper makes much of the “constitutionality” of Japan’s new security laws – the legal foundation for the right-wing to take control of Japan’s defense.

Japan talks of “concern” and “vigilance” over China’s military development, and has done so in its annual papers since 2005. After new security legislation last year, Japan has taken a more proactive approach, a more aggressive approach, directly condemning and challenging China.

Abe and his coalition partners are clearly speeding up their attempts to rewrite the constitution before his tenure ends in 2018. Laws allowing Japan to engage in armed conflict overseas, even if Japan is not attacked or threatened, came into effect in March. The Abe administration is inching closer to its dream of replacing the country’s pacifist constitution with… a different kind of constitution.

The fanciful “China Threat” and tensions in the region are the best excuses for aggressive military and security polices that Tokyo can cook up.

Seven decades after World War II, Japan now stands at a critical juncture: to continue on its peaceful path or to return to militarism with all the fears and tensions that will bring to the region.

Each and every responsible member of the international community must stay vigilant. This peace and stability was hard-won. Its loss will be harder still. – Xinhua

Abe appoints ultra-right wing “hawk” Inada as new DM to push military agenda

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/X0kSBfF7XS4

Her comment that Japan’s actions during the war “depends on one’s point of view” has sparked anger from neighboring South Korea and China.

Japan’s new Defense Minister, Tomomi Inada, inspects a honor guard on her first day at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Aug. 4, 2016.

TOKYO, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s appointment of Tomomi Inada as defense minister following a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday has underscored his intentions to forge ahead with a controversial push to amend the nation’s pacifist Constitution and further expand the scope of the nation’s military, observers here have said.

The prime minister, nevertheless, has maintained that the reshuffle was aimed at speeding up the pace of the nation’s sluggish economic revival, following multiple failed installments of his “Abenomics” economic policy mix, following the approval a day earlier of a 28.1 trillion yen (277.74 billion U.S. dollar) stimulus package.

However, political observers attest that the hawkish Inada, 57, a particularly close ally of Abe’s, yet a novice when it comes to security issues, being given the defense minister’s portfolio demonstrates the prime minister’s intention to use his coalition’s newly-gained dominance in both chambers of parliament to advance his legacy-led mission to fundamentally reshape Japan’s security paradigm in the biggest, most controversial shift since WWII.

Security experts as well as senior members within the defense ministry itself believe that Inada, Japan’s second female defense minister following Yuriko Koike, herself recently elected to be Tokyo governor who held the position briefly in 2007, is ill-equipped and lacks the necessary experience to hold the defense ministry’s top post.

Inada is currently only serving her fourth term as a lower house lawmaker and previously held the post of state minister in charge of administrative reform for just two years and has chaired the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council again for just two years.

Defense, security and military affairs are not in her repertoire, experts close to the matter have maintained.

Inada, however, is known to share the prime minister’s singular goal of revising Japan’s postwar, pacifist constitution and is also, along with Abe and a number of other prominent cabinet members, a visible member of the ultra-right wing Nippon Kaigi fraternity.

“Inada has long been a member of Abe’s inner coterie and shares his fundamental beliefs about the future course of the nation’s political and security direction,” Asian affairs commentator Kaoru Imori told Xinhua, ahead of Inada’s widely-expected appointment.

“She is also a known right-wing revisionist and has made a number of controversial remarks about Japan’s history, and her membership to the right wing Nippon Kaigi group is evidence of her tendentious political and nationalistic views,” Imori added.

Nippon Kaigi is an ultranationalistic nonparty entity with around 300,000 members who all believe in praising the Imperial family (The Emperor), changing the war-renouncing, pacifist Constitution, promoting nationalistic education in schools and supporting parliamentarians’ visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

It is the biggest right-wing organization in Japan and Abe has, ostensibly, cherry picked his Cabinet members from this group to run the country, with these “Shinto Conservatives” believing that Japan should not apologize for its wartime acts of brutality, despite the legitimacy of proven historical events.

The appointment of Inada as defense minister will almost certainly ruffle the feathers of Japan’s neighbors, experts claim. “The mood now is to try to promote cooperation,” Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo, was quoted as saying of the current situation regarding ties between Japan and its immediate neighbors.

“That could change if she makes a pilgrimage to Yasukuni in a couple of weeks,” Kingston added.

“Inada supports the prime minister and all parliamentarians’ visits to Yasukuni (shrine) and has openly contested The International Military Tribunal for the Far East after World War II. She also believes that Japan should not apologize for its internationally-recognized war crimes committed and is a proponent of denying Japan’s wartime atrocities,” Imori said.

To this end, Abe appointed her chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council in September 2014, despite the fact that the position is almost always exclusively held by party members who have had lengthy political careers. – Xinhuanet

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Japan hypes up “China threat” in defense white paper

TOKYO, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — The Japanese government approved a defense white paper for 2016 on Tuesday, summarizing Japan’s defense policy changes while smearing China’s normal maritime activities to justify Japan’s own militarization.

The annual document came after an ad hoc arbitral tribunal with judges mostly picked by Shunji Yanai, a Japanese right-winger, issued a biased and illegal award over the South China Sea dispute. Full story

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Take precautions on public wifi, hackers are watching you, travellers !


Video:  //players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5066118149001

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/08/01/take-precautions-on-public-wifi-cybersecurity-firm-hackers-can-gather-sensitive-data-via-unsecure-co/

KUALA LUMPUR: If you are surfing the Internet on a public Wi-Fi, always assume someone is watching you out there.

Better yet, do not connect to any public Wi-Fi at all, said LE Global Services (LGMS) executive director Fong Choong Fook, whose private cybersecurity firm employs hackers to test the network security of the country’s major banks.

“I would never use a public Wi-Fi,” he said.

“Even an IT person may not be able to tell if the access point he is connected to is safe or if the activities are being watched.

“There may be signs like your Internet is slowing down but hackers can make it so elegant that you won’t even notice,” he said in an interview.

Malaysia’s national cybersecurity agency CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) said hackers could position themselves between a person’s device and the Wi-Fi router and are able to record sensitive data that the surfer is keying into his device.

Hackers can also “create” their own Wi-Fi and trick people into thinking they are connected to a credible public access point like the one from a restaurant, airport or office – when in actual fact these devices are connected to the criminals’ hardware.

Thus, they would be able to remotely watch everything a person is sending out on the Wi-Fi like passwords, e-mails or credit card information.

As frightening as these attacks may sound, Fong said this had been going as early as the 1990s.

Demonstrating to The Star how a hacker could steal information, LGMS set up an “evil twin” Wi-Fi using a laptop and named it after a famous franchise restaurant just below its office in Puchong, Selangor.

Fong connected two devices to this Wi-Fi and proceeded to log into social media, e-mail and Government websites.

Within seconds of logging in, the hacker’s computer began recording the activities in both devices in the experiment – recording every e-mail address, username and password that was keyed in.

Though the demonstration was only meant for the devices in the controlled environment of the LGMS office, three other users got connected to the dummy Wi-Fi, thinking they were linked to the franchise restaurant’s Internet, during the experiment.

“Hackers can target one specific person or they can target everyone in a cafe to get their devices to send all their data through their dummy Wi-Fi

“When they have your information, they can steal your identity. They can pose as you on Facebook, or send out e-mails to your contacts under your account,” he said.

Fong advised users to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi or to only limit their browsing to Internet searches if they must connect to one.

The firm also suggested users to subscribe to VPN (virtual private network) technologies to secure their traffic.

VPN encrypts data on devices, making it hard for hackers to spy on the user’s online activities. Most VPNs are available on a subscription basis, much like an anti-virus programme.

So far this year, CSM has recorded eight instances where private Wi-Fi networks were hacked and 1,462 cases of online intrusions have been reported, which is nearly double the number of incidents compared to the same period in 2015.

It advised users to keep their Internet browsers up to date and to disable the feature which automatically saves password in the cache –as it makes it easier for criminals to steal.

by Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asia News Network

82% of travellers would use public Wi-Fi

 

KUALA LUMPUR: You are on a holiday in a foreign country. Naturally, you want to upload pictures to your Facebook or send messages to your friends back home or trawl the Internet for places to visit.

Chances are there is no Internet data connection where you are and you would search for whatever free Wi-Fi there is at the airport, hotel or cafe to stay connected.

An estimated 82% of travellers would choose to connect with unsecured public Wi-Fi, a practice which could up risks of cyberattacks, said Kasper­sky Lab.

The cybersecurity company surveyed 11,850 people worldwide and found that people on holiday would be carefree when it comes to their personal data protection.

The study found that 42% of travellers said they were less likely to care about the credibility of the Wi-Fi when they were on holiday compared to on business travels.

A third (33%) admitted to visiting websites of sensitive nature using foreign Wi-Fi, while almost half of the respondents conducted online banking (48%), shopped online (46%) and made private calls (35%) when they were abroad.

In a separate study, it found that at least 22% of travellers who conducted transactions online had experienced money loss while 8% had had a credit card compromised while in a foreign country.

Most of the time, victims do not even know they are being watched.

CSM advised users to keep an eye on their devices’ firewall alerts. Any trigger may indicate that a third party may be trying to access their devices illegally.

A report by MasterCard estimates that 10.9 million Malaysians travelled for overseas holidays in 2014, with the numbers expecting to hit 15.2 million by 2020.

The Kaspersky study also found that people were more likely to throw caution to the wind while on holiday with respondents saying they were 18% more likely to let strangers handle their smartphones to take pictures, 28% more likely to leave their devices unsupervised, 18% more likely to contact strangers online and 6% more likely to engage in “sexting”.

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‘Paper cat’ Australia will learn its lesson


3721f-papercat_aussie

Around the announcement of the arbitration tribunal over the South China Sea, Australia was one of the most delirious countries. Canberra immediately supported the arbitration result and claimed China “must” abide by it, and also signed a joint declaration with the US and Japan. Australia has inked a free trade agreement with China, its biggest trading partner, which makes its move of disturbing the South China Sea waters surprising to many.
Australia is a unique country with an inglorious history. It was at first an offshore prison of the UK and then became its colony, a source of raw materials, overseas market and land of investment. This country was established through uncivilized means, in a process filled with the tears of the aboriginals.

Even with a scarce population and vast land, Australia has disputes with other countries over territory. It claims nearly 5.9 million square meters of land in the Antarctic, accounting for 42 percent of the continent. In order to back its territorial claims, Australia even brought up the activities of the British in the Antarctic as evidence.

Since The Antarctic Treaty was signed, all territorial claims over the continent were suspended. Canberra then raised another claims to demand the Antarctic continental shelf. It cited Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to avoid a demand by arbitration by others.

Both historical rights and the exemption of arbitration as ruled in Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea were denied by the arbitration tribunal. Australia showed blunt double standards as if no one had a memory of what it did and said over the Antarctic.

Australia calls itself a principled country, while its utilitarianism has been sizzling. It lauds Sino-Australian relations when China’s economic support is needed, but when it needs to please Washington, it demonstrates willingness of doing anything in a show of allegiance.

Analysts say that besides trying to please the US, it also intends to suppress China so as to gain a bargaining chip for economic interests. China must take revenge and let it know it’s wrong. Australia’s power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.

Australia is not even a “paper tiger,” it’s only a “paper cat” at best. At a time when its former caretaker country the UK is dedicated to developing relations with China, and almost the whole of Europe takes a neutral position, Australia has unexpectedly made itself a pioneer of hurting China’s interest with a fiercer attitude than countries directly involved in the South China Sea dispute. But this paper cat won’t last. – Global Times

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Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed

  Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. — VNA/VNS

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Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed


Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. — VNA/VNS

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/i_J3TQKTXcc

The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Monday issued a joint communiqué, which didn’t breathe a word about the South China Sea arbitration, or harbor any overt criticism against China. Although the South China Sea issue was mentioned many times in the communiqué, it only gave a general overview of principles that must be stuck to. Most foreign media view the communiqué as a triumph for China’s diplomacy.

On the same day, a joint statement on how to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was issued.

The two statements reflect the consistent stand of ASEAN. Attempts at pressuring China through the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting have failed.

As the first foreign ministers’ meeting after the so-called South China Sea arbitration award was issued, the US and Japan hoped to use the meeting in Laos to solicit ASEAN’s collective support for the arbitration and impose unprecedented diplomatic pressure on China. But such expectations do not correspond with the realities in East Asia.

Hype was running high among American and Japanese media that only Cambodia was standing in the way of a joint statement that incorporates the South China Sea arbitration, and Laos as the host country didn’t voice any firm opposition.

From another perspective, only the Philippines wanted a joint statement with reference to the arbitration, and Vietnam was not so persistent in its demands. Most ASEAN countries have maintained a neutral attitude. They neither want to see a division within the bloc, nor to be dragged into a conflict with China over arbitration.

Manila compromised this time, giving consent to a communiqué without mention of the arbitration. It showed flexibility compared with 2012, when the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ended with no joint statement because the Philippines’ propositions over the South China Sea issue were firmly opposed.

It’s in the common interests of China and ASEAN to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. But the US and Japan are willing to see conflicts between China and the Philippines and Vietnam escalate. If the arbitration leads to overall confrontation between ASEAN and China, it will fullfil the desires of the US and Japan.

ASEAN won’t be so silly as to head toward a confrontation with China. We have carried out construction activities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, but with our utmost efforts to avoid confrontation.

The possibility of a military solution to the South China Sea dispute has become smaller and smaller. The arbitration has brought about new risks. Instead of a clash between China and the Philippines, or China and Vietnam, there are more worries about conflicts being sparked between China and the US.

Under such conditions, it could never be ASEAN’s desire to amplify the negative influences of the arbitration case. Two weeks after the arbitration result was announced, no other countries outside the region but the US, Japan and Australia have voiced support for it. The farce is coming to an end.- Global Times.

Political manipulation behind arbitral tribunal will be revealed

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/tUR7WVsmC7k

Spotlight: Chinese FM calls for end to politicization of South China Sea issue, urges parties to return to negotiations

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that the political manipulation behind the arbitral tribunal will be revealed, in response to the comments made by some foreign ministers on the South China Sea arbitration case.

Wang expounded on China’s position when attending the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in the Lao capital Vientiane.

Wang said China has not participated in the arbitration case and will not accept the so-called ruling, a position that China has made clear since day one and is supported by strong legal basis.

By adopting this position, China is safeguarding the sanctity and impartiality of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said the Chinese foreign minister.

First, the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government violated the principle of having the consent of concerned parties as the basis of arbitration and failed to meet the prerequisite of conducting full exchange of views beforehand, thus lacking the legal conditions to be initiated.

What the former Philippine government had done also abandoned bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines and violated Article 4 of the Declaration on Conducts of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as well as the principle of estoppel prescribed in international law, according to Wang.

Second, he said, the subject matters of the arbitration, however packaged, in fact directly concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation which are beyond the scope of the UNCLOS and the jurisdiction of the ad hoc tribunal. It is a typical act of overstepping the power and ultra vires as well as the abuse of dispute arbitration mechanism.

Wang said by citing a prominent legal expert from Europe that the arbitration case undoubtedly touches upon territorial sovereignty which is not governed by the UNCLOS. The tribunal’s practice of separating territorial sovereignty dispute with the status of islands and reefs is unseen in international law, which is like “putting the cart before the horse.”

Third, the ruling of the ad hoc tribunal is full of obvious mistakes, Wang said. It blatantly uses its self-invented rules to negate and deprive the lawful and legitimate territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests of parties concerned. In particular, it says that Taiping Dao, the largest island in the Nansha Islands with an area of 500,000 square meters, is a rock and has no relevant maritime rights.

If such a judgment can legally stand, the sea map of the world will need to be redrawn, Wang said.

Wang stressed that this ruling runs counter to the spirit of international rule of law as well as the principle and spirit of the UNCLOS.

“This arbitration is imbued with question marks and fallacies in terms of procedure, legal application, fact finding and evidence gathering,” he said.

The so-called ruling is illegal in three aspects: the initiation of the arbitration is illegal, the set-up of the tribunal is illegal, and the result of the arbitration is illegal. Therefore, China’s stance is fully legitimate which serves the purpose of upholding international equity and justice and regional peace and stability, Wang said.

The Chinese foreign minister said more and more countries have come to see the nature and danger of the arbitration case, and understand and acknowledge China’s stance to resolve disputes through direct negotiation and consultation, calling for respect to the rights of sovereign states to independently choose dispute settlement means including respecting the declaration on optional exceptions made under Article 298 of the UNCLOS.

There are also more and more legal experts around the world questioning the legality of the arbitration case and the fairness of the ruling, Wang said, noting that the illegal nature of the so-called South China Sea arbitration case and the political manipulation hidden behind the ad hoc arbitral tribunal will be further revealed. – Global Times

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The Age of Uncertainty


We are entering the age of dealing with unknown unknowns – as Brexit and Turkey’s failed coup show

The dark future of Europe

THE Age of Uncertainty is a book and BBC series by the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, produced in 1977, about how we have moved from the age of certainty in 19th century economic thought to a present that is full of unknowns.

I still remember asking my economics professor what he thought of Galbraith, one of the most widely read economists and social commentator of his time. His answer was that Galbraith’s version of economics was too eclectic and wide-ranging. It was not where mainstream economics – pumped up by the promise of quantitative models and mathematics – was going.

Forty years later, it is likely that Galbraith’s vision of the future was more prescient than that of Milton Friedman, the leading light of free market economics – which promised more than it could deliver. The utopia of free markets, where rational man would deliver the most efficient public good from individual greed turned out to be exactly the opposite – the greatest social inequities with grave uncertainties of the future. Galbraith said, “wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding”. Perhaps he meant that poverty and necessity was the driver of change, if not of revolution.

The economics profession was always slightly confused over the difference between risk and uncertainty, as if the former included the latter. The economist Frank Knight (they don’t make economists like that anymore) clarified the difference as follows – risk is measurable and uncertainty is not. Quantitative economists then defined risk as measurable volatility – the amount that a variable like price fluctuated around its historical average.

The bell-shaped statistical curve that forms the conventional risk model used widely in economics assumes that there is 95% probability that fluctuations of price would be two standard deviations from the average or mean.

For non-technically minded, a standard deviation is a measure of the variance or dispersion around the mean, meaning that a “normal” fluctuation would be less than two; so if the standard deviation is say 5%, we would not expect more than 10% price fluctuation 95% of the time.

Events like Brexit shock us because the event gave rise to huge uncertainties over the future. Most experts did not expect Brexit – the variance was more than the normal. It was a reversal of a British decision to join the European Union, a five or more standard deviation event – in which the decision is a 180 degree turn. The conventional risk management models, which are essentially linear models that say that going forward or sequentially, the projected risk is up or down, simply did not factor in a reversal of decision.

In other words, we have moved from an age of risk to an age of uncertainty – where we are dealing with unknown unknowns.

There are of course different categories of unknowns – known unknowns (things that we know that we do not know), calculable unknowns (which we can estimate or know something about through Big Data) and the last, we simply do not know what we may never know.

Big Data is the fashionable phrase for churning lots of data to find out where there are correlations. The cost of big computing power is coming down but you would still have to have big databases to access that information or prediction. Most individuals like you and me would simply have to use our instincts or rely on experts to make that prediction or decision. Brexit told us that many experts are simply wrong. Experts are those who can convincingly explain why they are wrong, but they may not be better in predicting the future than monkeys throwing darts.


Five factors

There are five current factors that add up to considerable uncertainty – geopolitics, climate change, technology, unconventional monetary policy and creative destruction.

First, Brexit and the Turkish coup are geo-political events that change the course of history. In its latest forecasts on the world economy, the IMF has called Brexit “the spanner in the works” that may slow growth further. But Brexit was a decision made because the British are concerned more about immigration than nickels and dimes from Brussels. This is connected to the second factor, climate change.

Global warming is the second major unknown, because we are already feeling the impact of warmer weather, unpredictable storms and droughts. Historically, dynastic collapses have been associated with major climate change, such as the droughts that caused the disappearance of the Angkor Wat and Mayan cultures. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and all are failing states because they are water-stressed. If North Africa and the Middle East continue to face major water-stress and social upheaval, expect more than 1 million refugees to flood northwards to Europe where it is cooller and welfare benefits are better.

The third disruptor is technology, which brings wondrous new inventions like bio-technology, Internet and robotics, but also concerns such as loss of jobs and genetic accidents.

Fourthly, unconventional monetary policy has already breached the theoretical boundaries of negative interest rates, where no one, least of all the central bankers that push on this piece of string, fully appreciate how negative interest rates is destroying the business model of finance, from banks to asset managers.

Last but not least, the Austrian economist Schumpeter lauded innovation and entrepreneurship as the engine of capitalism, through what he called creative destruction. We all support innovation, but change always bring about losses to the status quo. Technology disrupts traditional industries, and those disappearing industries will create loss in jobs, large non-performing loans and assets that will have no value.

Change is not always a zero-sum game, where one person’s gain is another’s loss. It is good when it is a win-win game; but with lack of leadership, it can easily deteriorate into a lose-lose game. That is the scary side of unknown unknowns.

I shall elaborate on how ancient Asians coped with change in the next article.

By Tan Sri Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

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Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

China hardens after illegal tribunal ruling on South China Sea


In ignoring the verdict on the South China Sea, Beijing is following precedents by great powers as no permanent member of the UN Security Council has ever complied with a ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal on an issue involving the Law of the Sea.

 

Arbitration award

CHINA’S resolve on its sovereign claim to most of the South China Sea appears to harden after an international tribunal ruled against this new superpower in Asia.

On Tuesday, the international arbitratry at the Hague backed the Philippines’ argument that there was no legal basis for Beijing’s maritime claims.

The tribunal dismissed China’s vast claims in the vital waters, known to have vast oil and gas deposits.

From the start, China has insisted that it will ignore the tribunal decision.

It has also warned that increasing pressure on the issue could turn the resource-rich waters into a “cradle of war”.

Three days following the tribunal’s ruling, China’s state media reported that China may build mobile nuclear power plants in the South China Sea.

“China will soon start assembling its first maritime nuclear power platform and is expected to build 20 floating nuclear power stations in the future, which will largely beef up the power and water supplies on the South China Sea islands,” reported Global Times on Friday, citing China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC). (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/994578.shtml)

The state-owned Global Times added that “marine nuclear power platforms will be used” in the islands and reefs of the Spratly chain in the internationally contested sea.

And two days before the tribunal announcement, China had enhanced its military presence under the directive of President Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Tokyo should stop “hyping up and interfering” in the South China Sea issue, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Li: Tokyo must respect China’s territorial sovereignty

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/HMP0a_ODVGU

https://youtu.be/HMP0a_ODVGU

Japan is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue, and thus should “exercise caution in its own words and deeds, and stop hyping up and interfering” in the issue, said Li.

Commenting on the decision of the tribunal in Hong Kong on Friday, a judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said the award on the South China Sea arbitration had the effect of “pouring fuel on the flame”.

Xue Hanqin, while addressing a colloquium in Hong Kong, said: “Anyone can easily tell that this award will certainly aggregate the dispute between China and the Philippines, aggregate the current military tension between China and the US and definitely aggregate tension in the region.”

Indeed, countries in this region are keeping a close watch on the situation – paying particular attention to the actions of the United States, Japan and China.

The ruling of the tribunal – the legality and decision which has been questioned by academics from the East and West, has indeed caused an unprecedented level of tension in this part of the world since the Second World War.

This is despite the repeated assurance by China that it still prefers to resolve the disputes in the South China Sea via consultation and peaceful talks among the parties laying claims to the islands – which include Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

To many analysts, the United States and Japan cannot turn away from the responsibility of instilling instability as both have in recent years provoked disputes with Beijing and challenged China’s sovereign claims to the South China Sea waters.

Indeed, China’s stand on not recognising the tribunal’s decision has won resounding support from commentators who know the history of the region.

China’s sovereignty over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea has been established in the course of history.

Until the 1930s, the United States had never regarded the South China Sea as part of the territory of the Philippines, according to professor of Political Science Peter Li of the University of Houston.

Li sees the tribunal’s award as “null and void”.

China’s rejection of and non-participation in the arbitration proceedings are in compliance with UNCLOS, which, adopted in the early 1980s, was not designed to settle territorial disputes.

Hence, arbitration over matters concerning the delineation of maritime boundaries is beyond the scope of the convention, Li opined.

The impartiality of the tribunal, headed by a Japanese, has also been questioned as it was biased from the start three years ago, he added.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/yeXCM7WcFxo

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xBt7QizIAGg

The professor blamed the award for “putting regional peace at risk” as it will encourage other parties to the dispute to seek a similar approach to buttress their claims to the South China Sea.

“A worse scenario is that countries from outside the region (the US) shall impose themselves on the region, thus making a peaceful resolution of the dispute even more remote.”

And according to The Diplomat, in ignoring the verdict on the South China Sea, Beijing is following precedents by great powers as no permanent member of the UN Security Council has ever complied with a ruling by the Tribunal on an issue involving the Law of the Sea.

Graham Allison, director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, noted in his writing: “In fact, none of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have ever accepted any international court’s ruling when (in their view) it infringed their sovereignty or national security interests. Thus, when China rejects the tribunal’s decision in this case, it will be doing just what the other great powers have repeatedly done.”

Amid all the tension, what is important is that China has issued a long white paper that essentially reiterates its aspiration to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. 

The United States and Britain have criticised Beijing on this issue, but they had forgotten the precedents they have set.

In the 1980s when Nicaragua sued Washington for mining its harbours, the United States argued that the ICJ did not have the authority to hear Nicaragua’s case.

When the court ruled in favour of Nicaragua and ordered the United States to pay reparations, the United States refused, and vetoed six UN Security Council resolutions ordering it to comply with the court’s ruling, according to The Diplomat.

Just last year the tribunal ruled that Britain had violated the Law of the Sea by unilaterally establishing a Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Islands. The British government disregarded the ruling, and remains in the Marine Protected Area.

In its commentary on Friday, Xinhua said the South China Sea arbitration “is just a start key for the United States having ulterior motives to agitate the South China Sea situation to reinforce its hegemony”.

“The superpower has always been trying to turn the western Pacific Ocean into its own sphere of influence, dreaming to turn the South China Sea into the Caribbean where its warships patrol at will.”

To increase its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing economy and increasing influence, the United States has since 2009 began a rebalancing strategy to the Asia Pacific to contain China’s rise, exerts Xinhua.

The South China Sea arbitration is another plot hatched by the US government, as Alberto Encomienda, former secretary-general of Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department, had said the United States has instigated his country to initiate the arbitration.

But to the credit of the Philippines, its government under a newly elected president is adopting a softer and conciliatory line towards China as it calls for more economic cooperation with Beijing.

This floats the prospects of cutting down conflict in future.

Amid all the tension, what is important is that China has issued a long white paper that essentially reiterates its aspiration to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, jointly with Asean member countries.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star/Asia News Network

 

Related:

Arbitration: More questions than answers

On July 12th, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague made anaward in the South China Sea territorial dispute case filed by the Philippines. The tribunal itself and its subsequent award, have manypoints which have raised more questions than answers.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xBt7QizIAGg

Arbitration and award questionable

An award was made earlier this month over the South ChinaSea territorial dispute by The Hague-based arbitral tribunal consistingof five arbitrators.

 

China, the Philippines reached consensus on disputes

China has just released a white paper which reiterates thecountry’s position on resolving territorial disputes in the South ChinaSea through dialogue and negotiation. According to the white paper, China and the Philippines reached consensus in the past on resolving therelevant disputes that way.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/PvKQ5irjOFs

 

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China need not always win to be great


While it deserves to have a greater say in the world order, it should not be the only big winner. In its rush to assert itself on the global stage, it has simply reaped acquiescence

 

Chinese soldiers marking the Communist Party’s 95th anniversary in Heilongjiang province last month. In President Xi’s address, he said China will never compromise on its sovereignty. Standing up forcefully on the world stage has become a cornerstone of the country’s diplomacy. PHOTO: AGENCE-FRANCE PRESSE

BEIJING • In his address at the 95th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) this month, President Xi Jinping (pic) devoted an unusually lengthy part of his speech to foreign policy.

Speaking just days before a ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague on China’s claims in the South China Sea, most international media focused on him saying that China will never compromise on its sovereignty. The Chinese media, however, picked out certain phrases to highlight his vision for the country on the global stage.

One of them is “ren lei ming yun gong tong ti”, or a “community of common destiny for mankind”, a term Mr Xi has used at least 60 times since 2013.

Building this community is the “Chinese solution” for an international world order that emphasises mutual benefits, and will allow China to fulfil its responsibilities as a major country, said party mouthpiece People’s Daily in a commentary on Monday.

Another Chinese media analysis said China has come up with the “Chinese solution”, or “zhong guo fang an”, because it no longer wants to follow Western rules now that it has “a major country’s capabilities and self-confidence”.

Taken together, these points summarise China’s reimagining of its role as a “major country/great power” or “da guo” in recent years.

Although it became the world’s No. 2 economy in 2010, the Chinese have always debated whether their country is truly a great power. There is, however, little doubt in the mind of Mr Xi, who has more actively sought to answer the question: “So what should a great power do?”

Plenty, it seems. In recent years, standing up more forcefully on the world stage has become a corner- stone of the country’s diplomacy.

Last September, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out a rare and massive display of its latest hardware through Tiananmen Square in a show of military prowess that unnerved neighbours in the region and countries further afield. That came amid a PLA restructuring and personnel reshuffle meant to improve its combat capabilities, as well as weapons deployment and land reclamation in the South China Sea.

Then last month, at a special meeting in Kunming between Asean and China’s foreign ministers, a planned joint press conference failed to take place after the Chinese applied pressure on a few Asean member states and caused the 10-member bloc to splinter over a proposed joint statement on the South China Sea.

Experts such as Nankai University analyst Liu Feng have pointed out that “China has been more inclined in recent years to use its coercive power to persuade neighbouring countries or to ensure that they indeed treat it with respect”. That is consistent with the observation that China has modified its foreign policy strategy to become more pro-active, shifting from the decades-old mantra of “tao guang yang hui” (keeping a low profile) to “fen fa you wei” (striving for achievement), a term Mr Xi used at a high-level diplomatic work conference in 2013.

Yet, what a great power can do and what it should do are different things – and both China’s leaders and its people seem increasingly interested only in the former while “striving for achievement”. That attitude extends to the Chinese public, as can be seen in the response of a fisherman from Hainan province who said in an interview in May: “Just attack them…, what are we afraid of?”

He was referring to the Philippines, which the tribunal ruled in favour of this week in the former’s disputes with China in the South China Sea. Many of these fishermen had clashed with the coast guard and fishermen from the Philippines during their expeditions to the Spratlys, which the Chinese government encourages as a way of safeguarding sovereignty.

It is not uncommon to see netizens comment on territorial disputes online with a single word “da” (attack), born from the angst of seeing “great power” China supposedly being pushed around by smaller countries. They feel that China’s might is not limited to the military either, often questioning what would happen if China decides to cut off trade ties or investment with another belligerent country. In short, now that we are strong, why do we need to play nice?

Yet, when it suits its cause, China (or its public) is quick to highlight that it is also a “rising power” – a developing country – hence relieving it of the international responsibilities that most expect a great power to shoulder.

Indeed, when Mr Xi committed US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) last September to a development fund for poor countries and said China would aim to increase investment in least-developed countries to US$12 billion by 2030, that effort to change China’s image as an international “free rider” swiftly came under fire. Why is China not helping its own poor, many Chinese asked. China is just a big country, not a rich country, others said.

None of that helps China’s standing on the global stage. In its rush to demand respect befitting of a great power, China has merely reaped acquiescence.

Just looking at Asean, for instance, closer economic cooperation with Beijing has failed to translate into mutual trust. If anything, it has been the opposite, with concerns growing about China’s readiness to wield its economic clout for geopolitical benefits. As one Western scholar observed, “China is a great power, but it doesn’t realise that being a great power doesn’t mean you need to ensure you win all the time”.

This is where China can perhaps heed a lesson it learnt from the remarkable feat it pulled off early this year, in opening the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which People’s Daily also sees as part of the “Chinese solution”. Few would have given it a chance when Mr Xi first mooted it in 2013, especially given the intense pressure that the United States had put on other countries not to join the bank. But the benefits of this new institution were apparent to the 57 that eventually signed up, in what became a major public relations coup for China.

No coercive action was needed when the countries could assess for themselves the AIIB’s merits, while being keenly aware of the limitations and associated biases in current international financial institutions.Two weeks on from Mr Xi’s address, the tribunal has ruled against China’s claims in the South China Sea and all eyes are on how forcefully it reacts. It should keep in mind that in recent years, assertive action has only served to push China’s neighbors further away from it. It is still questionable, on balance, how much “striving for achievement” and not following “Western rules” has gained for China, and if that is still a path worth going down.

China deserves to have a greater say in the world order and, as it has pointed out, there should be no objection to its attempts to build a new world order that emphasizes “mutual benefits and a non-zero sum game model”. In such a world, however, the great power should not be the only big winner.

By Teo Cheng Wee, China Correspondent The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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