Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the 21st century of China’s One Belt One Road strategy


Mass migration: The mega-trend of global migration, which is already happening legally in the form of migrant workers and illegally in the form of economic and political refugees, especially into Europe, is going to disrupt the current order. – AFP

A VERY wise Latin American statesman remarked at the Emerging Markets Forum in Paris this month, quoting the Nobel Laureate writer Octavio La Paz that after the French Revolution, the 19th century was all about the search for liberty, the 20th century about equality and the 21st century should be about fraternity.

The concept of liberty and individual freedom was sparked by the French Revolution but it became embodied in the American constitution that individual freedom was almost absolute in its right. Before then, rights were communal and determined by the state, or at least by an elite. With the rise of American might, the primacy of individual rights became widespread, because it appealed to the individual ego and the right for self determination. But man does not exist alone – he lives in a community in which rights come with responsibility – self-respect must also be tempered with respect for others.

The 20th century was a flowering of the capitalist spirit, that individual greed can lead to public good. This drove unprecedented prosperity, unfortunately unequally shared. The saving grace was the narrowing of income and wealth differences between the rich nations and the developing economies, but in almost every country, income and wealth gaps widened. This has reached the stage where views are increasingly polarised, with huge gaps in understanding between genders, generations and geo-political powers. Gandhi was the one who rightly pointed out that the world has enough for all our needs, but not our greed.

The global financial crisis of the 21st century exposed all the flaws of the dominant thinking, that the American Dream is sustainable. It was already doubtful that it could be sustainable for a few, but if the population of the world reaches 10 billion by 2050, we will be so crowded and in each other’s face and space that how to achieve fraternity without war will be the question of the century.


The World in 2050

The Emerging Markets Forum in Paris was the occasion for a book launch on “The World in 2050”, a study by various leaders, such as former German Chancellor Horst Kohler, former IMF managing director Michel Camdessus and former presidents and ministers of several emerging markets. The book, edited by former World Bank director Harinder Kohli, tried to think through the major issues of the 21st century. The major theme was essentially demographic and geographic – by 2050, the largest populated nation will be India, but the third largest could be Nigeria, with Africa emerging as the third largest continent by population and growth.

The study is timely because there are already signs that the borders that were delineated by the former colonial powers in Africa and the Middle East are already breaking down as failed states, arising from bad governance, exploding population and climate change stresses leading to civil strife, outright war and now mass migration.

This mega-trend of global migration, which is already happening legally in the form of migrant workers and illegally in the form of economic and political refugees, especially into Europe, is going to disrupt the current order. Can Europe absorb over a million migrants a year without major changes in culture, living standards and law and order?

How would these new migrants, including families that will follow, be accommodated, given already high levels of unemployment and shortage of housing in many European cities? Without proper accommodation and social acceptance, will there be more terrorist outbreaks and civil strife that disturbs the comfortable lives of Europeans today?

Even as Grexit (the possibility of Greece exiting the eurozone) has quietened down, Brexit (the possibility of Britain exiting the European Union) is becoming a looming nightmare. Whether Britain leaves or not is going to be an expression of how the British people feel about fraternity with Europe. All economic logic seems to suggest that Britain should stay. Germany needs Britain to maintain the balance of power within Europe, because British level-headed diplomacy is a useful counterweight to the more romantic (and less fiscally disciplined) southern members, such as France, Italy and Spain. There is genuine worry that the refugee crisis will make the stoic British more isolationist, preferring fraternity within the British isles.

From an Asian perspective, the stability and prosperity of Europe is an important anchor to global peace and stability. Europe is not only a major trading partner but her moderation and common sense is often a useful counterweight to American exceptionalism, whose mistaken invasion into Iraq triggered the breakdown in the Middle East order. Perhaps the status quo in the Middle East was always fragile, made more fragile by growing population, low oil prices and climate stress.

The borders of the Middle East and Africa were the legacies of the Great Game in the 19th century, when former colonial powers carved up these areas into territories that ignored tribal or geographic realities.

Today, these borders are being ignored by non-state players, and peace and order will not return till we find a solution to creating jobs in situ for the growing youth that are increasingly armed and willing to fight for their rights. Throughout history, it has always been the unemployed and disaffected youth that has led to revolution or war.

China’s One Belt One Road strategy can best be understood as a building of roads, rails and ports to link Eurasia together, creating new trade routes over old historical paths. For the first time, this will be a linking of roads and rail between China and India, and through central Asia, almost into the heart of eurozone, north to Russia and south to Africa. The investment in the infrastructure and in jobs for the young is the best hope to avoid massive social upheaval. This is the 21st Century Great Game – whether to live in fraternity or fratricide.

By Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

 

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Job for new Philippine head: Stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens


 

Manila urgently needs to tackle problems in its own backyard to stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens.

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was in Manila last November for the Apec Summit when he was informed by officials that Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then, who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group, was beheaded.

“He was upset and very shocked,” recalled a Malaysian official.

When he spoke to the Malaysian media in Manila, Najib said President Benigno Aquino had told him that Then’s beheading was probably carried out due to Philippine army operations and that Then had slowed down the militants who were moving from one place to another.

“That is not an excuse we can accept because he should have been released,” Najib told the media.

He described the beheading as savage and a barbaric act.

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

Fourteen Indonesians travelling in tugboats from Borneo to the Philippines were also abducted by hijackers in two separate cases recently.

Even as the foreign governments were working to get their citizens released, more shocking news came – Abu Sayyaf gunmen had beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel in the southern province of Sulu, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Indonesia is still struggling with how to deal with the kidnapping of its citizens and is hosting talks with Malaysia and the Philippines to boost maritime security.

The meeting of foreign ministers and military chiefs in Jakarta is to discuss joint patrols to protect shipping in the waters between the three countries following the kidnappings.

The Philippine military has said the militants have been targeting foreign crews of slow-moving tugboats because they can no longer penetrate resorts and coastal towns in Sabah due to increased security.

Last week, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was in Manila to meet his Filipino counterpart, Jose Rene D. Almendras. More assurance was given that Manila was doing all it could to secure the release of the hostages.

The Philippine military and police reportedly said that “there will be no letup” in the effort to combat the militants and find the hostages. But they have had little success in securing their freedom.

All these assurances somehow ring hollow.

We are dealing with human lives. If the foreign governments are frustrated with the way the crisis is being handled by Manila, imagine the anguish and uncertainty of family members waiting for news of their loved ones.

The kidnappings are taking place in the Philippines’ own backyard and the question arises as to whether they are doing enough to tackle the problem at source.

The answer will be no. After all how do you explain the alarming number of people being kidnapped and brought back to the Philippines with a price put on their head?

It is election period in the Philippines. A lot of energy is spent on political campaigning by politicians and fears remain that the lives of the hostages are not on their priority list.

“Manila must be doing more to tackle the kidnapping and transborder crime activities and I seriously think they are not doing enough,” said a security official.

Security is a big challenge for the Philippines. While its military is battling the militants in the south, up north Manila sent its ships and aircraft to keep watch over the South China Sea, where tensions are building up with China.

Another problem has risen from these hostage-taking cases. It is affecting the economic activities of citizens living on both sides of the border.

Sabah has shut down its eastern international boundaries to cross- border trade as part of measures to clamp down on the kidnapping groups.

Barter trade is a lifeline for people on Tawi Tawi, the southern-most Philippine province and the closest to Sabah, for their rice, cooking gas and fuel.

Authorities in several Indonesian coal ports have blocked departures of ships for the Philippines over security concerns. Indonesia supplies 70% of the Philippines’ coal import needs.

The calls for joint navy and air patrol efforts among neighbouring countries are getting louder. But that is a stop-gap measure.

These kidnapping cases are affecting the image of the region as well.

Filipinos are about to elect a new president. Lets hope one of the priorities of the new leader is to tackle, with a lot of care, the safe release of the hostages and subsequently peace in southern Philippines.

By Mergawati Zulfakar The Star

 

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READ: Malaysian beheaded by Abu Sayyaf after kin failed to comply with ransom demand – military

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

READ: 4 Malaysians reported seized by Abu Sayyaf

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Locking horns over human rights


Human rights matter: Demonstrators protesting the shooting death of 16-year-old Pierre Loury confront police after shutting down the Eisenhower Expressway during a march in Chicago, Illinois recently. — Getty Images/ AFP

 

Video:

http://english.cntv.cn/2016/04/17/VIDE0l4zwWjzir4IqZ8mEs9m160417.shtml

It’s April and time for the usual tit-for-tat exchange between China and the United States over their human rights practices.

 

APRIL is the month when the two biggest economies in the world – the United States and China – lock horns in an annual exchange over each other’s human rights practices.

Since 1977, the United States has been releasing its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, giving its review of human rights issues in countries around the world (but not its own).

And in a retaliatory fashion, Beijing would follow up the next day with its Human Rights Record of the United States in response to the criticisms piled on China.

The Chinese tradition began in 1998 and functioned like a “mirror” for the United States to examine its own human rights flaws. In the words of this year’s document: “Since the US government refused to hold up a mirror to look at itself, it has to be done with other people’s help.”

This year’s collision happened last week.

In the US 2015 report, Washington criticised China’s repression of people involved in civil and political rights advocacy and China’s crackdown on the legal community.

It also highlighted the disappearance of five men in Hong Kong’s publishing industry, believing that Chinese security officials were responsible.

Among others, the report also drew attention to the repression of the minority Uighurs and Tibetans, and tight control on the Internet and media.

As expected, the comments did not go down well with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang accused the United States of politicising the human rights issues in China to undermine the country’s stability and development.

“It’s nothing new for the United States to find fault with the internal affairs of other countries in the name of human rights,” he said.

China’s report, on the other hand, curtly labelled the US human rights record as “terrible”, “no improvement”, and plagued with “numerous new problems”.

Citing statistics, surveys and news reports, it zeroed in on the gun violence and excessive police violence, corrupt prison system and the prevailing money and clan politics in the United States.

Racial relations are “at their worst in nearly two decades,” it added.

And, most notably, Beijing reprimanded the United States for violating human rights outside its borders. Examples cited were the deadly Iraqi and Syrian air strikes, drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, and bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan.

The United States is “treating citizens from other countries like dirt,” the report said.

One of the sections in China’s report was reserved for the economic and social rights of US citizens, which Beijing said did not record substantial progress.

A gloomy picture of the United States was painted: “Workers carried out mass strikes to claim their rights at work. Food-insecure and homeless populations remained huge. Many US people suffered from poor health.”

When the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Lu rejected the US report last week, he pointed out that China’s efforts in promoting human rights have resulted in “great achievements that have attracted worldwide attention”.

While he did not elaborate on the great achievements, China has always been championing eradication of poverty as “one of the greatest human rights successes a country could hope for,” as state news agency Xinhua put it early last month.

In an article to dispute the West’s attack on China’s human rights record at the United Nations, Xinhua pointed out that lifting people out of poverty is an area of human rights that is often overlooked by Western countries, in particular the United States.

“China’s achievements in alleviating immense poverty along with its other human rights feats are victim to the West’s selective amnesia,” it stated.

China has a “moderately prosperous society” goal to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020. Among the efforts by the Government, according to Xinhua, are increasing the budget to relief poverty by 43%, improving infrastructure in regions with minorities, and reforming the healthcare system.

By rolling out these facts and figures, Xinhua hoped it could change the West’s “tired and dated view” of human rights in China, but added that it won’t hold its breath.

Till next April, then.

By Tho Xin Yi Check-In-China, The Star

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The human rights record of the human rights defender 2016


http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swfhttp://t.cn/RG38MOa

Chinese documentary reveals US hypocrisy on human rights

A TV documentary highlighting the US’s double standards on human rights issues was aired by China’s State-run CCTV on Sunday. The series, by illustrating the true human rights situation in the US, exposed its hypocrisy over the issue.

Citing media reports both inside and outside the US, the documentary called “the human rights record of global police” revealed how the superpower tramples on US citizen’s human rights. The prisons, for example, are rampant with corruption, torture of prisoners and sexual abuse. Career women are subject to discrimination and sexual harassment at work.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the FBI, forces Internet companies to provide clients’ information without court approval, the documentary said.
The airing of the documentary came days after the US, along with 11 other countries, pointed fingers at China’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council.

Since the 1970s, the US State Department has been submitting annual reports on human rights to its Congress, poking its nose into other countries’ human rights records while leaving many of its own problems unaddressed.

The country that prides itself as the “global police” was blamed that what it did is just to serve its own strategic interests.

Ji Hong, s researcher with the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the US always holds a sense of superiority. It considers itself a global leader with the best system and human rights record.

The documentary exposed the US’s lack of willingness and capability to improve its record. The documentary also echoed China’s position on human rights that all countries should face up to their own problems and have more dialogues with others to advance the progress of human rights in the international arena.
Based on extensive media reports both inside and outside the U.S., and interviews of many human rights experts from China, the U.S., France, Canada, Russia and Switzerland, the 45-minute TV program revealed the U.S. trampling on American people’s human rights in all walks of life.

In 2015, more than 560,000 people across the United States were homeless, 25 percent of whom were under age; the country’s primary women’s prison Lowell Correctional Institution, where 2,696 convicts are held, is rampant with corruption, torture of prisoners, and sexual abuse; women are subject to sexual harassment and sexual assaults of different forms, and career women subject to discrimination at work, the documentary showed, citing media reports.

Of teenagers aged 15 and above who succumb to injuries in the States, one quarter die in shooting incidents; the Federal Bureau of Investigation forces Internet companies to provide clients’ information without a court approval, according to the documentary.

The United States has been using double standards on practically every human rights-related issue, which is showcased both by its invasion of citizens’ privacy through online surveillance and civilian deaths caused by its drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, it showed.

For a very long time, the United States has been quite condescending, with the belief that it has the best system and human rights record, and as a result, it tends to find fault with other countries, Ji Hong, researcher with the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in the program.

By Yang Xun (People’s Daily)

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Last man standing in Penang under the Kempeitai during WWII Part 3


Working under the Kempeitai in Penang during WWII haunts James Jeremiah to this day.

While filming an episode of Jeremiah brought the crew back to the Wesley Methodist Church in Penang, where he would hear the screams of those torutured there by the Japanese. He had not been back to the church in over 70 years. — HAFrIZ IQBAL/ r. AGE

STARING out to sea on Fort Cornwallis, James Jeremiah cuts a lonely figure.

“Before the fighting started, we were so excited to shoot the Japanese. We had never seen war; we had only seen it in the movies,” said Jeremiah. “But the first time I heard a real bomb, I was scared to death.”

That was at the old Bayan Lepas Airport, where Jeremiah witnessed the beginning of the Japanese invasion of Penang. He was 18 at the time, and a member of the Eurasian “E” company of Penang, a volunteer force similar to the British Home Guard.

“We thought the Japanese would fly in from Batu Maung in the south, but they came in through Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi. I think they knew we were focused on the south.”

The tactic worked. The volunteers mistook the Japanese planes for British fighters, a mistake that almost cost them their lives.

“They turned out to be Japanese Zero fighters. They starting bombing and machine gunning us. Shrapnel was flying everywhere. I cannot even describe the fear we had in our hearts.”

Although they were trained to some extent, the Volunteer Forces ( VF) were not hardened military men.

After the bombing, it was only a matter of time before Japanese ground troops arrived.

Even then, the volunteer forces regrouped at their headquarters on Peel Avenue, and did their best to maintain order.

With the British gone and the Japanese at their doorstep, people were looting ruined houses and bodies were strewn everywhere from the bombing.

“We carried the dead bodies away, assisted the wounded and stopped all looters.

“It’s no joke when you’re in that situation – we just didn’t know what to do,” said Jeremiah.

Things quickly got worse when the Japanese arrived. The Volunteer Forces were rounded up, and the Europeans and fairskinned Eurasians were sent to Singapore to be held as prisoners of war.

“My father had rather dark skin, which I inherited. I think it saved my life!” said Jeremiah.

The remaining VF members were used by the Japanese as guides. Jeremiah’s work ethic as a guide caught the eye of a member of the Kempeitai, the feared Japanese military police.

“Colonel Watanabe took me to his office and asked what work I could do, so I said anything. He asked me to make tea, coffee, polish his boots – things like that.”

The Kempeitai office was located in the Wesley Methodist Church on Jalan Burma. Although he was a mere office boy, the experience was terrifying.

He still lives on Penang island today, a mere 20 minutes from the church – but he has never gone back to the church in over 70 years, until he brought R. AGE there last month to shoot an episode of The Last Survivors ( rage. com. my/ lastsurvivors).

“I used to see people being arrested. I don’t know how, but they were ‘ interrogated’. I used to hear screams, cries… I couldn’t take it,” he said in the video, which is part of a series documenting the stories of Malaysia’s WWII survivors.

Although the brutality of the Kempeitai has haunted many, including Jeremiah, not all the Japanese were cruel overlords.

Watanabe was educated in the United States, and he saved Jeremiah’s life a few times.

The Japanese would hold “trials” at public spaces – including Padang Kota Lama next to Fort Cornwallis – where their local informants would expose other locals who were working against the Japanese.

“( The informants) wore hoods when they pointed people out. The minute they point at you, you’re finished, gone,” said Jeremiah. “The Japanese would round up the public so the informants could point people out.”

Jeremiah thanks Watanabe for saving him from attending the trials, where he believes he could easily have been singled out for execution. “Watanabe protected me. I was so lucky, he was very good to me.”

Some of the informants flaunted their special privilege with the Japanese, according to Jeremiah.

“They would say ‘ don’t mess with us’, so we kept quiet. I remember a famous Eurasian doctor, Doctor J. E. Smith, who was done in by them and, I think, beheaded.”

Even with Watanabe’s protection, the atrocities being committed at the Kempeitai office was too much for Jeremiah to bear, and he asked to be transfered to the railways. The colonel relunctantly agreed.

Watanabe continued showing kindness to Jeremiah even after he started work as a locomotive driver, putting in a good word to his new boss and General Yamashita himself, the mastermind behind the invasion of Malaya. Yamashita had defeated the combined Australian, British and Indian force of 130,000 soldiers with just 30,000 troops.

“Yamashita was riding the train along with Tadashi Suzuki ( an infamous samurai sword- wielding executioner), but I couldn’t understand what they were saying as it was in Japanese,” said Jeremiah. “They noticed that my new boss’ boots were shining, and Watanabe said I was the one who polished them.”

The general made a lasting impression on young Jeremiah, who said the very sight of him made everyone afraid.

“He was very fierce and very dynamic, though very big and chubby. Everyone was afraid. I didn’t dare look him in the eye.”

While many struggled for food during the Occupation, Jeremiah said he was lucky to be paid in both “banana money” – the Japanese currency – and food.

“I used to get about 30 dollars a week, sometimes more. I saved the bread for my parents and if I wanted an egg, I’d ask Watanabe.”

Had he been caught smuggling eggs, the colonel would have beheaded him.

The horrors of the Occupation were a far cry from his pre- war days.

Jeremiah was rotated around a few places, including Fort Auchry ( now a Malaysian army camp), Fort Cornwallis and Batu Maung.

He remembers watching the Europeans and Eurasians boarding ships at Swettenham Pier heading to Singapore, where they believed they would be safe. Winston Churchill had insisted Singapore would not fall.

He was also posted at Batu Maung, a British fort which the Japanese turned into a torture chamber.

He brought the Last Survivors crew there during filming. The original fort remains, but the land is now a privately owned museumcum- theme park, with plastic “ghosts” hanging everywhere and a paintball field attached.

“Everything has changed,” said Jeremiah with a laugh. “I don’t remember any of this being here!”

Jeremiah spent the rest of the war as a locomotive driver. After the war, he worked at the Batu Ferringhi reservoir, where he would retire as a superintendent.

While he experienced many horrors during the war, something beautiful did come out of it. He met his late wife, a former Miss Thailand, during his time on the railways.

“I travelled all the way to Bangkok after the war to find her,” said Jeremiah with a wide smile.

“All I had was her name, as her letters never had a return address.”

Though he lives on, happily surrounded by his children and grandchildren, Jeremiah said young Malaysians need to find out about their grandparents’ experiences.

“War is something that hurts everyone – it’s not like what you see in the movies. They should find out; they need to be told what happened.”

Today, he has outlived all 18 members of the “E” Company, all five of his siblings, and one of his children.

“All my friends and colleagues are now gone. I am the last survivor.”

By Natasha Venner-Pack, The Star

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Malaysian WWII survivors share experience Part 2


 

PETALING JAYA: Stories of Malaysia’s World War II survivors have been coming in from across the country since R.AGE kicked off The Last Survivors, an online interactive video project.

The project aims to get young Malaysians to explore the country’s WWII history through the eyes of its survivors, in line with the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22.

While some submissions were from the grandchildren or children of survivors, others were written by the survivors themselves.

For example, John Robson, 84, said he started working when he was nine because of the war. He narrowly escaped execution after a bag of rice went missing at his workplace at the Tapah Road railway station.

“The Japanese captain slapped and kicked me. Then he went to his room and came out with his sword. The lorry driver and I were shivering,” Robson recounted.

“I cried and begged for forgiveness. I peed in my pants! Luckily, the captain believed me because he saw how scared I was and let me go with a warning.”

Another survivor, Lim Chung Bee, 93, was held captive in Japan from 1942 to 1946. His daughter Doreen Lim e-mailed R.AGE.

“He was 17 years old then and he experienced it all as a Japanese pri­so­ner of war working in the copper mines for four years,” said Doreen.

“I’ve found photos of him when he and other British soldiers were captured in Java in 1941.”

R.AGE also produced a mini-docu­mentary series on several WWII survivors.

Ethelin Teo, 85, was featured in episode three. She spoke of how she was almost taken as a comfort woman during the Japanese occupation of Kuantan.

Teo was 13 when the Japanese invaded Kuantan. She recalled how Teluk Cempedak, now a popular beach, was used as a killing field and mass grave.

Watch The Last Survivors and read all the WWII stories contribu­ted by the public at age.com.my.

By Vivienne Wong The Star

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Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions to South China Sea disputes


REFERRING to “Ripples and rumbles in South China Sea” (see below) by K. Thanabalasingam, I wish to share a few more points vital to the issue.

Conventional knowledge is that China’s claim to the islands is arbitrary and violates International Law. But what is left out is an impartial overview of the whole situation based on historical considerations and facts on the ground.

Claims made by Vietnam and China are mostly centred on history. The rest of the claimants are late comers after the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

To avoid complicating the issue, knowledge of history has to be put in perspective. Since there are no “historical titles” to validate, then whatever historical facts, maps or records have to be considered as evidence. At least it sheds light to validate its case.

China has been consistent in her claims since 1279. Marker stones and light houses were on the islands but most were destroyed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Even early European records affirmed Chinese fishermen took annual sojourns on Spratly islands for part of the year.

One interesting event that happened in 1953 involved a Tomas Cloma, (director of the Maritime Institute of the Philippines) who threw away all the marker stones and made a unilateral claim on some Spratly islands and later in December 1974 was forced to sell to the government for 1 peso only, now known as Kalayaan.

All these facts are buried and often not revealed by the West.

The infamous Treaty of San Francisco, also known as Treaty of Peace with Japan, was drafted by US and Allied Powers to settle post-war issues affecting nations. Whatever the circumstances, China/Taiwan and Korea were not invited to attend the negotiations which deprived them of a fair chance and the right to present their cases. This also breached the Cairo/Potsdam declarations.

After the devastating long war, China got the raw end of the deal with unsettled lands and islands. Scholars and historians viewed this as a deliberate manoeuvre by Western Powers especially the US to create ambiguities to serve their covert interests.

I totally agree with Thanabalasingam on the recent statement by the US and Allies to pre-empt the tribunal’s verdict in favour of the Philippines is an act of prima facie and undermines the whole proceedings of the court. That is why under Article 298 of UNCLOS, China declared that it does not accept compulsory arbitral procedures relating to sea boundary delimitation in 2006. Without guessing, one could easily decipher why the Philippine chose the arbitration court.

On the ground, it doesn’t need a military expert to see what’s happening in the region. It is a tussle between China and US with puppets (the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Vietnam) joining in the fray.

The US’s sole interest is to maintain her status quo and dominance in the region. China, a rising power, is a direct competitor. When Obama announced the pivot to Asia in 2012, tensions started building up day by day with increasing deployment of military assets to frightening level.

More bases have been opened to the US in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and some Asean nations, creating a “ring of fire” to contain China.

To harness support US raises up the heat and false alarms on China’s threat to “Freedom of Navigation”, etc. Do you expect China to remain docile and silent? Freedom of navigation was not an issue for decades. Deliberately intruding into sovereign territory with frigates, spy planes, etc are direct provocations.

Sad to see nations taking sides just to gain a little leverage to support their claims. As far as I can see, these islands are “bread crumbs” created to inflict tension and even wars among nations. Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions. Don’t allow a Middle East or Ukraine crisis in Asia.

I trust my country will take the path of engagement and diplomacy.

By Ali Saw Kuala Lumpur The Sundaily

Ripples and rumbles in the South China Sea

AFTER the conclusion of the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summits chaired by Malaysia here in late November 2015, I felt optimistic the year 2016 might see a lessening of tensions in the South China Sea and perhaps even witness a Code of Conduct being signed between all the claimant states. I suppose this was hoping too much.

What we have seen instead is a rapid increase in tensions caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea. Understandably, claimant Asean states are anxious and concerned over these latest developments.

Since the start of this year, China has conducted several test flights from its airfield in the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands Group. There was also news reports that China had moved an oil rig into disputed waters between China and Vietnam.

This brings to mind the January 1974 Chinese/Vietnamese clash over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam suffering heavy losses and being evicted from the Paracels.

More recently it has been reported and confirmed that China has installed long-range anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain.

This does not auger well for calm and confidence-building between the various Asean claimant states and the Republic of China.

In addition, the occasional reported intrusions of Chinese coastguard vessels into other nations’ territorial waters is cause for concern.

The recent statement by the US and some European nations that China must abide by the decision to be made by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, hearing the Philippines request to invalidate China’s claims, is rather premature in my humble opinion.

The US and other western nations’ statement would have been better coming after the tribunal’s verdict expected sometime near the middle of this year, if it turns out to be in Philippines favour. As it is, I feel the statement pre-empts the tribunal’s verdict.

I had written an article on the South China Sea dispute and stated my personal views in June 2015. I am of the firm belief, based on International Law and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that China’s claim to virtually the whole of the South China Sea is arbitrary and unprecedented.

No country has ever claimed such a large expanse of international maritime waters before. There is no provision anywhere that I am aware of for a historical claim, especially when such a claim has never been exercised or enforced until more recent times. China is not only a party to UNCLOS but it has also ratified it. Therefore, China is bound by UNCLOS.

A point to bear in mind is that there are laws and rules to what constitutes an island. Under UNCLOS no shoal or reef can be reclaimed and turned into an island.

A reclaimed land is artificial and not natural. Hence the question of territorial waters or other claims for the artificial island does not arise.

The Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by all members of Asean and the People’s Republic of China on Nov 4, 2002 unfortunately has a number of setbacks. There is also a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Although this is mainly to avoid any untoward sea incident between US Navy ships and Republic of China Navy (ROCN) ships. I feel that CUES should also be used more by Asean claimant states’ naval ships and the ROCN ships.

Although I am disheartened by the latest developments in the South China Sea, I sincerely hope that these ripples and rumbles do not develop into a full blown hurricane or typhoon.

By Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri K. Thanabalasingam was the third chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the first Malaysian to be appointed to the post.Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

The U.S. should keep away from the South China Sea for regional peace

China is forced to deploy defensive facilities on islands in the South China Sea in response to early militarization action from other parties and to the U.S. close-up reconnaissance in this region, said a China’s professor who specializes in international affairs.

Shen Dingli, a professor specializing in international affairs from Fudan University, wrote in a column that if the U.S. expects fewer disputes in the South China Sea, the country should not choose any side and not support those who infringe upon China’s national interests. The U.S. should make those countries withdraw from the region.

Shen stated that the U.S. should reduce its close-up reconnaissance in the region so that China will not need to spare much time to deploy forces in the region.

According to Shen, statements of spokespersons from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense clearly show China’s attitude towards this issue.

First of all, China deploys defensive facilities in order to cope with other countries’ militarization in this area. Secondly, China benefits from freedom of navigation and China is willing to maintain this freedom within the international law in cooperation with ASEAN countries. Thirdly, China urges the U.S. to respect its legitimate interests when it comes to sovereign of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Shen also said that if the U.S. really cares about China’s deployment of radars and missiles on relevant islands, it should reduce the close-up reconnaissance by its missile destroyers and strategic bombers in this area.  By Yuan Can (People’s Daily Online)

US militarizing South China Sea

Compared with the progress Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have achieved on sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, finding common ground to resolve their differences over the South China Sea has proved more difficult.

Just as Wang has stressed, the responsibility for non-militarization of the South China Sea is not China’s alone. The United States should lend an attentive ear to China’s stance.

On Tuesday, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said China’s deployment of missiles and new radars on its islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its building of airstrips are “changing the operational landscape” in the waters.

The media in the US also hyped up China sending Annihilates-11 fighters to the Xisha Islands. These voices may be a prelude to Washington escalating the flexing of its muscles in the South China Sea.

Yet as a non-regional country, it is irresponsible of the US to intervene in the South China Sea in disregard of the possibility that has emerged that China and the other parties to the disputes in the waters will be able to stabilize the situation rather than let it spiral out of control.

If those in the region were allowed to settle the disputes themselves, the South China Sea would be free from concerns and troubles within the foreseeable future.

It is the US’ direct interventions in the South China Sea that are exacerbating tensions and adding uncertainty.

The US’ provocative signals have seriously increased Chinese people’s sense of urgency to strengthen the country’s military capabilities. When US military vessels and warplanes intruded into the 12-nautical-mile territorial seas around China’s islands and reefs, Chinese people have reasons to believe their country should not remain indifferent even if its military might is still inferior to that of the US.

On issues concerning national sovereignty, the Chinese military will follow the will of its people.- Global Times

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