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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Rather than military prowess, it will be agreements achieved through dialogue and mutual trust that will guarantee long-term peace and security in Asia.

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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Source: Global Times | 2016-4-21 0:38:01

 

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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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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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Philippines violated agreements and laws by filing arbitration over South China Sea


 

China: Rejection of the Philippines’ arbitration ‘in line with law’

 Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China’s rejection of arbitration filed by the Philippines over terroritorial claims, is in line with the law. His remarks came after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing on Wednesday, as Australia called for a resolution to the South China Sea disputes through peaceful means, including arbitration.

“China is actually following international law by not accepting arbitration regarding sovereign and maritime entitlements. Because after joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2006, China issued a declaration according to the rights given to China by Article 298 of the UNCLOS. We issued a government statement excluding China from being subjected to the compulsory settlement measures. The Chinese government will continue to stand by the declaration.” said Wang Yi.

China in 2006 declared it would not accept arbitration of disputes concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Wang said.

“Chinese government will certainly stick to this position,” Wang said, adding that more than 30 countries, including Australia, have also made similar “exclusive” declarations.

He gave a list of reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt is invalid and unacceptable, including unilateral moves without consulting China, which goes against international norms, as well as the common sense argument that arbitration applications are usually lodged only when all other means are depleted.

China and the Philippines have several agreements that disputes should be solved through dialogue and consultation.

The Philippines has also signed the fourth article of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which states that disputes should be solved by those countries directly related, through negotiation and consultation.

Wang said that the Philippines’ arbitration attempt violated previous agreements and raised suspicion of its complicated international background or even hidden political motives.

The minister listed reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt, first made in 2014 to a UN tribunal, is invalid and unacceptable. He said it was a unilateral move by the Philippines, which goes against international norms on arbitration, and that they have not yet exhausted other means to reach a resolution. Wang Yi also said any deployment of defense facilities on China’s own territory would be legitimate.

Wang further said the Philippines not only violated a number of agreements by filing arbitration without China’s consent … but also did not follow the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. According to him, any arbitration should only be filed after all possible solutions are tried and failed.

“The Philippines betrayed our trust and went against justice to file for arbitration. That made us wonder whether they are making these decisions following complicated international circumstances.   They may even have political purposes that they don’t want to share,” he said.

This was in response to western reports that an advanced surface-to-air missile system was deployed to one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

“I hope that media everywhere will turn their attention to the lighthouses that we have built on some of the islands in the South China Sea. They are in operation now and they have been very useful in ensuring the safety of passing ships in those waters. The meteorological forecast facilities and other facilities will provide assistance and rescue and emergency response to the fishing boats in those waters. Because I think all of those are actions China, as the biggest state in the South China Sea, has undertaken to provide more public goods and services to the international community and play a positive role there. ” said Wang, ” As for the limited and necessary self-defence facilities that China has built on the islands and reefs stationed by Chinese personnel, this is consistent with the self-preservation and self-protection that China is entitled to under international law. So there should be no question about that.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister also stressed that demilitarization benefits all, but it can not be applied to only one country, or with double or even multiple standards. He said demilitarization in the South China Sea needs joint efforts from countries both in and outside the region. The Chinese Foreign Minister said China noticed that during the just concluded meetings between the US and ASEAN, the two pledged to achieve demilitarization in the region. He said China hopes they can keep their word. Xinhua

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US playing a messy game of provocations in SCS; China build up defense to thwart the provocation


In October, the US guided missile destroyer USS Lassen conducted a “freedom of navigation” operation within 12 nautical miles of China’s Meiji and Zhubi reefs.

In December, a United States Air Force B-52 bomber “accidentally” flew within 2 nautical miles of China’s Huayang Reef.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced an “innocent passage” by the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur within 12 nautical miles of China’s Zhongjian Island.

On the surface, these are “routine” operations US Senator John McCain says are “normal occurrences” China will have to accept.

Yet this is not a Tom-and-Jerry kind of game where no party gets seriously hurt.

There is real potential danger, because the US challenges to China in the South China Sea are showing a trajectory of escalation.

Zhongjian Island is part of the Xisha Archipelago, where there is no current, active dispute, and hardly part of the issue of the day.

The Pentagon did display some diplomatic sophistication this time, claiming that the USS Curtis Wilbur “challenged attempts by the three claimants-China, Taiwan and Vietnam-to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas”.

Ignoring the fact this violates the US’ recognition of “one China”, reaffirmed by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, the Pentagon’s statement raises legitimate suspicions that it has an agenda to further complicate the South China Sea issue.

As in the rest of the South China Sea, there is no evidence the named “claimants” are attempting to “restrict navigation rights and freedoms”. Enlarging the South China Sea issue by extending it to the Xisha Archipelago may be an attempt to drive a wedge between the mainland and Taiwan by dragging the latter into a long dormant and increasingly forgotten “dispute”.

The US wants a larger role in the Asia-Pacific. And it is bent on preempting a perceived Chinese challenge.

There is no better way to do this than by making things messier, to make itself “needed” and “wanted”.

What China needs and wants is peace, but as the Chinese saying goes, while the tree craves calm, the wind will not abate. Beijing needs to react accordingly, and prepare for all possibilities.

However, the country learned the significance of comprehensive national strength the hard way. It should not be distracted. It should rise above stress responses and stay focused on its development agenda. – China Daily)

Build up defense to thwart US provocation 

China firmly upholds her sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

The US on Saturday sent one of its naval vessels within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. The move, according to the Pentagon, was about “challenging excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others.” The Chinese side criticized the behavior of a “serious political and military provocation.”

Until recently, China-US frictions have been fixed on the Nansha Islands. The latest intrusion by US vessels is a high-profile US provocation that has expanded to the Xisha Islands. Xisha is under China’s actual control and China has released the territorial sea baseline of the Xisha Islands, including Zhongjian Island. Therefore, the US provocation this time is more vicious.

Currently, China and the US have been focused on making their own moves in the South China Sea disputes. China is building islands in accordance with the law, and the US cannot prevent China from doing so despite strong protests. The US sent warships to provoke, and China protests against it strongly, yet with few effective countermeasures.

It is hard to evaluate the strategic nature of Sino-US confrontations in the South China Sea. China seems to have more room to maneuver, while the US apparently has more control over the overall situation.

Since it happens at the door of China, China feels that the US is circling to contain it and the US vigilance against China is aggressive. There is a long way to go before China can have an equal footing with the US. Such equality can only be achieved with the build-up of strategic strength.

China’s military strength still significantly lags behind that of the US. If the US is ready for a face-off in the South China Sea, it can quickly gather its military strength despite the far distance.

We also face similar setbacks in the East China Sea. We bear enormous pressure from Washington in our peripheral areas, and the relative backwardness of China’s military might is the weakest link in our competition with the US. Chinese people must be clear about the broader strategic significance of this reality.

The US provocation comes ahead of the 2016 two sessions which are scheduled in March. This reminds us that we must retain a high growth rate of military spending in spite of the economic downward trend.

The defense expenditure of a big power must constitute a certain percentage of its overall expense. China’s military budget only takes up 2 percent of its GDP, much lower than the US figure of 4 percent. Before we reach the same ratio as the US, we should hold a cautious attitude toward decreasing the defense budget.

China needs to accelerate its speed of building up strategic strike capabilities, including a nuclear second-strike capability. The US provocation will not stop due to Chinese objections. In the short-term future, we will have limited means to counter the US.

It will probably take China a dozen years or longer of military build-up before it faces a different situation in the South China Sea. – Global Times

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Taiwan chooses Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen, not independence


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Tsai Ing-wen won by a landslide in Taiwan’s “presidential” elections on Saturday, and the DPP she leads captured the majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, with the Kuomintang once again becoming an opposition party.

Since KMT’s defeat in Taiwan’s nine-in-one local elections in 2014, it’s expected that the DPP will assume power again. To win the election, Tsai made prudent remarks and took an ambiguous attitude toward cross-Straits policies in the past year. She kept stressing maintaining the status quo of cross-Straits ties.

By circumventing the sensitive cross-Straits issue, Tsai had clearly drawn a lesson from her defeat four years ago. When “Taiwan’s path” was discussed in the “presidential” campaign this time around, the focus was not whether the island should seek “independence,” but how to boost the island’s economy, address social inequality, and guarantee the future of younger generations.

The vote is not a gauge of cross-Straits relations. The DPP’s victory doesn’t mean the majority of Taiwanese support Taiwan independence. Tsai and her party are aware of this, so in her victory speech, she was evasive about the current issues between Taiwan and the mainland, only scrupulously stating that she will be engaged in a “consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-Straits relations.”

The past eight years have seen greater progress for cross-Straits relations. Such progress, which is hard to be reversed, will provide some restraint on the DPP’s mainland policy. Besides, the mainland has an asymmetrical edge over Taiwan in political, military and economic terms. The mainland firmly holds the initiative in cross-Straits relations, making Taiwan independence a completely impossible scenario.

The KMT’s eight-year administration has made contributions to the current stage of cross-Straits relations, a performance that merits recognition both in Taiwan and the mainland. After this power shift, the DPP should assume the responsibility of serving the best interests of Taiwanese society, avoiding creating trouble for cross-Straits relations like it did as an opposition party. If the DPP abandons the progress made by its predecessor in the past eight years, it will jeopardize its future as a ruling party. The lesson of Chen Shui-bian should be a long-lasting lesson.

The mainland should be more prudent toward the power shift in Taiwan. No matter which party takes power, the mainland should maintain a policy calling for peaceful development between the mainland and Taiwan, while it cannot waver in opposing any form of pro-independence movement in Taiwan.

Tsai hasn’t publicly accepted the “1992 consensus,” which casts a cloud over cross-Straits official communications after she assumes office. The mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Saturday said that Beijing upholds the 1992 consensus and hasn’t shown any change toward Taiwan.

Regardless of its relationship with the mainland, it’s impossible for the DPP to reverse Taiwan’s stagnant economy. No matter what kind of political philosophy Tsai espouses, she has to face up to the reality. She should know she has limited options.

Tsai should keep in mind that if she revisits Chen’s dangerous path to cross the red line of cross-Straits relations, she will meet a dead end. We hope Tsai can lead the DPP out of the hallucinations of Taiwan independence, and contribute to the peaceful and common development between Taiwan and the mainland. – – Global Times

Tsai should prove sincerity about peace across Taiwan Straits

Now that the Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen has won Taiwan’s “presidential” election, she should waste no time to prove that she is sincere in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. She should work to make people in Taiwan feel safe, instead of creating anxieties with her ambiguous mainland policy.

Tsai has played the card of “maintaining the status quo” during her election campaigns. But she has never made it clear how she would approach the 1992 Consensus.

As the cornerstone of cross-Straits relations, the consensus insists there is only one China, of which both the mainland and Taiwan are a part, though the meaning of “one China” is open to interpretation by both sides.

For a Taiwan leader, whether to accept the consensus or not decides which direction he or she would lead the island in: peace and stability, or conflicts and tension. The issue bears no ambiguity.

Thanks to the consensus, cross-Straits relations have developed smoothly over the past eight years. A slew of agreements have been signed to boost trade and tourism, bringing benefits to people on both sides. The two sides’ top leaders met last November, for the first time since 1949.

All this has not come by easily, and should not be taken for granted. It requires efforts from both sides to make sure the momentum will not be interrupted by a leadership change, or derailed by any political missteps and misjudgment. After all, peaceful development of cross-Straits relations conforms to the interests of both Taiwan and the mainland.

Tsai has reportedly expressed wishes that both sides could work together for peace across the Taiwan Straits. If she means what she says, and accepts the 1992 Consensus, prospects for cross-Straits relations will remain promising.

The mainland has kept the door to dialogue open with the DPP so long as it accepts that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. The mainland has also taken a flexible approach when handling relations with the DPP. The channel of communication remains unblocked.

Many differences remain between the mainland and Taiwan, not only in lifestyle and social system, but also in how and when the two sides should be reunited. But under no circumstance should the differences be used as excuses to seek Taiwan independence, which means war, as the mainland’s Anti-Secession Law suggests. The bottom line shall never be tested.

Any attempt to steer the island closer to independence will be a fool’s errand. – China Daily

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