US-S.Korea must take blame for North’s nuclear move; provocation heightens insecurity, sabotages stability


North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute on Wednesday claimed that it has reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor in a written interview with Japan’s Kyodo News. It also disclosed that its Yongbyon nuclear facilities have produced uranium needed for nuclear armaments. At a time when Beijing and Seoul are in a tug of war on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, Pyongyang has thrown a bombshell.

North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under the Six-Party Talks accord, but began renovating it amid the confrontation with the US and South Korea in 2013. Kyodo’s report suggested that North Korea has resumed its reprocessing facilities and its nuclear reactor is in full swing.

This is a dilemma facing China, the US and South Korea. The choice of the latter two is simple. The more nuclear activities North Korea will carry out, the greater pressure they will impose on it. But their tactics are of no help in solving the problem.

Given the increasing risks of a military strike by the US and South Korea and subversion of the regime, Pyongyang seemingly has no other choice but to intensify its efforts in developing nuclear power. China seems to have the most options, but that has put the country in a predicament. Beijing has cooled down its relations with Pyongyang and imposed the toughest ever sanctions against it over the past several years.

Complaints from South Korea that China hasn’t pressured Pyongyang enough have often been heard. Seoul hopes Beijing and Pyongyang will openly turn against each other. It is even better for Seoul to see the North targets its nuclear weapons at China. Meanwhile, Pyongyang blames Beijing for taking the wrong side.

China should stay unwavering to pursue denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, it should hold firm to opposing any strategic military deployment by the US that will cause threats to China’s security under the excuse of dealing with the Peninsula situation. North Korea’s resumption of uranium production further complicates the Korean Peninsula situation. But currently, China should pay more attention to THAAD.

Pyongyang has paid the price for developing nuclear weapons, so should the US and South Korea for deploying THAAD. Any resolution by the UN Security Council to denounce North Korea and adopt new sanctions should be associated with the THAAD issue. The US and South Korea should take the blame if THAAD impairs the effectiveness of sanctions against the North. Nonetheless, Pyongyang shouldn’t feel relieved. It would rather be totally isolated from the international community before it gives up its nuclear ambition.

China objects to North Korea’s nuclear tests and war on the Peninsula. But once large-scale military conflicts break out, the North and South Korea will take the brunt. China doesn’t need to feel more anxious than them. Global Times

S. Korea-US provocation heightens DPRK’s insecurity, sabotages regional stability

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/vBCGw8iNpJc

Under the pressure of South Korea-US military drill and the widely disputed THAAD deployment, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reportedly fired a ballistic missile early Wednesday, sending a strong signal that Washington and its allies are risking turning the region into a powder keg.

If confirmed, the missile launch would be a new violation of UN resolutions. However, the fact that it came two days after the South Korea-US drill simulating an all-out attack by the DPRK merits a closer look at its motivation.

Denounced as aggression and provocation by the DPRK, the two-week Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises will surely not make Seoul safer. Rather, it might compel Pyongyang to take even more reckless actions for the sake of its own security.

In fact, the United States and South Korea have been warned in advance by the north. Calling the South Korea-US exercises the “most undisguised physical measure and provocative action,” the DPRK has vowed to “foil all hostile acts and threat of aggression and provocation with the Korean-style nuclear deterrence.”

Within that context, the launch could be regarded as a tit-for-tat move of Pyongyang.

Washington and Seoul are playing a dangerous game. They are holding a wolf by the ears in the hope that their sabre-rattling would deter the DPRK. However, their plan dooms to be a wishful thinking, as muscle-flexing leads to nowhere but a more anxious, more agitating and thus more unpredictable Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, the launch, already the fourth missile fired by the DPRK after the announcement of THAAD’s deployment on July 8, could be interpreted as a protest against the planned installation of the system.

It also serves a reminder to policymakers in Seoul that by allowing the THAAD deployment, South Korea is putting the cart before the horse in their pursuit of national security, as the key to security lies in good neighborly and friendly relations with its neighbors, rather than a bunch of US-made missiles.

The increasingly complicated and stinging situation in East Asia needs to be cooled down before it is too late, and at this moment, what the region needs is cool heads instead of miscalculations. The ongoing trilateral meeting among Chinese, Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers offers a golden opportunity. – Xinhua

Related:   DPRK fires submarine-launched missile as S.Korea-U.S. war games kick off

The DPRK on Wednesday test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off
its east coast into the sea at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the start of annual South Korea-U.S. war games, Seoul’s military said.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug war confuses US, allies


Quotes: ‘Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte surprised the Western world recently by threatening to “separate from the UN,” and saying he would invite China and African countries to form a new international body.’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte surprised the Western world recently by threatening to “separate from the UN,” and saying he would invite China and African countries to form a new international body.

Duterte’s threat came in response to the UN’s criticism of his anti-drug war that has seen more than 700 suspected drug traffickers shot dead on the spot by the military and police.

Philippine society is severely afflicted by drugs. Statistics show there are over 3.7 million drug addicts in the country, and drug dealers have formed a secure business network in collaboration with corrupt authorities. Duterte has publicly allowed military police officers to fire at will if necessary, and he has even encouraged vigilantes to kill defiant drug traffickers.

Duterte’s new policy has won him great popularity and more than 600,000 drug traffickers and addicts turned themselves in half a month. However, the harshness of the anti-drug war has annoyed many Western media and human rights groups, which keep blaming Duterte for violating the rule of law and human rights.

Duterte’s lash-out against the UN also featured criticism of the US. “Why are you Americans killing the black people there, shooting them down when they are already on the ground?” he asked. He also blamed the UN for not doing enough to deal with the human rights crises that are happening in Iraq and Syria and allowing big powers to bomb villagers and children.

Duterte’s outspokenness makes him stick out among US allies. He was even dubbed the Philippines’ Donald Trump before he was elected. His big mouth has raised concerns among the US and Japan particularly, which do not know whether he just talks, or he will walk the talk.

The Philippines’ biggest value for the US and Japan is its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. Washington and Tokyo hope Duterte could remain aggressive like his predecessor Benigno Aquino III and continue serving as a bridgehead for their geopolitical game against China, but Duterte does not find this role tempting. He knows that the US and Japan will benefit in the South China Sea tensions, not the Philippines.

Duterte does not want his energy to be heavily consumed by the long-standing territorial disputes, but wants to put more effort into domestic governance. His first action is to eliminate the most disturbing problem of drugs. However, even though his radical move has gained popularity among the Filipinos, it is against the Western-branded universal value of human rights.

If the anti-drug war continues to expand in the future, pressures from the US and the rest of the Western world will rise dramatically, and the Philippine-US relationship will also be victimized and become bumpy.

The Philippines and the US are close allies with many rifts. Manila needs Washington, but holds aversion to any aggressive intervention in the Philippines’ home affairs. This, instead of the South China Sea disputes, is the crux that lies within Philippine society. – Global Times

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Malaysia no longer stuck in middle-income trap?


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is no longer stuck in the middle-income trap, as its gross national income (GNI) is now progressively growing towards the high-income benchmark as defined by the World Bank, says Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Attributing the positive development to the various reforms undertaken via the multi-year economic transformation programme (ETP), the CEO of Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) points out that Malaysia’s GNI at US$10,570 (RM42,340) per capita last year is now only 15% away from the high-income-economy benchmark of US$12,475 per capita.

This compared with a gap of 33% between Malaysia’s GNI of US$8,280 per capita in 2010 and the then high-income economy threshold of US$12,276 per capita.

“As a result of the things we have been doing since 2010 and up to now, we have become completely unstuck (from the middle-income trap), with the gap (in Malaysia’s per capita GNI against the high-income threshold) now narrowed down to just 15%, compared with 33% in 2010,” Idris, who has been leading Pemandu, which is an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department, since 2010, said.

“The gap was even wider before 2010, and we could never close the gap for many years, resulting in many economists and financial experts proclaiming that Malaysia is stuck in the middle-income trap, and would not be able to become a high-income nation by 2020 unless we become unstuck,” he said in his keynote address on the Public Private Partnerships panel discussion here yesterday.

The panel discussion, jointly organised by research and publishing company The Business Year and education services provider Brickfields Asia College, was themed “Innovation as Driver for Local Economic Empowerment”.

According to Idris, Malaysia had managed to transform its economy, as a result of implementing innovative strategies. He said the Government remained confident of closing the GNI per capita gap and achieving the high-income target by 2020.

Under the ETP, the target was to achieve a GNI per capita of US$15,000 by 2020.

Meanwhile, in addition to GNI growth, Idris said Malaysia was also making good progress in the fiscal-sustainability space, as evident in the narrowing of the Government’s budget deficit and the continued manageability of its debt level.

The reduction of Malaysia’s fiscal deficit to 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 6.6% of GDP in 2009, for instance, was an indication of a stronger and more sustainable financial position. The country’s fiscal-deficit-to-GDP ratio was expected to reduce further to 3.1% by the end of 2016.

The Government debt-to-GDP level, on the other hand, would remain below the self-imposed limit of 55%. It stood at 53% last year.

“We have reduced subsides and implemented the goods and services tax (among the various economic reforms) to achieve fiscal sustainability,” Idris said.

“We have also put in a lot of effort to stimulate private investment growth” he added, noting that private investment growth had outpaced public investment since the launch of the ETP.

Idris said while there were still challenges in implementing economic reforms, Pemandu would continue to monitor closely the progress made by various government ministries.

“We are tracking all the investment projects one by one … we want to make sure that all these projects are being implemented just as we said they would,” Idris said.

On the moderate growth of the country’s economy and gradual pace of fiscal-deficit reduction, Idris said these were a result of deliberate policy to ensure that Malaysia did not grow at the expense of accumulating more debts, or had its budget deficit cut drastically at the expense of the country’s economic growth.

Through this balancing act, Idris said, Malaysia had managed to stay in the “safe zone” in terms of debt-to-GDP and fiscal deficit levels while maintaining a steady growth path. – Cecila Kok The Star

But in the same article, Danny Quah, professor of economics and international development at the London School of Economics, disagreed that Malaysia had moved past the middle-income trap.

Quah maintained his position on Saturday, at a panel discussion organised by Sunway University in Petaling Jaya.

He told the university’s students that Malaysia had been going after “low-hanging fruits” in policymaking, resulting in it being trapped in the middle-income status.

“We are now in a situation where we are in a good place, but we’ll not get past it to gain fully developed country status in Malaysia’s own mould,” he said.

Quah is of the view that Malaysia has become complacent about its achievements, and that the nation suffers from what economists call the “natural resource curse”.

The economist pointed out that only about one million out of the 30 million people in the country are paying income tax, noting that this small fiscal base would be unsustainable moving forward.

The problems are an unclear direction, lack of leadership commitment, high-level plans that are not practical, rigid implementation, a silo mentality and work approach, public demands and inputs not adequately obtained, poor accountability, and a lack of transparency and trust deficit.

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Japan’s denial of past military aggression undermines world peace; intervention in SCS perverse, vicious


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/p57piVGcVqg

August 15 marked the 71st anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender during World War II. However, on this special day when Japan should spend time reflecting on its history of militaristic aggression, its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine.

The Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from WWII, is regarded as a symbol of past Japanese militarism.

The honoring of war criminals, no matter what form it takes, only serves to further hurt those Asian neighbors that Japan once invaded. Such perverse acts to whitewash its crimes of military aggression runs contrary to the pursuit of peace in Asia and the world at large.

It’s common knowledge that the Yasukuni Shrine is a source of spiritual inspiration for Japan to start another war of aggression. Yet, the country’s new Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has tried to associate such a notorious place with the mourning of soldiers belonging to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

She claimed at a recent seminar that “the Yasukuni Shirine is not the place to vow not to fight. It needs to become a place where we vow to desperately fight when our Motherland is at risk.” Her words shocked even the Kyodo News.

The 71-year-peace after WWII was hard-won. Born from the victory over fascism, this peace has been the foundation for post-war international order. This conclusion is not something that can be ignored, denied or overturned by any country.

World peace and the post-war order, which came at the cost of the blood and lives of the peoples of Allied countries, is closely tied to justice.

Last year, the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of the World Anti-Fascist War, but some countries, looking out for their own interests, have turned a blind eye to the wrongdoings of Japan and have even urged Japan to abandon its pacifist constitution. The world today is witnessing the negative impact brought about by this short-sighted strategy.

By erasing its invasion history, Japan is on one hand attempting to lock away memories of the war and on the other hand setting the stage for future action. In the House of Councillors election in July, lawmakers pushing for Constitution amendments won more than two-thirds of seats. This has led to forward-thinking people in Japan to also begin worrying about the “return of war.”

In order to strengthen military power and shake off the post-war order, the Abe administration usually uses the so-called “China threat” as an excuse to deceive the Japanese public and other parts of the world.

After Japan adopted its new security laws that lifted a decades-old ban on collective self-defense, the Abe administration has been making every effort to contain China by instigating disputes between China and other countries.

On the day when the so-called arbitral decision on the South China Sea dispute was announced in July, Japan, a non-party in the issue, immediately pressured China to accept the arbitration. At the following 11th Asia-Europe Summit and foreign ministers’ meetings on East-Asia cooperation held in last month, Japan reiterated its stance again and again.

In the country’s annual defense white paper issued in early August, Japan pointed fingers at China over the South China Sea issue once again. The paper also made irresponsible remarks concerning China’s armament, military expense and transparency. These actions by the Abe administration has triggered alarm and concern throughout the international community.

Japan’s tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine on Monday once again reminds us that world peace is not that should be taken for granted, it demands continual justice and also the capability to defend it.- People’s Daily

Japan’s intervention in South China Sea perverse, vicious: expert

Japan’s efforts to muddle the waters of the South China Sea are perverse acts that turn back the wheel of history, a Chinese expert wrote on Monday in an article that marked the 71st anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender in World War II and called on the public to ponder Japan’s real intentions.

In the People’s Daily article, Hu Dekun, the president of China Association for History of WWII, pointed out that the war of aggression initiated by Japanese fascists during the 1930s and 1940s had brought tremendous disaster to people both in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

As an assailant country, Japan should be held accountable for its war crimes. However, in order to cement its global hegemony, the US, who then exclusively occupied Japanese territory, allied with the latter in the hopes of dominating the Asia-Pacific order.

But instead of repenting for its war crimes and improving ties with the victimized countries, Japanese right-wing politicians started bullying other countries under the support of the US, read the article, titled “Perverse Acts of Japanese Government.”

Things got worse after the US adopted its “Asia-Pacific Rebalance” policy, Hu writes, citing the South China Sea issue as an example.

Hu noted that in a bid to contain China, Japan repeatedly instigated disputes between China and other countries around the South China Sea. Japan, a country not involved in the South China Sea issue, joined the US as another agitator in meddling the waters.

According to Hu, Japan is attempting to get rid of the post-war order by amending its constitution.

After Japan officially adopted the new security laws that lifted the decades-old ban on collective self-defense, the country is now planning a constitution amendment. But the biggest roadblock ahead is public support. The Abe administration is seeking that support by playing up the “China threat.”

What’s more, Tokyo hopes divert public’s attention from other domestic issues. The Abe administration has lost credibility after “Abenomics” failed to revive the Japan’s sluggish economy. By fanning the flames of the South China Sea issue, the administration hopes to route domestic conflicts and consolidate its power.

By poking its nose in the South China Sea, Japan wishes to buddy up to the US. Though the US tried to manipulate some counties to challenge China, its “Asia-Pacific Rebalance” policy suffered serious setbacks by China’s diplomacy, friendships and policy of win-win cooperation, especially as the “Belt and Road” initiative aims to benefit most of its neighboring countries. Japan wants to take this chance to curb China so that it could pander to its alliance with the US.

“What’s Japan’s real intention for interfering in the South China Sea issue? Is Japan going to repeat its mistakes? ”asked Hu. – People’s Daily

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MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon …

Beware of meddling via soft power !


MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon for as long as one can remember. They are not limited only to the Muslim countries and communities. For example, last year at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Barack Obama indirectly admitted this when he publicly stated that the days of US interference in the affairs of Latin America were coming to an end. Reportedly, he said, “the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past”. Some traced this to as far back as the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries especially after its so-called “discovery” by Columbus. Perhaps, the major difference is that there are many more Latin American leaders and populace who are more “resolute” than their Muslim counterparts in resisting any attempt to meddle.

More generally “colonialism” is one form of meddling that many parts of the world have experienced, and are still suffering from it. Malaysia is no exception, no denying that there are some benefits to be learnt from the process. But where it hits the “mind” is where it is more toxic to the extent that it can debilitate. Even long after achieving independence the “colonised” mindsets are still clearly felt whether at the level of the leadership or the population at large. The post-Merdeka generations are more vulnerable when they are shut out from the larger discourse affecting the future of the nation, ironically due to yet another form of “meddling” that left them disenfranchised. In the days of social media, the impact of this can be phenomenal, what with other contending parties that are more than eager to attract their attention, as we have seen recently.

Social media is an excellent platform for yet another form of meddling – soft power. Coined a few years ago, soft power describes “the ability to attract and co-opt using persuasion (mind-twisting) rather than by coercion, notably by bullying and arm-twisting (hard power). To the disenfranchised, soft power is said to be very appealing especially when “credibility is the scarcest resource”, as explained by Joseph Nye, who introduces the concept. In fact more recently, the term has expanded to include “changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organisations.”

Of the six factors that are often associated with enhancing soft power, education and culture seem to be pivotal. In other words, meddling can be carried out discreetly using these two dimensions. Indeed, Nye did suggest how higher education leaders might enhance American soft power by increasing international student and cultural exchange programmes. Viewed this way, soft power is a very subtle extension of the colonial process without even realising it. A case in point is when in 2007 the Rand Corporation in the US developed a “road map” for the construction of moderate Muslim networks and institutions “that the US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates”. It therefore proposes “the building of moderate Muslim networks an explicit goal of US government programmes”.

More explicitly, it listed who the “moderates” are to be targeted according to priority, namely: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, young moderate religious scholars, community activists, women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns, and finally moderate journalists and writers. It argued that “the US should ensure visibility and platforms for these individuals.” For example, to ensure that individuals from these groups are “included in congressional visits, making them better known to policymakers and helping to maintain US support and resources for the public diplomacy effort.” If these sound like “meddling”, it is because it is one – effectively disguised as “soft power”. It is without doubt, yet another attempt among many to continuously interfere and manipulate the situation from the perspective of the authors and the sponsoring institution. Despite this it is very sad if Muslims are oblivious to the sleight of hand, and succumb to the form of endless meddling. Only to realise that it causes more confusion and divisiveness among the community.

In the days ahead before Aug 31, it is incumbent upon us to deeply ponder what Merdeka means beyond the routine parade and march-past, flag-raising ceremony and singing the national anthem.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, theSundaily

With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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THAAD will not protect ROK but cripples UN unity on NK nukes; Sino-US ties should surmount saber-rattling


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Public opinion in the Republic of Korea is divided over whether the deployment of the United States’ Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system is in the national interest.

Many of those in their 20s, 30s or 40s disagree with the decision. And anti-THAAD lawmakers have demanded an open debate in the National Assembly to discuss whether the THAAD is really in the ROK’s interests militarily, diplomatically and economically.

THAAD is incapable of defending against the potential missile threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the DPRK’s missiles travel at a lower altitude than those THAAD is designed to intercept. Even if that was not the case, one THAAD battery would not be able to provide protection against all the DPRK missiles. The capital Seoul and its adjacent metropolitan area, the country’s most populous regions, are even outside the protection range of THAAD.

However, the system’s X-band radar has a range of at least 2,000 km, which is the real reason the United States wants it deployed in the ROK as it will be able to snoop deep into Chinese and Russian territories.

Seoul claims that it will adopt the radar with a detectable range of 600-800 km, but the mode change can be made at any time in accordance with the needs of the US military that will operate the THAAD battery in the ROK.

If THAAD is deployed, it will sour the ROK’s relations with China and Russia, trigger an arms race and damage trade. It will make it difficult for the country to seek cooperation from China and Russia in denuclearizing the peninsula.

Seoul should heed the voices saying the only way to denuclearize the peninsula is through peace talks and changing the armistice treaty after the 1950-53 Korean War into a peace treaty. – China Daily

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 THAAD cripples UN unity on NK nukes

The UN Security Council failed to agree on a US-drafted statement that condemns North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch on Tuesday, because China demanded the statement oppose any provocative moves that take advantage of North Korea’s nuclear threat and missile project to enable a deployment of anti-missile systems in Northeast Asia.

China’s proposition is aimed at the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system that will be stationed by the US in South Korea. Since the US and South Korea announced the plan, the UN Security Council has failed twice to reach agreement over North Korean missile launches because of the major split between China and the US.

The planned deployment is adding a new challenge to the vulnerable geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia. The international collaboration against North Korea’s nuclear project has been crippled. A degenerative aura of the Cold War is emanating from the US-Japan-South Korea alliance.

China does not have a motive to encourage North Korea to develop nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, because at the cost of its ties with the North, it has been a backer of the UN Security Council’s sanctions against it. However, the US and South Korea went too far and made use of North Korea’s nuclear threat to deploy THAAD, which will cause great harm to China’s national security. Given China’s cooperation in sanctioning North Korea, it is nothing but a stab in the back.

North Korea’s nuclear ambition was primarily triggered by long-standing military pressures imposed by South Korea and the US. The escalating pressures have met bolder nuclear projects. China being a well-intentioned and responsible mediator has been paid back by a threatening advanced military system.

The US and South Korea are strongly convinced that they are absolutely right in this case, and any disagreement is totally wrong. The narrow-mindedness renders all proposals fruitless and futile.

The Korean Peninsula is intertwined with too many complications and concerns. The deployment of THAAD is a selfish and reckless move that will break the fragile balance with terrible outcomes: There will be a huge setback in the Sino-South Korean relationship; the susceptible Sino-US collaboration over Northeast Asia will collapse – all will result in a reconfiguration of each stakeholder’s policy on the region.

Although unwilling to go to war, all players in the big game should reflect on their policies as growing tensions have turned them more defensive rather than open.

The major-power rivalry between China and the US is behind many disputes in East Asia. Beijing and Washington seem to have a tacit understanding that their rivalry won’t explode into a physical conflict. However, some countries cannot look at the big picture, and are eager to pick sides, but they will only find that they are cannon fodder.

China and the US are exchanging blows over THAAD, but they won’t get into a real fight. However, if South Korea leaps headlong into this round of games and becomes a US agent, it will put itself in the middle of a new crisis.

South Korea is a confused player in the big game. It might eventually find out that THAAD will not bring about what it really expects.- Global Times

Sino-US ties should surmount saber-rattling

US naval ship visits Qingdao after disputed South China Sea ruling

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

US naval ship visits Qingdao after disputed South China Sea ruling

  A US Navy guided missile destroyer has arrived in the northern Chinese port of Qingdao. This is in the first visit by an American warship to China, after China refused to accept an arbitration ruling on the South China Sea dispute.US Navy guided missile destroyer the USS Benfold arrived in the northern Chinese port of Qingdao on Monday, marking the first visit by a US military ship to China since the South China Sea arbitration. This visit is believed to be a signal and an opportunity for both countries to ease tensions between them.

Before the arbitration award was announced, Washington deployed two aircraft carriers in and around the South China Sea, an obvious move to flex their muscles, pile pressure on China and encourage its allies. China responded in kind with a large military drill in the region and a routine combat patrol. Both countries have engaged with each other in a fierce tug of war.

This is not the whole picture of Sino-US relations, not even their military relationship. Not long ago, the US kept its invitation for China to participate in its Rim of the Pacific military exercise, which is mainly attended by its allies.

The Chinese shouldn’t always push the USS Larson’s provocations in the South China Sea into the limelight, nor can they easily turn over a new leaf with the US as the USS Benfold came in peace. We shouldn’t be tricked by a single gesture from Washington. Both China and the US must admit that the undefined Sino-US ties will continue being shaped in the future.

China and the US are exercising more precautions against each other, and they should get used to the new developments, such as a limited arms race, and not having to take the other’s defensive actions as unacceptable.

Throughout the history of human civilization, China and the US have engaged in the most peaceful rivalry between an emerging power and an established power. The Chinese should know as a dominant powerhouse, the US is relatively rational, and has not opted for harsh gambits. Washington also admits that China is a rational and careful emerging power, and pays enough respect to US national interests.

However, both China and the US still feel their own national security is being challenged by each other. Frankly speaking, China feels more insecure than the US. The US doesn’t have to overreact as for a long time to come, China won’t be powerful enough to launch a showdown against the US.

China should speed up its military modernization and narrow the gap with the US in military strength. The priority should be an increase in strategic military deterrence. The US shouldn’t see this as a hostile move. It must know that it cannot sustain an overwhelming military advantage over other countries forever. A strategic balance is essential to world peace in the nuclear age.

China has no plan to dominate Asia with its military prowess. What is happening in the East and South China Seas are simply territorial disputes, not a prelude for China to overturn the current world order.

China and the US should nurture a strong awareness of risk control and strategic trust to ensure the incessant frictions won’t become a real conflict.

Saber-rattling remarks do not mean both sides are ready for a war. Both sides must strive to avoid a military showdown. Whether they like it or not, they should respect the other’s core national interests. – 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

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

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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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https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/QWWBD8osZKQ

US agrees it’s time to ‘turn the page’ on South China Sea

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