For China And The U.S. ‘Cooperation Is The Only Way Forward’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

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Cooperation the only way forward

COOPERATION is the only correct choice for China and the United States, President Xi Jinping told visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Beijing yesterday.

There are important development opportunities resulting from China-US relations, said Xi during the meeting in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.

Xi said he had maintained sound communications with his US counterpart Donald Trump through phone calls and messages, and they had agreed that the two countries could be good cooperative partners.

Xi said that to advance China-US ties in a healthy and steady manner, both sides could enhance exchanges at various levels; expand cooperation in bilateral, regional and global fields; and properly address and manage sensitive issues.

Xi suggested the two countries increase strategic trust and mutual understanding, review bilateral ties from long-term and strategic perspectives and expand fields of cooperation for their mutual benefit.

The two countries should also enhance coordination on regional hotspot issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and encourage friendly exchanges between their two Peoples.

Tillerson told Xi, who extended an invitation for President Trump to visit China, that the US president valued communications with his Chinese counterpart and looked forward to meeting Xi and visiting China.

The US side is ready to develop relations with China based on the principle of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, said Tillerson.

China and the US are discussing arrangements for a meeting between the two presidents and exchanges at other levels, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his talks with Tillerson on Saturday.

“We attach great importance to your visit,” Wang told the US visitor at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

It was Tillerson’s first visit to China since he assumed office last month and he is also the first Cabinet-level official in the new US administration to visit.

China-US ties are developing steadily in a positive direction, Wang said.

He called for more cooperation in foreign affairs, the economy and trade, the military, law enforcement, people-to-people exchanges and local communication.

The essence of China-US trade relations is mutual benefit, said Wang, and he encouraged both countries to expand trade and investment cooperation.

Wang also restated China’s position on Taiwan and South China Sea issues, emphasizing that China and the US should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, discreetly deal with sensitive issues to protect bilateral ties from unnecessary influences.

Tillerson said the US adheres to the “One China” policy and added that closer cooperation and coordination between the two countries was necessary in the face of a changing international situation. The US would like to have more high-level exchanges with China, and more dialogue in diplomatic security, macroeconomic policy coordination, law enforcement, cyberspace and people-to-people exchanges, he said.

Tillerson’s visit aims to make “political preparations” for the meeting between two presidents, and both sides would make the best use of this chance to seek common ground, said Jia Xiudong, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.

Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday from Seoul. His first official Asian tour began on Wednesday and also took him to Japan.

US, China to Increase Cooperation on North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS PAPER ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

US, China to Increase Cooperation on North Korea

Korea

Beijing – The United States and China vowed to work together against threats of the North Korea’s nuclear program, while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the situation has reached a “dangerous” level.

Tillerson and his Chinese counterpart’s language seemed more reconciliatory in light US President Donald Trump’s accusations that China was not exerting enough efforts to control its troublesome neighbor. Beijing had meanwhile accused the White House of causing tensions.

“I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now and things have reached a rather dangerous level. And we have committed ourselves to doing everything we can to prevent any kind of conflict from breaking out,” Tillerson added during a press conference in Beijing with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Tillerson’s visit to China is the last leg of his Asian trip, where he made stops in Japan and South Korea.

He avoided using strong language during the joint press conference with Wang, who seemed to have reproached his counterpart for statements he had made earlier this week.

Wang urged the US to remain “cool-headed” and defended his government’s position, saying all international parties should seek diplomatic solutions while implementing UN sanctions against the regime in North Korea.

“We hope that all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a cool-headed and comprehensive fashion and arrive at a wise decision,” he added.

Neither parties announced any tangible future steps to solve the issue and Tillerson did not publically respond to Beijing’s calls for negotiations with North Korea.

Trump had increased the pressure on China, accusing it of not exploiting all means possible to control North Korea, whom he said considered Beijing to be its closest ally and economic benefactor.

“North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years. China has done little to help!” he tweeted.

The developments come after North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and launched missiles last month. The US considered the test-launch an attack on its bases in Japan.

The developments alarmed South Korea, spurring it to deploy the US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD). The Chinese leadership had accused the US of aggravating the situation through military trainings with its ally Seoul and the deployment of THAAD.

China is hesitant to increase its pressure on North Korea, whose reactions can be unpredictable.

Washington and Seoul insist that the THAAD system is for defense purposes only, but Beijing fears it could undermine its capabilities to denuclearize North Korea.

Beijing had always called for diplomatic talks to denuclearize North Korea, which is barred by the UN from proceeding with its program.

Wang also said that the Korean peninsula nuclear issue is of interest to everyone, reiterating his country’s commitment to the goal of denuclearization

“We are for the settlement of this issue through dialogue and negotiations and the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula and the overall region,” he added on Saturday.

Wang reiterated that China, as a close neighbor of the peninsula and a major power, has devoted a lot of energy and efforts to seek a settlement to the issue. The tremendous important efforts China has made are visible to all, he said.

Tillerson, who was CEO of ExxonMobil before being appointed secretary of state, said that a military option is possible if Pyongyang intensified its work.

“We do believe that if North Korea stands down on this nuclear program, that is their quickest means to begin to develop their economy and to become a vibrant economy for the North Korean people,” the US officials said.

He added: “All options are on the table, but we cannot predict the future.”

Maybe one of the reasons for the calm American-Chinese rhetoric is the expected talks between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi during the latter’s upcoming visit to US next month, the first such summit between the two leaders.

Trump is expected to host Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach on April 6 and 7 for an informal “no necktie” encounter. Experts hope this meeting will reduce tensions between the two officials.

China shares US fears of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambition, but it makes sure not to provoke its neighbor.

In February, Beijing issued a strong position when it announced it will stop coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year.

North Korea expert at Beijing University Wong Dong said: “It is a mistake to think that China can control Pyongyang and it is not reasonable for Washington to accuse Beijing of doing nothing. The situation is complicated and sensitive and there is no magical solution.”

The Obama administration ruled out any diplomatic involvement with Pyongyang until the latter shows commitment to denuclearization.

The communist state insists on owning nuclear weapons to defend itself and executed its first test in 2006 despite international objection. It had done four other tests, two last year.

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Toyota May Build Its First Factory In Saudi Arabia: Allowing Women To Drive Would Double Market

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Riyadh – Attesting to the undeniable investment attraction that is Saudi Arabia, Japan’s market giant motor corporation, Toyota, announced plans to launch its first ever production factory in the Kingdom.

Such an announcement confirms that grand-scale companies trust in Saudi economy and view it with optimistic potential.

Speaking at a Japan-held forum, Chairman of the Japanese Business Federation Sadayuki Sakakibara, explored economic and investment cooperation between the Kingdom and Japan.

Sakakibara stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s economic role for Japan and the keenness of the Japanese business sector toward the achievement of the strategic economic and developmental objectives of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 that aims to bolster bilateral cooperation

Earlier, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the National Industrial Cluster Development Program (NICDP) and the Toyota Motor Corporation for the feasibility study of an industrial project to produce vehicles and parts in the Kingdom.

“The study would take into account the evaluation of development of a local supply base using materials produced by major Saudi companies like Sabic, Maaden, Petro Rabigh, and other major industrial companies in the Kingdom,” the official Saudi state news agency reported.

It further aims to enhance the development and attraction of a Saudi workforce and put in place the adequate training programs.

Abdul Latif Jameel, as a local distributor for Toyota, will be also taking part in the joint feasibility study.

Toyota remains the leader in Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) car markets with more than 500,000 units sold in the GCC in 2016, according to SPA.

Moreover, on the third day of the fourth leg of a seven-nation Asian tour, the king attended the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 business forum aimed at strengthening bilateral ties.

King Salman was received at the forum by Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko.

South Korea Actively Considering Filing A Complaint With The WTO Against China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS) 

South Korea’s government will consider filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization against what they described as China’s trade retaliation after Seoul agreed to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, the ruling party said on Tuesday.

Beijing is widely believed in South Korea to be retaliating against some of its companies and cancelling performances by Korean artists after South Korea’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

“We will actively consider whether China’s action is in violation of the South Korea-China free trade deal, while stepping up efforts to minimize damage on South Korean industries,” Lee Hyun-jae, chairman of the Liberty Korea Party’s policy committee, said after meeting senior government officials.

China rejected applications by some Korean carriers, including Jeju Air (089590.KS), to add charter flights between the two countries in March, Yonhap News Agency said on Tuesday, in what is seen as China’s latest retaliation against South Korean firms. Their applications for charter flights to China were rejected for January and February, with no reason given, Yonhap said.

The Chinese government last week ordered tour operators in China to stop selling trips to South Korea, days after the Seoul government secured land for the THAAD system from Lotte Group.

Lee said on Tuesday the government had since agreed to provide an additional 50 billion won ($43.3 million) worth of “special loans” to tourism companies that are experiencing business difficulties.

Chinese authorities have also closed nearly two dozen of Lotte Group’s retail stores following inspections, Lotte said on Monday.

China objects to the THAAD deployment, saying its territory is the target of the system’s far-reaching radar. South Korea and the United States have said the missile system is aimed only at curbing North Korean provocations.

(Reporting by Daewoung Kim and Hyunjoo Jin, Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Writing by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Paul Tait)

Malaysian Authorities Still Baffled Concerning The Murder Of Half Brother Of North Korea’s Leader

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

DETERMINING whether poison killed the half-brother of North Korea’s leader in a busy airport is proving difficult for Malaysian officials, who said yesterday that autopsy results are so far inconclusive.

More than a week has passed since Kim Jong Nam was approached by two women at a budget air terminal in Kuala Lumpur and apparently attacked in the face with an unknown substance. Kim did not suffer a heart attack and had no puncture wounds, such as those a needle would have left, Director General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah told reporters. He did not dismiss poison as a potential cause.

“We have to confirm with the lab report before we can make any conclusive remark,” he said.

He added that medical specimens had been sent to experts for analysis.

However, Rahmat Awang, director of Malaysia’s National Poison Center in Penang, said he had not yet received any samples despite expecting them to arrive two days ago. He said with such a high-profile case, specimens were likely being sent to his lab and to facilities abroad to seek the cause of death or confirm findings already reached in Kuala Lumpur.

Identifying a specific poison could be challenging, especially if a minute amount was used and it did not penetrate fat cells in the victim’s tissue. If the toxin only entered the bloodstream, it could leave the body very quickly. And even if a substance was found, it would need to match the symptoms Kim Jong Nam experienced before death.

The more unique the poison, the harder it was to find.

“Our lab, for example, traces the usual chemicals,” Awang said. “If the substance involved is not something we often see, the likelihood is that we might not be able to detect it.”

Highly sophisticated facilities, such as in Japan or at the FBI’s crime lab in the United States, are among those that have greater capabilities for discovering unusual toxic substances.

The case has perplexed leading forensic toxicologists who study murder by poison. They say the airport attack is a bizarre case, and question how the two women could walk away unscathed after deploying an agent potent enough to kill Kim Jong Nam before he could even make it to the hospital.

Some type of nerve gas or ricin, a deadly substance found in castor beans, have been suggested as possible toxins used. A strong opioid compound could also have been liquidized, though that would likely have incapacitated the victim immediately. Surveillance footage instead shows Kim walking calmly downstairs to the airport’s clinic.

Kim, the older half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, had spent most of the past 15 years living in China and Southeast Asia. The victim is believed to have had at least three children with two women. No family members have come forward to claim the body.

The attack spiraled into diplomatic fury when Malaysia refused to hand over Kim Jong Nam’s corpse to North Korean diplomats after his death, and proceeded with an autopsy over the ambassador’s objections.

The two nations have made a series of increasingly angry statements since then, with Malaysia insisting it is simply following its legal protocols, and North Korea accusing Malaysia of working in collusion with its enemy South Korea.

Seoul’s spy agency believes North Korea was behind the killing, but has produced no evidence.

Kim Jong Nam was not known to be seeking political power.

Trump Defense Chief Says Japan Alliance Covers Disputed Isles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Trump Defense Chief Says Japan Alliance Covers Disputed Isles

February 3, 2017, 7:38 AM EST
  • Japan government says Mattis confirms stance in talks with Abe
  • U.S. opposed to one-sided actions against Japan over islands

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the defense treaty between the longtime allies covers islets disputed with China, a Japanese government statement said.

The fresh guarantee will provide some reassurance for Japan after President Donald Trump withdrew from a regional trade pact and called on allies to spend more on their own defense. The statement was released late Friday after Mattis paid a courtesy call to Abe at his offices in Tokyo on his first foreign tour.

Secretary Mattis said the Senkaku Islands are under Japanese administration and are covered by Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The U.S. opposed any one-sided actions aimed at damaging Japanese control of the islands, the statement cited Mattis as saying. The leaders also committed to ensuring the stability of the U.S. military presence in Japan however there was no mention in the statement of the cost of stationing U.S. troops there.Ships and planes from Japan and China frequently tail one another around the uninhabited islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese. Any backing down from previous U.S. pledges to defend the isles could ratchet up tensions between Asia’s two largest economies.

The U.S.-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 binds the allies to “act to meet the common danger” if territories under Japanese administration are attacked. The U.S. acknowledges Japan as administering the isles, but does not take a position on their sovereignty.

Mattis also held a meeting with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and is set to meet Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Saturday.

For At Least 70+ Years Chinese Women Who Were Forced To Be Japanese Soldiers Whores (Comfort Women) Want An Apology From Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

FOR the past 70 years, Liu Fenghai, 89, has had her sleep interrupted countless times by the same nightmare.

“I dreamed about Japanese soldiers with sabers on their backs hunting me like an animal,” Liu, from north Shanxi Province, said.

The tragedy is that this is no dream.

Liu was sexually assaulted when she was just 16 and her limp, lifeless body left for dead in a ravine by Imperial Japanese Army soldiers. She managed to summon what was left of her energy and crawled back home. The ordeal left her bed bound and unable to walk for over a month.

Today is China’s third National Memorial Day to Commemorate Victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

“Comfort women,” were women and girls forced into sex slavery by the Japanese during World War II. More than 100 were from Shanxi and those still alive today are still waiting for an official apology from Japan.

The clock, however, is ticking.

Zhang Shuangbing has been visiting and interviewing comfort women in the province for the past 35 years.

Of the 129 women Zhang has on record, only seven are still alive and, to this day, they are still plagued by disturbing flashbacks of the sexual abuse, beatings and physical torture they endured.

On June 13, 1943, Hao Yuelian, who was 15 at the time, was raped by two Japanese soldiers in her own home while her parents were out.

Later that same day, beaten, bruised and shaken from her earlier encounter with the soldiers she was abducted and put to work in a military brothel to provide sexual services to the Japanese army. She was kept tied up and raped day and night.

“The Japanese government must acknowledge the crime and apologize. I must live and wait for the day to come,” Hao said.

Hao was left infertile due to her ordeal. Hers is not an isolated case.

“Nearly one sixth of the comfort women I visited were infertile because of what they were put through,” Zhang said.

Those that struggled, or tried to escape, were murdered, others committed suicide, and some simply tried to forget what had happened and refused to talk about it, Zhang said.

“I spoke to nearly 130 women in Shanxi, but there were more women in the province who had been forced into sex slavery during the war. I did not get the chance to meet them all,” Zhang said.

Some 400,000 women in Asia were forced to serve as comfort women during WWII, nearly half of whom were Chinese, according to Su Zhiliang, director of the comfort women research center at Shanghai Normal University.

On behalf of the women victims in Shanxi, Zhang submitted a letter of complaint to the Japanese government in 1992. The Supreme Court in Japan threw out the lawsuit in 2007. The three groups of comfort women who tried to sue the Japanese government all passed away without receiving an apology or compensation.

“They are witnesses to an event that should never be forgotten, but we are losing them every day,” Zhang said.

Recent Developments Surrounding The South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BANGKOK — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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PHILIPPINES DOESN’T WANT TO BE USED FOR U.S. FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION MISSIONS

The Philippines has again thumbed its nose at the U.S., its longtime defense ally, saying it won’t be used as a springboard for U.S. ships and planes conducting operations that challenge China in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippines will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for U.S. patrols — a possible departure from the current policy that allows U.S. aircraft, ships and submarines access to designated Philippine military bases under a 2014 defense agreement.

Lorenzana said U.S. ships and planes can use Guam or Okinawa in Japan for South China Sea missions. But he said they can still refuel and resupply in the Philippines after conducting such maneuvers, not before.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said she could not comment on Lorenzana’s remarks as she hadn’t seen them, but added: “Our adherence to freedom of navigation is well known. You know, we will fly, we will sail anywhere within international waters and we will continue that.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the commander of the U.S. Army’s I Corps who leads international military exercises in the Pacific, said that the U.S. military was prepared to change next year’s joint exercises with the Philippines to humanitarian and disaster relief training.

“If we change the training, we would probably look at putting a different force and a different capability in the Philippines versus the initial one that had been planned to go there,” he told Voice of America, referring to the initial focus on the Philippines’ territorial defense.

President Rodrigo Duterte has reached out to China to try to smooth over the territorial disputes. He also said he wants to scale back the Philippines’ military engagements with the U.S., including scuttling a plan to carry out joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the disputed waters, which he said China opposes.

But Manila still continues to rely on Washington. On Friday, the Philippine navy took delivery of a third frigate decommissioned from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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US, CHINA REACT TO VIETNAM’S REPORTED ISLAND DREDGING

The United States has called on Vietnam and other claimants to refrain from reclamation and militarization activities in contested South China Sea waters following reports that Hanoi has carried out dredging on one of the features it occupies in the Spratlys.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the U.S. is aware of the reports.

“We have consistently warned that reclamation and militarization in contested areas of the South China Sea will risk driving a destabilizing and escalatory trend. We encourage all claimants to take steps to lower tensions and peacefully resolve differences,” she said.

Vietnam’s government has not commented on satellite imagery purportedly showing dredging activities inside a channel on Ladd Reef, about 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers) west of Spratly Island where Hanoi recently began extending a runway and building hangers. It wasn’t clear if the latest activity was meant as repair or construction work.

Ladd Reef, which is submerged at high tide, has a lighthouse, which also serves as quarters for Vietnamese troops.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged Vietnam to “respect China’s sovereignty and rights, stop illegal invasion and construction activities, and not to take actions that could complicate the situation.”

He repeated Friday that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

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CHINA WARNS BRITAIN AGAINST SOUTH CHINA SEA PATROLS

China has reacted angrily to Britain’s announcement that its four Typhoon fighter jets on a training visit to Japan will patrol the skies over the East and South China sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with neighbors.

The British ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, also said last week that his government plans to conduct freedom of navigation operations involving its newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, when it becomes operational in 2020. He said that Britain “absolutely shares” the U.S. objective to protect freedom of navigation in what it considers international waters despite China’s claiming virtually the entire South China Sea as its territory.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, in an opinion piece, said Darroch was perhaps trying to impress his Japanese colleague and that his remarks create the impression that London may soon deviate from “a largely aloof attitude” toward the South China Sea issue and start to meddle like the U.S. and Japan.

“Should a British warplane embark on a so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ mission in the South China Sea, it would only serve to further complicate the issue and weigh on thriving China-Britain ties,” Xinhua said.

It says China has never denied any legitimate passage of ships or planes in the area.

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CHINA ADDS SECOND CRUISE IN THE PARACELS

China is adding a second cruise ship to the Paracel Islands, a tropical paradise of pristine beaches and little else.

The new cruise ship called Nanhai Zhi Meng will start its maiden four-day voyage in late December from Sanya, a port on southern Hainan Island, to Yinyu, Quanfu and Yagong islands in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The first cruise was launched in April 2013 and so far has attracted 23,000 Chinese tourists.

The tours only serve islands with no military installations and are only open to Chinese nationals. Unlike the largest island in the Paracels, Woody Island, which is also an administrative center founded in 2012, the coral reefs on the cruise tour have no accommodation or any significant infrastructure.

Prices range from $580 to $1,450 per person.

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Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

So, You Become A Soldier Just So You Can Become Crocodile Poop

(I PULLED THIS STORY OFF OF FACEBOOK, RATHER SICKENING TO THINK ABOUT, BUT IT IS A GOOD READ.)

An army of 1000 Japanese soldiers was decimated by saltwater crocodiles during the Battle of Ramree Island of World War II.

Oct 11, 2016
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During World War II, The Japanese Imperial Army captured Ramree Island in 1942. The island lies off the Burma coast, 70 miles south of Akyab, now known as Sittwe.

Since Ramree was strategically important, the Allies launched an attack in 1945 to retake the island and establish airbases to support the mainland campaign.

After a bloody campaign, British troops managed to drive nearly 1,000 enemy combatants off the island into the dense mangrove swamp that covered some 10 miles of Ramree.

It was after this that one of the oddest incidents in the history of warfare occurred.

British troops in a landing craft make their way ashore on Ramree Island, 21 January 1945.
British troops in a landing craft make their way ashore on Ramree Island, 21 January 1945.

The defeated Japanese soldiers ignored all appeals by the British for their surrender, and instead abandoned their base and entered the swamp. Many of the Japanese troops succumbed to tropical diseases carried by swarms of mosquitoes, as well as the various poisonous spiders, snakes and scorpions found in the marsh.

Another additional problem for the Japanese troops was the lack of drinking water and constant threat of starvation. Despite these numerous hazards, one danger stood out as the greatest.

One night the British soldiers reported hearing panicked screams and gunfire emanating from within the darkness of the swamp. They didn’t know what exactly caused the shouts of terror they heard, but only that the Japanese troops were being ravaged by some evil menace.

A saltwater crocodile
A saltwater crocodile

Unfortunately for the Imperial Japanese Army, the mangrove swamps of Ramree Island are home to an unknown amount of the largest reptilian predator in the world, the saltwater crocodile.

The reptiles can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds, but even a midsize saltwater crocodile could easily kill a full-grown adult human, with many being known to eat animals as vast as Indian water buffalo. The soldiers were viciously and mercilessly attacked by the crocodiles.

The naturalist Bruce Stanley Wright described the scene unfolding in his 1962 book, Wildlife Sketches Near and Far: “That night was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [marine launch] crews ever experienced. The crocodiles, alerted by the din of warfare and the smell of blood, gathered among the mangroves, lying with their eyes above water, watchfully alert for their next meal. With the ebb of the tide, the crocodiles moved in on the dead, wounded, and uninjured men who had become mired in the mud.”

Men of the Wiltshire Regiment from the 26th Indian Infantry Division prepare a meal beside a temple on Ramree Island.
Men of the Wiltshire Regiment from the 26th Indian Infantry Division prepare a meal beside a temple on Ramree Island.

There is a long history of saltwater crocodiles attacking humans who wander into their habitats, and ultimately only 520 out of 1000 Japanese soldiers managed to survive the Ramree swamps.

Some of them being so badly injured and mauled that they were later recaptured by the British forces.

The likeliness of hearing of the Battle of Ramree Island is incredibly small due to it not being one of the Second World War’s most significant skirmishes, but many consider it one of the oddest and creepiest stories in the history of warfare.

China: Seafood Smuggling Operation Discovered And Shut Down By Authorities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

9 accused of running US$36m seafood smuggling operation

NINE suspects in a case involving 3,000 tons of smuggled frozen seafood worth 250 million yuan (US$36 million) have been handed to the procuratorate, the customs authority said yesterday.

The 3,000 tons includes valuable spot prawns — popular in Japanese dishes — lobsters and snow crabs.

The authority said it began to suspect smuggling in April last year when two companies owned by the same man, surnamed He, declared the value of the imported spot prawns at US$5-$8 per kilogram, much lower than the market price.

It said the value of imports of spot prawns was normally declared at US$28-38 per kilogram and that smuggling damaged the legitimate market.

After further investigation, the authority found He was also suspected of smuggling frozen seafood through southern Guagnxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, by transporting the products to Vietnam first and then using ordinary trucks to ship the seafood into China in smaller amounts.

This means the seafood would not be protected by refrigerated vehicles for two to three hours while they were in the smaller trucks.

The authority said some of the seafood detained in Guangxi was in damaged packaging or of poor quality.

“If the food is spoiled, it’s very difficult to trace the origin of smuggled products,” Tang Wenhua, president of the Shanghai Cold Chain Association told Shanghai Television Station. “The consumer’s food safety therefore could be hardly guaranteed.”

He is accused of smuggling 220 tons of spot prawns via Guangzi in 2014 using fake customs declarations.

Most of the produce were sold in Shanghai, and nearby Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

But the total amount of declared spot prawns imported legally through Shanghai port that year was only about 80 tons.

The customs authority said He was able to cut the cost of his prawns by 30-40 yuan per kg, undermining the market price.

The nine were handed to the procuratorate after the last suspect was caught in October. He and seven others were caught in November last year.

More than 15 tons of Boston lobsters detained in one customs action were sold for 1.23 million yuan in an open auction in March this year and the money went to the national Treasury, the authority said.