China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba docked at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on April 19.

(CNN)Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asserted the right of the Australian navy to travel the South China Sea, after local media reported three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese navy earlier this month.

As the three vessels traversed the hotly contested waters on their way to Vietnam, they were confronted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday.
The ABC said that one Australian defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, “insists the exchanges with the Chinese were polite, but ‘robust’.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in London for a meeting of the heads of Commonwealth nations, refused to confirm or deny the report.
“All I can say to you is that Australia asserts and practices its right to freedom of navigation throughout the world’s ocean, including the South China Sea,” he told reporters.
In a statement to CNN, the Australian Defense Department acknowledged the three vessels were in the South China Sea in recent weeks but wouldn’t comment on “operational details” on the ships.
“The Australian Defense Force has maintained a robust program of international engagement with countries in and around the South China Sea for decades,” the statement said. CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.
The Australian ships are now conducting a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
While Australian air force jets have been challenged by the Chinese in the past, this was the first time, Carl Thayer told CNN, that he’d heard of any reports of navy vessels being confronted.
“That doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred … (But) the challenge is political, it’s intimidatory and if you don’t counter challenge then China can make the argument that the international community has acceded to China’s claims,” said Thayer, regional security analyst and emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales.

Australia, China relations in deep chill

The reported confrontation comes at a moment of frosty relations between Beijing and Canberra. Turnbull admitted to the diplomatic chill on April 12.
“There has been a degree of tension in the relationship which has arisen because of criticism in China of our foreign interference laws,” he told local radio station 3AW at the time.
His remarks followed reports in local media that Australian ministers had been denied visas that would have allowed them to attend China’s signature Boao Forum in Hainan province.
The Chinese government has objected strongly to a new set of laws being considered by Australia to tackle interference by foreign nations in their politics.
Although Turnbull stressed that those laws weren’t targeted at any one country, the legislation came after a series of scandals over large donations to Australian politicians by Chinese businessmen.
“I would like to stress hereby again that we hope the Australian side will abandon the cold-war mentality and ideological bias, stop making irresponsible remarks and work with China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in February.

China tightens hold on volatile region

The South China Sea is one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. China claims a huge swathe of territory across the sea, overlapping the claims of Vietnam and the Philippines, among others.
Only last week the Chinese navy held its largest ever drills in the South China Sea, including a huge military parade overseen by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s only aircraft carrier the Liaoning took part in the display, launching J-15 fighter jets from the enormous ship’s flight deck.
Speaking from the PLA destroyer Changsha, Xi called for further modernization of China’s military to further his goal of creating a “world-class” force under the Communist Party’s leadership.
To reinforce their claims in the region, China has constructed and militarized a series of artificial islands across the South China Sea, building airfields and radar stations.
The United States regularly conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations close to China’s artificial bases. Last year, Arizona Senator John McCain suggested Australia’s Navy take part alongside the US in those exercises.
“I would not try to tell the Australians what they need to do, but there are exercises where a number of nations join together — we call it RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific Exercise]— that the Australians participate in. They’re broad naval exercises,” he said during a visit to Australia.

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3 

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST WRITTEN ON FEBRUARY 14th, OF 2016 BUT I HAVE ADDED 2 EXTRA PARAGRAPHS AT THE END)

Today Syria is primed to be the location where the pot boils over and this World War that we are currently all living in gets a new very nasty twist in pure violence. The Syrian civil war has turned into a continuance of the 1,400 year old Islamic civil war between the Sunni and the Shiite. The president of Syria is a Shiite so he is an ally of the government of Iran who is the biggest Shiite player in the world. Also there is the fact that the country of Iraq is now led by a Shiite government and its geographical location is as the bumper between the two. First ISIS joins the fight as the major Sunni group against the Syrian government and now Russian president Putin has joined the fight on the side of Iran and Syria. Soon we see if our Nations Leaders are actual leaders, or idiots and fools.

 

Today I picked up off of CNN a story within an interview being done by reporter Ms. Amanpour with the Saudi Foreign Minister while he was in Munich Germany  yesterday. I am going to type out a couple of the Saudi Foreign Ministers quotes and then I am going to ask you a couple of questions to see the level of understanding we each have. Quotes—“The Syrian President must go. If the political process fails then force must be used”. Yet he says that the Saudi’s will only send troops into Syria if…”we are part of a multi-national force lead by the U.S.”.  There is another important quote of his on this matter, “Syria’s President will leave–have no doubt about it. He will either leave by a political process or he will be removed by force”.

 

I am looking at this from an American persons view, those of you reading this from other parts of the world may have different view points than I do or what most Americans may have as a view, if so, please leave comments.  The Saudi Foreign Minister says that the Syrian President will leave “have no doubt about it”. Yet he say that the Saudi’s will only put boots on the ground in Syria if they are “part of a U.S. led force”. So, does he have some secret knowledge of an undercover deal with our President? Reality is that the only way the Syrian President gets removed is if he is assassinated or if the U.S. puts thousands of troops on the ground to fight against the Shiite side and for the Sunni side of this 1,400 year civil war. This Syrian conflict is indeed a Civil War but it is mostly a civil war between the Shiite and the Sunni. Russian President Putin has stuck his foot in up to his rear-end on the side of Iran and Syria if the U.S. puts boots on the ground they will be fighting on the side of the Sunni nations. There is this other absolute fact, all these people hate us and our military, they will applaud every time an American or Russian blood is spilled on Syrian sand. The Saudi Foreign Minister did say one accurate quote when he said that “you can not take, then hold ground from the air alone”. The question now is whose boots will it be, whose blood will it be?

 

(TODAY’S DATE IS APRIL 17th OF 2018)

 

Okay, it is now two years and two months since the Saudi Foreign Minister said that Syria’s President Assad would be removed one way of another, to me, it looks like he was wrong.  About the only way now that I can see President Assad being removed is if someone assassinates him. Will the Saudi’s go that far as to send an assassin into Syria to kill him? Personally I doubt it, it would be to risky for them to do that. It looks to me that because of the help of Russia’s President Putin and the help Mr. Assad is getting from Iran and Hezbollah that he will remain the president of this destroyed hunk of ground. Even if all fighting were to stop inside the borders of Syria today, it would take many trillions of dollars and several decades to rebuild the infrastructure that was in place there seven years ago.

 

As far as Syria being the location of a huge proxy war involving the militaries that are still operating inside their borders the risks are still very high. I personally believe that the U.S. should get out of Syria as quick as is humanly possible. We said we went in there to destroy ISIS, this mission is at least 95% finished. The government of Syria has made it very plain that they do not want any U.S. military inside their borders so we should leave and let Russian, Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah troops finish the mop up work on ISIS. The longer we are there the greater chances that we will get directly involved with the killing of Russian, Iranian and Syrian troops thus dragging us into a much wider and bloodier war with them directly.  There is also the reality that Syria will be the location of a direct shooting war between Iran and Israel, and Hezbollah. If Iran attacks Israel will the U.S. stand idly by? If we back Israel will Russia jump in to help Iran? You can bet your last nickel that if Iran attacks Israel that Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah will also attack Israel, so what is the U.S. going to do? What is Russia going to do, come to think of it, what is Saudi Arabia going to do? This article is all just fodder for your thoughts, what do you think is about to happen, full-out WW-3, or maybe nothing? China would probably love the U.S. to get tied up in an all out war in the Middle-East as this would give them free rein to totally dominate all of the Asian Countries. Also it would give China the green light to enforce their will over all of the South China Sea and to invade Taiwan. As I said, just trying to get you to think.

China not yet ready to invade Taiwan ???

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI TIMES)

 

China not yet ready to invade Taiwan

By Ray Song 宋磊

Peter Enav, a former Taiwan correspondent for The Associated Press, on Tuesday last week published an article on the Web site Taiwan Sentinel, entitled: “Taiwan Under the Gun: An Urgent Call to Action,” in which he warned that the three conditions required for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to consider an attack on Taiwan are close to being fulfilled.

Enav believes that as soon as the middle of next year, China’s military will have completed its readiness to the extent where it could decide to launch an invasion of the nation.

The three major conditions, as Enav sees it, are: One, China must feel certain that the “political option for unification” is now impossible; two, China’s military must be ready and able to launch an unimpeded amphibious attack across the Taiwan Strait — and feel confident that it can crush any post-invasion resistance; and three, Beijing must believe the international fallout and economic sanctions following an invasion of Taiwan would not outweigh the gain of unifying the nation with China.

These three conditions tally with the basic criteria for an invasion that have been put forward by Beijing in the past.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has said that China would experience a political and cultural renaissance that could endure for up to 200 years. Implied within this overall goal is a timetable for the unification of Taiwan.

Looking at this timetable, China would not be ready by launch an attack on Taiwan until 2021 at the earliest. In reality, while the PLA’s Rocket Force possesses long-range missile strike capability, China’s military still lacks sufficient transport and lift capability and also still needs to first shore up its core strategic interests in the East and South China seas and further increase the strength of its forces before it can consider invading the nation.

At present, it would be difficult for the PLA to muster sufficient forces to mount a successful invasion. For these reasons, Enav’s warning that the PLA would be ready to attack Taiwan by next year seems somewhat alarmist.

Furthermore, as the recent high-level economic dialogue between the US and China shows, the two countries are still at loggerheads on trade, as they have been for some time.

Economic issues never exist in isolation but are invariably part of a wider political, military and diplomatic picture. If the trade dispute between the US and China is not resolved and the relationship sours, Washington would use the prospect of warships from the US military’s Pacific Fleet forces stopping over in Taiwan to deter Beijing.

US President Donald Trump recently approved a plan by the Pentagon that allows the US Navy to conduct full-year passages through international waters in the South China Sea illegally claimed by China as its own.

The White House clearly intends to use freedom of navigation as a means to respond to Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. It is also clear that containment of China has already become established US policy. The US would not easily allow the PLA to attack Taiwan.

The US is still the only superpower and, while willing to cooperate with Beijing in many areas, Washington is increasingly wary of China and employs military and diplomatic means to contain it. Competition between the two nations is intensifying, which could benefit Taiwan.

As China Has Become The Worlds Biggest Predator: Xi Warns U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

China has called on the US to “abandon its prejudices” after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed Beijing was subverting the global order and pursuing predatory economic policies.

“China firmly upholds the international order with the United Nations at its core,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday.
“China is dedicated to developing long-term healthy and stable relations with the United States.”
Speaking Wednesday at a forum for US-India ties, Tillerson said Beijing’s “provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for.”
China has reclaimed a large amount of land in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, turning reefs into military bases in defiance of an international court ruling.
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Lu said the country would “never give up its legitimate rights and interests.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People on September 30, 2017 in Beijing, China.

Tough talk

Tillerson’s latest comments represent something of a return to form for the top US diplomat, who was a strident critic of China during his confirmation hearings in January.
He called on China to be denied access to islands it was occupying in the South China Sea, and compared Beijing’s actions to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
“Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. Its taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Tillerson said, sparking an angry reaction from Chinese state media.
In a subsequent visit to Beijing however, he took a far softer tone, echoing Chinese language on the need to “expand cooperative areas and achieve win-win results.”
On Wednesday, Tillerson said that while the US wants a constructive relationship with China, “we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order, and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the US and our friends.”

The cult of Xi Jinping

The cult of Xi Jinping 02:46

Trump trip

Tillerson’s latest remarks came just three weeks before US President Donald Trump makes his first official trip to China.
They also coincided with China’s 19th party congress — a massive gathering of Communist Party members during which President Xi Jinping said China should “take center stage in the world,” adding that “no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests.”
Trump was full of praise for Xi when the pair met in Florida in April, but the relationship between the two leaders has apparently cooled in the wake of the ongoing North Korean crisis, for which Trump has blamed Beijing for failing to take more stringent action against Pyongyang.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu directly quoted Xi Thursday, saying China “will never pursue development at the expense of other countries’ interests, but China will also never give up its legitimate rights and interests.”
Tillerson praised Delhi’s mode of development in comparison to Beijing, setting out a vision of an “Indo Pacific” order stretching from the US west coast to India that would be underpinned by the US and its allies, a move that could be seen in Beijing as an attempt at containment or as a challenge in a region that China sees as falling under its sphere of influence.
“We are pleased to see the US and India — and indeed all countries of the world — develop normal relations, as long as such relations are conducive to peace, stability and development of the region, as well as the improvement of mutual trust between countries in the region,” Lu said.

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC.NET)

 

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

Updated 

China is the world’s ultimate security state.

Beijing police proudly boast there is no corner of public space that surveillance cameras cannot see.

Every subway entrance involves bag scans and metal detectors.

Armed military police stand guard at major public spaces.

Various levels of lower down security guards are ever present, right down to the elderly civilian volunteers who keep watch on the street when big political events take place.

Away from the capital of this authoritarian superpower things are more relaxed, but the political culture prioritising stability permeates deep.

Recently I was in the city of Dandong — bordering North Korea — where an airport video showed off SWAT patrol officers marching around empty streets.

Then a cartoon showed how they would respond to Islamist terrorists bringing fire and fury to Dandong — an unlikely scenario to contemplate in a city more well known for being China’s gateway to North Korea.

Over in far western Xinjiang the prospect of Islamist terror is far more realistic, and in recent months authorities have mobilised thousands of military police in several public displays of force.

The underlying rationale for all this security is to ensure the Communist Party’s control of China remains unchallenged — meaning some political activists and crusading lawyers have felt the full force of China’s security apparatus just as much as terror suspects.

The total annual domestic security budget hasn’t been published since 2013, when overseas media noted how it outstripped the rapidly growing funding for China’s military.

China’s massive internet censorship operation is also deeply linked to the overall concept of safeguarding stability.

Safer than other countries?

The normalisation of such a huge security presence is helping create a growing belief here that China is far safer than countries abroad.

Well-publicised cases of Chinese students and young nationals being kidnapped or murdered in the United States, Australia and elsewhere along with news coverage of mass shootings and violent protests in the West appear to affirm the idea that China’s security state is superior.

When similar incidents happen domestically, such as a violent face-off between a group of Muslims and police in the northern city of Tangshan in August, censors scrub any mention of it.

Events that could dominate the news agenda for days in a country like Australia can be neutralised and snuffed out before most people have a chance to hear about them.

“Chinese society is stable and orderly, people happily live and work in peace,” President Xi Jinping recently told an Interpol conference in Beijing.

“More and more people believe China is one of the world’s safest countries.

“This is China’s contribution to the world for security and stability.”

This emphasis on stability and security is only likely to increase in the weeks ahead as Mr Xi presides over a major Communist Party meeting confirming his leadership for another five years.

“The idea of stability is central to the Chinese Communist Party”, said Dr Michael Clarke, a specialist in China’s domestic security policies at the Australian National University.

“It also plays into this wider narrative of China returning to its place of great power status and its ability to be a leader in international affairs.

“So I think there’s a real link between stability and Xi’s concept of the China Dream.”

Topics: world-politicsdefence-and-national-securitycommunity-and-societychinaasia

First posted 

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASIA FOREIGN AFFAIRS, FORBES)

 

Asia #ForeignAffairs

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Activists chant anti-China slogans during a rally in Hanoi on March 14, 2016, to mark the anniversary of a 1988 battle in the Spratly Islands, a rare act of protest over an issue that has come to dog relations between Hanoi and Beijing. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

China has stoked many of Asia’s maritime sovereignty disputes by reclaiming land to build artificial islands and, in some cases, adding military infrastructure to those islands. To rub in the message that it has the more power than anyone else in the widely disputed, 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, the Beijing government glibly sails coast guard ships around the exclusive ocean economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Off its east coast, China routinely passes boats through a tract of sea disputed with, and controlled by Japan.

But let’s linger on another country for a second – Vietnam.

A fisherman and his son try to fix the roof of their boat on Thuan Phuoc port in prior to the next fishing trip on August 30, 2016 in Danang, Vietnam. (AFP/Getty image)

The country with a 3,444 kilometer-long coastline shows every sign of being Asia’s second most expansion-minded maritime power after China.

Here’s the evidence:

  • Last year the American Center for Strategic & International Studies said Vietnam had landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself, though China’s method was probably more destructive. It holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional rivals.
  • This year Vietnam renewed a deal with the overseas subsidiary of state-owned Indian oil firm ONGC to explore for fossil fuels under the ocean floor. Beijing will likely bristle at this move because it too claims waters off the Vietnamese east coast as part of its position that 95% of the whole sea is Chinese, but Vietnam has not backed down. In any case, India is Vietnam’s new best friend — to wit its call in July to step up a year-old partnership.
  • Vietnamese fishing boats, a large share of the 1.72 million that trawl the South China Sea, have been sent off by other coastal states and as far off as Indonesia and Thailand, scholars who follow the maritime dispute say. Two Vietnamese fishermen turned up dead 34 kilometers from the Philippines last month in what’s believed to be an incident involving an official vessel from Manila. Fish were 10% of Vietnam’s export revenues as of a decade ago, the University of British Columbia says in this study. “Fish stocks in Vietnam have been depleted, so they have to venture further away to continue their business,” says Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “As they venture further away it’s easier for them to get into other countries’ waters and they commit illegal fishing.”
  • Vietnam protests when Taiwan makes its presence felt on Taiping Island. Although Taiping is the largest feature in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, Taiwan has little clout in the bigger sovereignty dispute and has even used its Taiping facilities to help Vietnamese fishermen in distress. But the Vietnamese foreign ministry formally protested at least once in 2016 and again in March this year when Taiwan had a live-fire military drill. “They said Taiwan’s activities violated its sovereignty,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “Whenever Taiwan makes a move, Vietnam always protests. It’s been like that all along. Vietnam is pretty assertive.”
  • China has to watch it, too. China is using economic incentives to get along with other South China Sea states but things keep going wrong with Vietnam. In June, a senior Chinese military official cut short his visit to Vietnam as the host was looking for oil in disputed waters, and in August foreign ministers from the two countries cancelled a meeting – presumably over their maritime disputes — on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations event.

Vietnam’s maritime muscle makes a lot of sense. The country of 93 million people is on the move economically, dependent on the sea. Nationalism is growing, too, and citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims.

Taiwan is a Nation of Mature, Consolidated Democracy

(FOLKS THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TAIWAN’S ‘THE LIBERTY.COM’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

Taiwan is a Nation of Mature, Consolidated Democracy

An Interview with Dr. Lo Chih-cheng, the Democratic Progressive Party Legislator in Taiwan

 

6935_02

Lo Chih-cheng

Taiwanese politician, Legislator, Director for the Department of International Affairs, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Associate professor of Political Science at Soochow University.

Last year Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected as the president of Taiwan. This made big changes from the previous government. The former president Ma Ing-jong (馬英九) and his Chinese Nationalist Party government was relatively close to the Chinese Communist Party in China. Regarding the “One China” policy, there remains some controversy among the U.S., China and Taiwan. The following interview with Dr. Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) will benefit us for a better understanding of these issues. He is in charge of international affairs for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

 

The Meaning of Peaceful Transition of Power

Interviewer: How did you see the change of government in Taiwan last year? It was a transition from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT or Kuomintang) to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Lo: This is the third time we had a peaceful transition of power from one party to another. In 2000, we had a transition from the KMT to the DPP. In 2008, we had the DPP to the KMT. Now we are coming back to power. So, this is further evidence of consolidation of democracy in Taiwan. In other words, democracy is the rule of the game. That is, whoever is in power has to respect the will of the people. That’s very important. That makes a big difference between Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Hong Kong as well. Democracy is a very important mechanism for making policies in Taiwan, such as the Cross Strait policy, foreign policies or even defence policies. When it comes to the future of Taiwan, everybody including the leaders in parties will have to respect the will of the people. Taiwan now has a mature, consolidated democracy.

Secondly, we are in absolute control of the government. Last time, the DPP administration did not control the majority in the legislature. This time, we control the Executive Branch and also the Legislative Branch. So in general, we can get things done all by ourselves.

Thirdly, there is a difference between the first time in power and the second time. For the past eight years from 2008 to 2016, the KMT was in power and created a situation that was quite unique from the previous DPP administration. Taiwan had become very dependent on China, economically, politically and even militarily. That’s a new situation.

When Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in power, the interaction between Taiwan and China was very limited in general. We didn’t have that kind of dependency. As a matter of fact, when the Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) administration was in power, their policy was “no haste, be patient, go slow”. But when Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in power, they very much depended on China. That puts our DPP administration in a much more difficult situation, because we hadn’t reversed this kind of dependency on China. That’s quite a different situation. We should not depend too much on China.

 

Mr. Lee, a NGO Activist Caught in China

Interviewer: Regarding China, there was an incident in March where Mr. Lee Ming-cheh (李哲明), a human rights activist, disappeared in China. He was also known as a former DPP worker.

Lo: Unfortunately Mr. Lee, a NGO activist, has been caught in China. So far, we have very limited information about his whereabouts and situation. This is further evidence that China is not a democratic country and not under the rule of law. More importantly, that will damage the mutual trust between Taiwan and China. Some Western media – the U.S. media and the European media – covered the story. I don’t know how much coverage you have in Japan.

Interviewer: I think there are very few.

Lo: I don’t think that kind of thing just happened to Taiwan. It happened to Hong Kong. That could also happen to other countries. I don’t think it’s an isolated case only for the Taiwanese people to pay attention to. It’s an incident that everybody living in free democratic countries should pay close attention to. In the past, when the DPP was in power, there was a direct hot line between our government and the counterparts in China. But when this was took place, the hot line was cut off. So, there was no direct contact. The very purpose of having the hot line is that when there was an incident, we could connect ourselves to solve the problem. But the opposite is happening. That’s an unfortunate development.

 

The U.S-Taiwan Relation in the Trump Administration

Interviewer: What is your view on U.S-Taiwan relations? Last December, the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had a phone call with Trump. That was a surprising move.

Lo: First of all, the direct phone call that happened last December was between President Tsai and President-elect Trump. That was a very unique development. After President Trump was sworn in, that kind of phone call with a direct hot line did not happen again. We know the situation is quite tough and Trump needs cooperation from China, so they want to play down the importance of this kind of direct hot line between our president and her counterpart in the United States. Having said that, our direct contacts between our representatives and his counterparts in the United States are very direct and personal. We do have a very solid, robust relationship between Taiwan and the United States.

Interviewer: In June, the Trump Administration approved a 1 billion dollar arms sale to Taiwan.

Lo: The arms sale package is a very good case in point. We welcome the arms sale to Taiwan. That’s a very important decision. The timing of the decision was very important, because there were rumours about the U.S. Navy postponing it. According to the reports, the U.S. had concerns about a possible reaction from China. I think obviously, the U.S. cared too much about any possible negative response from China. As a matter of fact, after the announcement of the arms sale package, China did not react too strongly about it. So, we hope this deal can be implemented very smoothly. More importantly, we hope that our defence cooperation can be further enhanced.

The U.S. Congress has passed several resolutions. For instance, the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), encouraged the interaction between our high-level defence officials and their counterparts in the United States. So, that’s a good development. That’s also up to the administration to decide how to implement the NDAA. Let’s just wait and see. When it comes to the relationship with the United States, it takes two to tango. Our goal is to increase interactions between the two countries – to enhance our ties. But it is also up to the United States to respond to our requests.

There are two general questions about the future of the U.S. policy towards Taiwan in particular and to Asia in general. We don’t know who’s in charge and what Trump’s doctrine is. The people in charge change very quickly. They just changed the Chief of Staff. Who’s in charge of the East Asian policy? We don’t know. When it comes to daily operations, we need someone in charge in that particular position.

 

The Differences of the “One China” Policy Between the U.S and China

Interviewer: After conversation between Tsai and Trump, the “One China” policy became controversial again. There are different views between the U.S and China.

Lo: There’s a big difference between the “One China” policy and the “One China” principle. China insists on the so-called “One China” principle. According to that principle, Taiwan’s a part of the PRC. That’s something we can’t accept. The U.S. “One China” policy has some ambiguities. There’s some room for developing the idea that Taiwan is an independent country. The very reason that the U.S. can maintain military ties with Taiwan is because of this One China policy. It is somewhat ambiguous.

At some point in time, according to President Trump, the so-called One China policy isn’t negotiable. If that’s the case, we do have concerns about that. So, Taiwan doesn’t want to be bound by the One China policy. Taiwan wants to be separated from these interactions between the two big powers. We hope to develop a very solid, robust relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. regardless of what happened between the U.S. and China. But obviously China always wants to bring Taiwan into the dialogues between the U.S. and China.

Interviewer: On a January article for The Wall Street Journal, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., advocated that the U.S. army should station in Taiwan.

Lo: When John Bolton said that, he was not in the government. He said that because he was a scholar who had freedom of speech. He’s a very good friend of Taiwan. He has been very supportive of Taiwan. So, we appreciate those kinds of comments. But when it comes to actual policies, I don’t think that kind of policy is feasible in the near future. Of course, there were rumours last year that he may be joining the government. At the end of the day, we haven’t seen that yet.

 

Rising China’s Strategy Against Taiwan

Interviewer: Last year there was another incident. Chinese fighter jets circled Taiwan.

Lo: China is becoming stronger economically and militarily. China would definitely show their muscles to their neighbouring countries that they are stronger. Sending their aircraft carriers and their fighter jets to circle Taiwan is evidence to show that they can kick Taiwan into orbit. They don’t want Taiwan to lead the way from their sphere of influence.

Secondly, if there’s a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan is always hoping that we can sustain our survivability until other countries, especially the United States, come to our assistance. The China’s strategy is the Anti-Access Area-Denial (A2/AD). Circling Taiwan is the way to show that they have the A2/AD capabilities. That’s reasonable.

Thirdly, the Taiwan Strait is an international waters for freedom of navigation for all the ships. But to send aircraft carriers and fighter jets to circle Taiwan is the way the Chinese are hoping to show the world that the Taiwan Strait is in their sea and that it’s not international waters. It is a symbolic and political gesture.

Finally, it’s one way to substantiate their One China policy or One China principle. Taiwan will never accept the so-called One China principle. But China wants to show the world that there’s de facto One China principle, “Taiwan is a part of China” and “It is under our control”. Although it is very symbolic, it’s quite important for China.

 

The Disputed Island in the South China Sea

Interviewer: Last year, the Taiping Island in the South China Sea was disputed at the International Tribunal court of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. After its ruling denied Taiwan’s claim, you paid a visit. Could you give us tips on how to defend territorial rights?

Lo: It’s quite easy because we already control the island. We have controlled it for decades. We sent our marine guards. We continuously occupy and control it. There’s no way that other countries can ignore our actual occupation and control of it. There’s no way that we need to prove further that we have the territorial rights on the Taiping Island.

But when it comes to other islands, we claim that issues should be settled in a very peaceful way. We don’t want to use force to solve the problem. So, we are urging all the neighbouring claimant countries that we should put aside our differences. But unfortunately, when China and other claimant countries talk about the Code of Conduct in South China Sea, Taiwan has not been invited although we occupy the biggest island in the area. Taiwan is not even consulted about the issue. That’s a very unfortunate development, because Taiwan is a very important claimant of those disputed islands.

 

Disappearing Freedom in Hong Kong

Interviewer: What do you think of the situation in Hong Kong on the human rights issue? In July, the memorial event was held there.

Lo: When Beijing introduced the “One Country, Two Systems”, the goal was to make it appeal to the people in Taiwan. It’s the very reason that China used Hong Kong as a model for Taiwan. When China began to realize there was no use of using the Hong Kong model, then the importance of Hong Kong started disappearing. That’s why Beijing is tightening their control there for freedom of the press, freedom of association and so on. That’s why they began to wage some of the demonstrations on the streets.

A lot of people learned what happened in Taiwan for the past few decades. You start with the opposition movement and the opposition party. Then, you have this kind of democratic transition of power. Hong Kong is quite different. It is already controlled by China. It is a part of China. There’s not much room that can be negotiated about the future of Hong Kong. That’s why there are more and more Hong Kong people immigrating to Taiwan. They can enjoy much more freedom and democracy in Taiwan.

 

Japan and Taiwan Share Common Interests

Interviewer: What do you think the Japan-Taiwan relation should be like? The Japanese government has not recognized Taiwan as a nation.

Lo: On the bilateral relation between Taiwan and Japan, we have to start with the discussion about the nature of our relationship. I have to say that Taiwan and Japan are natural partners. We are facing many similar challenges. We have many common interests. For instance, Taiwan and Japan are both democracies. We share some of the philosophies behind our democracies, human rights, freedom, free market economy, etc. So, the two nations share some universal values. That’s a very important foundation for our bilateral relationship.

Secondly, there is a historical connection between Taiwan and Japan. We were under the colonial rule of Japan for fifty years, but there are some legacies of this kind of historical connection, for better or for worse. Especially for the older generations, people feel connected to Japan when something happens. For instance, when the tsunami and the earthquake happened in Japan, Taiwanese mobilized themselves to give some support to their Japanese friends. When asked which is the most friendly country to the Taiwanese, Japan is the number one country. The same thing can be said about the Japanese. So, we have this kind of strong people to people connection.

Both Japan and Taiwan are facing a rising China. I’m not saying that China is a threat already, but China’s increase in power in the region has put pressures on both of them. Japan and Taiwan cannot fight against the rising China by themselves. We need cooperation and coordination between the two countries in the face of the rising China. That’s very important. We have come up with a strategic interest. Having said that, we know there are some political obstacles, difficulties that we need to overcome to fully enhance our relationship.

Japan doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country in all the difficulties, in all the impossibilities. Short of this formal diplomatic recognition, there are so many things that can be done. In other words, why don’t we try our best to enhance our de facto ties between the two countries? For instance, military cooperation between the two sides. We probably can’t come to the point of a direct, joint military exercise. There is no way for now. Some sort of dialogue between our two militaries should be feasible. Probably not in public, but at least in private. As you know, Taiwan and the United States have all levels of dialogue. Starting from strategic dialogue, defence dialogue, arms sale dialogue or people to people, and military to military on a daily basis.

We don’t have that kind of thing between Taiwan and Japan. For us, we have no reservation about having this kind of dialogue. It is Japan that is more reluctant or more reserved about having this kind of dialogue. Of course, you would be under a lot of pressure from China. However, it’s about common national interests. We have overlapped national interests. So, if that is the right thing to do, we should do it. We can start with the engagement of dialogues between the two governments and the two militaries. It will require a very strong political will to do it. We do have the political will to do it. We know there’s subtlety of doing these kinds of things. We need substantial cooperation between the two countries. We should get the things done in a more substantial way.

 

How to Deal with North Korea

Interviewer: My last question is on North Korea. Kim Jong-un is continuously launching ICBMs especially in recent months.

Lo: First of all, we welcome Japan to play a more proactive role in the regional security issues. Secondly, we welcome the enhancement of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. We welcome Japan being proactive in many regional issues. As you know, China has always been very proactive in setting some agendas in the region. In the past, you had several Six-Party Talks to solve the North Korea nuclear issue. But now they have gone.

I think the Trump administration has a very naive expectation from China to help them to solve the North Korean issue. Personally, I don’t think China is sincere in helping other countries such as Japan, South Korea and the U.S., because North Korea is China’s bargaining chip. What China really wants is to contain the situation. They don’t want the escalation of crisis, but I don’t think they will help us to solve the problem. North Korea is a troublemaker. However, once the problem is solved, China will not have this bargaining chip.

Interviewer: What do you think our next move should be?

Lo: Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Taiwan should intensify their dialogues to come up with a coordinated strategy towards North Korea. North Korea’s and China’s policy is always the “divide and defeat” strategy – “divide and conquer” strategy. They want to divide the alliance countries, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. That will give them room for manoeuvring. If they can come up with an orchestrated, coordinated policy and work together with a unified position, then I don’t think North Korea can have anything to play with.

But that’s not happening now. Trump is talking to China directly, bypassing Japan and South Korea. Trump did not consult its allies before then. They think China is the only country that can help the U.S. solve the problem. I don’t think that’s the case. The U.S., Japan and South Korea should come up with a coordinated policy in a unified position. That is the only way you can counter them.

Vietnam Urges Stronger Stand Against China At ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN DAILY TIMES)

 

MANILA: Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, as a tense regional security forum began Saturday with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear program.

Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique.

It set the stage for what was expected to be a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday.

The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile and nuclear tests. The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event — known as the ASEAN Regional Forum — and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang would receive a strong message.

But on the South China Sea dispute — one of Asia’s other top powder keg issues — there was far less consensus with Vietnam resisting efforts by the Philippines to placate Beijing, diplomats told AFP.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over “construction” in the sea, in reference to China’s ramped up artificial island building in the disputed waters in recent years.

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be “legally binding”, which Beijing opposes.

The lobbying occurred when the ASEAN foreign ministers held unscheduled and informal talks late on Friday night.

“The discussions were really hard. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. Cambodia and Philippines are not keen to reflect that,” one diplomat involved in the talks told AFP.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

Alongside Vietnam, the Philippines used to be the most vocal critic of Beijing’s expansionism.

But, under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic maneuvering in the dispute.

At the ASEAN opening ceremony on Saturday morning, Cayetano confirmed there had been strong debates on Friday.

“You have to excuse my voice as, my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night. In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest,” Cayetano said.

Various diplomats said that Vietnam was likely to lose its battle to insert the strong language against China, with the Philippines as host of the talks wielding greater influence.

ASEAN is set to this weekend endorse a framework for a code of conduct with China, which is meant to pave the way for more concrete action.

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST UNDER DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE)

 

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia, analysts say

Beijing’s handling of protracted conflict in Himalayas has had a spillover effect in the region and fueled suspicion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:15pm
Catherine Wong

 

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The protracted border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has created a “spillover effect” as China’s neighbours become unsettled by its tough handling of the escalating conflict between the two Asian giants, foreign policy experts have said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Smt. Sushma Swaraj are scheduled to attend the Asian foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila later this week. And while the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes are expected to dominate the meeting, analysts will also be keeping a close eye on how members of the 10-nation group interact with China and India.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally regards a robust Indian presence in the region as a useful deterrent against China, which has been increasingly assertive in its approach to handling territorial issues, as has been the case in the Himalayas.

China and India last week held their first substantial talks since the dispute broke out more than a month ago in the Dolklam region, where the pair shares a border with Bhutan. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Beijing, though neither showed any signs of backing down and tensions remain high.

Also last week, China’s defense ministry issued its strongest warning yet to India, with a spokesman saying Beijing had stepped up its deployment along the unmarked border and would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at the Manila-based De La Salle University, said the stand-off in Doklam had a “spillover effect” by fueling suspicion among countries that are caught in separate territorial disputes with China.

“People are asking, if China is really peaceful, why are there so many countries having disputes with China?” he said.

Such sentiment may create fertile ground for Southeast Asian countries to leverage China’s influence with engagement with India.

Vietnam’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Pham Binh Minh, has called on India to play a greater role in the region and to partner with Southeast Asian countries on strategic security and promoting freedom of navigation in South China Sea.

A few days after Minh spoke, Vietnam granted Indian Oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension on its plan to explore a Vietnamese oil block in an area of the South China Sea contested by China and Vietnam.

Analysts said recent developments have wide strategic implications – pointing to how Asia is increasingly defined by the China-India rivalry and the renewed tensions between the two Asian giants.

Nisha Desai Biswal, former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was quoted by Indian media PTI as saying that China needs to acknowledge that “there is growing strategic and security capability across Asia” and that “India is a force to be reckoned with”.

Wang Yi on Tuesday backed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of forming joint energy ventures in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.

Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration, and exploitation would restart this year.

However, analysts warn that India’s strong position in the standoff has strengthened the hawkish voices in the Philippines who seize opportunities to criticise Duterte’s détente policy towards China and “push forward the narrative that the Philippines needs to be careful on how to approach China and its territorial expansion”, Heydarian said.

Under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy, India in recent years has formed strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Northeast Asian countries including Japan and South Korea.

During the “India-Asian Delhi Dialogue IX” early this month, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi remained committed to enhancing maritime cooperation with Asian as well as upholding freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the region.

Heydarian suggests that India’s upgrading of its strategic partnership with Asian and increasing its strategic presence in the South China Sea could be a way of pushing back against China.

Even a non-claimant Southeast Asian state such as Thailand “would see the benefit of China being challenged in the South Asia theatre”, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an international relations scholar at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University.

“India’s standing up to China can only be a boon for Southeast Asian countries even when they don’t say so openly,” he said, “Any major power keeping China in check can only yield geopolitical benefits to Southeast Asia as the region is wary of China’s growing assertiveness.”

But Pongsudhirak also said that India, a “latecomer to Southeast Asia’s geopolitics”, still lacks strategic depth in terms of military reach and economic wherewithal. “But in combination with other middle powers like Japan, India can have a significant impact in Southeast Asia’s power dynamics,” he said.

Despite Southeast Asian countries’ welcoming attitude, India has remained cautious towards more strongly engaging with the region, observers said.

“Southeast Asia is a natural extension of India’s security horizons in light of its growth as a regional power,” said Rajesh Manohar Basrur, a South Asia specialist with Nanyang Technological University.

Basrur said that while competition with China is a major driver of India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, India’s commitment to the region remains limited with measures amounting to no more than “symbolic acts such as military exercises, [to] generate a strategic environment aimed at building up political-psychological pressure on [China].”

Sourabh Gupta, a senior specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, said that as India tries to limit fallout from its Doklam intervention, it will not want to expand the theatre of conflict or widen the geography of competition in the short-term.

“But I can foresee India making a qualitatively greater effort, albeit quietly, to build up Vietnam’s naval and law enforcement capacity to confront and deter Chinese assertiveness,” he said.

Gupta also warned that the situation in the South China Sea could lapse into even further conflict.

“India and China have a fairly rich menu of boundary management protocols which effectively translate into engagements between very lightly armed personnel from either side when a standoff breaks out,” he said.

“That is different from the situation in the South and East China Sea where engagement protocols are still very rudimentary and could see sharp Escalator spirals.”

UK wants to send ‘colossal’ warships to test Beijing’s claims in S. China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

UK wants to send ‘colossal’ warships to test Beijing’s claims in S. China Sea

Story highlights

  • British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said carriers will embark on freedom of navigation exercises
  •  Beijing says “certain outside countries” attempting to “stir up trouble”

Hong Kong (CNN) China has hit back at the UK after the country’s foreign secretary said two British aircraft carriers could be sent to patrol the South China Sea.

Speaking Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said “certain outside countries are determined to stir up trouble” in the region.
“Whatever banners these countries or officials claim to uphold, and whatever excuses they claim to have, their track record of bringing chaos and humanitarian disasters through their so-called moral interventions in other parts of the world is enough to make nations and peoples in the region maintain high vigilance,” he added.
His remarks come after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking in Australia Thursday, said “one of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area.”
Johnson did not specify exactly where the carriers would be sent, but added the operation was designed to “vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade.”
In an interview with the Reuters news agency, UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon said the deployment area was not finalized “but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea.”

Johnson spoke alongside Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Speaking at an event in Sydney Thursday evening, Johnson urged all parties in the South China Sea “to respect freedom of navigation and international law” and suggested the UK could sail ships through the Strait of Malacca, which connects the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems.
All or parts of the sea are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, which has led to intense territorial disputes and naval stand-offs.

The new UK Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth departs Rosyth dockyard in Scotland to be tested in the North Sea on June 26, 2017.

Freedom of navigation

Beijing has accused the United States of creating a “serious political and military provocation” by conducting similar freedom of navigation operations.
US, Canadian, Australian and Japanese warships conducted a freedom of navigation operation this month, according to Canada’s National Post, during which they were shadowed by Chinese naval vessels.
Neither the UK or US recognize Beijing’s territorial claims — which were largely thrown out by an international tribunal last year — and maintain vessels should be able to pass through the waters around the islands occupied by China the same as other international waters.
The South China Sea sees $5 trillion in shipborne trade every year, and also has major fishing and energy resources.
That the UK is apparently taking sides in the dispute is likely to especially rankle in Beijing, where memories of China’s so-called “century of humiliation,” during which it suffered embarrassing defeat to the UK in the Opium Wars, are still fresh — and kept so by state propaganda and the country’s education system.
Speaking in Hong Kong this month to mark 20 years since the city was handed over from the UK to China, the country’s president, Xi Jinping, said that China “was again and again beaten by countries having far smaller territories and populations than itself … the history of China at that time was filled with the nation’s humiliation and its people’s grief.”

Waning ties

Under former British Prime Minister David Cameron, London had warmed to Beijing, and Cameron had hailed a new “golden era” in the countries’ relationship.
The luster has faded somewhat in the wake of Brexit however. The European Union is China’s largest trading partner. The UK’s decision to leave the bloc has shattered any assumptions about a tight London-Beijing relationship acting as a gateway to the wider EU.
Cameron’s successor Theresa May has also brought the UK closer to the US, visiting Donald Trump in Washington and seeking to improve economic ties with the US to make up for lost European trade.
Speaking Thursday evening, Johnson emphasized the deployment of the UK’s carriers — the 280 meter and 65,000 tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, neither of which is yet fully commissioned — was “not because we have enemies in the region … but because we believe in upholding the rule of law.”
The vessels have cost British taxpayers upwards of $8.1 billion and been subject to criticism for taking up a large chunk of the UK’s defense budget. The carriers are designed to support F-35 fighter jets, which the UK will not have until 2020, according to the National Audit Office.
Johnson did not give a timeline as to when any South China Sea deployment by the carriers is likely to start. His comments come after the Royal Navy shadowed a Chinese flotilla through the English Channel on its way to exercises with the Russian fleet in the Baltic Sea.