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Server Migrated

December 24th, 2015 No comments

green-check-markIf you see this page.  You have reached our new server.  If you see things that appear wrong, please let me know, so I can fix them.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a shakeout period for me to see how this new server works for us.

Thanks All!

Categories: aside Tags:

Out of date SSL Certificates and Other Issues

December 22nd, 2015 No comments

Happy New YearHi Everyone,

If you are logging in to comment, you may notice that our SSL certificate is out of date.  We are working with the host on resolving that issue and other issues.

Over the last year or so, we’ve had several outages even though our traffic was modest.  In the next couple of days, I will be periodically putting the site on read-only maintenance mode (where you won’t be able to log in and comment) since I may also be moving the site to a new host.  Things should be back to normal by December 24, 2015.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Short Post: Returning Stolen Treasures

December 22nd, 2015 1 comment

Cage's stolen Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur I saw this article earlier today in the NYT about actor Nicholas Cage agreeing to return to Mongolia a dinosaur fossil that he had legitimately bought (paying top dollars for) but that turned out to have been stolen earlier from Mongolia.  Following is an excerpt of the story.

I wish people and governments around the world also think about returning back to China the thousands and thousands of stolen cultural relics that have been looted from China the last century or two.  When one takes the politics out, one can see this as the only virtuous thing to do.  But alas, when it comes to facing to history of the last few centuries, so many in the West become so self-righteous and indignant.

Still, we can hope and dream … one day … Read more…

Categories: Analysis, aside Tags:

Opinion: In Fighting ISIS or Al Qaeda, We Must Take Great Care Not to Demonize Islam

December 10th, 2015 16 comments

Islam[editor’s note: this is a cross-post of an article I posted on the Huffington Post.]

When news arose that the killings in San Bernardino last Thursday was probably terrorist related – that the perpetrators Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had praised “Allah” and pledged allegiance to ISIS moments before they started their rampage – attention quickly shifted to the Muslim communities for their reactions.

Soon enough, civic and religious leaders of the Muslim communities rolled forward to condemn the attack in no uncertain terms. They called the acts horrific and uncivilized and not in line with their religious or social values.

But talking to my Muslim friends privately, I also get a very real sense of fear. Read more…

Who Is Really Overstepping the Bounds of International Law in the South China Sea?

December 10th, 2015 1 comment
The Hague via peopleint.files.wordpress.com/2012/07

The Hague via peopleint.files.wordpress.com/2012/07

[Editor’s Note: This is a cross-post of an article I submitted to the Diplomat a few weeks ago.  I am wrapping up a more detailed legal analysis of the issues  and aim to make it a law review article.  I will cross-post here too that once that has been submitted and accepted.]

When the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague recently announced that it would take “jurisdiction” over Philippines’ arbitral claims against China, many reported the decision as a victory for the Philippines and as a triumph of the “rule of law.” I beg to differ. The Court, on the contrary, has muddled, not upheld, international law, and by trivializing the states’ duty to negotiate in good faith – as enshrined in the U.N. charter, stipulated in the UNCLOS, and specifically agreed to between the parties – has greatly damaged the prospect for peace, cooperation, and a final resolution of the disputes. Read more…

U.S. S. China Sea Provocation … What Next?

October 29th, 2015 10 comments

Missile Guided Detroyer LassenThis story has been brewing for a while.  The U.S. has been saying for months that it is going to challenge China’s “increasingly assertive claims” in the S. China Sea … militarily – by sailing warships through some of the most sensitive parts of the S. China Sea. Many have bemoaned when the U.S. appeared to deliberate and delay and delay.  But yesterday, the U.S. finally sailed a destroyer right through an especially “sensitive” area of the S. China Sea – the waters surrounding Zhubi Reef – a site where China has been dredging and building artificial islands over the last few years.

Here is how the NYT – in a article titled “Challenging Chinese Claims, U.S. Sends Warship Near Artificial Island Chain” – reported the story: Read more…

Opinion: U.K. – the Bridge Between East and West? Not So Fast.

October 21st, 2015 6 comments
U.K.-China Toast

U.K.-China Toast

President Xi is visiting the U.K. this week.  There are pageantry … and some $60 Billion US worth of deals.  British Prime Minister has made a big commotion calling it as the “Partner of Choice” in the West for China.

I am sure the British Leadership, Cameron personally, believes that it is in the long-term interest of Britain to mend relationship with China.  But I don’t believe Britain is really a “Partner of Choice.”  It may be a “Partner of Convenience,” but I believe it still cares little for – has little respect for – China … except to make a buck. Read more…

The Ouster of Hung Hsiu-chu

October 20th, 2015 4 comments

Over the weekend, the KMT nullified Hung Hsiu-chu’s nomination and selected party chairman Eric Chu to lead the ticket in the Jan. 16 election.  George Koo wrote a piece about it last week.

I typically don’t comment that much on populist politics since they are fleeting, shallow, and often end up, when on look back, just dust in the wind.

Here are some of my takes: Read more…

Turning a Nobel Prize to a Chinese for Artemisinin Into a Eulogy for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

October 18th, 2015 No comments
Chinese herbal medicine and tea set

Chinese herbal medicine and tea set

A couple of weeks ago, Tu Youyou became the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.”  (Tu had already won the Lasker Award a few years ago for the same work, and had described her work this way.)  There were cheers and hopes that with the prize, more people would become aware of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and the tremendous amount of work being put in to update the ancient arts with modern science and technology.

But very soon in the West, I see popping up everywhere “straw man” arguments 1.

First, there is the line of attack that goes something like this: so what if Dr. Tu found one drug from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that turned out to work. That per se doesn’t validate the whole tradition.  As this Daily Kos post noted: Read more…

Notes:

  1. From a wikipedia entry, a straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent.

What’s Up with Abe’s Egging China On to War?

October 14th, 2015 3 comments

Mr. Abe has done a lot to put Asia back on the path to War: what with re-arming Japan, making a mockery of Japan’s Pacifist Constitution, and overflowing rhetoric about the dangers of a rising China.

Just last week, I was perusing through Asia Times, reading an article by Peter Lee on the TPP, when I noticed the following picture, and a comment from a reader.

Abe in cockpit of Japanese air force aircraft

Abe in cockpit of Japanese air force aircraft

Reader Jack Temujin astutely noted: Read more…

Nations Agree on the Trans-Pacific Partnership … and My First Take of Its Significance

October 6th, 2015 4 comments
U.S. vs. China?

U.S. vs. China?

Yesterday, the U.S. and the eleven other nations announced that they had finally – after rounds and rounds of delays – an agreement.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been controversial and widely criticized, with secret negotiations taking place behind closed doors.

Even the ultra liberal and Western brain-washed readers of the New York Times see little to like about the agreement.  For example, within a day of the announcement of the agreement, the top 10 comments (as voted by the readers) in the piece in which the NYT reported read: Read more…

Obama lecturing China about hacking and snooping? Shameless!

September 30th, 2015 1 comment

cyeberhacking1_3077109bOne of the key conflicts – at least in U.S. view – between U.S. and China over the last few years has been “cyber attack” and “cyber espionage.”  During President Xi’s recent visit to the U.S., Obama has scolded Xi very publicly – and with much fanfare – that Chinese cyber espionage against U.S. government and companies must stop.  Obama told reporters:

“I raised once again our very serious concerns about our growing cyberthreats to American companies and American citizens,” Obama said. “I indicated that it has to stop.”

“The U.S. government does not engage in cyber-economic espionage for commercial gain, and today I can announce that our two countries have announced a mutual understanding on the way forward,” he added.

The U.S. has long tried to distinguish between economic and political espionage, and tries to claim the high-road that it does not engage in the former.  But as I have commented before, that distinction never held any water under closer observation.

In the lead up to Xi’s visit, there has been much posturing in U.S. media that the U.S. will hit back against China for recent attacks against U.S., including one against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that allegedly compromised the social security numbers of 21 million Americans, finger prints of 5.6 million Americans, among others.

China has long protested that it is the victim of wide-spread espionage … not a perpetrator.

Last week, Obama and Xi finally reached an agreement.

But there was no retaliation.  Why?  Read more…

Xi Jinping’s U.N. Speech

September 30th, 2015 4 comments

xi at unPresident Xi Jinping made an important speech in which he outlined a better way for the international community to move forward: not with hegemony, but with an eye toward win-win cooperation.

Below is a transcript. An official U.N. copy can be found here. Read more…

Indonesia’s Hidden Holocaust

September 30th, 2015 3 comments

Joshua Oppenheimer is an Oscar-nominated American film director based in Denmark. He recently produced two award-winning documentaries on the genocide perpetrated by the Indonesian government against ethnic Chinese and others throughout Indonesia in 1965-69.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning that atrocity. Joshua penned what I think is a great op-ed in the New York Times about Indonesia’s continued silence about that event … as well as U.S. complicity of that crime against humanity.

Here is a copy of the op-ed. Read more…

Hillary’s Tweet about China Regarding Women’s Rights … and What it Reveals…

September 28th, 2015 3 comments
Women hold up half the sky.

Women hold up half the sky.

As China and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon get set to co-host a U.N. meeting of world leaders on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Hillary Clinton decided to crash the party.

On Sunday, Hillary tweeted:

Xi hosting a meeting on woman’s rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless.

This came as a surprise to many Chinese, including me.  Women’s rights is one of the most important achievements of the communist revolution.  Mao has famously pronounced:

Women hold up half the sky.

Since the founding of the PRC, freed of religious ideological baggage, the Chinese Communist Party quickly and successfully integrated women as an important part of modern Chinese society.  Read more…

Case Study on Democracy and Rule of Law: Japan and the World at a Crossroad?

September 26th, 2015 No comments
Massive Protest Against Abe's New Security Law

Massive Protest Against Abe’s New Security Law

Recently, the Japanese Parliament passed controversial legislation pushed by Abe to allow Japanese forces to fight abroad for the first time since 1945.  Here is how Reuters reported it:

Japan’s parliament voted into law on Saturday a defense policy shift that could let troops fight overseas for the first time since 1945, a milestone in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to loosen the limits of the pacifist constitution on the military.

Abe says the shift, the biggest change in Japan’s defense policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954, is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China.

But the legislation has triggered massive protests from ordinary citizens and others who say it violates the pacifist constitution and could ensnare Japan in U.S.-led conflicts after 70 years of post-war peace. Abe’s ratings have also taken a hit.

The legislation “is necessary to protect the people’s lives and peaceful way of living and is for the purpose of preventing wars,” Abe told reporters after the bills were approved by the upper house. “I want to keep explaining the laws tenaciously and courteously.”

Japan’s ally the United States has welcomed the changes but China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime aggression run deep, has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation.

China’s Foreign Ministry said the move was “unprecedented”.

“We solemnly urge Japan to learn the lessons of history … uphold the path of peaceful development and act cautiously in the areas of the military and security, and do more to help push regional peace and stability rather than the opposite,” it said.

Not surprisingly, this has incensed a large number of average people in China … and both Koreas … but also (take note!) the people of Japan.  Read more…

When Ideology and Racism Combine Caustically to Provoke Fear … and When that Fear Burns to Enslave and Ultimately to Kill …

September 11th, 2015 5 comments
Professor Xi Xiaoxing

Professor Xi Xiaoxing

A few months ago, a long-time Jewish friend of mine and I sat down for dinner.  We chatted about many times: family, career, politics, history and ideology.  One of the inevitable topics we discussed was the Holocaust.

I brought up the fact that China’s mentioning of Nankin massacre in the West evoked mass fears of China while Jewish bringing up of the holocaust evoked sympathy and condolence … even self reflections on humanity.

It’s true that six or so millions Jews died in WWII, but what about the 35 millions Chinese died as a result of the Japanese invasion, and some 27 million Soviets died in WWII?

He thought I had a point … but ventured that perhaps the reason is because the Chinese and Soviets casualty were results of WAR, which was sad, but to some extent “understandable.”  War had always been terrible, and modern weaponry only made it that more unbearable.

But Jewish holocaust was another thing.  It was the result of ideology and racism.  When Ideology and Racism Combine Caustically to Provoke Fear … When Fear Burned to Enslave and Ultimately to Kill … that is something that must be remembered.

Today we have the U.N. that work actively to avert world wars.  Anyone with some knowledge of history understand that war is to be avoided at all costs.  But while we can collectively actively look to avert hot wars, it is much harder to defend against ideological errors and racism.  Ideology and racists attitude are pervasive, and sneaky.  It’s the wild grass that is always growing … that must be incessantly pruned.  Grass that might at first appear tame … before anyone notices … has become a wildfire. Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags:

Privacy, National Security, Human Rights, Social Value, Whatever – It’s Whatever the West Says

September 11th, 2015 2 comments
Microsoft

Microsoft, Privacy, and Rights over Ex-territorial Servers

The Economist today had an article on a case involving Microsoft’s alleged refusal to turn over documents stored on a foreign server to FBI. The article can be found here (archived here).

According to the Economist:

SUPPOSE FBI agents were to break into the postbox of an American company in Dublin to seize letters which might help them convict an international drug dealer. There would be general uproar, if not a transatlantic crisis. But that is essentially what the FBI wants to happen, albeit in the virtual realm: it has asked a court to order Microsoft, in its capacity as a big e-mail provider, to hand over messages from a suspect in a drugs case which are stored in a data centre in Ireland. On September 9th an appeals court in New York will hear oral arguments on whether Microsoft has to comply.

The case has many wrinkles … But at the core of the case is one of the most knotty legal questions in the age of cloud computing: how to give law-enforcement agencies access to evidence when laws remain national, but data are often stored abroad and sometimes even at multiple places at once?

This article rightfully brings up conflicts in law in the Internet arena within the West. Over the last few years, certain very public and passionate debates have flared up with Europe and the U.S. regarding privacy, right to delete, and censorship on the Internet.

A few years ago, as early as 2008, when I noticed Google Streetview growing to incorporate the streets of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Asian regions, I realized that everyone there simply took it for granted that it’s ok. What Google did must be the right, enlightened, and forward-thinking. Read more…

The Humanitarian Crisis Spewing into Europe from the Middle East

September 7th, 2015 6 comments

eu-migrant-crisisThe last week or two, we have seen a great humanitarian crisis building in Europe with waves and waves of refugees pouring into Europe from neighboring Middle Eastern countries … with many dying along the way … and even children washing up on resort beaches.

The debate in Europe appears to focus primarily on how should the various nations shoulder the responsibilities of accepting the refugees.  Germany by far has been the most open-armed, although there are anti-immigrant feelings spewing in the nation as well.

Germany should be applauded for taking leadership for Europe to accept these refugees … but in some ways, it is also the least they can do.  Why? Read more…

Beyond the Pathetic Complaints about China’s 70th V-Day Anniversary Parade

September 3rd, 2015 4 comments

1200x630_312860_we-love-peace-china-s-presidenI have been watching, reading, and observing events leading up to China’s 70th V-Day Anniversary Parade.  Festivities are still on-going, and I definitely feel proud that China is on the right track.

I do hear however a lot of bitter snickers and derision that to me seem way off point…

For example, in the U.S., I hear some Americans snicker at the parade saying, oh … but all that military might is useless outside China’s borders.  Just how does China plan to take that force to Japan … or Philippines … or any place further than that: China’s navy will be outgunned and the PLA is doomed from the start. Read more…

A short caricature on politics …

September 1st, 2015 5 comments

japans-imperialismIn the lead up to China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, I thought I’d do a little personal aside … that might explain why Japan can be so delusional about so many things.

Politics … in many ways … especially politics in the democratic sense (i.e. at the level of the people) … is about caricatures … about simplifying (over-simplifying as the case may be) the issues.  Politics is about setting narratives – about burnishing worldviews – through selective highlighting (and de-emphasis) of reality … to present a particular view of the world that sometimes resembles some aspects reality … but that can some times also be completely in contravention with any sane view of reality.

There is a reason why people often avoid talking politics and religion in polite settings.  People can try to use logic and reason … but the problem is that underneath iceberg tip of logic and reason are mountains full of unspoken – and sometimes even unconscious – presumptions.  It’s why reasonable people can disagree vigorously and get so worked up about political disagreements. Read more…

Is China a Real Victor of WWII?

August 7th, 2015 5 comments

In my recent article on Philippines’ ultimately absurd legal challenge to China’s claims in the S. China Sea, I noted how that conflict arose from the prevailing wind to diss China’s interests in the post WWII world.  The cause for that are many.  No doubt China’s relative weakness vis-a-vis the West and/or Soviet Union, its plunge into a major civil war in the aftermath of WWII, the alignment of the interests among the world’s most powerful – including both the West and the Soviets – to keep China from re-emerging as a major power all play a part.  But whatever the cause, I think it is major time for the world to revisit just how important a role China played in securing WWII’s victory against the Axis.

I have heard many Japanese say that even though China was technically a victor, China did not defeat Japan, only the U.S. did.  Some Americans say – what role could China have played when it was always teetering on the brink of national annihilation?  Both are way over simplifications of history.

Even if China could not have single-handedly defeat Japan, the world would not have been able to defeat Japan without China.  The defeat of the axis was a collaborative effort.  The U.S. and Soviet Union may have been the strongest military powers of the day, but the removal of any of the major four victors – China included – would have changed history irrevocably.  There are many reasons for the Axis to be defeated in WWII, and China is a key indispensable reason.

Consider, for example, that despite Japan’s many military victories in China throughout WWII, China was nevertheless able to, through its heroic resistance movement, lock down some 94% of Japan’s army throughout the war.  That is a huge deal.  Had China capitulated and freed Japan’s army, Japan could have opened with the Soviet Union a second front as Hitler had asked.  The course of WWII in Europe would have been irrevocably changed.

Alternatively – or perhaps simultaneously – the freed Japanese army could have rolled across S. East Asia, or India … or been used to invade Australia, Philippines and perhaps even India – securing the resources of much of Asia.  Does the U.S. really think it could have withstood an additional enforcement of Japan’s army by a factor of 15-16 throughout Asia???  Japan, I argue – would have been that much more difficult – if not impossible to defeat.

Some American exceptionalists might claim, but it was nuclear bombs that defeated the Japaneses.  That is patently false.  By the time the “bomb” was used, Americans already had control of Japanese skies and were carrying out firebomb raids with impunity.  Without that cover, the bomb could not have been deployed.

Strategically also, the bomb was used precisely because Japan was a defeated nation.  Had Japan had a fighting chance of survival, America would not have dared to try the bomb … for the simple reason that Japan would not easily go down, and would have had the resources to develop its own bomb  … and used it against America. The nuclear bomb did not end the war.  It was used to make a political statement … and to shorten – perhaps (tenuously) – the war. But make no mistake: the war was already  won.

In commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I offer two articles.  The first,  China a Forgotten WWII Ally, from China.org, argues that China made uniquely important and significant contributions to securing Japan’s ultimate defeat and that its efforts have been too long been neglected in the West in the advent of the cold war.  The second, Did a forgotten Japanese journalist turn the tide of World War II?, from Asia Times tells the story of how Soviet knowledge of Japan’s decision not to open a second front decisively changed the course of WWII … and how a brave Japanese journalist named Hotsumi Ozaki heroically relayed that critical knowledge to Soviet leaders. Read more…

The Mirage that is Japan …

August 6th, 2015 2 comments

I came across an article in Asia Times on Japan’s WWII surrender that I thought was very well written.  It is important because within that surrender lay the seeds of today’s historical revisionism.  But more important than that, it is a good case study on what Japan is NOT.

Too often, many in the West think of Japan as this enlightened, modern, forward-looking, peace-loving society.  But when the West seems to have misunderstood Japan’s nuanced and conditional surrender for a real unconditional one akin to Germany, then perhaps it is time re-evaluate to what Japan is in reality, and what Japan is headed to be.

Here I offer two articles, first as a context, and second as a case study.

First is that article in Asia Times on Japan’s WWII surrender. Read more…

Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines

July 27th, 2015 3 comments

On December 7, 2014, the Chinese government released a position paper on why the UNCLOS Arbitration initiated by Philippines should be dismissed as groundless.  Below is a copy.  For me personally, it’s interesting reading it after I have conducted my own extensive research in the area in writing my own paper on the topic last June.  The Chinese position paper has cited the relevant laws correctly, but I feel my paper dove into the legal issues deeper and more comprehensively.  The Chinese position paper however does include a lot of events that are relevant to understanding the situation but that I had not cited.

Here it goes: Read more…

So China is Doomed Because of a 30% market crash … ?

July 16th, 2015 11 comments

gay men in paradeThe news is abuzz with China’s recent stock market crash.  The naysayers are all coming out.  Not that they were ever hiding, but now it’s a parade – with horns and drums to toot!

Some reports are however darn right silly.  For example in this CNBS report titled How China might have given itself a black eye, a reporter would first accuse China of committing the sin of fighting in vain against market forces, then accusing China of not being able to do enough.

Then there are outlets like Wall Street Journal pronouncing China is doomed to fail, and then a few days later pronouncing everything is fine. There are of course also those who swear that they had foreseen the crash all along, for umpteenth obvious reasons.

Here is my take. Read more…

Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in United States–Japan–China Relations

July 15th, 2015 No comments

This is not the first time I have read and linked to articles in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus that I find sensible, instead of the misinformation and disinformation we see so often preached in Western press and Japanese press.

I thought this article by Kimie Hara gives a more balanced Japanese view of the issue of territorial dispute between China and Japan and (ultimately, I suppose) U.S.  A pdf copy from the site downloaded today is archived below.

senkaku islands title page

Google alters name of disputed South China Sea reef

July 15th, 2015 2 comments

So it’s official folks.  Google has altered the name of of a disputed South China Sea reef on its map from Huangyan Island to Scarborough Shoal.  Since Google says so, it must be so.  Has to be so. Read more…

Xinjiang in the News Again … as Political Islam is Ignored Yet Again

June 25th, 2015 14 comments

So Xinjiang in on the Western news again.  In the last few days, articles have appeared at Reuters, Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, to name just a few…

Here is an excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor: Read more…

Hong Kong Legislature Rejects Election Reform

June 18th, 2015 2 comments

So it looks official now, Hong Kong’s Legislature has officially rejected the Election Reform promulgated by PRC’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. (For more on this topic, see this previous post late last year)  The central government has responded that the election rules stands and now it is the hope of many that Hong Kong will continue to find a way to execute full democracy under the Basic Law and NPC rules.
Read more…

U.S. Irresponsible Acts in S. China Sea

May 26th, 2015 10 comments

Recently, the news has been ablaze with growing tension in the S. China Sea.  First, the U.S. held military drills with Philippines near islands Philippines disputes with China in the S. China Sea.  Then Japan passed and the U.S. welcomed a new law that allows Japanese military to support U.S. air patrols and directly even carry out its own patrols in the S. China Sea.  Then Japan and Philippines announced they would conduct their first military drills in the S. China Sea.  And most recently, the U.S. decides to publicly challenge China’s assertion of rights on disputed islands by flying through those areas and releasing tapes of the verbal responses between the military.

There is no question among observers that the U.S. is ratcheting up the pressure on China in its assertion of sovereignty in the S. China Sea. (see e.g. some of our posts).  But this latest round of military provocation is completely irresponsible. Read more…