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The Tussle over AIIB – So Much ado about Influence?

March 20th, 2015 3 comments

The news about China the last few days is about how it is scoring a diplomatic coup d’état against the U.S. vis-a-vis Europe.  On March 12, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the U.K. had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member. If accepted, Britain would have been the first major Western country to become a member.

A few days later, Germany, France and Italy also announced that they too would join.  South Korea and Australia soon also switched their stance and are now on the verge of joining.

Japan appears to be the odd-power out in Asia now.  Given its history of deference to the U.S. (e.g. Plaza Accord) and its current diplomatic row with China, my money is on Japan not joining at this stage.  But even nationalistic and deferential Japan has not has not ruled out the possibility of joining at the founding stage.

The editorial board of the NYT today penned an editorial titled “U.S. Allies, Lured by China’s Bank.” The notion that China is “luring” U.S. allies seems to me … err … funny – even laughable.  Read more…

On China’s 9-Dashed Line and Why the Arbitrational Tribunal in Hague Should Dismiss Philippine’s Case Against China

December 16th, 2014 9 comments

December 15 was the deadline the Arbitration Tribunal for Philippine’s “arbitration” of its S. China Sea disputes with China had set for China to respond to Philippine’s claims under the UNCLOS.  According to this VOA report:

Monday is the deadline for China to submit a counter-argument in the Philippines arbitration case that questions China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea. But China shuns arbitration and will not respond, while challenges to its position continue to mount.

Just days before the December 15 deadline, Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Bin said his government told the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Vietnam fully rejected “China’s claim over the Hoang Sa [Paracel] and Truong Sa [Spratly] archipelagoes and the adjacent waters.”

In a statement, the Philippines called Vietnam’s position “helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims.”

But China’s Foreign Ministry urged Vietnam “to earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.” The ministry reiterated China’s position that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the case.

In a paper Beijing released a week ago, China argued the Philippines was essentially taking a territorial dispute to the tribunal and that the question of territorial sovereignty was not something addressed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said his government has “taken note” of the position paper.

I had done some research and written an article on the subject earlier this year.  The plan was to publish it somewhere with Eric’s help, and through Guancha’s affiliates. However, by the time I finished, in mid-late August, the S. China Sea issue had drifted from the main media attention and Eric thought it was best to wait.

As it turned out, the “news” would not focus on S. China Sea again this year (fortunately), as the West attention seems to be focused now on ISIS, Ukraine, Russia, and Japan and Europe’s continuing economic problems…

If the news flare up again, I will see about writing something pertinent to that occasion.  But for now, I think it’s too much of a waste to just let my research this year lie dormant.  So below is my paper.   It might seem long and dense because it’s meant to address all the major legal arguments I hear Philippines officials and Western anti-China “legalists” publicly making.  I hope it’s educational for all here. If people have any feedback, I welcome them.  They will only make our position – and my future articles (if they are needed) – that much stronger.

Taiwan’s Recent Local Elections

December 6th, 2014 3 comments

The Taiwan elections last week may have many in the West – and some perhaps on the Mainland – thinking if politics in Taiwan is yet turning another corner with its independence movement mounting a comeback?

The following comment by a Taiwanese reader on guancha caught our attention.

作為一個贊成統一的台灣人,針對這次選舉結果,想跟觀察網的朋友做如下分享:

1. 這次選舉雖然國民黨潰敗,民進黨大勝,並不意味著多數台灣人趨向支持獨立;根本影響這次選情的原因是:一、馬英九當選總統六年以來的執政無方,政策傾向財團與既得利益階級,根本罔顧台灣多數中產階級與基層民眾的需求與感受。二、連戰所代表的國民黨政商既得利益階層推出自己的兒子連勝文出來競選台北市長,更是加深台灣民眾對國民黨壟斷瓜分兩岸和平紅利的印象,一般老百姓根本無法從中得利,但卻看到這些遊走兩岸的政商人物每個都賺得肥油油的,自然會反彈不願意將票再投給國民黨,這也是為何國民黨連在居絕對優勢的台北市都會選輸的原因!

2. 北京需要重新檢討對台政策,特別是調整目前透過國民黨及富商階層作為對台政策代理人的做法。我之前有建議過,今晚還是要在這邊呼籲,希望中央能考慮是否直接在台灣發展基層組織,聯合台灣左統派,發展在台灣的統一力量!

3. 如果民進黨不能在兩岸關係上給台灣民眾一個放心穩妥的答案,2016的台灣總統選舉綠營未必就能再次獲勝,泛藍勢力也會在島內安定的訴求下,再次集結整合,台灣走向獨立的可能性微乎其微。

4. 在台灣島內,多數人民的首要矛盾問題是經濟與民生問題,但這6年來國民黨在馬英九的領導下完全無能無所作為;統獨問題作為次要矛盾問題,在我的認識,許多台灣人都抱持著鴕鳥心態 — 既或是傾向獨立的綠營支持者,很多人心底也都知道或默認,統一是遲早與無法抗拒的,只能持著消極抵制心態應對。而對大陸人來說,在台灣問題上,統獨是首要矛盾問題,台灣的經濟與民生問題是次要問題。而當台灣人因為自己的首要矛盾問題票投綠營時,會讓許多大陸人認為台灣走向獨立之路,或是刻意想與大陸對抗,這是許多大陸人不了解台灣社會實際情況所產生的誤解與誤讀,希望觀察網的朋友對此點有重新的認識。

Here is my quick translation: Read more…

Western Media’s Pervasive Bias Against China Today

October 4th, 2014 7 comments

Zack recently pointed out in the open thread the following article by Stephen Harner that accurately – though not necessarily exhaustively – hit on so many points on what is wrong with the Western press, which I quote in full:

Dealing With the Scourge of “Schadenfreude” in Foreign Reporting on China
Stephen Harner, Former US State Department Official
October 3, 2014

Stephen-HarnerWhy are we so often disturbed by Western media reporting and analysis of China? Why does reading commentary of China’s economy, foreign relations, politics, and society leave us feeling emotionally abused, injured, or even angry and resentful?
I believe our reactions are a response to the pervasive, ugly, and malevolent, but largely unnoticed element of schadenfreude in this commentary.  It is our natural revulsion to writing and thinking that is anti-humanistic, hostile, and harmful.

Schadenfreude is a German-origin term defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as  “a feeling of pleasure at the bad things that happen to other people.”  Schadenfreude is rarely expressed plainly, or in relation to a specific event or situation.  Rather, it is an attitude and bias that disparages achievements, discredits sincerity, and hopes for failure.

We see this vile sentiment often in Western media coverage of news events, in reporting on Chinese business, and particularly in analysis and commentary on policies, plans, and initiatives of the government and the Communist Party.

Read more…

Categories: aside Tags:

Are the Occupy Protesters really about “Democracy”?

September 30th, 2014 21 comments

false_godsAs the Occupy protests continue in Hong Kong, articles, editorials and op-eds in the Western press continue to characterize the conflict as one between those in Hong Kong demanding “real democracy” and Beijing reneging on its promise of “universal suffrage” under “one country two systems.” Western media and leaders – including the New York Times Editorial Board and President Obama, for example – have all but argued that “universal suffrage” in Hong Kong means that Beijing should have no say in determining which candidates are eligible to run for elections … that the system China has proposed is but a “charade” of democracy.

But does this narrative hold any water?

A quick glance at history and Article 45 of the Hong Kong’s Basic Law is revealing. Read more…

What is Your Take on Hong Kong Police Breaking Up Protesters Occupying Government Buildings and Public Spaces?

September 28th, 2014 23 comments

The news of Hong Kong Police using tear gas to disperse crowds aimed at occupying government buildings and public spaces to protest against Beijing rules on how Hong Kong residents vote for its next leaders are plastered on the first page of all the major news site today.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, has this story.

HONG KONG—In the harshest response against protesters in Hong Kong in nearly a decade, police used pepper spray and several rounds of teargas to disperse pro-democracy crowds blocking traffic on some of the city’s busiest streets.

An effort by police to keep protesters away from government buildings appeared to backfire on Sunday. As police converged on the scene and protesters spread out from its center, the conflict spread across three of Hong Kong’s most important commercial neighborhoods.

When police started lobbing tear gas at the crowd, protesters dispersed but quickly regrouped and retook some ground. They ignored police signs telling them to leave and used metal barricades to prevent officers from moving them away.

Late Sunday evening, thousands of protesters were still spread through downtown Hong Kong, and police continued to pour into the area. But the Hong Kong Federation of Students around 10:10 p.m. started urging protesters to leave, citing a fear that police would start using tactics such as firing rubber bullets. Read more…

The Scotland Referendum and What it might teach us about Democracy

September 19th, 2014 4 comments

Saltire and union flagBy the now, the results are in.  Scotland has just rejected secession from U.K. in a historic referendum.  There have been impassioned” pleas on both sides, but through it all, Scotland will remain a part of the U.K.  If mainstream media is to be trusted, a big sigh of relief is heard around the world.

Personally I have no feeling one way or another although I will admit, the breakup of the U.K. – long the terror for much of the world – does not really bring a distaste to my mouth.  Whichever side you take, what I can’t stand is the suffocating self congratulatory praises that seem to now infuse editorials (see e.g. this piece by Roger Cohen in the NYT) and reader comments (see e.g. comments to this NYT article) about “democracy” and “rule of law.”

Oh … just look how the debates in Scotland (and U.K.) have been so “civil” even if “impassioned.” The U.K. and the West is truly different from others – especially rising powers such as China – because in the free democratic West, important, divisive issues can be settled peacefully, civilly, democratically, and in accordance “the rule of law.”

But is this really about the triumph of “democracy” and “rule of law”?  A little dose of reality might bring some sobriety. Read more…

Experimenting with New Themes

September 13th, 2014 No comments

I am playing with updating our themes.  Our old theme is no longer supported, has not been updated in over three years, has become not that search friendly … and does not display well on mobile devices (small screens).  Give me a week or so to toy with different things.  If anyone has a wordpress theme they like, please suggest to me below or by private email.  Thanks!

Categories: Announcements Tags:

Enjoy this short scenic video of Xian

September 13th, 2014 No comments

Yuanfan Zhang – CEO and founder at Alibaba – recently shared a video with Overseas Chinese World Affairs Forum on facebook about Xi’an, his hometown, that I found entertaining.  I had visited China’s ancient capital Xi’an in 2008 and found it to be a beautiful city and thought I’d share it here.  Enjoy!

Categories: culture Tags:

China is a Freeloader of World Order…

August 10th, 2014 9 comments

Check out the following excerpt of an interview conducted by Thomas Friedman on Obama.  In this short segment, Obama states that China is a Freeloader and has been for the last 30 years…

The rest of the interview can be found here.

So is China a Freeloader?  Take the poll below.

Is China a "Free Rider" of the World Order?

View Results

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Categories: Analysis Tags:

WSJ Re-reports “37 civilians killed, 13 injured in Xinjiang terror attack”

August 3rd, 2014 2 comments

I have been pretty flabbergasted by how the Western media has been so quick to line up to tote the U.S. government line on Russian or pro-Russian rebel involvement in the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 over Ukraine.  The media blitzkrieg has been very impressive, so have the U.S. drumming up for another round of sanctions.  While I don’t think the stakes this time is that high as say the U.S. government / media deception about Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. in the sense that this round of infowar is not really going to lead to major human catastrophe, I am certainly watching with trepidation on how the same machinery of diplomatic, media, and sanctions blitzkrieg can be directed against China.

Well, while still in my doldrums, I suddenly came upon an article that shows that despite the urgent attention on Russia and tragedies unfolding in Gaza, the media arms against China are fully cocked and ready to go!

Just yesterday, Xinhua reported an attack last week in Xinjiang killed 37 and injured 13 civilians. Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags:

China’s Take on Vietnam’s Dispute with China in the S. China Sea

July 3rd, 2014 5 comments

Recently, the Western media has been ablaze with Vietnam’s confrontation with China in the S. China Sea over an oil rig.  I thought it’s a good time for me to reference two documents that presents China’s side of the story.

First is an article by Ling Dequan in People’s Daily titled “Truth about South China Sea dispute.” Here is a copy.

Updated: 2014-06-14 09:17

Vietnam says it has evidence to prove its claim in South China Sea but is ignoring own historical documents that vindicate China’s position

Vietnam has been using China-Vietnam clashes in the South China Sea, and distorting facts, fanning passions and playing up the “China threat” theory, to vilify China. Ignoring the overall development of Beijing-Hanoi relationship, Vietnam is pretending to be a “victim” in the South China Sea dispute, saying it is prepared to seek international arbitration on the issue.

Vietnamese leaders have said that they have enough historical evidence to justify Vietnam’s sovereignty over “Huangsha” and “Changsha” islands, claiming that Vietnam has been the “master” of the two islands since the 17th century. It seems like they have lifted their remarks straight out of a white paper “Truth of China-Vietnam Relationship over 30 Years”, issued by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry in 1979 when bilateral ties were not normal. Worse, almost all the arguments in that 1979 document were copied from a “white paper” issued by the Saigon-based puppet South Vietnam regime (or the Republic of Vietnam) in February 1974.

Now the Vietnamese leaders, using the so-called historical documents, are trying to claim that Vietnam’s “Huangsha” and “Changsha” islands are actually China’s Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands. The fact is that, the islands recorded in Vietnamese documents refer to some other islands surrounding Vietnam instead of the Xisha and Nansha islands.
Read more…

US professors urge Western universities to end ties to China’s Confucius Institutes

June 30th, 2014 126 comments

aaupXenophobia and myopia knows no bounds, especially in America’s highly politicized and ideological and indoctrinating universities.  This has now manifested itself in AAUP’s call for American universities to end or modify their sponsoring of Confucius Institutes in the U.S.

In a statement, the AAUP said:

Globalization has brought new challenges for the protection of academic freedom and other faculty rights. In the operations of North American universities in other countries, administrators often refer to local customs, practices, and laws to justify practices that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) would not tolerate on North American campuses. In 2009, our two organizations adopted a joint statement—On Conditions of Employment at Overseas Campuses—setting forth appropriate employment standards for overseas campuses of North American universities and stating our commitment to see that those standards are met.

Globalization has also meant that university administrators have welcomed involvement of foreign governments, corporations, foundations, and donors on campuses in North America. These relationships have often been beneficial. But occasionally university administrations have entered into partnerships that sacrificed the integrity of the university and its academic staff. Exemplifying the latter are Confucius Institutes, now established at some ninety colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.  Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom. Their academic activities are under the supervision of Hanban, a Chinese state agency which is chaired by a member of the Politburo and the vice-premier of the People’s Republic of China. Most agreements establishing Confucius Institutes feature nondisclosure clauses and unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China. Specifically, North American universities permit Confucius Institutes to advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.
Read more…

Why Asia Should Say No to Mr. Abe’s Vision of International Law for Asia

June 25th, 2014 2 comments

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe[Editor’s note: the English version of post was first posted on Huffington Post and can be found here; and the Chinese version can be found on Guancha.cn here]

SHANGHAI — A few weeks ago at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shinzo Abe made a bold pitch to Asia to buy in on a new type of Japanese leadership. According to Mr. Abe, the peace that is at the foundation of the Asia Pacific’s unprecedented growth can no longer be guaranteed. Without naming China by name, Mr. Abe warns of a new danger that looms on the horizon. The Asia Pacific needs Japanese leadership and a new affirmation of “international law.”

These are heavy words for uncertain times. But should Asia buy in? In his speech, Mr. Abe talked extensively about The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, declaring his government’s strong support of the Philippines and Vietnam in their claims against China.

From China’s view, this was a provocative and dangerous articulation of law. China has never taken any actions or made any claims in the South China Sea that limits the freedom of passage. That is made abundantly clear with China’s ratification of the UNCLOS in 1982 and its signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002 reaffirming its “respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.” Read more…

Deconstructing Japan’s Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

June 25th, 2014 No comments

In addition to our post on “The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Han-Yi Shaw, the article “Deconstructing Japan’s Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Ivy Lee and Fang Ming in Japan Focus is also worth reading.  The Shaw article focuses more on the political history surrouding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands while the Lee-Ming article focuses more on the legal history.

Here is a link to Lee and Ming’s article.

Below is a pdf we archived on our site.

If China and the U.S.-led Hegemonic Block Ever Gets into a War, the War Started this Way … with a Lie…

June 24th, 2014 5 comments

The U.S. is know for lying about everything to start wars that destroy lives, peoples, nations… (see e.g. the book titled “War is a Lie”).  That has been clearly the case for Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria… perhaps also Sudan.

But is the U.S. also sowing the seeds, planting the lies, to justify it going to war with China?  With all my heart, I certainly hope not.  But here is an article in Forbes by Stephen Harner, written in response to New York Times’ recent editorial titled “Roaring on the Seas China’s Power Grab Is Alarming”, that brings up how the U.S. may be planting seeds of lies everywhere to pave exactly the path.

I have to say, I agree with most of what Harner has to say.  I hope most Americans understand that there is much good will among ordinary Chinese for the U.S., but I hope the American public will also understand that if the U.S. continues to hype China as the enemy, it will inevitably be pushed to become one.  Here is a copy of Harner’s article: Read more…

Chinese Government Tightens Constraints on Press Freedom

June 20th, 2014 1 comment

Oh no … the Chinese government is at it again.  The New York Times is running on its front page today an article with the ominous title “Chinese Government Tightens Constraints on Press Freedom.”  Here is the full text of the article.

HONG KONG — China introduced new restrictions on what the government has called “critical” news articles and barred Chinese journalists from doing work outside their beats or regions, putting further restraints on reporters in one of the world’s most controlled news media environments.

Reporters in China must now seek permission from their employers before undertaking “critical reports” and are barred from setting up their own websites, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television announced in new rules Wednesday.

Read more…

Chinese Guanxi

June 17th, 2014 24 comments

I thought the following exchanges from Black Phoenix and United Chinese Diaspora in a recent thread were very insightful and thought would put that as a post.

Is guanxi really an exotic leftover from an old decadent tradition – as many people, including I, blindingly believed?  Or is it ever-present among us … in “modernity”? Read more…

Categories: Analysis, culture Tags:

Turning a New Chapter

June 16th, 2014 1 comment

I am retracting this post.  It think it’s premature.  I think even if I stop blogging, the least I can do is to maintain the blog and platform.  That won’t take too much time.

As for why I wrote this post, it’s really not about blogging, but my (childish?) desire to do things that matter more.  But as I read Black Phoenix comments in this post and colin’s comment here, I think I really ought to accept the fact that that most people work in obscurity.

Since I am not doing this for money … or fame, I should continue to blog as long as I feel what I write has some enlightening effect.

Of course, I also want to tell people here that I don’t do this for a living, so when I am silent, please don’t think it’s my flaw.  I am just juggling like everyone all the priorities of life.

So, for now, I am not quitting.  But even if I do end up quitting, I will make sure the blog stays here … or that someone passionate takes over. Read more…

Categories: Announcements Tags:

Tiananmen and Freedom of Speech

May 31st, 2014 24 comments

FreedomIn the lead up to the “25th Anniversary” of the Tienanmen Square Incident of 1989, we are hearing everything again of how a great sad chapter of Chinese history has been – and continue – to be covered up. A politically activist museum even opened in Hong Kong earlier this month. Old, tired politically activists are freshly interviewed by the major Western media outlets again (Guo Jian by FT, for example). New books are published, as reported, for example, in this Washington Post piece.

Even though times have changed, the narrative has not. As 1989 fades ever back further to memory, Western pundits try to re-frame the issue more and more as a current freedom of speech issue. In the Washington Post piece linked above, for example, it is reported:

The contours of today’s brash, powerful China were shaped by decisions made in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown.

China’s leaders are personally vulnerable because they trace their lineage to the winners of the power struggle that cleaved their party in 1989. … The party’s ultimate goal is ensuring its own survival, and it has clearly decided that it needs to keep a lid on discussion about Tiananmen in public, in private and in cyberspace.

China’s online censors are busy scrubbing allusions, no matter how elliptical, to June 4. As the anniversary nears, judging by precedents set in recent years, the list of banned words and terms will grow to include “64,” “today,” “that year,” “in memory of” and even “sensitive word.” History is apparently so dangerous that China’s version of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike, does not have an entry for the entire year of 1989.

Just days ago, I stumbled across “Tiananmen,” written by the British poet James Fenton less than two weeks after the bloody repression. A quarter-century later, his words are still true, perhaps more so even than before.

 “Tiananmen

And you can’t tell

Where the dead have been

And you can’t tell

What happened then

And you can’t speak

Of Tiananmen.”

Read more…

A New U.S. China Diplomatic Row a la Devyani Khobragade?

May 20th, 2014 12 comments

uncle-same-espionageYesterday, the U.S. Justice Department indicted five Chinese nationals of the Chinese military, living in China, with cyber espionage in the U.S. against American companies.  China has reacted emphatically, calling the allegations trumped up and hypocritical (see, e.g., this xinhua article).

According to this Washington Post Report,

The Justice Department has indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges of hacking into computers and stealing valuable trade secrets from leading steel, nuclear plant and solar power firms, marking the first time that the United States has leveled such criminal charges against a foreign country.

The landmark case paves the way for more indictments and demonstrates that the United States is serious about holding foreign governments accountable for crimes committed in cyberspace, officials said at a news conference Monday.

The Obama administration “will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said.

The criminal charges provoked a response from Beijing, which said Monday that it was suspending high-level cyber talks with the United States that began in June.

China has summoned the U.S. ambassador over the hacking charges. According to an online notice posted Tuesday by state-run Xinhua on Weibo, Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned Abassador Max Baucus to complain that U.S. authorities published their indictment ignoring the strong protests by Chinese authorities. Read more…

Two (Minor) Chinese Fishermen Returned from Phillipines Deny Poaching Sea Turtles

May 17th, 2014 1 comment

When the story of the Philippines Police arresting Chinese fishermen for illegally fishing sea turtles in Half Moon Shoal broke a few days ago, I immediately read saw in the news that families of fishermen highly doubt the veracity of that story since the fishermen did not leave with equipment to poach turtles…

Well, here are a few more details from xinhua.

QIONGHAI, Hainan, May 15 (Xinhua) — Two Chinese fishermen released by Philippine authorities have said that sea turtles they were accused of poaching were actually traded from a Vietnamese fishing boat.

“When we got caught by the Philippine police, it’s true that there were dozens of sea turtles on our vessel, but we had exchanged them with Vietnamese fishermen for food,” said Li Xianghui, one of the two fishermen released by a Philippine court earlier this week because they were found to be minors. Read more…

On the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Between the U.S. and Phillipines

April 29th, 2014 5 comments

 

Obama and Aquino Toasts

Obama and Aquino Toasts

The U.S. and Phillipines leadership would like to portray their new relationship as rosy, strategic and deep.  On the street though, talking to the average Joe, one might get a very different impression.

Billed as the cornerstone of growing US and the Philippines strategic partnership and of the U.S. pivot back to Asia, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the U.S. and Philippines has been touted as the highlight of the meeting of President Obama and President Aquino in Manila this week. The official line is broadcast to the world even though many in Philippine vehemently oppose the agreement (see e.g. this response from BAYAN).  Many Filipinos still remember the 1.5 million or so who died during the brutal US conquest of the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century, and they do not want the U.S. to have any military presence on Philippines soil again. Read more…

Obama Asia tour: US-Japan treaty ‘covers disputed islands’ – A Case of Dipping into One’s Savings to Live Large?

April 25th, 2014 4 comments
Obama makes toast to Emperor and Empress of Japan

Obama makes toast to Emperor and Empress of Japan

It’s never good to dip into one’s savings just to live large.  Gluttony and largess – when one can ill afford it – is foolish … and a sign of decadence.  To me, the U.S. so-called pivot to Asia – emblemized by President Obama’s trip to Japan – represents just that.

The New York Times – even with its usual spin PR in over-drive – already calls the trip a “setback.”  In an article titled “Obama Suffers Setbacks in Japan and the Mideast,” the Times reported:

TOKYO — President Obama encountered setbacks to two of his most cherished foreign-policy projects on Thursday, as he failed to achieve a trade deal that undergirds his strategic pivot to Asia and the Middle East peace process suffered a potentially irreparable breakdown.

Mr. Obama had hoped to use his visit here to announce an agreement under which Japan would open its markets in rice, beef, poultry and pork, a critical step toward the trade pact. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not able to overcome entrenched resistance from Japan’s farmers in time for the president’s visit.

This trip was supposed to show that the U.S. is back – and that the pivot is back on track.  Yet, on the Washington Post, you will not see any article on Obama’s Japan trip on the top (home) page.  On New York Times Home Page, you see just one (the one linked above) – with that one lamenting the visit’s failure.

If the “pivot” is back, it seems hard to tell.  The U.S. seems distracted by other world events in Middle East Ukraine. Read more…

Malaysia Airline MH370 – American Media Fanning the Flame Wars

April 22nd, 2014 5 comments

MH370 SearchApril 15 is tax day for most Americans.  It is the deadline for Americans – rich or poor – to file and pay their taxes.  But this year, it appears, it is also smear China day.  You may think with so much things going on in the world, things to do, that perhaps for this one day, China might be spared unnecessary smearing.  But it is not to be so.

Last week, on April 15, both New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran two underhanded articles on China, assigning the blem for the unfruitful search for missing Malaysian airline MH370 squarely on China.  Both papers reported that China was in big on the search for MH370 not necessarily because a majority of the victims were Chinese citizens, but really because Chinese leaders wanted to show off their new technology wares – to grab the International spotlight to to show off.  Unfortunately, the Chinese bumbling not only made China look bad, but may have actually stymied the search. Read more…

Taiwan’s Student Mob?

April 9th, 2014 8 comments

Taiwan ProtestThis is a belated post.  I have been busy with a project at work the last couple of weeks…  Still, I believe what I have to say is still relevant.

It appears that the student protest occupying the Legislative Yuan the last 2-3 weeks is coming to an end.  Depending on which media you read, the significance of the protest meant different things.

Some think this is just a purely economical issue.  The Taiwanese students are not happy with the trade agreements agreed upon but not yet signed into law between the Mainland and Taiwanese side.  This is understandable.  College graduates in Taiwan has had a tough time getting (good) employment this past several years (decade?).  Many – unfortunately – have come to feel protectionism – legal protection from globalism – is the best way to “compete” in the global economy.

However, this is oversimplification.   If you listen to the speeches and talks within the protest, you have no doubt this is about partisan politics between KMT and DPP – and also emotional politics invoked against the Mainland.  As I noted earlier in a comment in another thread, the main impetus of the protest is not about economics, but about the uneasy unsettled status of Mainland-Taiwan relations.  The real reason is unification/independence politics.

But if this is all there is to the protest, I’d not write this post – as there is not much for me personally to write about.  It’s just about normal democratic politicking – built upon base politics, misinformation, distortion, emotional rants, hateful or divisive rhetoric, and what I might call ethno/religious/identity politicking. Read more…

What is a Holocaust?

April 1st, 2014 6 comments

Earlier today, I stumbled upon a curious article in the Washington Post titled “This is why Germany doesn’t want China anywhere near Berlin’s holocaust memorial”.  According to the article, President Xi was (in short) barred from visiting German’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin because Germany was worried about embarrassing Japan.

Here is a copy of the article in full:

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Germany for the next two days, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. It’s the third leg of Xi’s European Union trip, and an important one – as Deutsche Welle notes, Germany is China’s most important trade partner in Europe.

There is, however, once place that Xi isn’t wanted during his time in Germany: Berlin’s famous Holocaust memorial. Der Spiegel reported this month that German authorities had refused a request from Xi’s entourage for an official visit to the site. While the Chinese president may visit the site on his own, it will not be a part of the official itinerary and Merkel will not accompany him.

Visits to the Holocaust memorial, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), are a key part of a trip to Berlin for many visitors. Why wouldn’t Xi be granted an official visit? Read more…

A Brief Note on Elections – that Bedrock of Modern Democracy…

February 2nd, 2014 5 comments

This is a brief note on elections – that bedrock of modern democracy.

A key and indispensable pillar of modern democracy – heck modernity – is the notion of elections.  Elections, many believe, are a fundamental way for people to express their voice, and some believe even for people to engage in self-determination as envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations.  Without elections, there can be no political accountability, no political legitimacy.  Oh yes, there might be, once in a while, a government such as the one in China today that gains popular approval without elections, but such a political structure cannot be sustained.  Over time, bad leadership inevitably arises.  Non-democratic political orders provides no means for the people to get rid of a “bad emperor.”  Over the long haul, the only way to rid governments that don’t serve the people is elections.

This may sound all fair and good except in real life, elections don’t work that way.  In real life – elections rarely project a “people’s voice,” too often detracts from the routine act of governing.  And the world has never witnessed – nor do I expect to witness – elections to overturn a truly unjust order.

Let’s pierce the facade using a real example to see how things add up. Read more…

Happy New Year – Year of the Horse!

January 31st, 2014 2 comments

One of the great things about being a Chinese in the “modern era” is that in this international age where we all seem to start celebrating the new years starting as early as Thanksgivings … then “Christmas,” then the (solar) “New Year,” we always find ourselves crescendoing to celebrate the lunar New Year.  It is no different this year.

So – Happy New Year Everyone and Welcome to the Year of the Horse!

Horses traditionally are known to be hardworking and independent. They are very intelligent and ambitious.  They do not quit and always strive to succeed. They are strong but also kind and gentle.

May your new year be prosperous, healthy, and meaningful.  Cheers!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Image from http://photo.elsoar.com/happy-lunar-new-year-2014-pictures-wallpapers.html.

A Tribute to Run Run Shaw

January 8th, 2014 1 comment
Run Run Shaw

entrepreneur, filmmaker, philanthropist

It is with sadness that we learned that Run Run Shaw – entrepreneur, investor, filmmaker, philanthropist – died Tuesday in his home in Hong Kong at the age of 107. There are few men in modern China – anywhere actually – with the stature, reach, and heart of Run Run Shaw. People who don’t pay attention sometimes may associate Shaw with just low-budget Chinese action and horror films, or just kung fu movie flicks, when in truth, his impact is much broader.   As Neda Ulaby of the NPR recently noted:

A world without Run Run Shaw would’ve meant a world without Quentin Tarantino…

Or the Wu Tang Clan…

Or “The Matrix.”

That global pop culture vernacular came from a Hong Kong media mogul who dominated the industry for decades. Read more…

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