I am going to write an article or post on the myth of law… But this 9th circuit decision to not reinstate Trump’s order to temporarily stop immigration from 7 countries is really getting to me. Here is a letter I’d write Trump: Read more…
I recently published this opinion piece on the Saker website, & it was republished in Russia Insider. I also wanted to share it here as well (with a few minor grammatical corrections). Apologies in advance if the pictures turn out blurry, please refer to one of the links above.
Not All Silk Roads Are Created Equal
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route is unlikely to see high-volume PRC adoption in the near term due to insufficient business and geopolitical value prop
Several months ago, there were quite a few news/analysis reports lauding the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) as a new path for trade along the Silk Road, which is being revitalized by China and its regional partners under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project. The TITR is highly attractive to Russia’s geopolitical rivals, such as Georgia and post-Maidan Ukraine (& no doubt the US too), for it is a potential Sino-European trade route across the Eurasian continent that completely bypasses Russian territory. However, there is little/no incentive for China to actively promote or use TITR for large-scale trade in the near future. To expand on this conclusion, this article will cover the following: the basic business value proposition of the land-based Eurasian Silk Road, an outline of the TITR path, a side-by-side comparison of a comparable route (Chongqing-Duisburg, also known as ‘Yuxinou’), and the geopolitical factor.
South China Sea tensions stem from the ‘nine-dash line’
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Manila
The South China Sea territorial disputes between China and its neighbours can be partly traced to an internal map published by the Republic of China government in 1947 that included an “eleven-dash line” enclosing much of the waters. China did not explain the significance of the line at the time. It was adopted by the People’s Republic of China government after the Communists came to power two years later. Then, in 1953, China unveiled a new map with a “nine-dash line” that covered a slightly smaller area of the South China Sea, losing two dashes that ran through the Gulf of Tonkin between China and Vietnam.
The US remained silent on the “nine-dash line” until February 2014 when Daniel Russel, a top state department official, said China should clarify its meaning.
*Trefor Moss, 12 September, 2013:
Diaoyu/Senkaku islands … administered from Taiwan long before Japan annexed them.
China arguably has a decent case regarding Scarborough Shoal. Here’s one important element of the case: China publicised its claim in 1948, and it took the Philippines five decades to object and counter with a claim of its own. Prima facie, that strengthens China’s claim quite substantially.
*On the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA):
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an intergovernmental organization located at The Hague in the Netherlands. The PCA is not a court, but rather an organiser of arbitral tribunals to resolve conflicts between member states, international organizations, or private parties. It should not be confused with the International Court of Justice which is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations, while the PCA is not a UN agency.
The court was established in 1899 by the first Hague Peace Conference. The Peace Palace was built for the Court in 1913 with funds from American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Unlike the judges from the International Court of Justice who are paid by the UN, members of the PCA are paid from that same income the PCA earns.
*South China Morning Post, 14 July, 2016:
The Permanent Court of Arbitration rents space in the same building as the UN’s International Court of Justice, but the two organisations are not related.
*Members of «the court»:
Most of them come from countries unfriendly towards China – and most of these countries are characterized by heavy American news domination:
*One person wrote on the lawsuit process:
… an American-initiated, American-paid, American staffed lawsuit to a private, self-appointed, fee-for-service corporations (with no connection to the United Nations) that is not a real court.
*Many «international courts» are dominated by American and Western lawyers. Here is one of the reasons:
From Yale Law School guide (2012):
This guide provides information regarding some of the courts outside of the U.S.—international tribunals and intergovernmental courts, as well as national courts—where current law students and graduates may find temporary positions, paid and unpaid:
Huffington Post on UNCLOS: China, the Philippines and the Rule of Law
The threshold question really is whether the PRC can be bound by UNCLOS courts and tribunals, including its arbitral panels. The PRC ratified UNCLOS in 1996, but in 2006 the Chinese government filed a statement with UNCLOS saying that it “does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a), (b), and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention.” These provisions of the Convention refer to “Compulsory Procedures Entailing Binding Decisions” issued by at least four venues: the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, an “arbitral tribunal” which may refer to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and a “special arbitral tribunal.”
While there are venues available for the resolutions of disputes under the UNCLOS regime, the PRC does not wish to be bound by its compulsory processes — the ICJ and PCA included.
The PRC knew this day would come. Its 2006 statement effectively served as a “reservation” against any binding outcome of UNCLOS’s grievance procedure in the future.
As you know around June 4th every year Western news media have stories about «the tank man» – like when The New York Times first printed his photo and wrote: «A single man stopping a column of tanks rumbling toward Tiananmen Square». Or when the TIME magazine later declared the tank man «one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century». Things like this have been repeated every year since 1989 in almost every Western news media.
But is the narrative true? Read more…
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how Germany has cheapened its own history and disregarded its own humanity by turning a blind eye on Japan’s horrific crimes against humanity in China on the eve of the 77th anniversary of the Nanking massacre.
In that piece, I wrote how Germany may not be preaching “universal values” per se, but politically-expedient political myths. Well, interestingly today, the German parliament voted to recognize the so-called “Armenian genocide” as a true “genocide” and a crime against humanity. Turkey – which has been both fighting and growing its own brand of terrorism abroad – is none too thrilled.
I wonder if this is a case of external politics ripening for Germany – as a lapdog of America, which has increasingly seen Turkey drift away – to strike at Turkey? Or is it a case of Germany finally finding some guts to stand up for history, as this LA Times story seem to report? Read more…
I’m glad to see the Chinese media FINALLY starting to explicitly outline the hypocrisy of American human rights rhetoric, but I think it doesn’t go far enough to illustrate the sheer scale of US human rights violations & issues, such as:
- Little mention on the sheer degree of income & wealth inequality, which then translates into the lack of meaningful political power for most average citizens.
- The number of annual police killings & prison incarceration rates in the US.
- The lack of respect for equal rights not just by the US government, but BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, as demonstrated by the popularity of xenophobic, & particularly islamophobic rhetoric among presidential candidates.
I think CCTV’s exclusion important details such as the aforementioned may create the misconception that the US human rights problems they outlined are somehow “small & isolated”, and inadequately highlights the widespread nature of their lack of respect for human rights. But nevertheless, this is a good start.
One of the arguments many people in the West used to denigrate the HK and Mainland government in support of the Umbrella movement was that the rioters had a right to block streets and shut down districts to get their message out. When some Hong Kongers – siding with HK and Mainland government – pushed back that while freedom of speech grants them the right to protest but not a right to shut down entire districts, they were ridiculed and shamed by the Western press.
Of course, as we know, when the occupy movement flamed across the Western capitals of the world, those governments acted very differently. The police (even paramilitary forces) soon cracked down and order was soon restored. But in China, so-called rule of law quickly gets tossed aside in the name of mob rule (I mean “democracy”). All this reinforced in my mind how “political” “free” speech is. It is “free” when the politics is palatable. But when it’s not, the “costs” – be it national security, social peace, whatever – gets framed as the main (only) issues.
This reminds me of another story last year when the Pope visited the U.S. If people remember, the pope got a “rock star” reception from the media – with the press trumpeting how popular, socially and morally in tune the pope is, especially compared to China’s President Xi (also visiting the U.S. around the same time) who allegedly got a stiff and cool reception. Read more…
How would this story be reported if it were China asking Apple for a way to get into a Terrorist’s phone?
Interesting story from NYT today titled “Judge Tells Apple to Help Unlock San Bernardino Gunman’s iPhone.”
Here is an excerpt:
The ruling handed the F.B.I. a potentially important victory in its long-running battle with Apple and other Silicon Valley companies over the government’s ability to get access to encrypted data in investigations. Apple has maintained that requiring it to provide the “keys” to its technology would compromise the security of the information of hundreds of millions of users.
[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…
This 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…
I recently saw a debate I wanted to share, regarding a topic of particular interest for me: innovation in China. A few takeaways I got from this video:
- The myth of what I call the “freedom-innovation nexus” is still alive & well.
- China is already surpassing the West in some aspects of innovation.
- Just as there are no one-size fits all political models, there are no one-size-fits-all innovation models.
Enjoy the debate everyone.
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…
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…
New research, based on China’s aid track record from 2000-2013, shows that much of what the western media propagates about China’s intentions & practices, when it comes to providing official development aid (ODA) to Africa, is simply NOT true. “Coincidentally”, this latest research published by AidData has garnered little (if any) attention in US mainstream media outlets.
Here are a few of its findings. Those who are interested in the details should check out this new report in its entirety.
- African states that align with the PRC’s stances in the UN tend to receive more development assistance.
- Internal political system is not a factor for ODA allocation; the PRC does NOT favor either authoritarian or democratic governments.
- For China, humanitarian need is a stronger determinant of ODA destination than natural resource development opportunities, given that Chinese ODA is more focused on poorer African countries.
- Chinese ODA does NOT favor countries with higher levels of corruption.
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…
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…
Recently, there has been no shortage of highly pessimistic commentaries published & republished, pointing out the supposed “follies” of Russia’s eastern pivot, by highlighting this year’s decline in Sino-Russian trade, China’s stock market volatility, and its supposed economic “weakness”. The conclusion implied by these articles is clear: “Russia’s economic pivot to China is failing, because increased economic cooperation has not mitigated Russia’s recent economic woes, or the effect of sanctions. China cannot save Russia, and the latter must continue depending on the West.”
This is essentially a straw-man conclusion. One thing should be plainly apparent through even a casual examination of Russia’s biggest recent commercial agreements with China: most of these arrangements with China were NEVER INTENDED to offset the impact of Russia’s current recession, but rather to position Russia’s economy for greater long-term diversification and upward mobility on the global economic value chain.
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…
PDF attachment: Q&A with a Russian Friend
Sometimes it is helpful for the Hidden Harmonies audience to remember that China is not alone in being demonized by the mainstream western (primarily US) media. Any country that doesn’t “fit” neatly into the US “liberal-democratic” ideological dogma will naturally be painted as some kind of morally degenerate rogue state out to undermine “good” and “normal” countries. In fact, recently, no country is more demonized than Russia (not even the PRC).
That said, one of the major problems I see is that while we may recognize that we’re not alone, due to potential language/cultural barriers, lack of awareness, our Sino-centric mindset/attention span, and a host of other possible reasons, we often do not truly understand the perspectives of others (e.g. Russians) who are demonized. This is especially the case if our primary source of information about these other countries is the western media. I hope the contributors at Hidden Harmonies can begin to fix this problem, and I’ve taken a small step to start. Read more…
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…
If the West didn’t fuel civil wars with arms (& bombs), perhaps they wouldn’t need to cry crocodile tears when refugees start to flood out of those war zones?
On a side note, once in a while, it’s helpful to remember that China isn’t the only society being demonized by the western media.
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…
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…
In the latest, AMSC suffered clear defeats in 2 main jurisdictions in China, Beijing and Hainan, where both jurisdictions dismissed AMSC’s copyright complaints.
In April the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court dismissed another AMSC software copyright infringment case against Sinovel. AMSC made an appeal in May to the Beijing Higher People’s Court, requesting a revocation of the ruling as well as court support for its previous claims in the re-trial. Several weeks ago, Sinovel also announced that it has received a written notification from the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court informing it that AMSC had requested a change to the allegations it was making.
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
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…
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…
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.
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…
Here is an excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor: Read more…
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.