torsdag 25. mai 2017

U.S. Ratification of the Law of the Sea: Convention Measuring the raison d’État in the Trump era.

When at the steps of the Louvre, turn your gaze toward Rue de Rivoli, to a work of Parisian art, the Palais-Royal (originally the Palais-Cardinal), the former residence of Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu is credited with articulating the principle of raison d’État, the national interest, as a transcendent entity, an ideal above and beyond the private concern of statesmen. As Louis VIII’s chief minister, during the religious wars of the 17th century, he rose above confessional loyalties, allying Catholic France with Protestant powers in order to maintain the European balance of power. In the Testament Politique, Richelieu’s political manual, he observed: “The public interest must be the sole end of the prince and his councilors.”

In Washington today, we have the opportunity to assess the raison d’État as defined by the current U.S. leadership: the new Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. One significant measure will be whether the United States finally ratifies the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (“UNCLOS” or the “Convention”), the comprehensive treaty regime that governs activities on, above and below the world’s oceans. Although the United States was an original architect of the treaty, Senate advice and consent to ratification has remained stalled through three successive presidential administrations. For more than 20 years the national interest has fallen victim to the confessional nature, the hardened doctrinarism, of modern American politics.

‘Goal of peaceful development’: China says it has no mining plans for Antarctica

China sought to dispel concerns about its ambitions in mineral-rich Antarctica on Monday, with an official saying Beijing has no plans to start mining in the vast continent. China’s expanding activities in polar regions is a focal point as Beijing hosts the annual meeting of the Antarctic Treaty for the first time. Some 400 delegates from 42 countries and 10 international bodies were attending the forum, which kicked off Monday and ends June 1. Read more

Beijing’s new weapon in an economic war: Chinese tourists

Slapping import bans on products like mangoes, coal and salmon has long been China’s way of punishing countries that refuse to toe its political line. But Beijing has shown that it can also hurt others by cutting a lucrative Chinese export: tourists who normally flock to South Korea or Taiwan. China’s recent boycott of South Korea over a US anti-missile shield on the Korean peninsula signals a growing aggression in the way it flexes its economic muscles, analysts say. 

Read more  Dealing With Chinese Sanctions: South Korea and Taiwan

Jailed Chinese lawyer suffered ‘very cruel and sick torture’, force-fed medication, says wife

When human rights lawyer Li Heping returned to his home in Beijing after a two-year incarceration, his wife did not recognise the frail white-haired man standing in her hallway. “He is only 46 years old, but I thought he was an old man,” Wang Qiaoling told AFP. “He had lost 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds) and looked completely different.” Wang, speaking on Li’s behalf because she said he remains under strict police control, alleges her husband was force-fed medication and sometimes chained for long periods during his detention in the neighbouring city of Tianjin. Read more

North Korean nuclear threat 'inevitable' if left unchecked, top US intel official says

North Korea will eventually obtain a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States if left unchecked, a top US intelligence official said. "If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland," said Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. "While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable." Read more

'Only logical' for Trump to meet Dalai Lama: Tibetan leader

The head of Tibet's government in exile said on Wednesday it would be "logical" for Donald Trump to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since the U.S. president has visited homes of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions on his current international tour. 
The Dalai Lama has met the past four U.S. presidents, greatly angering China, which considers Tibet a renegade province and the spiritual leader a dangerous separatist. He has not yet been invited to meet Trump, who has been courting Beijing's support over North Korea. "Donald Trump ... has been to all three major sacred places of three major traditions," Lobsang Sangay, Tibet's prime minister in exile, said referring to Trump's visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. Read more

China's feeling Moody about credit downgrade – but caution is justified

It is almost three decades since Beijing was last downgraded by the rating agency Moody’s, and during that period China has been transformed. Since 1989, the year of the Tiananmen square massacre, rapid growth has seen huge progress in the fight against poverty. Compounded growth rates of close to – and in some years higher than – 10% have made China the world’s second biggest economy after the US. At the current rate of progress, it will soon be number one. Few envisaged this when Deng Xiaoping began his reform programme in the late 1970s. Read more

South China Sea: US warship challenges China's claims with first operation under Trump

A US Navy destroyer has sailed close to a disputed South China Sea island controlled by China for the first time under US President Donald Trump. The USS Dewey sailed within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Island chain, on Wednesday, in a "freedom of navigation operation," according to a US official. China's Defense Ministry said Thursday two Chinese frigates had "warned and dispelled" the USS Dewey after had entered its waters "without permission." Read more

onsdag 24. mai 2017

Torbjørn Færøvik: En Silkevei med mange humper?

Denne sommeren blir det liv og røre i de stupbratte fjellene som skiller Kina og Pakistan. Flere tusen kinesere rykker inn for å sprenge tunneler, bygge broer og strekke en ny «Silkevei» til havet. «Vi vil forsere arbeidet mens det ennå er godvær,» sier en arbeidsleder til partiorganet Folkets Dagblad. Han forteller at han har jobbet i femten år uten ferie. Men det gjør ikke noe, for «fedrelandet er viktigere enn meg». Les mer

More Chinese-Owned Banana Plantations to Close in Laos

Lao government orders closing down environmentally destructive Chinese banana farms, first reported in January in Bokeo province, are now in force in six other provinces in the Southeast Asian country, sources say. The ban, which will shutter the commercial operations when their contracts expire and forbid new contracts from being signed, was conveyed by provincial authorities in Phongsaly, Luang Prabang, Xayaboury, Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Oudomsay, and Vientiane, local sources confirmed to RFA’s Lao Service. Chinese investors in Luang Prabang have now “gone quiet” since the ban went into effect at the beginning of this year, an agriculture and forestry official in the province told Radio Free Asia. Read more

Buddhist Authorities Ban Myanmar’s Ultranationalist Ma Ba Tha Group

A government-appointed body that regulates Myanmar’s Buddhist clergy has banned an ultranationalist monk organization known for its anti-Islamic rhetoric, according to media reports, ordering the group to disband or face punishment under both Buddhist and secular law. The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (Ma Ha Na), a group of high-ranking monks that serves as Myanmar’s Buddhist authority, informed government ministries Tuesday that it had ordered the hardline group Ma Ba Tha to end its activities, according to a document obtained by Agence France-Presse. “People, either as individuals or as a group, cannot take any actions under the name of Ma Ba Tha,” the Sangha said in its statement, which also directed Ma Ba Tha to take down its posters and signboards around the country by July 15. Read more

China's Prisoners of Conscience Subjected to Increasing Violence by Police

A string of reported cases of torture and degrading punishment of rights lawyers and prisoners of conscience continues to emerge from Chinese jails and detention centers. Chinese political prisoner Chen Yunfei has been forced to wear manacles and leg irons in police detention for several weeks after making apparently sarcastic comments about his detention center governor, sources told RFA. Chen, who was handed a four-year jail term in March after visiting the grave of a 1989 Tiananmen massacre victim in 2015, received the punishment after shouting "Our leaders are great!" at Zhang Lin, head of the police-run Xinjing County Detention Center, where he is being held pending his appeal, his lawyer said. Read more

China's State Media Lauds 'Sweeping Victory' After Beijing Reportedly Catches US Spies

Chinese officials have refused to deny a weekend report in The New York Times claiming that the Chinese government has systematically dismantled CIA spy operations in China since 2010, while state media lauded the unverified report as a victory for Chinese counterintelligence. The article cited former U.S. officials as saying that, from the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, China had killed at least a dozen of the CIA's sources, and still others were put in jail. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press conference on Monday that China is indeed engaged in counterintelligence operations, with state security agencies targeting "organizations, personnel and activities" that endanger China's national security and interests. Read more

Chinese Student Apologizes For 'Fresh Air' And 'Freedom' Comments During Graduation Speech

A Chinese student has apologized after she referred in public to breathing "the fresh air" of free speech after arriving to study in the United States, sparking a storm of online criticism and abuse. Yang Shuping said in a graduation speech at the University of Maryland that she had initially left China in search of less polluted air, but then had enjoyed breathing another kind of fresh air on her arrival.

"The air was so sweet and fresh and utterly luxurious," she said, according to a video of her speech posted on YouTube. "The moment I inhaled and exhaled outside the airport, I felt free," she said. "I grew up in a city in China where I had to wear face masks every time I went outside, otherwise I might get sick." By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 56 million times by users of the Sina Weibo social media platform and prompted a storm of negative comments.

Read more

tirsdag 23. mai 2017

Beijing Turns to Hollywood to Win Hearts and Minds

Having suffered setbacks in its attempts to improve its image around the world, China now appears to have found the key to success by investing in Hollywood. Here’s the payoff for Hollywood: In return for working with Chinese investors to produce films acceptable to Beijing, American film studios are sharing in China’s movie theater profits.

With U.S. ticket sales relatively flat, analysts had been predicting for some time that China was likely to become the world’s largest box-office market within a few years. 
Given a slowdown in 2016 in China’s ticket sales, though, those predictions are looking overly optimistic at the moment. Meanwhile, given China’s censorship regulations, Hollywood executives have been paying a price for cooperating with China on film productions. In numerous cases, industry leaders have curtailed their creative freedom in deference to China.

The Day After the Second Korean War

The Kim regime likely realizes it cannot win a conventional war with U.S. or South Korean forces. However, it remains determined not to go gently into that good night. Publicly available intelligence indicates that the regime watched with interest as allied forces rolled over Iraqi conventional military forces only to become bogged down in a military quagmire afterwards. Having observed the U.S. quandaries in the Middle East, North Korean forces are already training in insurgent tactics such as roadside bombs. Austin Long, a leading scholar on counterinsurgency and international affairs, recently suggested North Korea is ripe for a vibrant insurgency following any collapse of the Kim regime. In short, the greatest impediment to a peaceful and unified Korea may not be the North Korean military seen goose-stepping on television, but rather a vibrant postwar insurgency. Read more

Park Geun-hye: S Korea trial of impeached president begins

South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye has pleaded not guilty at her trial for corruption, the latest stage in her dramatic fall from grace. The ousted president faces charges including bribery, abusing state power and leaking state secrets. In her first appearance in public since her arrest in March, she arrived at court handcuffed in a prison van. The maximum sentence for corruption in South Korea is life. Read more

Work, not sex? The real reason Chinese women bound their feet

It was an excruciatingly painful practice that maimed the feet of millions of Chinese girls and women for centuries: foot-binding. Tiny "golden lotus" feet -- achieved through breaking girls' toes and arches and binding them to the sole of the foot with cloth -- were thought to be a passport to a better marriage and a better way of life. "In the conventional view, it existed to please men. They were thought to be attracted to small feet," said Laurel Bossen, co-author of the new book "Bound feet, Young hands." But Bossen's research suggests that the custom has been massively misunderstood. Read more