‘Prepare for Chinese invasion’, says Jacqui Lambie

The Australian |
August 20, 2014 12:00AM

AUSTRALIA must build missile systems and defence shields to prepare for an invasion from China even if it costs $60 billion a year, Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie has warned in a dramatic escalation of her party’s claims about the rising threat from Asia. Senator Lambie issued the alert in a move to support party leader Clive Palmer as he faced a barrage of rebukes for claiming “Chinese mongrels” were trying to take over the country. Continue reading “‘Prepare for Chinese invasion’, says Jacqui Lambie”

Another Guilty Plea in Navy Corruption Ring

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A retired Navy lieutenant commander pleaded guilty to federal charges of overcharging the Navy for port services for U.S. ships and using some of the money “to treat Navy officials to lavish dinners, cocktails and entertainment,” federal prosecutors said.

Edmond A. Aruffo, 45, who retired in 2007, is the seventh defendant charged, and the fourth to plead guilty, in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office called an “expanding corruption scandal” involving defense contract Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Aruffo, who became manager of GDMA’s Japan operations in 2009, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. He faces up to 5 years in prison at his Oct. 3 sentencing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement that Aruffo, of San Diego, was “part of a massive fraud and bribery scheme that cost the U.S. Navy more than $20 million.”

Continue reading “Another Guilty Plea in Navy Corruption Ring”

North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 10:35am

North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns | South China Morning Post



Agence France-Presse in Seoul

North Korea appears to have acquired a sea-based copy of a Russian cruise missile, the latest step in an effort to enhance its maritime strike capability, a US think-tank said on Tuesday.

A state propaganda film disseminated on social media sites, including YouTube, provides a very brief glimpse of the missile being launched from a naval vessel.

Writing on the closely watched 38 North website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said the missile would mark “a new and potentially destabilising addition” to North Korea’s military arsenal.

Lewis identified the weapon as a copy of the Russian-produced KH-35 – a sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile developed during the 1980s and 90s.

The possibility that North Korea might sell KH-35 technology to others is not a happy thought Jeffrey Lewis Continue reading “North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns”

China tells U.S. to mind it’s own business

US must ‘get used to China’s rise’

(China Daily)    07:38, May 22, 2014

Washington’s engagement in territorial issues ‘complicates problems’

Chinese and Western observers seemed to reach a consensus on Wednesday over President Xi Jinping’s proposal to establish a new framework for security cooperation in Asia, and he also sent a veiled warning to Washington.

“To beef up a military alliance targeting a third party is not conducive to regional common security,” Xi said without mentioning the United States when delivering a keynote speech at a regional security forum in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The Chinese navy conducts drills in the South ...

Continue reading “China tells U.S. to mind it’s own business”

Commentary: It’s U.S., Japan that need to clarify military intentionsBy

EEV: A commentary from the Peoples Daily Online are views of the Chinese Government. Language is very symbolic in this region. This is a pretty serious escalation. It was just a week a ago they publicly mocked Ambassador Locke.

The South China Sea, showing surrounding count...
The South China Sea, showing surrounding countries and neighbouring seas and oceans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

-Japan, for its part, has already become a recidivous troublemaker in the region and set the world’s nerves on edge as increasingly rampant rightist elements attempt to deny history, sabotage the postwar world order and scuttle the pacifist constitution.

Deng Yushan (Xinhua) 11:23, March 06, 2014

BEIJING, March 5 — The newly revealed 12.2-percent increase of Chinese military spending to 132 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 has unsurprisingly met with an immediate outcry of “concerns” and “worries” from certain countries. Continue reading “Commentary: It’s U.S., Japan that need to clarify military intentionsBy”

China boosts defence budget by 12.2 pc after warning military will respond if provoked

UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 10:42am

Agence France-Presse in Beijing


Delegates from the People’s Liberation Army arrive for parliamentary talks in Beijing. Photo: AP

China will raise its official defence budget by 12.2 per cent this year, the finance ministry announced Wednesday, a day after warning that its military would respond if ‘provoked’ by neighbours.

The Asian giant has for years boosted spending on its People’s Liberation Army, reflecting its military ambitions as it asserts its global standing and claims in a series of territorial disputes with Japan and other countries in the region. Continue reading “China boosts defence budget by 12.2 pc after warning military will respond if provoked”

Beijing denounces ‘groundless’ US remarks on South China Sea

– Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, even areas a long way from its shoreline, but portions are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Friday, Feb 07, 2014

BEIJING – Beijing on Friday dismissed a US official’s warning against possible Chinese expansion in the skies over the South China Sea, calling the remarks “irresponsible”.

The United States had urged Beijing to clarify or adjust its claims in the South China Sea, calling for a peaceful solution to one of Asia’s growing flashpoints.

“Some US officials make groundless accusations against China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing. He added that “right-wing forces in Japan” were responsible for stirring up “rumours” on the issue. Continue reading “Beijing denounces ‘groundless’ US remarks on South China Sea”

Some unimpressed with ‘Caroline Kennedy fever’

– What, it asks, has Caroline done two months into her tenure? Played much and worked little, is its verdict.

– Was that a time, the weekly asks, for the U.S. ambassador to indulge in private sightseeing? As it happened, it adds, the embassy’s No. 2 official was away that day too – skiing

– “An insult to Japan” is how Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President Bill Clinton, characterized Kennedy’s appointment, according to Shukan Shincho. How long, the magazine wonders, is “Caroline fever” likely to last?


Kuchikomi Feb. 03, 2014 – 06:19AM JST


“Fevers” come and fevers go. Japan is especially prone to them, says Shukan Shincho (Jan 30). Still fresh in the collective memory are: “Makiko Tanaka fever,” “Junichiro Koizumi fever,” “Toru Hashimoto fever” – the once frenzied, now forgotten or much deflated adulation surrounding these individuals (a former foreign minister, a foreign prime minister and the current Osaka mayor, respectively). Continue reading “Some unimpressed with ‘Caroline Kennedy fever’”

Mexican cartel smuggling cocaine into Hong Kong amid booming demand for drugs / ‘unholy alliance’ between notorious Sinaloa cartel and local triads

EEV CONNECTION – US government had a deal with Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa that allowed the group to smuggle billion of dollars of drugs in return for information on its rival cartels ( Link ) . If confirmed, corruption is now endemic at the highest levels of Government

Fears of ‘unholy alliance’ between notorious Sinaloa cartel and local triads to take advantage of booming demand for cocaine and ‘Ice’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 February, 2014, 4:14am
  • 6edb168087f59ec48cd465be97947885.jpg
A 567kg cocaine seizure in Tuen Mun in 2011. Photo: Dickson Lee

One of the world’s largest and most notorious drug cartels is targeting Hong Kong as it seeks to expand its operations into lucrative new markets, the Sunday Morning Post has learned. Continue reading “Mexican cartel smuggling cocaine into Hong Kong amid booming demand for drugs / ‘unholy alliance’ between notorious Sinaloa cartel and local triads”

Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences

 Jan. 23, 2014 – 06:55AM

Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his special address at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.AFP

DAVOS, Switzerland  —

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday told the world it must stand up to an increasingly assertive China or risk a regional conflict with catastrophic economic consequences.

In a landmark speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Abe issued what amounted to an appeal for international support in a potentially explosive dispute with its superpower neighbor over islands in the East China Sea.

“We must restrain military expansion in Asia … which otherwise could go unchecked,” Abe told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders, which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to attend on Friday. Continue reading “Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences”

Japan’s population falls by record 244,000 in 2013

National Jan. 02, 2014 – 06:20AM JST

Japan's population falls by record 244,000 in 2013
Japan’s population fell by a record 244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce supporting a growing number of pensionersAFP


Japan’s population fell by a record 244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce supporting a growing number of pensioners. Continue reading “Japan’s population falls by record 244,000 in 2013”

Man admits spitting at bus interchange, but claims it was only once

Saturday, Dec 28, 2013

SINGAPORE – The odd-job worker accused of spitting at two women at a bus interchange has admitted to spitting at one woman once, but is claiming trial to the other five of the six charged he faces.

Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that 48-year-old Juraimi Kamaludin admitted to the judge that he spat once at Ms Lee Kuan Eng, 34, but claimed that he is innocent of the other accusations. Continue reading “Man admits spitting at bus interchange, but claims it was only once”

A dog could run China’s banking system, says former statistics bureau spokesman

Yao Jingyuan predicts economic growth in 2014, but has harsh words for China’s banks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 7:10pm

Jeremy Blum jeremy.blum@scmp.com


Yao Jingyuan. Photo: Xinhua

The former chief economist and spokesman of China’s National Bureau of Statistics estimated that the mainland’s economy grew 7.7 per cent in 2013, while also making a scathing criticism of China’s banking industry, likening it to an automated system that even a dog could successfully run.

“Banking in China has become like a highway toll system,” Yao Jingyuan said at a Saturday summit on China’s economy held at Nanjing University. “Banks charge every time money goes through them. Continue reading “A dog could run China’s banking system, says former statistics bureau spokesman”

China tells Japan it would ‘consider cancelling air zone in 44 years’

UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 6:04pm

Chris Luo chris.luo@scmp.com

  • 112121.jpg
Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, briefs reporters at a recent Beijing news conference. Photo: CNS

China’s defence ministry on Thursday hit back forcefully at Japan’s objections to its newly-established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea that covers long-disputed islets claimed by both countries.

“Japan has absolutely no right to make irresponsible comments regarding China setting up the East China Sea ADIZ,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told media in a routine press conference, according to China’s Ministry of National Defence website.

Continue reading “China tells Japan it would ‘consider cancelling air zone in 44 years’”

Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe

Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe

The US Navy said on Thursday it has suspended the deputy commander of a unit responsible for port and harbor security as a result of allegations in connection with a widening corruption probe involving Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine (Asia).

Continue reading “Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe”

Afghanistan’s poppy farmers plant record opium crop, UN report says

Despite 10 years of western efforts to curb production, a combination of economics and political instability means farmers in the world’s largest heroin-producing country are as enthusiastic as ever for the poppy
    • Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul
    • theguardian.com,    Wednesday 13 November 2013 00.59 EST
British in Helmand

The end of British efforts to stamp out opium-production in Helmand province has led to an increase in planting. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Afghanistan‘s farmers planted a record opium crop this year, despite a decade of western-backed narcotics programmes aimed at weaning farmers off the drug and cracking down on producers and traffickers.

For the first time over 200,000 hectares of Afghan fields were growing poppies, according to the UN’s Afghanistan Opium Survey for 2013, covering an area equivalent to the island nation of Mauritius.

Violence and political instability means there is unlikely to be any significant drop in poppy farming in the world’s top opium producer before foreign combat troops head home next year, a senior UN official warned.

“This is the third consecutive year of increasing cultivation,” said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, the outgoing Afghanistan director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which publishes the report. “The assumption is that the illicit economy is to gain in importance in the future.”

Opium cultivation

Credit: Guardian graphicsWith conflict spreading to once-peaceful areas of the country and a critical presidential election scheduled for early next year, poppy fields provide both cash to networks of power-brokers and insurance to farmers at the bottom of Afghanistan’s feeble economy.Portable and long-lasting, the high value per kilo of opium makes it attractive to families who fear they may need to flee, or see fields of conventional crops destroyed by fighting.

The total harvest was probably slightly lower than the previous peak five years ago, mostly because bad weather meant each plant yielded less of the sticky narcotic. But the number of fields turned over to poppy is a more accurate gauge of farmers’ enthusiasm for the crop and the government’s ability to control it than the final production figures.

An Afghan man cultivates poppy bulbs

An Afghan man cultivates poppy bulbs at a farm near the city of Kandahar. Photograph: Majid Saeedi/Getty ImagesIn a bleak assessment of efforts to curb opium farming in a country that produces the vast majority of the world’s supply, Lemahieu said the international community needed to stop thinking there was a quick fix to a complicated problem. “As long as we think we can have short-term, fast solutions to the counter-narcotics problem, we are doomed to continue to fail,” he said. “That means first knowing this will take 10-15 years.”Because the value of opium is so much higher than any other crop available to Afghan farmers, it has become the only way for many to cover the basic expense of large families. Although opium prices of around $130 per kilo are barely half their 2011 peak, they are still well above market rates after the last production glut of 2007, and may have further to fall. Many who grow the crop are aware that mullahs denounce production of the drug and the government bans it. But they say officials also grow the drug and religious leaders are always eager to claim a share of harvest income.

“We doubt that it is forbidden, because if it is, why are the mullahs taking these taxes?” said the 53-year-old farmer Abdul Khaliq, who has been growing poppy in Helmand province for over a decade to support a family of nearly two dozen. “We are a lot of people, this is the reason we grow opium. If we do other work, we can’t feed our family.”

Around half the poppy grown in Afghanistan is planted in Helmand, and the end of a UK-backed project trying to keep poppy out of the main valleys, or “food zone”, brought increase in planting there, though crop levels were far below that in areas under insurgent control, the report said.

“Opium cultivation in the food zone increased by half … [but] outside the food zone the extent of poppy cultivation was far greater,” the report said.

Eradication efforts slowed and became much more dangerous, with 143 people killed while trying to uproot crops, up by nearly half from a year before. Nearly 100 others were injured.

Northern Badakhshan province was the only place in Afghanistan where authorities managed to destroy more than half of the poppy planted; elsewhere teams made small inroads to large harvests.

One of the few bright spots was greater control of the drugs trade, with beefed-up drugs police seizing over 10% of production, up from just 3% or 4% a few years ago, Lemahieu said. But the country also needs to work out how to tackle a growing addiction problem from a product that was once used largely for export or in moderation as a medication. Now over 1 million Afghans – around 3% of the population – have an opium or heroin habit.

Case study: the poppy farmer

My name is Hedayatullah, I am 45 years old and there are 11 people in my family. I am from Marjah district and I have been growing poppy for twenty years. No one in our family uses opium, we grow it as a business.

The imams often tell us it is forbidden to grow opium, but when we get our harvest they take a 10% tax. So we think they aren’t saying these things because of religion and the holy Qur’an, other people are just telling them to say this.

We know the constitution says you can’t grow opium but with wheat or beans you can’t make good money. Also the government officials grow opium themselves, and if they don’t grow it themselves they rent out their land to farmers who grow it. If the officials don’t care about the law, there is no reason for us to respect it.

Under Taliban rule there was an order to stop growing opium, so I stopped for one year, but then the temporary government was set up and I started growing opium again.

In the government-controlled area we farm 1 jerib (half an acre) per year, but in the desert we farm another 4 to 5 jeribs. Sometimes the government does military operations, but after they leave the Taliban take back control.

Before I used to make 800,000 Pakistani rupees (£4,700) per year, but in the last two years it has gone down to 300,000 Pakistani rupees (£1,800).


Feds: Navy Secrets Bought With Hookers, Gaga Tix

SAN DIEGO November 4, 2013 (AP)
By JULIE WATSON Associated Press

Nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” the gregarious Malaysian businessman is well known by U.S. Navy commanders in the Pacific, where his company has serviced warships for 25 years.

But prosecutors in court papers say Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by lining up hookers, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy.

The accusations unfolding in a federal court case in San Diego signal serious national security breaches and corruption, setting off high-level meetings at the Pentagon with the threat that more people, including those of higher ranks, could be swept up as the investigation continues. A hearing Nov. 8 could set a trial date.

Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis’ Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, according to the court documents.

Misiewicz and Francis moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where Francis could inflate costs, according to the criminal complaint. The firm overcharged the Navy millions for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, the prosecution alleges.

“It’s pretty big when you have one person who can dictate where ships are going to go and being influenced by a contractor,” said retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, who has no direct knowledge of the investigation. “A lot of people are saying how could this happen?”

So far, authorities have arrested Misiewicz; Francis; his company’s general manager of global government contracts, Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II. Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for luxury trips, prostitution services, etc. All have pleaded not guilty.  Defense attorneys declined to comment.

Senior Navy officials said they believe that more people would likely be implicated in the scheme, but it’s too early to tell how many or how high this will go in the naval ranks. Other unnamed Navy personnel are mentioned in court documents as getting gifts from Francis.

Francis is legendary in military circles in that part of the world, said McKnight, who does not know him personally. He is known for extravagance. His 70,000-foot bungalow in an upscale Singapore neighborhood drew spectators yearly since 2007 to its lavish, outdoor Christmas decorations, which The Straits Times described as rivaling the island city-state’s main shopping street with replicas of snowmen, lighted towering trees, and Chinese and Japanese ornaments.

“He’s a larger-than-life figure,” McKnight said. “You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is.”

Navy spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby said Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents initiated their probe in 2010, but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

That same year, Misiewicz caught the world’s attention when he made an emotional return as a U.S. Naval commander to his native Cambodia, where he had been rescued as a child from the violence of the Khmer Rouge and adopted by an American woman. His homecoming was widely covered by international media.

Meanwhile, Francis was recruiting him for his scheme, according to court documents.

Misiewicz’s family went to a Lion King production in Tokyo with a company employee and was offered prostitution services. Within months, the Navy commander was providing Francis ship movement schedules for the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and other ships, according to the criminal complaint.

Shortly after that, the manager wrote to Francis: “We got him!!:),” according to court documents.

Misiewicz would refer to Francis as “Big Brother” or “Big Bro” in emails from a personal account, while Francis would call him “Little Brother” or “Little Bro,” according to the complaint.

The company bilked the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand alone, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.

In December 2011, the two exchanged emails about the schedule of the USS Blue Ridge, investigators say. According to court documents, Francis wrote Misiewicz: “Bro, Slide a Bali visit in after Jakarta, and Dili Timor after Bali.”

The complaint alleges Misiewicz followed through on the demands: In October 2012, the USS George Washington was scheduled to visit Singapore and instead was redirected by the Navy to Port Klang, Malaysia, one of Francis’ preferred ports where his company submitted fake contractor bids.

After Francis offered Misiewicz five tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand in 2012, Francis wrote: “Don’t chicken out bro we need u with us on the front lines,” according to court documents.

The federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis.

The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Satish Cheney in Singapore contributed to this report.


Japan’s PM warns China on use of force as jets scrambled

By AFP | AFP – 8 hours ago

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) delivers a speech next to Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (L) during military review at the Ground Self-Defence Force's Asaka training ground, on October 27, 2013


AFP/AFP – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) delivers a speech next to Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (L) during military review at the Ground Self-Defence Force’s Asaka training ground, on October 27, …more  2013  less 


Japan’s leader warned China on Sunday against forcibly changing the regional balance of power, as reports said Tokyo had scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese military aircraft flying near Okinawa.

Verbal skirmishing between Asia’s two biggest economies, who dispute ownership of an island chain, escalated as Beijing warned Tokyo that any hostile action in the skies against Chinese drones would be construed as an “act of war”.

“We will express our intention as a state not to tolerate a change in the status quo by force. We must conduct all sorts of activities such as surveillance and intelligence for that purpose,” Abe said in an address to the military.

“The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. This is the reality,” he said. “You will have to completely rid yourselves of the conventional notion that just the existence of a defence force could act as a deterrent.”

Abe presided over an inspection of the military at which a US amphibious assault vehicle was displayed for the first time, an apparent sign of Japan’s intention to strengthen its ability to protect remote islands.

The defence ministry plans to create a special amphibious unit to protect the southern islands and retake them in case of an invasion.

“There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law,” Abe earlier told the Wall Street Journal in an interview following a series of summits this month with regional leaders.

“But if China opts to take that path, then it won’t be able to emerge peacefully,” he said in the interview published Saturday.

“So it shouldn’t take that path, and many nations expect Japan to strongly express that view. And they hope that as a result, China will take responsible action in the international community,” Abe added.

On Sunday Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported that Japan had deployed jets for two days running in response to four Chinese military aircraft flying over international waters near the Okinawa island chain.

Two Y8 early-warning aircraft and two H6 bombers flew from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean and back again but did not violate Japan’s airspace, the reports said.

The Japanese defence ministry was not immediately available for confirmation.

Japan’s military is on increased alert as Tokyo and Beijing pursue a war of words over the disputed islands in the East China Sea that lie between Okinawa and Taiwan.

On Saturday China responded angrily after a report said Japan had drafted plans to shoot down foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

Tokyo drew up the proposals after a Chinese military drone entered Japan’s air defence identification zone near the disputed islands in the East China Sea last month, Kyodo said.

“We would advise relevant parties not to underestimate the Chinese military’s staunch resolve to safeguard China’s national territorial sovereignty,” China’s defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in comments posted on the ministry’s website.

“If Japan takes enforcement measures such as shooting down aircraft, as it says it will, that would constitute a serious provocation, an act of war of sorts, and we would have to take firm countermeasures, and all consequences would be the responsibility of the side that caused the provocation.”

Tokyo and Beijing both claim the small uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Japan administers them and calls them the Senkakus. China refers to the islands as the Diaoyus.

One of Abe’s first decisions as prime minister was to increase the defence budget for the first time in 11 years.

Tokyo also plans to hold a major air and sea exercise next month to bolster its ability to protect its remote islands.

In the Wall Street Journal interview, Abe said Japan had become too inward-looking over the past 15 years, but as it regains economic strength “we’d like to contribute more to making the world a better place”.

The Journal said he made it clear that one way Japan would “contribute” would be countering China in Asia.



Kenya will tag rhino horns with microchips: suck it, poachers!

Posted October  19, 2013 – 19:35 by   Emory Kale
The Kenyan Wildlife Services (KWS) is going  all 2013 on poachers’ asses by making rhino  horn 100% traceable. Now that’s what you call disruptive technology that really makes  a difference.
KWS says that it is going to match each rhino horn through DNA so that even poached rhino horn can be recovered and  confiscated should the need arise. The increasing sophistication of poachers  means that it is increasingly more difficult to protect the rhinos but tracking  should protect them on-site and bring justice against the traffickers.
The World  Wildlife Fund (WWF) expects that criminal justice will be able to effectively respond to  wildlife crime, and through tracking, closer links between customs, police,  wildlife agencies and defense will help to dismantle the networks that support  the international wildlife  trade.
KWS received 1,000 microchips and five scanners from the WWF this week.  This $15,300 investment in equipment will be used to target the rhino  populations in Kenya that are under the greatest threat, as well as auditing stockpiling  rhino horns.
In the last 20 months, the African continent has seen over 1,000 rhinos  killed with Kenya bearing a big brunt of the crisis of poaching. Since the  beginning of this year, Kenya itself has lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to  poachers. Only 37 of the elephants killed were in protected areas, and  obviously, that didn’t secure their well being.
According to the WWF:
Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value, rhino horn  is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is ground into a fine  powder or manufactured into tablets as a treatment for a variety of illnesses  such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers.
This demand has created highly profitable and organized international  poaching criminal syndicates who deploy advanced technologies ranging from night  vision scopes, silenced weapons, darting equipment and helicopters to carry out  their mission.
According to Dr Joseph Okori, head of WWF’s African Rhino  Programme:
“The African rhino is under serious threat from poachers who have  intensified their search of rhino for their horns since 2007, driven by growing  market demands in Asia.”
Thanks to successful conservation  efforts,  Southern Africa is now home to the majority of Africa’s surviving  rhinos. 
Even so, South Africa – home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhino  populations –  is losing hundreds of rhinos each year.  In this  country alone:
122 rhinos were killed in 2009
333 rhinos were killed in 2010
388 rhinos have been killed so far in 2012
Help the WWF by donating  here if you can.
Kenyan Wildlife Service is using microchips to track rhino horns to save rhinos from poaching on-site and when trafficked

Read more at http://www.tgdaily.com/sustainability-brief/80921-kenya-will-tag-rhino-horns-with-microchips-suck-it-poachers#SIaPIlSJuDikAhoK.99

George Osborne: ‘Second-rate Britain’ needs to be more like China


Chancellor dismisses suggestions that China has a ‘sweatshop’ economy and wishes Britain would be more like the communist country

Lewis Smith

Friday, 18 October 2013

Britain is no longer great, is defeatist and unambitious and needs to be more like China, the Chancellor has said.

In an astonishing trashing of his country’s attitudes, George Osborne added that Britain had lost its “can do” approach and had been relegated to the status of a “second-rate power”.

He was speaking at the end of a five-day trip to China in which he had been awed by the speed and scale of China’s economic development.

Dismissing suggestions that China has a “sweatshop” economy, he said he wished Britain would be more like the communist country.

“I also feel a bit like, my God, we’ve really got to up our game as a country, and the whole of the West has to understand what is happening here in Asia,” the Daily Telegraph reported him as saying.

He claimed, as he waited in Hong Kong for a flight home, that the positive attitude of the country during the Victorian era and while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister has been lost.

“I do think there’s an ambition in the country and a sense of optimism and ‘can do’ which our country had in the Victorian age and had at other points in our history,” he said.

“Somewhere along the line in Britain there were bits that were great about British industry that we allowed to wither.”

He added: “There has been at times in Britain a sense of defeatism. You saw that in the late 1970s when everyone was resigned to the decline of empire and Britain being the sick man of Europe. Margaret Thatcher turned that around. You saw that three years ago when everyone thought we couldn’t tackle our debt problems and the financial crisis had relegated us to a second-rate power.”

While criticising Britain’s failures he maintained that, with the help of the Coalition, the country is beginning to improve and might one day be able match the energy shown by China and “be the best”.

In a week in which he has opened the door to China investing in new nuclear power in Britain, he said attitudes to the communist state must change.

The Chancellor described China as a country with an ancient civilisation and one that should be treated with respect. He said: “China is not a sweatshop. China is different. If we have just a black and white view of China as a communist country of cheap manufacturing, and the only thing we want out of them is access to their market, then we are missing out in a very big way as a country. China is what it is. And we have to either be here or be nowhere.”

Meanwhile the Chancellor  expects to make a decision about breaking up Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) imminently.

The Chancellor said he was looking at hiving off weaker parts of the state-controlled firm into a “bad bank”.

He told the Daily Telegraph the issue was “top of his in-tray”.

“We are looking at the case for a bad bank and, if not a bad bank, what is the alternative strategy that really gets on top of the problems in that bank and goes on being what I want it to be which is a bank supporting the British economy,” Mr Osborne said.

However, he stressed the Government was not currently “close to the stage of being able to sell RBS shares”.

“RBS was a much more complex bank,” he said. “To be fair to management past and present, it was a bank that was in a lot more trouble.”

Mr Osborne also said he was considering offering state-owned shares in Lloyds to the general public.

“We are now looking actively at a retail offer for the next tranche of Lloyds shares,” he said.


China’s rich get richer despite slowing economy: Forbes



Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013

SHANGHAI – China’s 400 richest people became US$150 billion (S$186.64 billion) wealthier this year, Forbes magazine said Wednesday, despite a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.


The vast increase – an average of almost US$400 million each – highlights the growing inequality between the Communist country’s superrich and the millions who still live in poverty.

“The rich are getting richer,” Forbes Shanghai bureau chief Russell Flannery told a press conference as the magazine unveiled its annual China rich list.

“The rapid growth of wealth in China seems to be out of line with the Chinese economic slowdown,” he said.

The net assets of the top 100 richest people in China soared 44 per cent from a year earlier to US$316 billion, the magazine said, while the number of dollar billionaires rose to a record high of 168.

That came even as China’s economy has slowed. The Chinese economy expanded 7.7 per cent last year, the worst performance since 1999.

Forbes attributed the increase in wealth to growth in select industries, such as the Internet, auto, entertainment and property sectors.

Wang Jianlin, head of property giant Wanda Group and buyer of US cinema chain AMC Entertainment, topped the list with a net worth of $14.1 billion.

His fortune leaped from US$8 billion last year, helped by a rebound in property prices and his investment in AMC.

Forbes had already announced last month that Wang had taken the top spot.

Another ranking by the independent Hurun Report also put him at number one.

Last year’s leader, beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou, slipped to second place in the Forbes list, even though his wealth increased 12 per cent to US$11.2 billion.

Robin Li, founder of China’s homegrown search engine Baidu, dropped to third but his wealth jumped 37 per cent from last year to US$11.1 billion.

In a surprise new entry to the ranking Li Hejun, chairman of clean energy firm Hanergy Holding Group, appeared for the first time in fourth place with a net worth of $10.9 billion.

Yang Huiyan, who inherited a majority stake in property developer Country Garden, was China’s richest woman with a fortune of US$7.2 billion giving her seventh place.

As well as Robin Li, two other Internet billionaires made the top ten.

Ma Huateng, owner of social gaming and networking company Tencent, took fifth place with net worth of $10.2 billion, jumping nearly 60 per cent year-on-year due to a surge in his Hong Kong-listed firm’s share price.

And Jack Ma, founder of China’s leading e-commerce firm Alibaba, ranked eighth as his fortune more than doubled to US$7.1 billion from US$3.4 billion last year.

Copyright © 2012 – 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd . Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.

Japan could anger China by putting government workers on isles

A Japan Coast Guard boat (front) and vessel sail as Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, is pictured in the background, in the East China Sea August 18, 2013. REUTERS/Ruairidh Villar

A Japan Coast Guard boat (front) and vessel sail as Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, is pictured in the background, in the East China Sea August 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ruairidh Villar

TOKYO |          Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:34am BST

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan might station government workers on disputed islands in the East China Sea to defend its sovereignty, the top government spokesman said on Tuesday, raising the possibility of action that would inevitably anger China.

Relations between Asia’s second- and third-biggest economies have been strained over the uninhabited isles which Japan controls but both countries claim. The isles are known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

A year ago on Wednesday, the Japanese government bought three of the isles from a private owner, inflaming anger in China where there were big anti-Japan protests over the purchase.

Aircraft and ships from the two countries have played cat-and mouse in the vicinity of the islands ever since, raising fears that an accidental encounter could spark conflict.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, speaking on the eve of the sensitive anniversary, said it was “extremely regrettable” that Chinese government ships had repeatedly entered what he described as Japan’s territorial waters.

The Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was making “resolute but calm responses to defend our territory, territorial waters and airspace decisively”, he said.

“Our country will never make a concession on the matter of sovereignty,” he said.

Asked if Japan might station government workers on the islands, Suga said: “That is one option”.

In the latest incident off the islands, seven Chinese patrol ships entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near them on Tuesday, Japan’s coastguard said.

On Monday, Japan scrambled fighter jets when it spotted what appeared to be an unmanned drone aircraft flying toward Japan over the East China Sea.

It was not clear what country the unidentified aircraft belonged to but Japan’s Foreign Ministry had made an inquiry about it with the Chinese side, Suga said.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Monday that Japan would be on guard for the first anniversary of Japan’s purchase of the islands.

“September 11 was the day when the flare-up of tension between Japan and China was triggered. I think a firm posture is being called for,” Onodera said.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Japan scrambles jets in response to drone

reason.com — Sep 10

Japan scrambled fighter jets Monday after an unidentified drone flew near Tokyo-controlled islands at the centre of a bitter dispute with China, a defence ministry spokesman said.

It was the first reported incident of its kind.Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force sent an unspecified number of jets to the area, the official said.The drones did not enter Japanese airspace, the official said.


German Newspaper Points to Western Complicity in Organ Trade in China / Particulary Falun Gong organs

By Epoch Times | September 2, 2013

Last Updated: September 2, 2013 10:50 pm
A screen shot from the mini documentary, "Killed for Organs: China's Secret State Transplant Business." The German newspaper Die Zeit points to Western complicity in the ongoing organ pillaging in China. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

A screen shot from the mini documentary, “Killed for Organs: China’s Secret State Transplant Business.” The German newspaper Die Zeit points to Western complicity in the ongoing organ pillaging in China. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

In China, one gets a new heart in two to three weeks. If you are lucky, it is even faster…

The West is deeply enmeshed in China’s questionable and lucrative organ trade, a major German newspaper says.

In China, executed prisoners’ organs are removed and sold for transplantation, including into patients from the West. Western hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors support Chinese transplantation centres without asking questions, according to an investigative report in the German newspaper, Die Zeit.

The German-language report, titled “Herz auf Bestellung,” or “Heart to Order,” and written by Martina Keller, said it intends to expose China’s practice of execution on demand, and to shine a light on doctors who go against the ethics of their profession.

As they maneuver on a narrow path “between co-operation and complicity,” participants become entangled by moral conflicts, professional ambitions, and money, with many preferring to remain silent about the issue, writes Keller.

“A human being dies, just in time, so that another can continue to live. In the Chinese transplant system, this is possible. In the name of progress, in the name of making money—including Western money,” states the report.

The article poses the question, “Where must the West draw its boundaries so as to not become an accomplice?”

Executed Prisoners

China holds second place in organ transplant statistics worldwide after the United States, “a fact that fills the government with pride,” writes Keller.

“More than 10,000 kidneys, livers, hearts, and lungs are being transplanted annually, [former] deputy minister of health Huang Jiefu—himself a transplant surgeon—wrote in the scientific journal The Lancet last year. According to his statics, close to 60 per cent of these organs come from executed prisoners, an open admission that surprises,” states Die Zeit.

Until a few years ago, the government had dismissed as propaganda all foreign reports regarding questionable Chinese transplant practices, and the number of executions in China is a state secret.

“Insiders say that transplant hospitals work together with prisons and send out their own teams to harvest the organs. It cannot be excluded that doctors are participating in the execution,” the report states.

Short Waiting Times

Patients from Western countries also get their new kidneys, livers, and hearts thanks to Chinese executions, the report claims.

Die Zeit conducted an interview with 63-year-old Mordechai Shtiglits from Tel Aviv, who flew to China in November, 2005 to receive a new heart at Shanghai’s Zhongshan hospital. There he met patients from Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong who were all waiting for new, life-saving organs.

“In China one gets a new heart in two to three weeks. If you are lucky, as Mordechai Shtiglits, it is even faster,” writes Keller. One week after his arrival in Shanghai, a Chinese surgeon told him he would get his new heart the following day, saying it came from a 22-year-old “donor,” the victim of a traffic accident.

The report claims that this situation is extremely unlikely, however. Although more than 60,000 Chinese people die annually in traffic accidents, Chinese doctors cannot know in advance when someone will die through an accident. In addition, China to this day doesn’t have a central system for rapid organ distribution.

Organ removal from executed prisoners is outlawed worldwide, according to Die Zeit—transplantation is based on the principle of voluntary donation. Prisoners, however, are not in a position to make a free decision. This is how the World Association of Doctors sees it, as does the International Transplantation Society.

Dr Jacob Lavee, director of heart transplantation at Sheba Medical Centre, took care of Mordechai Shtiglits for years before Shtiglits received his new heart in China. Lavee said he was almost out of hope for his patient. But when Shtiglits told him he was going to China to get a heart transplant in two weeks, Lavee smiled at him and said, “That is not possible.”

You can take a kidney or part of a liver from a living donor, Dr Lavee explained. “But when somebody gets a heart, it means someone else must die,” he told Die Zeit.

The article quotes New York ethicist Arthur Caplan, a contributor to the book State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China: “Prison authorities have to specifically search for potential donors, test their health, blood, and tissue type, and execute them while the tourist is in China. That is simply killing on demand.”

Falun Gong

Organ trafficking that is tolerated by a government is frightening, as are executions that supply the material for transplantations. But it is not all—there is another, even worse suspicion. Canadian lawyer David Matas and David Kilgour, a former Canadian Secretary of State, both nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, have meticulously gathered facts since 2006.

The two Canadians have tried as far as possible to keep everything in their research independent of statements made by Falun Gong practitioners, according to the Die Zeit article. They gathered not only material about Falun Gong prisoners who were medically examined in prisons, disappeared without a trace from camps, or whose corpses were missing body parts. They also interviewed foreign patients who received kidney or liver transplants in China.

They’ve even succeeded in questioning former accomplices about organ removal from Falun Gong prisoners. And they documented phone calls by investigators, who posed as patients or their relatives inquiring at Chinese transplantation centers and institutions about the availability of Falun Gong organs—Falun Gong practitioners are regarded as particularly suitable donors, while other prisoners are frequently infected with Hepatitis B.

They also cite a March 2006 phone conversation with Zhongshan Hospital, four months after Mordecai Shtiglits received his new heart there, Die Zeit reports. To answer the question of the caller on whether organs from Falun Gong practitioners were being transplanted, a doctor responded: “Ours are all of this type.”

Keller’s article quoted Manfred Nowak, Professor of International Law at the University of Vienna and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture until the year 2010, as saying that the allegations of the two Canadians are “well-researched and very serious,” and an important indication is the strong increase in the numbers of transplantations in China coinciding with the persecution of Falun Gong.

On behalf of the United Nations, Nowak sent an urgent call to the Chinese government to provide accurate information regarding the sourcing of all the transplanted organs. According to Nowak, China has rejected all accusations as propaganda, but never explained them.

Western Collaboration

“Elsewhere in the world, such announcements raise horror,” reports Die Zeit. “But what almost nobody knows is that the West is deeply enmeshed in the Chinese system.”

Pharmaceutical companies supply the Chinese market with anti-rejection medication, and carry out transplantation research that most likely uses organs from executed prisoners. Western hospitals and doctors support Chinese transplantation centers without asking questions, Die Zeit reports.

Western advisors of the Chinese government purport to help advance change in China’s transplantation practice, while at the same time pursuing financial interests in China.

Automobiles from the West are being outfitted as so-called ‘execution-mobiles’. A Chinese car dealer, for example, offers a European-brand van on the internet that is equipped with medical monitoring and infusion apparatuses—a grisly symbol of the hand-in-hand co-operation between executioners and doctors, reports Die Zeit.

With such entanglements, many Western participants prefer to be silent.

Drug Companies

According to a presentation in Madrid by former Chinese deputy minister of health Huang Jiefu, organ transplantation experienced a remarkable upturn, saying kidney transplants increased between 1997 and 2005 from 3,000 to 8,500 per year, livers from two to approximately 3,000. The boom was possible in part thanks to new and better medications.

They are medications that come from the West, Die Zeit said.

The Swiss company Sandoz has supplied China since the mid 1980s with Cyclosporin A, which is vital to the survival of transplant patients. Roche and Novartis, who now own Sandoz, as well as Japan’s Astellas, now sell their anti-rejection drugs in China, according to Die Zeit. At the latest, since 1994, these corporations were able to know about the accusations against China: At that time the NGO Human Rights Watch published a detailed report, Die Zeit said.

At the End of 2005 Roche even began producing their drug Cellcept in China. During a grand opening celebration at their plant in Shanghai, according to a report in the Handelsblatt, Roche chief Franz Humer defended their decision why, of all places, Cellcept should be produced in China: In contrast to Japan, there were no ethical or cultural inhibitions in China against the transplant medical field, Die Zeit said.

The Western pharmacological industry is also responsible for research studies in China, Die Zeit said. Research journals have published nine clinical studies of around 1,200 transplantations in which the companies Wyeth and Pfizer from the U.S., Novartis and Roche from Switzerland, and Astellas from Japan have tested their transplant drugs. Altogether, these companies have collaborated with 20 hospitals in China for these studies.

Training Chinese Surgeons

In the journal Liver Transplantation, Huang Jiefu wrote that “whole transplantation teams from the PRC” have received their training abroad. He himself perfected his abilities in Australia.

Some Australian medical centers, meanwhile, have put requirements in place when training Chinese surgeons, writes Keller. For example, Dr Stephan Lynch at the Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane asks applicants to supply a written assurance by their clinic directors, or someone responsible in the provincial government, that the acquired abilities will not be used in transplant programs that use executed prisoners as donors.

However, German doctors are less scrupulous, Die Zeit reports. The German Heart Centre in Berlin, where nearly 2,300 hearts have been transplanted since its founding in 1986, works together with more than 30 hospitals in China, including transplantation centers. In 2005, the personal assistant to medical director Roland Hetzer proudly reported on Radio China International about their strong co-operation.

At the opening of a heart surgery conference in Shanghai in May, 2012, Hetzer announced: “More than 500 doctors…from China have participated in our work in Berlin over the years. Some of the surgeons have completed an entire five-year training. They all have done good work after returning to their homeland,” Die Zeit quotes.

Keller provides another, different interpretation: “Put another way: In Germany, Chinese doctors get the tools that allow them to transplant organs from executed prisoners in China—the tools for human rights abuses.”

Liu Zhongmin is one of the surgeons who has worked in Berlin for several years, Keller writes. He is now the executive director of the Chinese-German Heart Institute in Shanghai, which was founded in 2000 by the German Heart Centre and the Shanghai East Hospital. The hospital is the German’s closest co-operation partner in China.

Liu’s qualifications are listed on the website of the Heart Institute: He is responsible for clinical research into “heart transplantation, artificial heart, and combination heart-lung transplantation.”

In total, how many hearts have been transplanted at the Chinese-German Heart Institute? What is the source of the organs? To these questions posed by Die Zeit, Liu did not reply.

Weng, Hetzer’s long-time representative, and now a senior physician at the German Heart Centre, is, like Liu, an executive director at the Chinese-German Heart Institute. Several times a year, he travels to China, according to Die Zeit.

He, too, failed to answer questions from Die Zeit. As did Hetzer.

Stopping the Organ Trade

Since Mordechai Shtiglits returned from China, Dr Jacob Lavee has been active politically in seeking to stop more Israeli citizens from obtaining hearts in China, Keller writes. In 2008, a transplantation law was enacted in the country to prohibit medical reimbursement for transplants received in foreign countries if organ trade was involved. Since that time, no patients from Israel have gone for organ transplants to China.

Dr Lavee told Die Zeit that he has been subjected to online abuse for having blocked patients from going to China.

“About this accusation, I am very proud,” Lavee said. But he has not reached the end of his mission because international organ tourism to China continues, even as the Chinese leadership is—officially, at least—trying to reform, he told Die Zeit.


‘Catastrophe’ as 114 million Chinese suffer diabetes thanks to economic boom

Shocking survey shows 11.6pc of people suffer from rampant diet-related disease, with around one third of the world’s diabetics living in China

Thursday, 05 September, 2013 [Updated: 7:42AM]

Bloomberg and Lo Wei

  • 08d8bcc4d1492d8da026f9c5d08814f6.jpg
Overweight children at a fitness camp in Wuhan. Diabetes in Asians is triggered at a lower weight than in the West. Photo: Xinhua

About 11.6 per cent of adults in mainland China, or 114 million people, suffer from diabetes, a comprehensive nationwide survey on the disease shows.

It means that almost one in three diabetes sufferers globally is in China, a development one world expert on the disease called a catastrophe. It is now more common in China than in the US, where 11.3 per cent of adults are diabetic.

The number of diabetics on the mainland shot up by 22 million, the equivalent of Australia’s population, between 2007 and 2010, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Rapid changes in lifestyle are the key factor. American diabetics are usually overweight, but those on the mainland are not, the researchers found.

“Diabetes may have reached an alert level in the Chinese general population, with the potential for a major epidemic of diabetes-related complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease,” wrote the research team, led by Guang Ning from the laboratory for endocrine and metabolic diseases at the Ministry of Health.

“Poor nutrition in utero and in early life combined with overnutrition in later life may contribute to the accelerated epidemic of diabetes in China.”

The report is based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 98,658 adults in 2010. A similar survey in 2007 pegged diabetes prevalence at 9.7 per cent, or 92.4 million adults.

Almost two-thirds of patients treated for diabetes did not have adequate blood-sugar control, the authors found. For every mainlander diagnosed with diabetes, at least two more will be unaware they have it.

“China is now among the countries with the highest diabetes prevalence in Asia and has the largest absolute disease burden of diabetes in the world,” the researchers wrote.

Dr Chan Wing-bun, clinical director of Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, said: “The most alarming part of the finding is the extremely rapid increase.”

Chan said that when a poor society becomes richer, changes in diet and lifestyle mean that many people will develop diabetes. After a while, people become health-conscious and the rate falls.

Changing diet is a factor in the increase in diabetes. Photo: AFPHe took Hong Kong as an example. The rate increased in the 1980s and 1990s, reaching about 10 per cent. But the most recent survey, conducted in 2004, saw a drop to seven per cent.

Asians have been shown to be more prone to diabetes than Westerners. Scientists have suggested that insulin cell function is weaker in Asians, said Chan.

The average body mass index, or BMI, in diabetics in the study was 23.7, compared with 28.7 in the US.

As in the rest of Asia, the young and middle-aged were most at risk, the study found. Pre-diabetes, or those on the verge of developing diabetes, was present in 40 per cent of adults aged 18 to 29, and 47 per cent among those 30 to 39.

“The alarmingly high figures for pre-diabetes are very scary,” said Juliana Chan, a professor of medicine and therapeutics at Chinese University who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. “A lot of people think diabetes is a disease that mainly affects the elderly, but we have a very unhealthy young population that may lose their ability to work in the prime of their lives, and this would also have an impact on their families and on society,” she said.

Paul Zimmet, honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation, said diabetes in China had become a “catastrophe”. He said the increase in the prevalence of diabetes in the country was “unparalleled globally”.

“The booming economy in China has brought with it a medical problem which could bankrupt the health system,” said Zimmet. “The big question is the capacity in China to deal with a problem of such magnitude.”

China’s diabetes-related medical costs were estimated at 173.4 billion yuan (HK$214 billion) a year in 2010. The rising trend has strained health services and helped fuel growth in drug sales of 20 per cent a year.

Costs are expected to skyrocket in the next 10 to 20 years as the millions of sufferers seek treatment and care for related ailments such as kidney failure, stroke and blindness.

Harry’s view

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as 114 m mainlanders hit by diabetes epidemic.

Japan could be ‘main player’ if Asia conflicts break out: defense minister


By Harumi Ozawa

Politics Aug. 27, 2013 – 02:01PM JST ( 6 )


Japan could be a key participant if conflict breaks out in Asia, the defense minister said Monday, warning China is seeking to exploit difficulties between allies.

The comments by Itsuno Onodera, who said Japan needs new equipment and must reconfigure its defense, come as Tokyo is embroiled in an ongoing spat with Beijing over disputed territory that has sparked warnings of a possible armed skirmish.

“The crisis that Japan faces now may lead to situations in which the country may have to be involved as a main player,” Onodera told a symposium in the capital.

“Before, it was expected that Japan would only be part of a group (involved in any confrontation),” he said, in apparent reference to the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

“Or that a conflict might occur only in areas surrounding the country,” he said. “Japan’s defense has been designed for that scenario.

“But Japan (now) needs to have a good defense to protect the country, which can mean equipment, new aircraft, defense systems or cyber protection.”

Onodera said Tokyo needed to be wary of China’s maritime expansion in the South and East China Sea.

“China has made more and more advancement into the seas,” he said. “When it did not have as much military capability, China tried to promote dialogue and economic cooperation, setting territorial rows aside. But when it sees a chance, any daylight between a nation and its ally, it makes blunt advancements. This is what is happening and what we should learn from the situation in Southeast Asia.”

Onodera’s speech came as he readied to head to Brunei to participate in the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) starting on Wednesday.

The group gathers defense ministers from Southeast Asian nations and eight other regional powers—Japan, China, South Korea, the U.S., Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Onodera said he will “repeatedly explain Japan’s position to his Asian counterparts” and that Tokyo’s motives were entirely defensive.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this year boosted Japan’s defense budget for the first time in over a decade against the backdrop of growing concerns among many countries in the region about China.

But any move to strengthen military capabilities rouses hostility and suspicion in the region, much of which labored under the brutal yoke of Japanese occupation until the end of World War II.

Since coming to power in December, Abe has repeatedly made noises about altering Japan’s pacifist constitution, which bars the country from offensive action.

The defense ministry last month published a paper saying Japan needed amphibious units and surveillance drones to protect its outlying islands.

Japan’s moves come against a backdrop of increasing Chinese activity in waters far from its mainland coast.

The two countries have spent the last year involved in a dispute over the sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.

Vessels and planes from both sides have played cat and mouse in their seas, with some observers warning a slip from either nation could provoke a military confrontation, with possibly wide-ranging ramifications.

On Monday, Tokyo scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government plane approached airspace Japan claims as it own.

(C) 2013 AFP



What the devil is it doing there? Mystery of enormous pentagram in Kazakhstan visible on Google earth

  • The five-pointed star  symbol measures some  366 metres in  diameter
  • It is situated on the  southern shore of Kazakhstan’s Upper Tobol Reservoir
  • One theorist believes it  could be the remains of a Russian military base

By  Daniel Miller

PUBLISHED: 14:15 EST, 2  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:24 EST, 2 August 2013

This enormous pentagram etched into the  ground next to a lake in an isolated corner of Kazakhstan, has had conspiracy  theorists all of a flutter after it appeared on Google Earth.

The five-pointed star symbol which measures some 366 metres in  diameter, is  situated on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir in the north of the  country.

Pentagrams are commonly associated with  devil-worship, but are also used in the Bahai religion and Chinese Taoism as  well as neopaganists and followers of the Greek mathematician  Pythagoras.

Work of the devil? The Kazakhstan pentagram pictured on Google Earth, is situated next to a reservoir in the north of the country 

Work of the devil? The Kazakhstan pentagram pictured on  Google Earth, is situated next to a reservoir in the north of the  country

Location: The strange symbol is situated 12 miles west of the town of Lisakovsk 

Location: The strange symbol is situated 12 miles west  of the town of Lisakovsk

But quite what the symbol, which is visible on Google Earth here,  is doing in such a remote location remains a mystery.


While some have jumped to the conclusion that  it is obviously the work of a secretive satanic cult, others believe it could be  the remains of a Russian military base.

The symbol, consisting of a five-pointed star inside one or two circles, is often associated with satanism 

The symbol, consisting of a five-pointed star inside one  or two circles, is often associated with satanism

One internet user, Kurt Yates, from Seattle,  Washington, posted on the Live Science website: ‘It’s probably an  abandoned surface to air missile site.

‘I was a military pilot and these things are  all over the place in areas that use(d) Russian (Soviet) air defense systems.

‘The shape has something to do with how their  tracking radars work.

‘Considering the size of it and the proximity  to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, I’d say it possibly was used for tracking Soyuz  rockets or some such.’

The satanic link is further strengthened by  the fact the spot has been highlighted on Googlemaps by two users called ‘Adam’  and ‘Lucifer’, both of which are names associated with the devil.

The pentagram was used as a Christian symbol  in ancient times to represent the five senses and to symbolise the five wounds  of Christ. It was also believe to protect against demons.

Neopagans, such as wiccans, use it as a  symbol of faith similar to the Jewish Star of David. The circle is said to  represent unity and protection.

Satanist pentagrams, are commonly drawn with  two points up and the head of a goat inside and are referred to as the Sigil of  Baphomet.

They are associated with fallen angels and  are used as a sign of rebellion or religious identification.

The three downward points are supposed to  represent the rejection of Trinity.

Military link? One theory is that the pentangle is the remains of a Russian tracking station used to monitor Soyuz rockets 

Military link? One theory is that the pentangle is the  remains of a Russian tracking station used to monitor Soyuz rockets

The Kazakhstan pentagram is situated on the shores of the Upper Tobol Reservoir 

The Kazakhstan pentagram is situated on the shores of  the Upper Tobol Reservoir

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2383761/What-devil-doing-Mystery-enormous-pentagram-Kazakhstan-visible-Google-earth.html#ixzz2aqMKAH9Y Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Japan eyes first-strike capability, Marines in defense policy update

By Linda Sieg

National Jul. 25, 2013 – 05:10PM JST ( 41 )


Japan is likely to start considering acquiring the ability to launch pre-emptive military strikes in a planned update of its basic defense policies, the latest step away from the constraints of its pacifist constitution.

The expected proposal, which could sound alarm bells in China, is part of a review of Japan’s defense policies undertaken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, an interim report on which could come as early as Friday. The final conclusions of the review are due out by the end of the year.

Abe took office in December for a rare second term, pledging to bolster the military to cope with what Japan sees as an increasingly threatening security environment including an assertive China and unpredictable North Korea.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, drafted by U.S. occupation forces after its defeat in World War Two, renounces the right to wage war and, if taken literally, rules out the very notion of a standing army. In reality, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are one of Asia’s strongest militaries.

The Defense Ministry will call in the interim report for a study of how to “strengthen the ability to deter and respond to ballistic missiles”, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media said on Thursday.

But in a sign of the sensitivity, the report will stop short of specifically mentioning the ability to hit enemy bases when the threat of attack is imminent, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

The ministry will also consider buying unmanned surveillance drones and creating a Marines force to protect remote islands, such as those at the core of a dispute with China, media said.

“The acquisition of offensive capability would be a fundamental change in our defense policy, a kind of philosophical change,” said Marushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies.

Obtaining that capability, however, would take time, money and training, meaning any shift may be more rhetorical than real. “It’s easier said than done,” Michishita added.

The updated guidelines could also touch on Abe’s moves toward lifting a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or helping an ally under attack, such as if North Korea launched an attack on the United States.

The defense review may also urge replacing a self-imposed ban on arms exports, that has been eased several times, making it easier for Japan’s defense contractors to join international projects and reduce procurement costs.

Some experts stressed that the changes were evolutionary rather than a sudden transformation in Japan’s defense posture.

“It’s all part of a process of Japan edging away from the most restrictive interpretation of Article 9,” said Richard Samuels, director of the MIT-Japan program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Still, given Japan’s strained ties with China over disputed isles and how to frame the narrative of Japan’s wartime history, China is likely to react strongly to the proposals, which come after Abe cemented his grip on power with a big win in a weekend election for parliament’s upper house.

“No matter how Japan explains things, China will attack it pretty harshly,” said Michael Green of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Although China has been a nuclear power for decades and North Korea is developing nuclear arms, Japan says it has no intention of doing so.

Support has grown in Japan for a more robust military because of concern about China, but opposition also remains.

Japan last updated its National Defense Program Guidelines in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power.

Those changes shifted Japan away from defending areas to its north, a Cold War legacy, to a defense capability that could respond with more flexibility to incursions to the south, the site of the row with China over tiny, uninhabited islands.

Japan has for decades been stretching the limits of Article 9 and has long said it has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

But while previous administrations shied away from acquiring the hardware to do so, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in June urged the government to consider acquiring that capability.

Just what hardware might come under consideration is as yet unclear. And with a huge public debt, Japan may be in no position to afford the bill.

Japan already has a very limited attack capability with its F-2 and F-15 fighter jets, mid-air refueling aircraft and Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kit. Tokyo also plans to buy 42 Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters, with the first four due for delivery by March 2017.

Acquiring the ability to hit mobile missile launchers in North Korea – the most likely target – would require many more attack aircraft as well as intelligence capability for which Japan would most likely have to rely on the United States, Michishita said. Cruise missiles might also be considered.

Obtaining the ability to strike missile bases in mainland China would be an even bigger stretch, experts said, requiring for example intercontinental missiles. “It would cost lots of money, and take time, training and education to acquire a robust and meaningful capability,” Michishita said.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013



China woman seeks suitable Malaysian man as life partner

EEV: Always enjoy some of the stories that make headline news.
Wed, Jul 10, 2013

The Star/Asia News Network

A 37-year-old China woman put up an advertisement in a local daily looking for a suitable Malaysian man as her husband,China Press and Sin Chew Daily reported.

China Press quoted Sun Lu (pic) as saying that she has lost confidence in men in China after her first marriage failed six years ago. She has a seven-year-old boy from that marriage.

In the advertisement, Sun Lu claimed to be a beautiful woman from Shenyang and that she was looking for a successful man below 50 years old.

The man, she added, must be financially stable.

Sun Lu, who is currently in Kuala Lumpur, said she decided to put up the advertisement after her aunt, who is also from China, and her aunt’s Malaysian husband encouraged her to do so.

“I have dated some Malaysian men introduced by my aunt and her husband during my first visit to Malaysia last year. But none were suitable,” she said.

Sun Lu, who claimed to be doing business for several years, came to Malaysia again on June 3, and put up the advertisement for three days in the local daily.

Sun Lu said the appearance of the man was not important but he must be willing to accept her son.

Sun Lu’s uncle, known only as Peng, told China Press that Sun Lu received numerous calls after the advertisement was published.

“She has met 10 of them and there was one who never returned after going to the toilet,” Peng said.

Sun Lu’s aunt Wang Feng Jun, 49, said some of the men were insincere and just left after seeing Sun Lu.

Sin Chew Daily reported that Sun Lu had no time to talk to the daily’s reporter as she was busy taking calls from interested suitors.

Sun Lu has yet to find Mr Right.



Hollande tells Japanese business leaders eurozone crisis is over


Politics Jun. 09, 2013 – 06:34AM JST ( 7 )

Hollande tells Japanese business leaders eurozone crisis is over
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during his lecture in Tokyo, Saturday.AP Photo/Koji Sasahara            


French President Francois Hollande sought reassure Japanese business leaders Saturday that the eurozone debt crisis is over but acknowledged that steps to boost the region’s growth and competitiveness need to be taken.

In a speech on the final day of his visit to Japan, Hollande said that the potentially destructive debt crisis has served to “reinforce” Europe and foster greater integration of the 17 member economies that use the euro currency.

He said authorities are developing tools to ensure greater stability and solidarity such as a Europe-wide “banking union” and budgetary rules.

“What you need to understand here in Japan is that the crisis in Europe is over. And that we can work together, France and Japan, to open new doors for economic progress,” he said in the speech at the Imperial Hotel organized by The Nikkei, a major financial newspaper.

Although the eurozone debt crisis that erupted at the end of 2009 has eased, the region’s collective economy has shrunk for six straight quarters and unemployment has reached 12.2%, the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999.

Hollande said Europe needs to put more emphasis on taking steps to promote growth and competitiveness “so that we can have a better presence in the world.”

He also highlighted his proposal to create a common economic government for the eurozone that would set economic policy.

Hollande called Japan an “exceptional partner” and urged both countries to invest more in each other. France’s annual exports to Japan total about 7.5 billion euros ($9.8 billion), while its imports are just over 9 billion euros. Both rank 11th as respective trade partners.

In response to a question about China, Hollande said that while France does have trade disputes with China — and a yawning trade deficit of 25 billion euros — Paris needs to “work with” Beijing and shouldn’t be expected to choose between Japan and China as they were both important regional economic powers.

Japan has expressed concern over French exports to China of equipment that potentially might have military uses, including the sale last year of equipment used to help helicopters land on ships. Providing China with such a capability alarms Tokyo given its tensions with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Hollande repeated France’s insistence that the helicopters were not for military use.

“We have the will to work with Asia, and not to oppose any particular country,” he said. “We have a friendly relationship with China for a long time now, and a relationship of exceptional partnership with Japan,” he said. “Please do not ask us to choose.”



School Lunch in Japan 【You, Me, And A Tanuki】

You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!

Ah, school lunch in Japan.  I’ve had some of the best meals served to me on those plastic lunch trays.  I’ve also had some of the worst.  You might remember my post from last week that talked about the worst school lunch in the world. But for the most part, school lunch in Japan is surprisingly delicious and enjoyable.

School lunch, or kyuushoku as it’s called here, is one of the many examples of team work displayed in Japan.  The students and teachers are split into groups and given a serving duty.  For example, some students serve the soup, others the main dish, etc.  They do this while wearing full aprons, hair nets, and masks.  The students and teachers who are not on service duty form a line, grab a tray, and pick up one of each dish.  Once everyone has been served and is seated at their desk (in Japan, the students eat in their classroom), everyone puts their hands together and says “itadakimasu” (I humbly accept this food).  Only then can you dig in.  I think this is a really nice custom as I recall my poor mother who was still in the process of trying to get all of the food on the table while her three daughters and husband were chowing down.

^Gyuu-don (beef bowl [healthy style]), soup, broccoli mayonnaise side dish, melon, and whole milk

^Summer vegetable curry and rice, Korean Squash gratin, daikon and seaweed side dish, mikan, and whole milk.

There are also some very interesting customs when it comes to food handling and preparation.  One of our friends works at the school lunch center and says that she has to wash all fruits and vegetables three times.  She also has three different aprons and must change them depending on the task (cutting vegetables, preparing food, cleaning dishes).  Also, one of the staff must eat the school lunch at least half an hour before the students consume it to make sure that it’s safe to eat. Kyuushoku is probably the safest and most properly prepared meal you’re ever going to eat (a lot safer than when I cook and the 3 second rule is fully employed).  It’s also really cheap for the amount and quality of food you get.  I pay around 350 yen (~$4.50) for more food than I can comfortably eat that’s extremely fresh and healthy (no frozen food here, everything is made that day).

^Mabo Nasu (Chinese-style egg plant stir-fry), rice, dumpling soup, vegetable side, homemade mandarin orange jello, and whole milk.

Chibu’s kyuushoku is very special because we actually have three farmers who grow food on the island specifically for the school lunches.  While we are eating, the elementary school students read an announcement about the school lunch and tell us which vegetables came from whose garden.  A typical announcement might note that the carrots and cabbage in the soup are from X-san’s garden and then go on to tell us a few factoids about a vegetable and why it’s good for us.  I think it’s really great that the school lunch center takes the time to acknowledge the farmers who grow the vegetables in our lunches.

^Chilled noodles, spinach and sesame seed side dish, watermelon, homemade kabocha steamed bread, and whole milk.

Despite the fresh and healthy meals that you are served at school, there are some drawbacks to having to eat kyuushoku every day.  For one, you have to eat everything.  When I first came to Chibu, I left literally around 10 grains of rice in my bowl and was promptly scolded by the elementary school student sitting next to me.  The most extreme example of the enforcement of this rule is when one of the students, struggling to finish something he absolutely hated, was made to sit at the lunch table until he ate every bite.  Two minutes later, the cleaning announcement came over the loud speaker and he missed his chance to play after lunch.  As a teacher, I can get away with not eating everything, but I feel bad getting a free pass when the kids are forced to eat even their most hated of foods.  This is why I force myself to eat my most hated meal: shishamo.

^Shishamo, chirashi zushi (deconstructed sushi), potato salad, soup, a mildly sweet mochi-like dessert, and whole milk

^Can you see why I struggle to eat these things from head to tail? Oh also, they’re filled with tiny eggs. Yeah…

So there you have it, the wonders of kyuushoku.  Even though I have to eat everything regardless of how it tastes to me, I love being served school lunch every day because there are a surprising variety of dishes ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Western style.  We receive a menu at the beginning of the month and I always read it, looking forward to my favorite lunches (and dreading having to eat shishamo which usually makes an appearance once every other month).  I think the US should take a look into Japan’s cafeterias and try to improve the school lunches.  I loved tater tots and pizza as a kid, but as Japan has shown me, there are tastier, healthier options to be found.

Michelle is originally from California, but  currently living in the tiny fishing village of Chibu, one of the Oki islands in Japan.  Being one of two foreigners living in an island village of a little over 600 people presents many adventures.  Come back every Saturday for a new article featuring the interesting and bizarre things she comes across in her life in rural Japan.  Once a week not enough?  Check out her blog, You, Me, And A Tanuki, for photographs and even more articles.

We’re still looking for more unique and interesting stories from Asia to share with the world, so drop us a line if you’d like to have your own blog featured on RocketNews24.


US genetically modified wheat stokes fears, Japan cancels tender

Reuters — May 31


A strain of genetically modified wheat found in the United States fuelled concerns over food supplies across Asia on Thursday, with major importer Japan cancelling a tender offer to buy U.S. grain.


Other top Asian wheat importers South Korea, China and the Philippines said they were closely monitoring the situation after the U.S. government found genetically engineered wheat sprouting on a farm in the state of Oregon.The strain was never approved for sale or consumption.

Asian consumers are keenly sensitive to gene-altered food, with few countries allowing imports of such cereals for human consumption. However, most of the corn and soybean shipped from the U.S. and South America for animal feed is genetically modified.

News source: Reuters

Disabled Chinese toddler ‘imprisoned for four years’

A four-year-old disabled Chinese boy was put in a prison for over three years because his parents were protesters, his foster father has claimed.

Disabled Chinese boy Chen Ya, now eight, was imprisoned for over three years because his parents were protestors, his foster father has claimed.

Disabled Chinese boy Chen Ya, now eight, was imprisoned for over three years because his parents were protestors, his foster father has claimed.
Malcolm Moore

By , Beijing

6:29PM BST 20 May 2013

Chen Ya, who is now eight, was taken away by officials in Sanzao county in the southern province of Guangdong in 2009, according to Chen Fengqiang, his foster father.

Despite being a toddler with developmental problems, the boy was kept alone in a windowless 40 sq ft cell until April, when he was finally released into Mr Chen’s care.

Today, the boy “cannot walk very far and his head shakes,” said Mr Chen.

“He cannot talk so I do not know what happened to him. But you can imagine what it is like for a four-year-old child to be taken and shut away,” he said.

“There are no bruises on his body, so I do not know whether he was abused, but if you raise your hand, he curls into a ball afraid,” he added.

Mr Chen could not explain why the authorities had chosen to put the boy in solitary confinement. On Monday he travelled to the regional capital, Guangzhou, to engage a new lawyer, Wu Kuiming, to seek redress.

“This is a cruel method that the government uses when it wants to control protesters,” said Mr Wu. “But I do not know what they wanted to achieve by locking up a four-year-old boy,” he added.

Both Mr Chen, 54, and his former partner, the boy’s mother, Wei Lipei, 40, have been thorns in the side of the local government for over a decade.

Since 2002, the couple have vigorously protested the seizure of their land by the local government, who they say paid them scant compensation.

Mr Chen has two other children by a previous partner, a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. He said Ms Wei had told him that Chen Ya was not his son, but that he had not taken a paternity test.

As the couple fell deeper into the frustrating cycle of protesting their plight to the various branches of the Chinese government, their children were increasingly left to fend for themselves.

Chen Ya, because of his disability, was often taken along to protests, however, in order to exploit public sympathy.

In 2008, while Mr Chen was protesting in Beijing, Ms Wei then disappeared.

He claimed she was put in detention. At that point the three children were cared for by a nanny from the neighbourhood committee.

The following year, however, Chen Ya was taken away to a detention centre run by a special police squad that usually targets protesters. The centre was originally built in the 1960s as a labour camp.

In the meantime, Mr Chen was also imprisoned separately in 2010 for two years in another city.

Two other protesters confirmed that they had seen the boy in a cell in the centre last year. Another lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, said he had accompanied Mr Chen to the centre in December to try to free the boy.

Illegal detention centres are common in China but are routinely denied by the authorities.

“I have never heard of this case but I can assure you nothing like this would happen in this area,” said a policeman at Jingwan district who declined to give his name. He added that a colleague in Sanzao had never heard of the detention facility.

Four officials in Sanzao county denied all knowledge of the case. One suggested contacting the local Propaganda bureau.

The fifth official, Wu Jing, from the Civil Administration bureau, said he had not heard of the boy and to contact the head of the local Harmony Maintenance bureau, whose name he gave as Mr Tang.

“Who gave you my number?” said Mr Tang angrily, upon answering the phone.

“If Mr Wu gave you my number, you should ask him about the case, he knows better than me,” he added, before hanging up and refusing to answer further calls.

In 2007, a reporter for Reuters saw and photographed a three-year-old boy being held in a “black jail” alongside his father in the south west of Beijing. The father of the boy told him that they had been “held there for months”.

Phelim Kine, the deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, said there was evidence that the Chinese government had abducted and detained other children in the past, both with and without their parents.

He said three detainees in illegal detention centres interviewed by HRW said that they had been imprisoned with their children. One 36-year-old from Gansu province who was detained in 2008 said his facility “also detained ‘many children, boys and girls'”.

In another case, a 15-year-old girl was beaten so severely by her guards that “they knocked out one of her teeth”.

Mr Chen and his foster son appear set to continue their protest. On Sunday they were detained by police for 12 hours after mounting a protest at Guangzhou railway station. The protest was seized upon by Chinese internet users to condemn the behaviour of the local government.



China-Japan Island Dispute Could Become Flashpoint

May. 4, 2013 – 11:15AM


TAIPEI — While North Korea has garnered attention as Asia’s top hotspot, experts worry that the real problem is between Beijing and Tokyo over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China calls the Diaoyu Islands.

Over the past month, rhetoric has soared between new nationalistic leaders in China and Japan as each deploys hardware to the region.

China’s increased ship and air patrols to the islands have prompted an unprecedented response from Japan: Keep out or we will use force to keep you out. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, “Japan is determined to protect its land, water and air.”

And to help its key ally, America’s top military leaders have told Beijing that if the shooting starts, Washington is treaty- and duty-bound to back Tokyo.

That, in turn, has prompted China to declare the islands a “core interest” in a bid to force Tokyo and Washington to back down, a move that’s unlikely to work.

“I think the potential calculated escalation is high,” said Wallace “Chip” Gregson, former assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs under President Barack Obama. “China seems to feel it is in their interests to keep tensions high, and Japan’s tough response meets with political approval across the country. The potential for miscalculation is always there with so many ships and airplanes confronting each other.

“I think China takes US obligations seriously, and they are working to drive a wedge between the US and Japan. I don’t think they expected a strong response from Japan, but now that national prestige is involved in each country, they are stuck,” Gregson said.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s reaffirmation of US sup-port for Japan came last week after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a Japanese reporter April 26 that the “Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course, it’s China’s core interest.”

The “core interest” declaration rattled Tokyo and Washington. The phrase is usually reserved for sensitive Chinese territorial concerns. In March 2010, Chinese officials began declaring the South China Sea as a “core interest” on par with its claims over Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

Hua’s statement was deleted from the official transcript issued by China’s Foreign Ministry.

“It is on the tape,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “However, when the transcript was issued, that sentence was deleted. The transcript remains the official account. Obviously, someone believed it should not have been said.”

“China is cautious in using the term ‘core interest,’ ” said Su Xiaohui, strategic studies research fellow, China Institute of Inter­national Peace, Beijing. “The reason is that when we define something as a ‘core interest,’ it means that it is not negotiable and China will defend it with all our might.”

A Chinese Foreign Ministry source echoed Su’s comments by saying Hua’s comments were a “signal to the world that the Chinese government attaches more importance to this sovereignty issue and is willing to defend its sovereignty. Whatever it takes.”

Su said China’s definition is not important.

“The reality is that it is difficult for China to step back. It is not only a problem between China and Japan. It is related to the US position, the South China Sea issue, etc. If we failed in dealing with the problem appropriately, the spillover effect would be disastrous.”

China has been ramping up tensions near the islands for the past 16 months. The most recent incident occurred April 23 when eight Chinese marine surveillance ships entered the 12-nautical-mile ter­ritorial zone off the islands.

Hua’s statement was both “surprising” and “expected,” said Jingdong Yuan, a China security specialist at the Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney. There is a possibility China has a new policy regarding territorial disputes.

“China would keep the status quo if one challenges it; otherwise, it will now seek to set a new benchmark or redefine the status quo, as it has been doing with regard to Senkaku,” Jingdong said.

There were relatively few intrusions into the vicinity of the island group before September 2012; now it has become a matter of fact where China is “basically demonstrating its de facto, at the minimum, co-administration while ever more loudly claiming its sovereign rights to these islands,” Jingdong said.

Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, had a different take on the Hua comment. Zhuang said the Diaoyu Islands dispute is different from Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

“Though it touches upon sovereignty and territorial disputes, the importance of this issue in the sense of a core interest is less than the previous ones,” he said. China is willing to discuss the island dispute with Japan, whereas there is no room for negotiation on the “other three.”


Russian bombers conducts practice strikes on US missile defenses in Asia ( Mock attacks against ground-based missile defense site in Japan )

Friday, 05 April 2013

A Russian bomber recently carried out simulated cruise missile attacks on U.S. missile defenses in Asia, raising new questions about Moscow’s goal in future U.S.-Russian defense talks.

According to U.S. officials, a Russian Tu-22M Backfire bomber on Feb. 26 simulated firing air-launched cruise missiles at an Aegis ship deployed near Japan as part of U.S. missile defenses.

A second mock attack was conducted Feb. 27 against a ground-based missile defense site in Japan that officials did not identify further.

The Pentagon operates an X-band missile defense radar on the northern tip of Japan that is designed to monitor North Korean missile launches and transmit the data to missile-firing ships.

The bomber targeting comes as Russia is building up forces in the Pacific by modernizing submarines and building a spy ship specifically for intelligence-gathering against U.S. missile defenses.

Officials said it was not clear why the Russians conducted the practice strikes. However, the simulations may indicate Moscow has targeted its offensive ballistic missiles on Japan or U.S. military bases in the region.

U.S. missile defenses in Asia currently are at a heightened alert status as a result of tensions with North Korea. The communist state has threatened to conduct nuclear missile attacks on the United States and South Korea.

The incidents were detected by U.S. intelligence-gathering systems in the region and reported recently inside the Pentagon.

“As a matter of policy we do not comment on matters of intelligence,” Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson said when asked about the Backfire bomber incident.

The Tu-22 bomber can carry up to three air-launched Kh-22 land attack cruise missiles. The bomber has a range of about 2,500 miles.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said the Backfire targeting is troubling.

“Russia continues to conduct aggressive offensive missile training in the Pacific against U.S. and Allied Forces,” McInerney said.

“We should understand that they look at ‘reset’ differently than we do,” said the retired three-star general, who once commanded forces in Alaska. “They look at it as regaining their previous USSR position as a superpower while this administration is moving towards unilateral disarmament.”

Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy during the George W. Bush administration, said it is difficult to assess why the Russians carried out the simulated strikes.

Edelman said practice runs may be “a demonstration of continued Russia opposition to and hyping of their animosity toward U.S. missile defense deployments globally.”



North Korea warns Britain to evacuate embassy in Pyongyang and moves mid-range missiles to coast sparking fears of imminent strike

In response to the continued threats South Korea deployed two warships that have missile-defence systems

Rob Williams

Friday, 5 April 2013

North Korea has advised Britain to evacuate its embassy in Pyongyang saying it will not be able to guarantee the safety of staff in the event of conflict from April 10th.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the British Embassy in Pyongyang had received a communication from the North Korean government and said it was “considering next steps”.

A spokesman said the Pyongyang regime had responsibilities to protect embassies under international conventions and claimed the latest move was “part of their continuing rhetoric” that the United States poses a threat.

Earlier today it emerged that Russia had also been asked to consider evacuating staff from its embassy in Pyongyang because of the increasing tension on the Korean peninsula.

A spokesman said Russia was examining the request but was not planning an evacuation at this stage, and there were no outward signs of increased tension in the North Korean capital itself.

North Korea moved two missiles to its east coast and loaded them onto launchers, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said.

In response to the continued threats South Korea deployed two warships that have missile-defence systems.

The news came as fears of an imminent missile strike from the North unsettled financial markets in South Korea.

Military officials in South Korea said that two warships were to be deployed on the east and west coasts of the country. Despite anxiety in the region over continuing tensions, Seoul has been keen to play down the threat – stating today that the missile moves could be tests.

A senior official was quoted by Yonhap saying: “It has been confirmed that North Korea, early this week, transported two Musudan mid-range missiles by train to the east coast and loaded them on vehicles equipped with launch pads.”

Musudan missiles have an range of 4,000km, putting Japan, Guam and South Korea within its range.

The news came after a further day of tension, during which the Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that North Korea now possessed the capability to launch a nuclear strike against Britain.

The Prime Minister pointed to the escalating threats from the regime in Pyongyang as evidence of the need for the United Kingdom to retain the Trident nuclear deterrent.

The bellicose rhetoric from North Korea has escalated in recent weeks and months after sanctions were imposed on the country following a nuclear test in February.

Tensions were further inflamed last week when South Korea and the US carried out joint military drills in the region using nuclear-enabled B-2 stealth bombers.

Intelligence officials from the US, Japan and South Korea were said today to be monitoring the movement of the weapons.

The United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said today that daily reports from Pyongyang were “alarming and troubling”.

He urged North Korea to ease tensions.”Nuclear threat is not a game, it is very serious,” he said.

Today Asia experts speculated that North Korea’s latest outburst of nuclear and military threats has given the US a rare opportunity to build bridges with China and revitalize the Obama administration’s flagging policy pivot to Asia.

The architect of the administration’s Asia policy described a subtle change in Chinese thinking as a result of Pyongyang’s recent nuclear tests, rocket launches and abandonment of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war with South Korea.

Pyongyang has taken similar actions in the past, prompting Washington to increase military readiness in the region to soothe allies South Korea and Japan. But in an unusual rebuke this week, Beijing called North Korea’s moves “regrettable” — amounting to a slap from the country’s strongest economic and diplomatic supporter.

“They, I think, recognize that the actions that North Korea has taken in recent months and years are in fact antithetical to their own national security interests,” former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told a panel Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy” toward North Korea, said Campbell, who retired in February as the administration’s top diplomat in East Asia and the Pacific region. “I think that they have succeeded in undermining trust and confidence in Beijing.”

China mobilizes military on N. Korea threats

Published time: April 02, 2013 04:16  Edited time: April 02, 2013 06:30                                                                            

AFP Photo / China Photo

AFP Photo / China Photo

China has started mobilizing military forces around the Korean peninsula in response to rising tensions that follow recent threats by North Korea to launch missile attacks against its southern neighbor and the United States.

According to US officials, Pyongyang’s declaration of a ‘state of war’ against South Korea has led to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to increase its military presence on the border with the North. The officials say the process has been going on since mid-March, and includes troop movements and readying fighter jets. The PLA is now at ‘Level One’ readiness, its highest.
Chinese forces, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, have been spotted in the city of Ji’an and near the Yalu River, which splits China and North Korea. Other border regions were also reportedly being patrolled by planes.
China has also been conducting live-firing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, scheduled to end on Monday. The move is widely viewed as open support for North Korea, which continues to show extreme opposition to the US-South Korean military drills that are to last until May.
The news comes as the US deployed its USS Fitzgerald destroyer off the coast of North Korea, adding to its Sunday deployment of F-22 fighter jets to take part in the drills with the friendly South, which has further served to heighten tensions on the peninsula.
Meanwhile, North Korea has been mobilizing its short and medium-range missile arsenal, according to analyses of satellite imagery. Officials say Pyongyang is set to test its new KN-08 medium-range mobile missile; they say preparations have been spotted in the past. Pyongyang claims that since March 26, its forces have been placed on their highest possible status of alert.
Although officials believe Pyongyang will not provoke Seoul during the war games, they also fear that a miscalculation by South Korea could lead to all-out war, following its promise of retaliation against the North, should it launch its missiles first.

South Korean anti-aircraft armoured vehicles move over a temporary bridge during a river-crossing military drill in Hwacheon near the border with North Korea on April 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / KIim Jae-Hwan)

South Korean anti-aircraft armoured vehicles move over a temporary bridge during a river-crossing military drill in Hwacheon near the border with North Korea on April 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / KIim Jae-Hwan)

North Korea and China have maintained a long-standing defense treaty under which Beijing is to come to Pyongyang’s aid in the event of an attack. The last time this was put into practice was during the Korean War, when tens of thousands of Chinese volunteer forces were deployed on the Korean Peninsula. The relationship between the two countries is often referred to as being “as close as lips and teeth” by Chinese military spokesmen.

Despite the heated tensions leading to an apparent disruption in trade and commerce between China and North Korea, the two are already making future plans to bolster their economic ties. March 27 saw the announcement of a new high-speed railway, as well as a special highway passenger line.

Still, many in Chinese circles have shown displeasure at Pyongyang’s seemingly aggressive relationship with Seoul and Washington. A Chinese official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, has testified that US presence in the region is a helpful restraint against an unpredictable Kim Jong-un, which many believe to be the real reason Beijing has not been strong in its criticism of the amassing of US forces in the region.

Furthermore, Chinese websites and blogs could sometimes be found openly bashing the North Korean leader for an apparent mishandling of the situation in the region, playing diplomatic games amid chronic food shortages in his country. An editor at the country’s Study Times newspaper was recently suspended for openly criticizing China for abandoning North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang (AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang (AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS)

Expert opinion differs on what China’s exact position is in the unfolding regional crisis.

US officials claim the China’s main fear is a collapse of order in North Korea, which would lead to a large-scale refugee flow into China.

Another possible reason for China to worry is advanced by journalist James Corbett, host of the Corbett Report, who believes that foreign military presence in the region is just as unnerving to China as it is to Pyongyang. He discussed this in the light of the latest war drills.

“I think that this has the possibility of ratcheting things up to the point where tensions might actually spill over as a result of this, and we saw that recently with the deployment of B-2 nuclear armed bombers in South Korea which is not only, I think, worrying to Pyongyang, but also to China, to have nuclear bombers that close to the peninsula there, on China’s southern border. I think that China wouldn’t be pleased with that either, so this is quite an escalation that’s taking place.”

Others believe openly that the US strategy is geared not towards the destabilization of North Korea, but that of China. Li Jie, an expert with a Chinese navy research institution, has told Reuters that “the ultimate strategic aim is to contain and blockade China, to distract China’s attention and slow its development. What the US is most worried about is the further development of China’s economy and military strength.”

Retired Major General Luo Yuan, who is one of China’s foremost military authorities, believes, however that “once the joint US-South Korean exercises have finished and with birthday celebrations for (late founder of North Korea) Kim Il-sung imminent, the temperature will gradually cool and get back to the status quo of no war, no unification.”

While it has been urging calm and peace in the region, Beijing has been very obliging at the UN Security Council, when it helped push through the latest round of sanctions against North Korea in March, following its third nuclear test the previous month. Despite being Pyongyang’s greatest ally in the region, some experts believe this is a sign of Beijing’s growing impatience. American diplomat Christopher R. Hill, who helped under the Bush administration to negotiate a deal for the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear facilities (which didn’t last), says that the Chinese strategy is“not about the words, it is about the music.”

The resolution came hours after North Korea, angered at both the US-South Korean war games, and at the proposed UN plan, threatened pre-emptive nuclear action against the South and US military bases in the region.

This latest standoff between North and South Korea and the US is credited to have started on February 12, when Pyongyang supposedly performed its latest underground nuclear weapons test. Just this weekend, North Korea vowed to boost its nuclear arsenal, calling it a “treasure of a reunified country” which it would never trade for anything, even “billions of dollars” worth of aid.


Chinese hackers infiltrate Indian Defence Research Organisation

Posted by: Mohit Kumar onWednesday, March 13, 2013
Chinese hackers infiltrate Indian Defence Research Organisation

According to an exclusive report published today by DNA news, the computers of highly sensitive Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have reportedly been hacked by Chinese hackers as biggest security breach in the Indian Defence ever.

Infiltrate leading to the leak of thousands of top secret files related to Cabinet Committee on Security, which have been detected to have been uploaded on a server in Guangdong province of China.
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony said, “Intelligence agencies are investigating the matter at this stage and I do not want to say anything else.
The leak was detected in the first week of March as officials from India’s technical intelligence wing, National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), working with private Indian cyber security experts cracked open a file called “army cyber policy”. The file had been attached to hacked email accounts of senior DRDO officials that quickly spread through the system in a matter of seconds.” DNA news reported.
Intelligence officials also discovered documents of deals struck between DRDO and Bharat Dyamics Ltd, a defence PSU which makes strategic missiles and components. Even the e-tickets of DRDO scientists who had travelled to Delhi in February were found on the server.
This week, Chinese hackers infiltrated Reserve Bank of Australia also.
Photo Mohit (Mobile) aka ‘Unix Root’  is Founder and Editor-in-chief  of ‘The Hacker News’. He is a Security Researcher and Analyst, with experience in various aspects of Information Security. Other than this : He is an Internet Activist, Strong supporter of Anonymous & Wikileaks.http://thehackernews.com/2013/03/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-indian.html

New Chinese President Xi aims to paint Africa red

Nile Bowie is a political analyst and photographer currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Published time: March 12, 2013 10:51                                                                            
China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping (Reuters/Jason Lee)

China’s Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping (Reuters/Jason Lee)

The fact that China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, is set to visit Africa on his first foreign trip is a strong indication of where Sino-African relations are headed. But as Beijing focuses on building African industry, Washington has other plans.

At a recently held meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, China’s leaders unveiled a dramatic long-term plan to integrate some 400 million countryside dwellers into urban environments, by concentrating growth-promoting development in small- and medium-sized cities. In stark contrast to the neglected emphasis on infrastructure development in the United States and Europe, China spends around $500 billion annually on infrastructural projects, with $6.4 trillion set aside for its 10-year mass urbanization scheme, making it the largest rural-to-urban migration project in human history.

China’s leaders have mega-development in focus, and realizing such epic undertakings not only requires the utilization of time-efficient high-volume production methods, but also resources – lots and lots of resources. It should come as no surprise that incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping’s first trip as head of state will take him to Africa, to deepen the mutually beneficial trade and energy relationships maintained throughout the continent that have long irked policy makers in Washington.

The new guy in charge – who some analysts have suggested could be a populist reformer that empathizes with the poor – will visit several African nations with whom China has expressed a desire to expand ties with, the most prominent being South Africa. Since establishing relations in 1998, bilateral trade between the two jumped from $1.5 billion to $16 billion as of 2012. Following a relationship that has consisted predominately of economic exchanges, China and South Africa have now announced plans to enhance military ties in a show of increasing political and security cooperation.

During 2012’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, incumbent President Hu Jintao served up $20 billion in loans to African countries, which were designated for the construction of vital infrastructure such as new roads, railways and ports to enable higher volumes of trade and export. In his address to the forum, South African President Jacob Zuma spoke of the long-term unsustainability of the current model of Sino-African trade, in which raw materials are sent out and manufactured commodities are sent in.

This picture taken on June 12, 2012 shows the managing editor of China Central Television (CCTV) Africa Pang Xinhua (L) talking to local journalist as he shows them how the organization has expanded in different parts of Africa, in the premises of the television in Nairobi. (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

This picture taken on June 12, 2012 shows the managing editor of China Central Television (CCTV) Africa Pang Xinhua (L) talking to local journalist as he shows them how the organization has expanded in different parts of Africa, in the premises of the television in Nairobi. (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

“Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies,” Zuma said. “We certainly are convinced that China’s intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit.”

Xi’s visit highlights the importance China attaches to Sino-African ties, and during his stay, he will attend the fifth meeting of the BRICS, the first summit held on the African continent to accommodate leaders of the world’s most prominent emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS group, which accounts for around 43% of the world’s population and 17% of global trade, is set to increase investments in Africa’s industrial sector threefold, from $150 billion in 2010 to $530 billion in 2015, under the theme ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for development, integration, and industrialization.’

With focus shifting toward building up the continent’s industrial sector, South Africa is no doubt seen as a springboard into Africa and a key development partner on the continent for other BRICS members. Analysts have likened the BRICS group to represent yet another significant step away from a unipolar global economic order, and it comes as no surprise. As eurozone countries languish amidst austerity, record unemployment and major demand contraction, the European Union has declined as a share of South Africa’s total trade from 36% in 2005 to 26.5% in 2011, while the BRICS countries’ total trade increased from 10% in 2005 to 18.6% in 2011.

The value and significance of the BRICS platform is its ability to proliferate South-South political and economic ties, and one should expect the reduction of trade barriers and the gradual adoption of economic exchanges using local currencies. China’s ICBC paid $5.5 billion for a 20% stake in Standard Bank of South Africa in 2007, and the move has played out well for Beijing – Standard has over 500 branches across 17 African countries, which has drastically increased availability of the Chinese currency, offering yuan accounts to expatriate traders.

It looks like the love story that has become of China and Africa will gradually begin shifting its emphasis toward building up a viable large-scale industrial base. Surveys out of Beijing cite 1,600 companies tapping into the use of Africa as an industrial base, with manufacturing’s share of total Chinese investment (22%) fast gaining on the mining sector’s (29%).

Gavin du Venage, writing for the Asia Times Online, highlights how Beijing’s policy toward Africa aims to be mutually beneficial and growth-promoting: “Chinese energy firm Sinopec teamed up with South African counterpart PetroSA to explore building a US$11 billion oil refinery on the country’s west coast. Refineries are notoriously unprofitable, with razor-thin margins. Since South Africa has no significant oil or proven gas reserves itself, the proposed plant would depend on imports, and would have to serve the local market to be viable. The plant will therefore serve the South African market and not be used to process exports to China. This is only the latest of such investments that demonstrate a willingness by Chinese investors to put down roots and infrastructure in Africa. It also shows that China’s dragon safari is about more than just sourcing commodities for export.”

Indeed, and Beijing’s dragon safari is loaded with a packed itinerary, with Mao-bucks flying everywhere from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Nigeria and Angola. Xi Jinping will also grace the Angolan capital of Luanda, where China has provided the oil-rich nation with some $4.5 billion in loans since 2002. Following Angola’s 27-year civil war that began in 1975, Beijing played a major role in the country’s reconstruction process, with 50 large-scale and state-owned companies and over 400 private companies operating in the country; it has since become China’s largest trading partner in Africa with a bilateral trade volume at some $20 billion dollars annually. Chinese Ambassador Zhang Bolun was quoted as saying how he saw great potential in further developing Sino-Angolan relations and assisting the nation in reducing its dependence on oil revenues while giving priority to the development of farming, service industries, renewable energies, transport and other basic infrastructure.

Chinese commercial activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have significantly increased not only in the mining sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field. In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6-million deal with the Congolese government to establish the first Sino-Congolese telecommunications company, while Kinshasa exported $1.4-billion worth of cobalt to Beijing between 2007 and 2008.

The majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further processing, and 90% of the processing plants in resource-rich southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals. In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for $6 billion in infrastructure investments, including the construction of two hospitals, four universities and a hydroelectric power project; the International Monetary Fund intervened and blocked the deal, arguing that the agreement violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations.

China has made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzani, and as Africa’s largest trading partner China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, accounting for approximately 30 percent of its total imports. In Ghana, China has invested in Ghanaian national airlines that primarily serve domestic routes, in addition to partnering with the Ghanaian government on a major infrastructural project to build the Bui Hydroelectric Dam. China-Africa trade rose from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $106.8 billion in 2008, at an annual growth rate of over 30 percent.

By the end of 2009, China had canceled out more than 300 zero-interest loans owed by 35 heavily indebted needy countries and the least developed countries in Africa. China is by far the largest financier on the entire continent, and Beijing’s economic influence in Africa is nowhere more apparent than the $200 million African Union headquarters situated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – which was funded solely by China.

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping speak during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2012. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping speak during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2012. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much-needed infrastructural projects is creating “deep nervousness” in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton insinuated China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism.” When it comes to Africa, the significant differences in these two powers’ key economic, foreign policy strategies and worldviews are nowhere more apparent. Washington has evidently launched efforts to counter China’s influence throughout the African continent, and where Beijing focuses on economic development, the United States has sought to legitimize its presence through counterterrorism operations and the expansion of the United States Africa Command, better known as AFRICOM – an outpost of the US Military designated solely for operations on the African continent.

During a visit to AFRICOM in 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller cited AFRICOM’s stated mission of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before emphasizing how the increasing presence of China is a major challenge to US interests in the region. Washington recently announced that US Army teams will be deployed to as many as 35 African countries in early 2013 for training programs and other operations, as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa – primarily in countries with groups allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda.

Given President Obama’s proclivity toward the proliferation of UAV drone technology, one could imagine these moves as laying the groundwork for future US military interventions using such technology in Africa on a wider scale than that already seen in Somalia and Mali. Here lies the deep hypocrisy in accusations of Beijing’s purported ‘new colonialism’ – China is focused on building industries, increasing development and improving administrative and well as physical infrastructure . The propagation of force, which one would historically associate with a colonizer, is entirely absent from China’s approach.

Obviously, the same cannot be said of the United States, whose firepower-heavy tactics have in recent times enabled militancy and lawlessness, as seen in the fallout of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 2011 bombing campaign in Libya, with notable civilian causalities. As Xi Jingping positions himself in power over a nation undertaking some of the grandest development projects the world has ever known, Beijing’s relationship with the African continent will be a crucial one. While everything looks good on paper, Xi’s administration must earn the trust of their African constituents by keeping a closer eye on operations happening on the ground.

The incoming administration must do more to scrutinize the conduct of Chinese conglomerates and business practices with a genuine focus on adhering to local environmental regulations, safety standards and sound construction methods. The current trajectory China has set itself upon will do much to enable mutually beneficial economic development, in addition to bolstering an independent Global South – a little less red then how Mao wanted it, but close enough.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


$36 Billion of Military Hardware Could Be Destroyed in Afghan Pullout


Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:21 AM

By: Todd Beamon

The Obama White House is cutting $65 billion in the sequester, but it could easily leave or torch 750,000 pieces of major military hardware — worth $36 billion — in Afghanistan after U.S. troops pull out by the end of next year.

Here are the options, according to Face the Facts USA of the George Washington University: Leave the equipment — or destroy it — in Afghanistan; move it to other U.S. military outposts; or transfer it to another U.S. agency or to another country.
The estimated cost for the latter two options: $5.7 billion.

The equipment includes trucks, aircraft, and armored vehicles — most of which are controlled by the Army.

Because the Afghanistan terrain is mountainous and landlocked, transport would be difficult. But leaving it behind intact could put the equipment in the wrong hands.

So, is it best to torch $36 billion in U.S. military assets?



Abe: China radar-lock on Japan ship ‘dangerous’

Politics Feb. 06, 2013 – 12:45PM JST


The radar-lock that a Chinese frigate put on a Japanese warship was “dangerous” and “provocative,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday, as tensions in a territorial row ratcheted up.

“It was a dangerous act that could have led to an unpredictable situation,” Abe told the Diet. “It is extremely regrettable. We strongly ask for their self-restraint in order to avoid an unnecessary escalation.”

Abe, who took office late December following a landslide win in elections, described the radar-locking as “unilateral provocative action by the Chinese side.”

Abe’s comments come a day after Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera announced weapon-targeting radar had been directed at the Japanese vessel in international waters of the East China Sea last week.

“On Jan 30, something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea,” Onodera told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday night. “The defense ministry today confirmed radar for targeting was used.”

Onodera said a Japanese military helicopter was also locked with a similar radar on Jan 19. He did not specify whether the helicopter was airborne or on the deck of a ship at the time.

Officials said on both occasions the targeting had lasted “minutes.”

“Directing such radar is very abnormal,” he said. “We recognize it could create a very dangerous situation if a single misstep occurred. We will seek the Chinese side’s self-restraint from taking such dangerous action.”

The move marks the first time the two nations’ navies have locked horns in a dispute that has some commentators warning about a possible armed conflict.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington was “concerned” over the incident.

“With regard to the reports of this particular lock-on incident, actions such as this escalate tensions and increase the risk of an incident or a miscalculation, and they could undermine peace, stability and economic growth in this vital region,” she said. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference that Tokyo lodged a protest against Beijing over the radar-locking on Tuesday and asked for an explanation, but was yet to receive any reply.

Radar is used to precisely determine a target’s distance, direction, speed and altitude. Weapon systems linked to the radar can be fired immediately, Japan’s government said.

The move is a ratcheting-up of an already tense situation in the East China Sea, where Asia’s two largest economies are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of an uninhabited island chain.

On Tuesday, Tokyo summoned China’s envoy in protest at the presence a day earlier of Chinese government—but not military—ships in the waters around the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.

© 2013 AFP



Abe says he intends to change constitution

By Kyoko Hasegawa

Politics Jan. 31, 2013 – 04:50PM JST ( 77 )

Abe says he intends to change constitution
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships Kurama (R) and Hyuga (L)  off Sagami Bay, Japan, on October 14, 2012AFP


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers Thursday he intends to change the post-WWII constitution that imposed pacifism on Japan, in a move likely to stir suspicion in China and beyond.

Abe, who was elected in December, has long harbored ambitions to re-write a document critics say hampers effective self defense, but supporters say is a bulwark against the militarism that blighted Asia last century.

“I will start with amending Article 96 of the constitution,” Abe told upper house lawmakers, referring to a clause stipulating that amendments require a two-thirds majority in the Diet.

In the run-up to polls, Abe said he wanted to study the possibility of altering the constitution’s definition of Japan’s armed forces.

The well-funded and well-equipped military—one of the world’s most technologically-advanced—is referred to as the Self-Defense Forces, and barred from taking aggressive action.

Abe said before the election that he would look into making the SDF a full-fledged military, but the suggestion sets alarm bells ringing in Asian countries subject to Japan’s brutal military adventurism of the past.

U.S. occupying forces imposed the constitution on Japan in the aftermath of World War II, but its war-renouncing Article Nine became part of the fabric of national life, engendering a pacifism that remains dear to many Japanese.

Retiree Kazuo Shimamura said Japan’s suffering in WWII, including from two atomic bombs, was reason enough not to change.

“I want the constitution to stay as it is to prevent new wars from happening,” he said.

But critics say a pledge that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained” ties Tokyo’s hands at a time of growing regional unease and amid a sovereignty spat with China.

“Japan’s next generation will have to face all sorts of problems,” 60-year-old Nobuyuki Shimane said. “We have to take our destiny in our hands and change the status of the army to protect our territorial sovereignty.”

Abe told the Diet he wants to set up a Japanese version of Washington’s National Security Council, tasked with the gathering and analysis of information.

“It is unavoidable that we strengthen Japan’s security arrangements to protect our national interest and ensure the safety of our people in the increasingly complex international situation,” he said.

Japan and China have butted diplomatic heads repeatedly over the last half-year over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.

Tokyo views Beijing’s military build up with suspicion and says its vast trading partner should be more transparent about what it spends on its increasingly mighty forces and to what end, something Abe Thursday said was a “common concern” for the entire region.

Since coming to power, Abe, whose father was a World War II cabinet member and later prime minister, has been on a bridge-building mission to South East Asia, looking to shore up alliances with capitals disquieted by Beijing’s rise.

In December, Manila—which has a separate territorial row with Beijing—said it favored a re-armed Japan that could act as a counterbalance to China.

Tetsuro Kato, professor of politics at Waseda University, said any change would represent a significant shift for a generation that embraced post-war democracy, adding it would also prove problematic abroad.

“South Korean newspapers, especially, focused on Abe’s plans for constitutional reform during the election campaign,” he said.

Constitutional amendments in Japan require a two-thirds majority of lawmakers in both houses, and must be ratified by a referendum, where they can pass with a simple majority of those voting.

The LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito have a more-than two-thirds majority in the lower house, but the dovish junior party is wary about amendments.

The less powerful upper house is controlled by no single party, but elections for half of the seats there must be held later this year.

Shoichi Koseki, a constitutional history expert at Dokkyo University, said lowering the bar for amendments could create instability, allowing the constitution to change with every new government.

“Many countries require large majorities for this,” he said, pointing to the tough amendment protocols in the United States as an example.

© 2013 AFP

Are U.S. Defense Experts Getting China Wrong? Yes on Everything

Dec. 1, 2012 – 12:56PM   |

TAIPEI — Are Western experts on China’s military modernization efforts misreading and downplaying the level of ambition, sophistication and just plain guts the Chinese are showing in the country’s quest to be a top arms player?

Time and time again, Western analysts have described China’s fighter development as years behind the U.S. They say China’s new aircraft carrier couldn’t last a minute against a U.S. naval task force. And they say landing a fighter on the aircraft carrier is years away.

Yet over the past two years, two new stealth fighter aircraft have emerged from behind the veil. When photographs appeared, naysayers called them Photoshopped. Then when videos appeared showing them flying, analysts dismissed them as prototypes that will never go into production.

China’s military aviation industry has its weaknesses, especially in engine development, but its learning curve is impressive. Events in November provided numerous examples of how China appears years ahead of schedule, instead of years behind, as so many Western analysts claim.

First, China showed off many of its best military aircraft at the ninth Zhuhai Airshow Nov. 13-18. The only Western analyst willing to push aside his laptop and jump into the fray was Andrew Erickson, a professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College.

What Erickson saw, and his colleagues did not, was a wide range of new weapons: the air-to-ground LD-10A anti-radiation missile; the SD-10A surface-to-air missile; a model of the new Harrier III UAV; the Blue Fox target drone, based on the L-15 fighter jet trainer; the Minshan Engine, set to replace the Ukrainian engine in the L-15; and an upgrade to the Guizhou FTC-2000 (JL-9) fighter, now with more hard points.

The second thing that upset the apple cart for Western analysts was news that China might buy 24 Russian-built Su-35 fighters. Too many analysts predicted Russia had been badly burned by the Su-27/J-11B scandal and would never try another deal with China.

Yet rumors of the deal emerging at the Zhuhai Airshow appear correct. Russia has caved to demands by China to begin with an initial buy of 24 Su-35s, rather than the 48 originally demanded by Moscow.

The problem is the Russians are still terrified the Chinese will simply reverse-engineer the fighter and produce clones, as they did with the Russian Su-27 when they began manufacturing the Shenyang J-11B.

There are also suspicions that the Chinese do not actually want the Su-35, but instead will use the engines for the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter. The Saturn AL-117S engine is outfitted in both the Su-35 fighter and the T-50 stealth fighter prototype. If the Chinese procure one spare for every four engines installed on the 24 Su-35s, alarm bells should begin going off in Moscow, said a U.S. defense industry analyst.

The third thing that caught many Washington analysts off guard was the release of videos showing a Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighter landing and taking off from the new Liaoning aircraft carrier. Previous photographs appearing on the Internet showed black skid marks on the carrier’s flight deck, hinting that the Chinese were preparing the carrier for landings. Naysayers in Washington said the marks were most likely touch-and-go marks by fighters and that landings or take-offs were not possible this early.

They were wrong again.

“If you are talking about ‘is China achieving carrier capabilities like a U.S.-like naval power,’ then the answer is, ‘no, it’s not,’” said Gary Li, an analyst at U.K.-based Exclusive Analysis. “If U.S. analysts are looking at it with their own [past] knowledge of how naval powers develop and the U.S. Navy experience, then no.” But the “Chinese are not playing that game,” Li said.

“The recent air operations by the Chinese aircraft carrier demonstrate that the PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] is developing an operational aircraft carrier capability much faster than many Western observers anticipated,” said Sam Bateman, senior research fellow in the Maritime Security Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Bateman is not surprised.

“I have always believed that given Beijing’s perceptions of a more threatening strategic environment and China’s technological achievements in other areas, the aircraft carrier capability could be developed quite quickly if it were given high priority,” he said.

Li, who grew up in Beijing, said the fact the chief engineer responsible “for the J-15 literally worked himself to death should say something to Western commentators as to the dedication of these people.” For China to achieve so much in the “middle of every arms embargo under the sun and with such a little research and development base to start with is impressive.”

York Chen, a former member of Taiwan’s National Security Council in the Chen Shui-bian administration, said Taiwan’s intelligence assessments in 2006 indicated that China’s aircraft carrier program, along with its efforts to develop the J-15, were impressive. For that reason, “we decided to speed up our supersonic anti-carrier missile program in 2006.” The result was the unveiling of the Hsiung Feng 3 anti-ship cruise missile in 2011.

So what is it about the tendency of Washington analysts to get China’s military modernization effort wrong so many times?

“China is one of these things that can look like different things from different angles. The West loves calling it a dragon while China sees itself as a panda,” Li said. “I would say the key issue is that the West continues to view China and Chinese development from a Western-centric/Westphalian international relations tradition that places China into the ‘realist/revisionist’ camp,” he said. “However, as far as the Chinese are concerned, they are just getting on with national regeneration, with little outside help.”

However, there also is a concern that Beijing is misunderstanding Washington.

“The military dimensions of the U.S. pivot toward Asia, for example, has the undesirable consequence of fueling Chinese perceptions of a deteriorating and more threatening regional strategic environment,” Bateman said.

Bateman’s biggest fear is that a regional arms race will develop as a result of this current process of action and reaction — the classic security dilemma, and an urgent and more focused strategic dialogue is required to prevent this from occurring.



Chinese police plan to board vessels in disputed seas

From Jan 1, Hainan police will seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters. -Reuters

Thu, Nov 29, 2012


CHINA – Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which enter into what China considers its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move which could raise tensions further.

The South China Sea is Asia’s biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty.

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.

“Activities such as entering the island province’s waters without permission, damaging coastal defence facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal,” the English-language newspaper said.

“If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations,” it added.

China’s assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

China occasionally detains fishermen, mostly from Vietnam, who it accuses of operating illegally in Chinese waters, though generally frees them quite quickly.

Hainan, which likes to style itself as China’s answer to Hawaii or Bali with its resorts and beaches, is the province responsible for administering the country’s extensive claims to the myriad islets and atolls in the South China Sea.

The newspaper said that the government will also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas and straddling shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East.

The stakes have risen in the area as the US military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

China has further angered the Philippines and Vietnam by issuing new passports showing a map depicting China’s claims to the disputed waters.

India and China row over new map in passport – Claims part of India plus disputed areas of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan

A fresh row has broken out between India and China over territorial claims in the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin area in eastern Kashmir.

In new passports, China’s maps show the two areas as Chinese territory.

The Indian embassy in Beijing is said to have retaliated by stamping Chinese visas with a map of their own which shows the territories in India.

Several of China’s neighbours have also protested against the new map.

Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan have all objected because it shows disputed islands in the South China Sea and Taiwan to be a part of China.

They have described the new design as a violation of their sovereignty.

Chinese official maps have long shown Taiwan and the South China Sea to be part of its own territory, but the inclusion of such claims on the passport has caused considerable anger.

The potentially oil-rich Paracel Islands, claimed by Vietnam since their troops were forced to leave by China in the 1970s and also claimed by Taiwan, make an appearance on the map, as do the Spratly Islands, part of which are claimed by the Philippines.

The disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, at the centre of recent tension between China and Japan are not included in the new document.

Relations between India and China have been uneasy – the two countries dispute several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962.

Delhi is yet to officially take up the row over the map with Beijing.

(BBC News)

The charmer-in-chief: Obama gets flirty as he schmoozes with Thai prime minister on first stop of historic Asia visit

EEV: Saving this one for the creepy photo’s: Plus a great photoshop  of Obama viting the reclining Buddha.

  • Obama visits Thailand on  first stop of his three-day Southeast Asia tour
  • He was joined by  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Obama will next visit  Myanmar, followed by Cambodia

By Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:18:41 EST, 18  November 2012| UPDATED:19:10 EST, 18 November 2012

President Obama is practicing a new brand of  foreign relations, appearing to flirt with Thailand’s attractive prime minister  on his first stop of his three-day tour of Southeast Asia.

The president and Prime Minister Yingluck  Shinawatra could be seen laughing together and exchanging playful glances  throughout a state dinner at the Government House in Bangkok on Sunday  night.

They were joined by Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton, who toasted to the U.S.-Thailand friendship with  Shinawatra.

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Why hello there: President Obama shakes hands with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as he arrives at the Government House in Bangkok, ThailandWhy hello there: President Obama shakes hands with Thai  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as he arrives at the Government House in  Bangkok, Thailand

Glances: Obama enjoys a joke with Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra during a state dinner in ThailandGlances: Obama enjoys a joke with Thai PM Yingluck  Shinawatra during a state dinner in Thailand

Welcome tour: Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra, right, looks back at President Obama during a press conference in BangkokWelcome tour: Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra, right,  looks back at President Obama during a press conference in Bangkok

Obama will next visit Myanmar – also known as  Burma – followed by Cambodia this week.

He said it is ‘no accident’ that he planned  his first foreign trip to Asia after winning re-election.

Speaking at a news conference on  Sunday in  Bangkok, Obama emphasized that the U.S. is a ‘Pacific nation.’

He said the Asia-Pacific region will be  crucial for creating  jobs in the U.S. and shaping its security and  prosperity.

Obama’s praised Thailand for being a  supporter of democracy in Myanmar, the once-pariah state that is rapidly reforming.

All in the eyes: Prime Minister Shinawatra shoots Obama a seductive glance as the two meet on his arrival in BangkokAll in the eyes: Prime Minister Shinawatra shoots Obama  a seductive glance as the two meet on his arrival in Bangkok

He said he appreciated the Thai prime  minister’s insights  into Myanmar during their meetings on Sunday.

The president’s visit made quite an  impression on Thailand, and adoring  crowds gathered around him and chanted ‘Obama, Obama’ as he visited the  Temple of Reclining Buddha just after arriving  in Bangkok.

The Temple of Reclining Buddha, formally  known as Wat Pho, was the first  stop on President Barack Obama’s Asian tour  that will also take him to  Myanmar and Cambodia.

Observing traditional custom, Obama took off  his shoes as a saffron-robed monk  led him and Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton through the 18th century  temple’s stoned paved compound of  multi-colored spires and chapels with  hundreds of gilded Buddha  images.

But the main attraction is the reclining  Buddha statue that at 150 feet  long, and 50 feet high, stretches half the  length of a football field.

The statue is made of bricks and plaster and  covered in gold leaf with mother-of-pearl inlay decorating the feet.

A smiling Obama waved from the back  seat of  his armored Cadillac, which drove slowly alongside cheering  crowds as he headed  to a royal audience with Thailand’s revered, ailing  monarch, 84-year-old King  Bhumibol Adulyadej.

‘Yes! I saw him! And he was waving at us!’  said 72-year-old American tourist Elizabeth Simon visiting  Thailand with her  74-year-old sister.

Foreign policy: The president and the prime minister could be seen laughing together and exchanging playful glances throughout a state dinner at the Government House in BangkokForeign policy: The president and the prime minister  could be seen laughing together and exchanging playful glances throughout a  state dinner at the Government House in Bangkok

Friendly: Obama and Shinawatra burst into laughter during the press conferenceFriendly: Obama and Shinawatra burst into laughter  during the press conference

Go East: Barack Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Bangkok

They were at the beach in Pattaya two hours  away but rushed to Bangkok just to see him. ‘I’m so thrilled that he won the  election. When we heard he was coming, we decided to get here.’

While in Asia, however, Obama will be dividing his attention by monitoring the escalating conflict between  Israel  and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Obama has been in regular contact  with  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as with Egyptian  and Turkish  leaders who might hold sway with the Hamas leadership.

Obama said that his landmark visit to Myanmar  is an acknowledgement of the democratic transition underway but not an  endorsement of the country’s government.

Obama’s words were aimed at countering  critics who say his trip to the country also known as Burma is premature.

Quick trip: Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrive for a joint news conference during his three-day trip to Asia

Quick trip: Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck  Shinawatra arrive for a joint news conference during his three-day trip to  Asia

Cheers! Clinton and the Thai PM toast at Government House in BangkokCheers! Clinton and the Thai PM toast at Government  House in Bangkok

Spiritual: Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the Viharn of the Reclining Buddha with Chaokun Suthee Thammanuwat
Spiritual: Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  tour the Viharn of the Reclining Buddha with Chaokun Suthee Thammanuwat

While Myanmar has undertaken significant  reforms, hundreds of political prisoners are still detained and ethnic violence  has displaced more than 100,000 people.

The President says his goal in visiting  Myanmar is to highlight the steps the Asian nation still needs to take.

He said he also wants to congratulate the  people of Burma for having ‘opened the door’ to being a country that respects  human rights and political freedom.

Obama landed in Bangkok on Sunday afternoon,  greeted by 40 saluting military guards who flanked both sides of a red  carpet.

Time for reflection: Obama and Clinton admire a shrine during their monastery visitTime for reflection: Obama and Clinton admire a shrine  during their monastery visit

On a steamy day, Obama began with a visit to  the Wat Pho Royal Monastery, a cultural must-see in Bangkok.

In stocking feet, the president and Secretary  of State Hillary Clinton walked around a golden statue of a sitting  Buddha.

The complex is a sprawling display of  buildings with colorful spires, gardens and waterfalls.

Obama joked with a monk at the monastery that  he hoped praying would help his administration reach a deal on the budget.

At his news conference with PM Shinawatra,  Obama said: ‘I always believe in prayer. If a Buddhist monk is wishing me well,  I’m going to take whatever good vibes he can give me to try to deal with some  challenges back home.’

Obama is also visiting Myanmar and Cambodia  in his first trip abroad since winning a second term.

Meeting: Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej talking to Obama along with the Secretary of State Meeting: Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej talking to Obama  along with the Secretary of State

The visit to Thailand, less than 18 hours  long, is a gesture of friendship to a long-standing partner and major non-NATO  ally.

Still, the two countries have faced strains,  most recently after the 2006  military coup that deposed Prime Minister Thaksin  Shinawatra, and  Obama’s visit offers an opportunity to restate and broaden the  relationship.

Obama is also seeking to open new markets for  U.S. businesses; the United States is Thailand’s third biggest trading partner,  behind China and Japan.

Becoming a counterweight to China in the  region is a keystone of Obama’s so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific  region.

Obama’s trip comes on the heels of meetings  in Thailand between Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and his Thai counterparts  on security and military cooperation on issues ranging from fighting weapons  proliferation to disaster relief to countering piracy.

Alluding to the 2006 coup, Obama’s  national  security adviser, Tom Donilon, said in a speech ahead of the  trip last week  that Obama would build on Panetta’s outreach to reinforce the relationship and  ‘support the continued peaceful restoration of  democratic order after a  turbulent period.’

On tour: Obama and Clinton at the Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok On tour: Obama and Clinton at the Wat Pho Royal  Monastery in Bangkok
Ceremony: Obama and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the red carpet at Thai Government House in BangkokCeremony: Obama and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra  on the red carpet at Thai Government House in Bangkok

After his time at the temple, Obama paid a  courtesy call to the ailing, 84-year-old U.S.-born King Bhumibol Adulyadej in  his hospital quarters.

The king, the longest serving living  monarch, was born in Cambridge, Mass., and studied in Europe.

The centerpiece of the Asia trip comes Monday  when Obama travels to Myanmar, the once reclusive and autocratic state that has  begun instituting democratic measures. Obama has eased sanction on the country,  and his visit will be the first there by a sitting U.S. president.

Obama aides see Myanmar as not only a success  story but also as a signal to other countries that the U.S. will reward  democratic behavior.

‘If Burma can continue to succeed in a  democratic transition, then that can potentially send a powerful message  regionally and around the world…that if countries do take the right decisions,  we have to be there with incentives,’ Rhodes said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2234978/President-Barack-Obama-schmoozes-Thai-PM-Yingluck-Shinawatra-stop-historic-Asia-visit.html#ixzz2Cd13bM2z Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

China accepts Japanese runners for Beijing Marathon in about-face

BEIJING (Kyodo) — The organizer of the Nov. 25 Beijing Marathon has started accepting applications from Japanese runners, reversing its initial stance of refusing them, Kyodo News learned Sunday.

The organizer had earlier removed “Japan” from the nationalities on the application form on its official website, probably in the face of a bilateral territorial row over a group of islets, prompting the Japanese Embassy in Beijing to request it to accept Japanese runners.

The two countries have been at odds over the sovereignty of the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

November 11, 2012(Mainichi Japan)



Japanese athletes won’t perform in China: Chinese authorities refused to register them

Nov 10, 2012 20:18 Moscow Time

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© Flickr.com/xioubin low/cc-by-sa 3.0

China has announced that Japanese runners will not take part in the traditional annual marathon in Beijing this year.

About 30,000 Japanese runners have already asked via the Web for participation in the marathon, but the Chinese authorities refused to register them.

The reason is that the relations between China and Japan have worsened because of the aggravation of the two countries’ dispute over a group of islands, which the Japanese call Senkaku, while the Chinese – Diaoyu. Each country claims that the islands should belong to it.

The dispute over the islands has been lasting since the late 19th century, but it aggravated recently after Chinese ships had approached the islands.

Voice of Russia, BBC



Japan urges China to use sea power peacefully: ” Tokyo’s own formidable armed forces are not to be underestimated “

NationalNov. 09, 2012 – 06:50AM JST( 30 )


Japan called on China Thursday to use its sea power peacefully, after President Hu Jintao staked a claim in Beijing for his country to become a maritime force.

Tokyo said its neighbor must act as a “responsible member of the international community”, a challenge it has made to Beijing repeatedly in recent months as tempers have flared over a disputed island chain.

“It is not surprising to hear leaders in (China) speak about their intention to engage in maritime activities,” Naoko Saiki, deputy press secretary at the foreign ministry, told reporters in Tokyo. “But those activities must be carried out in a peaceful manner based on international law.”

The comments come hours after Hu told the five-yearly Communist Party congress that Beijing should “resolutely safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power”.

Saiki said both countries—the two largest economies in Asia with a trade relationship worth well over $300 billion a year—had a duty to preserve the region’s stability and prosperity.

“I think China must be a responsible member of the international community,” she said.

Beijing and Tokyo are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of an uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea.

Chinese government ships have loitered around the Tokyo-administered Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, for weeks, sending diplomatic temperatures soaring and leading to calls from Washington for cool heads.

The islands lie in rich fishing grounds and their possession theoretically grants access to a potential energy reserve in the seabed.

But they also have strategic significance, with some observers suggesting they could provide a beachhead for Chinese projections of military might.

Japan has watched warily over the last decade as China’s military prestige has grown. But commentators say Tokyo’s own formidable armed forces are not to be underestimated despite the nation’s officially pacifist stance.

A defense ministry spokesman said the ministry “has great interest in China’s maritime activities” and pledged “utmost efforts in maintaining safety in our territorial air and waters.”

“The issue of use of the sea in a stable manner is directly linked to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region,” the spokesman said.

“It is important to act on the principle of freedom of navigation, compliance with international laws and peaceful resolution of conflicts.”

The dispute over the Senkakus has rumbled in the background of Tokyo-Beijing relations for decades but came into focus earlier this year when a Japanese nationalist politician announced he wanted to buy them.

Rightwingers on both sides launched landings on the rocky outcrops before Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stepped in to buy part of the chain from their private owner.

Beijing reacted with fury, allowing sometimes violent demonstrations across the country that targeted Japanese business interests and put a dampener on the huge bilateral trade relationship.

Takashi Terada, professor of international politics at Doshisha University in Kyoto, said there was no end in sight to the territorial row.

Terada said Hu, due to be replaced as party chief by Vice President Xi Jinping, was using the congress speech as a call to arms for his successors.

“This is Hu’s message to the next leaders that it is a long-term issue and China should not give up (the islands),” he said.

“Although Xi’s diplomatic policies are still unknown, he is going to take it over. This problem is unlikely to make progress until after a power change occurs in Japan as China is so disappointed with Noda’s decision to nationalise the islands.”


Japan, China engage in war of words at ASEM summit

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012


VIENTIANE — Japan and China engaged in a war of words over the Senkaku Islands dispute Tuesday at the summit of Asian and European leaders, government sources said.

During a session of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Vientiane, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Japan places importance on overcoming any conflicts in a peaceful approach in accordance with international law.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who took over from Premier Wen Jiabao at the meeting, said the outcome of an “anti-Fascist” war should not be denied, a reference to what China says is its legitimate claims to the disputed islands, sources close to the talks said.

Wen had left the meeting on Tuesday morning.

Noda’s remarks were aimed at seeking ASEM countries’ understanding of Japan’s position on the dispute without naming China.

The following are the main points of remarks Tuesday by Japan and China regarding the Senkaku dispute, according to a briefing by a Japanese official.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said:

Japan has consistently and firmly maintained its policy of being a peaceful nation since the end of World War II and made a substantial contribution to peace and prosperity in Asia. This is Japan’s national virtue. Japan is resolved to moving ahead with its friends in the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe, who share the same basic values as our country. The international community still has many problems that pose a threat to regional peace and prosperity. Japan believes it is important to overcome any conflicts or differences in principles and policies in a peaceful approach, abiding by international law.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said:

Representing China, I have clearly said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that the Chinese government’s position on the Diaoyu has been totally and strictly consistent. What I would like to emphasize is that we cannot deny the results of an anti-fascism war and should not deny the order of the postwar era. Many countries have expressed their interest in this issue.

Noda said:

Originally, I didn’t intend to talk about bilateral issues, but I will make our position clear since China commented on this matter. Historically speaking and in line with international law, there is no doubt that the Senkakus are an integral part of our territory and Japan now effectively controls the islands. There is no dispute over the sovereignty of the isles that should be settled. We aim to continue to play a responsible role to maintain peace and prosperity in the international community.

Yang said:

China has controlled the Diaoyu for 600 years since the era of the Ming Dynasty. Japan’s behavior publicly denies the results of an antifascist war and poses serious challenges to postwar international order and principles.