ဒီဇင္ဘာလ (၁၀) ရက္ အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေန႔ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသည္လည္း လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ လက္မွတ္ေရးထိုးထားေသာ အဖြဲ႔၀င္ႏိုင္ငံတခု ျဖစ္သည္။ သို႔ေသာ္လည္း သမၼတဦးသိန္းစိန္ ဦးေဆာင္ေနေသာ စစ္အစိုးရသည္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ားကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ ယေန႔တိုင္ ပ်က္ကြက္ေနဆဲျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုေၾကာင့္ ဂ်ပန္ႏိုင္ငံေရာက္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသားမ်ားသည္လည္း အမိႏိုင္ငံတြင္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ား ဆိပ္သုန္းေနေၾကာင္း ေဖၚျပရန္တာ၀န္ရွိသည့္အားေလွ်ာ္စြာ ဂ်ပန္ေရာက္ ျမန္မာ့ဒီမိုကေရစီအင္အားစုတို႔မွ စုေပါင္းက်င္းပျပဳလုပ္မည့္ ေအာက္ေဖၚျပပါ အခန္းအနားသို႔ တက္ေရာက္ၾကပါရန္ ႏုိးေဆာ္အပ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံမွာ ဥပေဒမဲ့သတ္ျဖတ္မႈေတြ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ခ်ိဳးေဖါက္မႈေတြ အျဖစ္အပ်က္မ်ားစြာ ဆက္လက္ျဖစ္ေပၚေနဆဲ ျဖစ္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းကို shibuya UN ရုံေရွ႕က်င္းပမည့္ လႈပ္ရွားမႈ ပူးေပါင္းပါဝင္ေပးဖို႔ ထပ္မွန္ ဖိတ္ၾကားအပ္ပါသည္။
က်င္းပမည့္ေန႕ ၁၀-၁၂-၂၀၁၄ (ဗုဒၶဟူးေန႕)
က်င္းပမည့္အခ်ိန္ ၃း၀၀ - ၄း၀၀
က်င္းပမည့္ေနရာ Shibuya ( United Nation UN ရုံးေရွ႕ )
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Posted by: Mai Kyaw Oo
Where there's political will, there is a way
Burmese Translation-Phone Hlaing-fwubc
Sunday, December 7, 2014
ဒီဇင္ဘာလ (၁၀) ရက္ အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေန႔ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသည္လည္း လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ လက္မွတ္ေရးထိုးထားေသာ အဖြဲ႔၀င္ႏိုင္ငံတခု ျဖစ္သည္။ သို႔ေသာ္လည္း သမၼတဦးသိန္းစိန္ ဦးေဆာင္ေနေသာ စစ္အစိုးရသည္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ားကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ ယေန႔တိုင္ ပ်က္ကြက္ေနဆဲျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုေၾကာင့္ ဂ်ပန္ႏိုင္ငံေရာက္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသားမ်ားသည္လည္း အမိႏိုင္ငံတြင္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ား ဆိပ္သုန္းေနေၾကာင္း ေဖၚျပရန္တာ၀န္ရွိသည့္အားေလွ်ာ္စြာ ဂ်ပန္ေရာက္ ျမန္မာ့ဒီမိုကေရစီအင္အားစုတို႔မွ စုေပါင္းက်င္းပျပဳလုပ္မည့္ ေအာက္ေဖၚျပပါ အခန္းအနားသို႔ တက္ေရာက္ၾကပါရန္ ႏုိးေဆာ္အပ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံမွာ ဥပေဒမဲ့သတ္ျဖတ္မႈေတြ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ခ်ိဳးေဖါက္မႈေတြ အျဖစ္အပ်က္မ်ားစြာ ဆက္လက္ျဖစ္ေပၚေနဆဲ ျဖစ္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းကို shibuya UN ရုံေရွ႕က်င္းပမည့္ လႈပ္ရွားမႈ ပူးေပါင္းပါဝင္ေပးဖို႔ ထပ္မွန္ ဖိတ္ၾကားအပ္ပါသည္။
က်င္းပမည့္ေန႕ ၁၀-၁၂-၂၀၁၄ (ဗုဒၶဟူးေန႕)
က်င္းပမည့္အခ်ိန္ ၃း၀၀ - ၄း၀၀
က်င္းပမည့္ေနရာ Shibuya ( United Nation UN ရုံးေရွ႕ )
Sent from my iPhone
Posted by: Mai Kyaw Oo
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Mong La has become a hub for gambling, prostitution and illegal animal products like ivory and tiger skull. Features Myanmar's wildlife trafficking hotspot Mong La has become a hub for gambling, prostitution and illegal animal products like ivory and tiger skull. Sebastian Strangio Last updated: 17 Jun 2014 11:01 Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker Email Article Print Article Share article Send Feedback Mong La, Myanmar - In the middle of Zhangji Restaurant stood the venue's main attraction: a long glass aquarium filled with Chinese rice wine and ginseng root. There, eerily submerged in the brown liquid, was the skeleton of a tiger, its skull and backbone visible above the alcohol. A small faucet was attached to the side of the tank, where waitresses poured out glasses for tables of Chinese tourists. The skin of another tiger was pinned to the wall above. Tiger bone wine - or hugujiu, in Mandarin - has long been prized by wealthy Chinese, who believe it can stave off chills and improve circulation. Though the tonic has been banned for years in China, it is a common sight across the border in this small town in Myanmar. Venues on the town's main dining strip all have tanks of tiger spirit, available for the knock-down price of 60 Chinese yuan ($10) per glass. Many restaurants here also specialise in endangered animals. On the pavement outside the Zhangji Restaurant were cages filled with owls, geckos, monkeys, and monitor lizards. Plastic tubs held soft-shell turtles. Another restaurant down the street boasted live pangolins, an endangered species of scaly anteater whose consumption is banned under international wildlife treaties. "It's delicious," a waitress said, pointing her pen at the curled, scaly creatures. A major wildlife market Welcome to Mong La, the de facto capital of "Special Region No 4", a sliver of territory along the Chinese border in Myanmar's eastern Shan State. In recent years, spurred by lax law enforcement and booming demand from China, this shabby border town has grown to become a key hub of the Asian trade in endangered animals and animal products. The turnover of many products seems to be high ... Given the small size of the town, this is remarkable. - Vincent Nijman, zoologist and anthropologist "In terms of number and volume of the variety of species on offer, Mong La is one of Southeast Asia's largest open wildlife markets," said Vincent Nijman, a zoologist and anthropologist from Oxford Brookes University in the UK. For the past two decades, the armed militia that controls this tiny enclave, population 89,000, has survived by turning it into a haven of illicit pleasures for border-hopping Chinese tourists. Glitzy casinos draw hundreds of Chinese each week from nearby Yunnan province, where gambling is banned. The influx of gamblers has in turn triggered a boom in prostitution - much of the central town seems to function as a red-light district - and a surging demand for rare animals, many of which are protected by international treaties like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Evidence of the wildlife trade can be seen everywhere around town. At Mong La's open-air market, vendors openly sell bear bile powder, pangolin scales and the skulls of Tibetan antelopes. More upmarket wildlife stores do a brisk trade in ivory and tiger skins, which experts have traced back to poachers as far away as Africa and India. During a trip to Mong La in January this year, Nijman and a colleague from the anti-wildlife trafficking organisation TRAFFIC counted 50 raw elephant tusks and 3,300 pieces of ivory for sale around town. "The turnover of many products seems to be high and there is no other indication other than that business is thriving," Nijman said. "Given the small size of the town, this is remarkable." At one wildlife boutique, a Chinese shop owner showed off a piece of polished ivory with a price tag of 5,000 yuan ($805). When asked where it came from, he chuckled nervously. "Where has it come from? I don't know about that." A 'James Bondian private police force' Mong La has enjoyed autonomous status since 1989, when the Communist Party of Burma collapsed after decades of insurgency. The Mong La area subsequently fell under the control of the National Democratic Alliance Army, or NDAA, led by the former Maoist Red Guard Sai Leun. Like many armed rebel groups, Leun then cut a ceasefire deal with Myanmar's military government, giving him autonomy in exchange for ending the insurgency. Since then, Leun has ruled Mong La and its gambling settlement by fiat, protected by an army of 4,500 men that US officials have likened to a "James Bondian private police force". There's an enormous demand in China for these products. There's not a lot being talked about and done about it, but it's serious money. - Tom Kramer, Transnational Institute researcher Tom Kramer, a Yangon-based researcher with the Transnational Institute, said the Myanmar government lets ceasefire groups like the NDAA do more or less whatever they want, "as long as they don't go into opposition politics". Given the rising Chinese demand, the peculiar political arrangements in Mong La have created the perfect spot for wildlife traders. "There's an enormous demand in China for these products," he said. "There's not a lot being talked about and done about it, but it's serious money." For its own part, the NDAA denies it has turned a blind eye to the illegal animal trade. One senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the police frequently raided wildlife shops and confiscated contraband. "We will crack down on it," the official said, though he admitted it was challenging. "Most of the high-end restaurants have wild animals, because when the rich people come they say, 'I want to eat this one, I want to eat that one'. They don't want to eat livestock raised in the farm, because of antibiotics or something." But Nijman remained unconvinced that there has been any real attempt to stem the sale of products like ivory and tiger bones - trade that appeared to have official backing. Like prostitution, the availability of banned animal products seemed to be an integral part of Mong La's casino-based economy. "You go out gambling, in the evening you get yourself a prostitute, and then you eat the stuff you can't eat at home," he said. "It's the whole package that makes it attractive." While China has made some recent moves to crack down on the wildlife trade, banning rare animals from official banquets and passing tough new laws against the consumption of tiger bone wine and endangered creatures like pangolins, it, too, turns a blind eye to the Chinese tourists who cross into Mong La - often illegally - to buy wild animal products. "Right near the border there are small trails. People simply walk across the border, without any documents," said Wang Bangyuan, a public health specialist who has worked extensively in the China-Myanmar border region. 'It's a battle that they cannot really win' Wang said that despite occasional large busts, the forestry police who enforce China's wildlife protection laws also remain under-funded and ill-equipped. "It's like drug trafficking," he said. "It's illegal, it's being enforced, but the police are understaffed and they're fighting against a business which is quite lucrative. So it's a battle that they cannot really win." China has taken a harder line with the NDAA in the past. In 2003, after becoming angry that corrupt officials were losing billions of yuan in Mong La's casinos, Chinese forces stormed across the border and shut the operations down. The NDAA responded by shifting the gambling operations 16km to the south, but the shells of derelict casinos still dot the hills around town - a reminder of the region's heavy reliance on China. A similar crackdown took place in 2011 in Boten, a casino town on the Laotian-Chinese border, which became a ghost-town overnight after China shut off access to Chinese electricity and cellphone networks. For now, however, local authorities in Yunnan seem happy to tolerate the economic free-for-all in Mong La. Nijman said that without action on their part, it would be hard to stem the flow of ivory and other endangered animal products. But, "if the gambling were to stop there", he said, "the whole thing would collapse". Follow Sebastian Strangio on Twitter: @sstrangio Source: Al Jazeera
By Associated Press June 17 at 11:33 AM WASHINGTON — The United States says Myanmar should reform its constitution to allow its citizens a free choice over who should be its next president, but Myanmar’s government said Tuesday that’s none of Washington’s business. A Myanmar parliamentary committee last week voted against changing a constitutional clause that bars opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president. National elections are due in 2015. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that enabling the Myanmar people to freely choose who they want to lead them in the next phase of its democratic transition will help to ensure stability. “We believe constitutional reform should pave the way for the Burmese to freely choose their president in a free and fair 2015 election,” Psaki said in a written response to a question posed at a news briefing Monday. Reform should also address ethnic minority rights and decrease the role of active-duty military in political structures, she said. In response, Myanmar presidential spokesman Ye Htut said Tuesday it’s the responsibility of Myanmar’s parliament and people to decide how the constitution should be amended. “It is not the concern of the United States. It is inappropriate for us to tell how the U.S. should amend their constitution and likewise the U.S should not dictate how it should be amended,” he told The Associated Press by email. That testy response reflects signs of fraying in U.S.-Myanmar relationship. Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been a staunch supporter of President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government as he steers the Southeast Asian nation from decades of oppressive military rule. The U.S. has restored full diplomatic relations and rolled back sanctions, helping Myanmar to shake off its pariah status. But the U.S. has also been critical of the government’s response to bouts of anti-Muslim violence in the predominantly Buddhist nation. Last week the State Department voiced serious concerns about proposals to criminalize interfaith marriage. The current constitution gives the military an effective veto over constitutional amendments, and includes a clause that bars anyone whose spouse or children are loyal to foreign countries from becoming president or vice president. Suu Kyi’s late husband and her two sons are British citizens. If the parliamentary committee’s recommendation is endorsed by the full parliament, it is likely to have a significant impact on the 2015 election. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party is expected to mount a strong challenge, with a good possibility of winning, but without Suu Kyi as a prospective president, its backers may flag in their support. Suu Kyi is widely respected in Washington because of her long and peaceful struggle against military rule. She spent years under house arrest before her release in 2010 and election to parliament in 2012. ____ Aye Aye Win reported from Yangon, Myanmar. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Parboiled rice has more fiber than regular white rice. Parboiled rice might sound like it's precooked, but it's not. Instead, it's processed quite differently from other types of rice. The resulting grain is cooked and served just as you would white or brown rice. However, because of the special processing, parboiled rice is a better source of fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin B-6 than regular white rice. Sponsored Link ミャンマーのドメイン取得代行 ミャンマー進出時のお問合せ・WEB制作 現地サーバまで一貫してお任せ下さい。 mm-domain.com/ドメイン取得 BasicsAfter rice is harvested, its inedible hull is removed to produce brown rice. If rice is put through a second step of processing to remove the bran, it becomes white rice. Unlike brown and white rice, the process for parboiled rice begins before the hull is removed. The complete grain of rice is soaked, steamed and dried, then the hull is removed to make parboiled rice. The steaming enables the rice to absorb nutrients and changes the starch so that it cooks into a firmer, less sticky dish of rice than regular white rice. The steaming does not precook the rice, so it still takes about 20 minutes to prepare. CarbohydratesOne cup of cooked parboiled rice provides 41 grams of total carbohydrates, or about one-third of the recommended daily intake of 130 grams. The same portion has 1.4 grams of fiber, which supplies 4 percent of men’s and 6 percent of women’s daily fiber. Parboiled rice has double the fiber than you'd get from cooked white rice. It has a low glycemic score of 38, compared with a high 89 for white rice, notes Harvard Health Publications. A low glycemic score indicates that the carbohydrates in parboiled rice do not cause a large spike in blood sugar. B VitaminsParboiled rice is especially rich in niacin, providing 4 milligrams, or 23 percent of the recommended daily intake in 1 cup of cooked rice. You’ll also get 19 percent of the daily intake of vitamin B-6. These values are about double the amount you would get from non-enriched white rice. Your body needs B vitamins to metabolize food into energy, but they also fill other roles, such as helping make hormones and neurotransmitters. Vitamin B-6 removes the amino acid homocysteine from your bloodstream by turning it into other substances. This might help keep your heart healthy; high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. MineralsOne cup of cooked parboiled rice supplies 2 to 3 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. You'll get a slightly bigger boost of zinc, with 1 cup containing 0.58 milligrams of zinc. That amount represents 5 percent of men’s and 7 percent of women’s daily needs. Zinc performs vital roles throughout your body, from forming the structure of proteins to regulating DNA. If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system becomes impaired; it needs zinc to produce the cells that fight bacteria and infections.
(dailyrx Feature) Memory problems may be one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease, but it's not the first sign for everyone. There are several other clues that Alzheimer's disease may be developing. Video Feature: Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common causes of dementia, which is a decline in thinking, remembering, reasoning and behavioral abilities to such a degree that it interferes with daily life and activities. Most people with Alzheimer's disease are 65 and older, but Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging. The Basics of Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease that gets worse with time. The disease is characterized by plaques and tangles throughout the brain. Plaques are deposits of a protein called beta-amyloid, and tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau. As the number of plaques and tangles increase, more brain cells are damaged and the disease gets worse. Presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. People older than 80 with Alzheimer's disease may die within three or four years of diagnosis, but people diagnosed at a younger age may live 10 years or more after diagnosis. Take note and tell your doctor if you notice any of the following early signs of Alzheimer's disease. Memory Loss Forgetfulness and memory loss are common signs of Alzheimer's disease. These symptoms are more common in those with early stage Alzheimer's. People will Alzheimer's disease might forget names or dates or that certain conversations and events have occurred. Related: Not All Alzheimer's Patients Have Memory Loss Losing Things Consistently losing items may be another symptom of Alzheimer's. People with Alzheimer's disease may misplace items and become unable to retrace their steps to find those lost items. Difficulty with Familiar Tasks People with Alzheimer's disease may find it difficult to manage familiar tasks, such as handling money and their budget. At first, people might just take longer to complete these tasks. Eventually, they may find it hard to complete the task. Difficulty Making Decisions Changes in a person's judgment or decision-making abilities are other potential early signs of Alzheimer's disease. A person with Alzheimer's may make bad financial decisions or other unwise decisions. Alzheimer's patients may pay less attention to personal grooming and hygiene. Related: How Stress Saps Your Health Losing Track Trouble keeping track of times and dates is another early sign of Alzheimer's disease. Following familiar recipes and other familiar activities may also become more difficult for these patients. Planning and Problem-Solving Issues Some Alzheimer's disease patients become unable to develop a plan and follow it through. They may be unable to take a problem and formulate an approach to solve it. Related to the problem-solving difficulties, people with Alzheimer's also may have trouble working with numbers. Vision and Space Problems Alzheimer's patients can become confused when reading, determining distances or identifying a particular color. Problems judging distance and telling colors can lead to driving problems among Alzheimer's patients. Communication Troubles Alzheimer's disease may affect a person's ability to follow along in a conversation. People affected by this Alzheimer's symptom may stop in the middle of speaking or repeat themselves to remember what the conversation was about. Related: The Role of Gender in Mental Health Personality Changes Another possible sign of early Alzheimer's is a change in a person's personality or mood. People affected by early Alzheimer's may become confused, suspicious, depressed or fearful. They also may feel anxious or aggressive. Isolation Withdrawing from social interactions and situations may be another early sign of Alzheimer's disease. Some patients may stray from social activities like sports, hobbies, work projects, get-togethers or casual interactions with other people. What to Do if You Notice Alzheimer's Symptoms Speak with your doctor if you show any signs of early Alzheimer's disease. Your doctor will help distinguish issues related to aging from those that may be related to Alzheimer's. Jim McAleer, MPA, President and CEO of the Orange County Alzheimer's Association, told dailyRx News, "If you forgot your car keys every day at 20 and do so at 60, you're just forgetful. If you see a change in your memory or memory patterns, that's key and worth getting checked out." McAleer added, "It's vitally important to get good help if you experience memory issues. Would you go to your [general practitioner] for a heart issue? No! You'd find a cardiologist." He noted that it's important to get care from someone who specializes in Alzheimer's disease when you experience memory problems that need to be evaluated. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are some treatments that may help maintain memory, thinking, speaking and some behavioral problems for a period of time. Donepezil (brand name Aricept), rivastigmine (brand name Exelon) and galantamine (brand name Razadyne) are used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Memantine (brand name Namenda) is used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. Donepezil can be also be used for severe Alzheimer's. Related: Health Risks Seniors Should Be Aware Of
June 4, 2014 9:44am 1028 35 1 1294 (Updated 5:37 p.m.) A United Nations-backed international arbitral tribunal has ordered China to respond to the Philippines' claim that Beijing illegally occupied certain areas in the South China Sea. The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration issued its second Procedural Order after the second meeting of the Arbitral Tribunal's members last May 14 and 15. However, in an statement later Wednesday, China reiterated its refusal to take part in the arbitration proceedings and rejected the ruling. ‘Open and friendly resolution mechanism’ In a memorial submitted to the tribunal on March 30, 2014, the Philippines argued that China illegally occupied at least eight South China Sea shoals, reefs and similar features belonging to the Philippines. It also said China's claims that it owns the disputed territory did not conform with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Beijing has continuously ignored the arbitration process, even saying in its May 21, 2014 note verbale that it will not participate in the proceedings. Earlier Wednesday, the Philippines asked China to reconsider its rejection of the legal challenge to its territorial claims and join the arbitration case. "We wish to reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, open and friendly resolution mechanism that offers a durable solution to the disputes in the South China Sea," Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose told a press briefing. "We continue to urge China to reconsider its decision not to participate in the arbitration proceedings." At a press conference, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they leave it to China whether or not it will comply with the order. "This is a process that all parties are abiding by. So, whether China responds or not... we leave it with them," he said. And while the country is waiting for the decision of the tribunal, the Palace official assured the public that authorities are securing the country's territories. "I think that’s where we have made measures both by the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) and also by our coast watch to strengthen and to ensure our maritime resources," he said. Until December 15, 2014 The arbitral tribunal in its Procedural Order No. 2 has given China until December 15, 2014 to submit a counter memorial to the Philippine complaint that seeks to denigrate Beijing's massive claim, which Manila calls illegal and excessive. Chairing the five-member Arbitral Tribunal is Judge Thomas Mensah of Ghana. The other members include: - Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France - Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland - Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands - Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany Last May 21, the Permanent Court of Arbitration received a note verbale from China where Beijing reiterated it "does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines.” China added the note verbale “shall not be regarded as China’s acceptance of, or participation in the proceedings.” On the other hand, the tribunal said it allowed both sides a chance to comment on scheduling, with the Philippines submitting its comments last May 29. The arbitration procedure started on Jan. 22, 2013, when the Philippines served China a notification and statement of claim. China rejected the Philippines' notification. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the memorial submitted March 30, 2014 to the Permanent Court of Arbitration “contains the Philippine analysis of the applicable law and the relevant evidence, and demonstrates that the tribunal has jurisdiction over all the claims made by the Philippines.” Representing the Philippines are: - Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza - counsels Paul Reichler and Lawrence Martin, Foley Hoag LLP, Washington DC - Professor Bernard Oxman, University of Miami School of Law, Miami - Professor Philippe Sands, London - Professor Alan Boyle, Essex Court Chambers, London Meanwhile, China has not appointed an agent as it does not accept the arbitration process. Tensions in Ayungin Shoal included Earlier, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the incidents in Ayungin Shoal were included in the Philippine case. “The Philippines amended its statement of claim including Ayungin as part of the arbitration,” he said. Tensions over Ayungin Shoal (also called Ren’ai Reef by China but internationally known as Second Thomas Shoal) intensified on March 9 when Chinese coast guard ships blocked two Philippine civilian vessels which were sailing toward the disputed rocky outcrop. Also in March, Military officials reported an incident of harassment as they launched another attempt to transport supplies and fresh Filipino troops to a grounded Philippine Navy ship manned by more than a dozen Marines and sailors, which has become a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the offshore territory. Pressure from China Under the arbitration procedure, the filing of a counter-memorial should be made by China. Upon submission, the tribunal will decide on the next steps and advise the parties involved in the case on its next course of action. Since the Philippines filed the case in January 2013, Beijing has attempted to pressure Manila into withdrawing from the legal process. China has also put diplomatic pressure on other claimant states not to support the Philippines. China maintains "historical and indisputable claim" nearly over the entire sea and its features, even as it overlaps with the territorial jurisdiction of its neighbors like the Philippines. West Philippine Sea Manila adopted the name West Philippine Sea for parts of the waters that are within its territorial boundaries. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are also claimants to the South China Sea – a major trading route where undersea oil and gas deposits have been discovered. An expert said Manila’s filing of the memorial would step up pressure on China in defending its nine-dash line claim – a tongue-shaped encirclement that covers a huge swath of the South China Sea. “It will add moral pressure on China to make its claims to ‘historic rights’ and ‘indisputable sovereignty’ clearer in terms of international law,” Professor Carl Thayer of the Australian Defense Force Academy told GMA News Online. The arbitral process could take up to a year or longer and during this period, China is expected to further reinforce its claims, said Thayer. On the other hand, the United States, European Union and many Asian governments have supported the Philippines' decision to seek a solution to the dispute through peaceful means "in accordance with international law" instead of military aggression. A decision in favor of the Philippines would strengthen the rule of international law, Thayer said. “Using international law may be the ‘weapon of the weak’ but the valiant attempt by the Philippines to employ legal means to create a stable regional order will be viewed positively by most regional states, including those in the Association of South East Asian Nations,” Thayer said. UNCLOS has no provisions for enforcement, but a favorable ruling will be seen as a moral victory for the Philippines. — Joel Locsin, Michaela del Callar and Kimberly Jane Tan, with a report from Reuters/LBG/KG/BM, GMA News
FILE - In this May 9, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin heads to speak at a navy parade marking Victory Day in Sevastopol, Crimea. Angry with the West’s response over Ukraine, Russia is moving rapidly to bolster ties with North Korea in a diplomatic nose-thumbing that could complicate the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons program. Russia’s proactive strategy in Asia- which also involves cozying up to China and had been dubbed “Putin’s Pivot” - began years ago as Moscow’s answer to Washington’s much touted rebalancing of its military forces in the Pacific. (Ivan Sekretarev, File/Associated Press) By Associated Press June 4 at 10:32 AM TOKYO — Angry with the West’s response over Ukraine and eager to diversify its options, Russia is moving rapidly to bolster ties with North Korea in a diplomatic nose-thumbing that could complicate the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons program. Russia’s proactive strategy in Asia, which also involves cozying up to China and has been dubbed “Putin’s Pivot,” began years ago as Moscow’s answer to Washington’s much-touted alliance-building and rebalancing of its military forces in the Pacific. But it has gained a new sense of urgency since the unrest in Ukraine — and Pyongyang is already getting a big windfall with high-level political exchanges and promises from Russia of trade and development projects. Moscow’s overtures to North Korea reflect both a defensive distancing from the EU and Washington because of their sanctions over Ukraine and a broader, long-term effort by Russia to strengthen its hand in Asia by building political alliances, expanding energy exports and developing Russian regions in Siberia and the Far East. For North Korea, the timing couldn’t be better. Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the largesse it banked on as a member of the communist bloc, the North has been struggling to keep its economy afloat and has depended heavily on trade and assistance from ally China. Sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs have further isolated the country, and Pyongyang has long feared it could become too beholden to Beijing. Better ties with Russia could provide a much needed economic boost, a counterbalance against Chinese influence and a potentially useful wedge against the West in international forums — and particularly in the U.S.-led effort to isolate Pyongyang over its development of nuclear weapons. “By strengthening its relationship with North Korea, Russia is trying to enhance its bargaining position vis-à-vis the United States and Japan,” said Narushige Michishita, a North Korea and Asia security expert at Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. Michishita added that showing Washington he will not be cowed by the sanctions was “one of the most important factors” why Putin is wooing Pyongyang now. Moscow remains wary of having a nuclear-armed North Korea on its border. But over the past few months it has courted the North with various economic projects, political exchanges and a vote in the Duma, the top Russian legislative body, to write off nearly $10 billion in debt held over from the Soviet era. It has pledged to reinvest $1 billion that Pyongyang still owes into a trans-Siberian railway through North Korea to South Korea — a project that is still in the very early stages. That, together with a pipeline, would allow Russia to export gas and electricity to South Korea. Michishita noted that the same day the United Nations’ General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia and North Korea were busy signing an economic trade cooperation pact. The warming began around July last year, but it has accelerated as Moscow’s antagonism with the West has grown. Moscow sent a relatively low-ranking representative to the 60th anniversary of the end of fighting in the Korean War that month. But since then, it has hosted North Korea’s head of state at the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi and, in March, sent its minister in charge of Far East development to Pyongyang. A three-day visit in April by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev, who is also the presidential envoy for Russia’s far eastern federal district, marked the “culmination of a new phase in Russian-North Korean relations taking shape — a sort of renaissance if you will,” Alexander Vorontsov, a North Korea expert at the Russia Academy of Sciences, wrote recently on the influential 38 North blog. “It is still an open question whether the current crisis in Ukraine will result in any more substantial shifts in Russian policy toward North Korea, particularly in dealing with the nuclear and missile issues,” Vorontsov said in his blog post. “With the West increasing pressure on Russia as a result of differences over Ukraine, the very fact that Moscow and Pyongyang are subject to U.S. sanctions will objectively draw them together, as well as with China.” Since 2003, a series of multilateral talks have been one of the primary means of pressuring North Korea to denuclearize and to coordinate policy between the six main countries involved — China, Russia, the United States, Japan and North and South Korea. Though still seen as one of the best tools the international community has to pressure Pyongyang on the nuclear issue, the talks were fraught from the start because of the North’s unwillingness to back down and the lack of a unified stance among the five other nations. With North Korea showing no signs of giving up its nuclear option, some analysts believe a widening rift between Russia and the U.S. could weaken future six-party talks. “North Korea’s motivations and actions are driven by the leadership’s perceptions, world view, and ideology,” said Seoul-based analyst Daniel Pinkston, of the International Crisis Group. “That remains the same. As long as the leadership is wedded to son’gun (Military First) ideology, they will not denuclearize before the rest of the world does. And that’s exactly what their government and media say repeatedly.” Michishita, the Japanese security expert, said the Moscow-Pyongyang thaw could just muddy the waters. “North Korea will not denuclearize anyway,” he said. “A better relationship with Russia might be a positive factor for North Korea in coming back to the six-party talks. But North Korea will certainly try to use it to enhance its position vis-à-vis not only the United States and Japan, but also China.” ___ Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/EricTalmadge. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
i i hide captionAt the center of Yangon, the city's colonial heritage, Buddhist faith and emerging modern face are visible in a single block. Frank Langfitt/NPR At the center of Yangon, the city's colonial heritage, Buddhist faith and emerging modern face are visible in a single block. Frank Langfitt/NPR Decades of socialism and military rule kept Myanmar — or Burma, as it was known — poor and isolated. There was one upside, though. The economy was so lousy, there was no drive to demolish the big British colonial buildings in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, and replace them with the glass and steel towers that now define much of the skylines in East Asia. Today, downtown Yangon looks refreshingly different from practically every other sizable city in Southeast Asia. It's a colonial time capsule with block after block of old buildings featuring columns, domes, balconies, art deco trim, even a clock tower. hide captionTint Lwin teaches English in Yangon's colonial urban core. He worries that the building where he works, which dates to 1906, could fall apart if it isn't repaired in the next few years. Frank Langfitt/NPR Myanmar has opened up its political system, improved its relationship with the West and ushered in a real estate boom in the past several years. That's mostly good news for Yangon, but not for its remarkable architectural heritage, which has come into the cross hairs of developers trying to cash in on rising land prices. "These buildings are priceless," says Tint Lwin, who has taught English in a colonial-era building along the city's Pansodan Street for more than three decades. The building, constructed by a Baghdadi Jewish trader around 1906, has ocher-colored walls and Corinthian columns. Tint Lwin loves the atmosphere of the neighborhood, but worries it won't last. A modern mid-rise is going up across the road. The walls in his building are pitted with black mold, and rain has saturated some ceilings, leaving gaping holes. "I feel very unhappy because of the negligence," says Tint Lwin, who, like most Burmese men, wears a longyi, a traditional wraparound skirt. He says if the building's roof isn't fixed properly, "the rain will leak and destroy the whole structure." The British, who ruled Burma for decades, constructed most of these buildings in their own image. But Tint Lwin doesn't see them as symbols of oppression; he sees them as part of Myanmar's heritage. "You can't be xenophobic," he says, echoing the pragmatism of many here. "These are our assets. This British architecture is a unique one. Almost all in Myanmar like these buildings." hide captionYangon's Queen Anne-style High Court was partly abandoned when the government of Myanmar moved the capital to Naypyidaw in 2005. Frank Langfitt/NPR That includes Maung Nyan, a 19-year-old punk rocker, who lives on the building's fourth floor. He's sitting on the floor of his apartment, wearing a black My Chemical Romance T-shirt and playing the Ramones' "I Want to Be Sedated" on an electric guitar. Maung Nyan is rebellious by Burmese standards, but when it comes to construction, he's a traditionalist. "Because of the valuable architecture, I prefer this kind of old building to new buildings," says Maung Nyan, whose apartment is really a cagelike, cavernous stall with a wire-mesh door. "I'm also proud to live here. If it's possible, I'd like to stay here until I die." hide captionOtherwise rebellious, punk rocker Maung Nyan really appreciates the colonial building where he lives and doesn't want to leave. Frank Langfitt/NPR Yangon is a rarity in a part of the world where breakneck growth has transformed skylines within a generation. Earlier economic booms led to the destruction of most colonial-era buildings in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore in favor of modern office and apartment towers. In Hong Kong, for instance, a forest of glass and steel has risen around the old domed Legislative Council building, such that the one-time colonial icon is now hard to spot. "Yangon has captured a sense of time that has been lost in Singapore and Hong Kong," says Ian Morley, an assistant professor in the history department at Chinese University of Hong Kong. "You have this downtown environment, which is relatively intact. It's got a sense of historical integrity as it was built from the late 1800s and early 1900s." But there is no guarantee it will last. In recent years, soaring real estate prices have also driven the destruction of scores of old buildings in Yangon. That's why historian and best-selling author Thant Myint-U founded the Yangon Heritage Trust in 2012 with other preservationists. "The reason I got involved in this issue is because I saw some of these buildings were being knocked down for really no reason," says Thant Myint-U. "A developer, who could easily have built something a few blocks down, decided to knock down an old building because there was no sense of the value of these buildings." The Yangon Trust is working with the government to develop a zoning plan — the city didn't have one — and designate more buildings for protection. But preservation costs a lot of money. So, Thant Myint-U says, the city needs to tap private investment and turn old buildings into moneymakers such as hotels, museums and restaurants. hide captionYangon's colonial heart has a vibrant street life – unlike some of the tourist districts in other East Asian countries. Frank Langfitt/NPR That's what the owners of Gekko are doing. The Japanese restaurant opened in March in the same building where Maung Nyan, the punk rocker, lives. After decades of neglect, the restaurant's renovation required a lot of work. When, for the first time, co-owner Nico Elliott opened the back door onto an interior courtyard, the scene was disgusting. "We were up to about there, a meter and a half high, in sewage," says Elliott, pointing to a spot partway up a wall. There was also, he says, "a large colony of rats running around." hide captionNico Elliott opened Gekko, a Japanese restaurant, in this renovated space in a century-old building. The renovation cost more than $300,000, but Elliott says investors can turn a profit if they're willing to spend upfront. Frank Langfitt/NPR Elliott and his partners sunk more than $300,000 into the place. He says the government approval was time-consuming and focused on fees. "They weren't really interested in what we were doing," says Elliott, 34, who is from the United Kingdom. "It seemed they were more interested in how much cash was coming their way." The result, though, resembles an upper-end restaurant you'd find in London or New York, with exposed brick and preserved colonial touches, such as the century-old exposed I-beams from Scotland. Both labor costs and rent in these dilapidated buildings are low. So, Elliott says, a well-run business can make a profit margin of more than 30 percent, which would be considered terrific anywhere. "I hope these kinds of projects are the beginning of more people coming in and realizing that spending a little bit more than you'd spend on a new build is worthwhile to actually preserve something and sustain this place and these buildings," he says. Yangon city officials insist they support preservation, but say working with public opinion is tricky. Some people in Yangon have opposed renovation projects on historical grounds, including hundreds of lawyers who staged a protest in 2012 to oppose turning an abandoned courthouse into a luxury hotel. Others instinctively distrust any deal between the government and private business because of a long history of corruption and cronyism. And some residents actually want their buildings knocked down so they can get new, modern apartments. hide captionSome government buildings are falling apart inside. Frank Langfitt/NPR "We have to take time to change their minds on this, and we have to take time to preserve," says Toe Aung, who runs the city's new urban planning division. "But we can't take much time, because these [buildings] will be ruined in a short period." Thant Myint-U of the Yangon Heritage Trust says the city has to enact zoning and conservation laws this year to protect buildings — even in the face of developer opposition. "The next few months, the next year, is going to be absolutely critical, not just to what Yangon is going to look like over the next several years," he says, "but to what Yangon is going to look like over the rest of the 21st century."
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
RANGOON — Three residents from the Thilawa Special Economic Zone near Rangoon have filed a formal complaint to Tokyo about the negative effects of Japanese investment in the area. It is the first formal complaint filed under the objection procedures of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since the restructuring of Japan’s international aid body in 2008, according to NGOs Thilawa Social Development Group and Mekong Watch. An objection letter has been received by JICA examiner Dr. Sachihiko Harashina in person, the NGOs said in a statement on Monday. “The objection outlines damages that the villagers from the 400 ha. area of Phase 1 of the project have incurred in their relocation from their homes and land,” the NGOs said in the statement. These damages included “loss of farmland and access to farmland, loss of livelihood opportunities, impoverishment, loss of educational opportunities for the villagers’ children, substandard housing and basic infrastructure in the Myaing Tha Yar resettlement site and loss of access to clean water.” The statement warned that residents from another 2,000 hectare area that will be used in a later phase of the project would likely face similar problems. “The government and authorities are not listening to us villagers,” said Mya Hlaing, one of the three residents who filed the complaint, according to the statement. “We have tried to tell JICA how things really are in Thilawa by repeatedly submitting letters to JICA requesting appropriate resettlement and compensation measures, as required by their guidelines and international standards. JICA has not listened to our voices.” Minari Tsuchikawa, from Mekong Watch, a Japanese NGO that monitors Japan-related projects in Mekong Region, was quoted as saying, “Even while the examiners carry out their investigation, the Japanese government and JICA must take steps to ensure that there is no further deterioration in the standard of living of the affected people, and urgent measures are needed to understand and address the villagers’ living conditions and concerns.” She added, “How JICA handles this case will be a litmus test for other projects in [Burma].” JICA has a 10 percent stake in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, while three Japanese companies hold 39 percent stake. The Burmese government and a joint venture of nine Burmese companies have invested the remaining 10 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday Japan and Russia could reach a compromise over a territorial dispute involving Russian-administered islands off Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido if they follow the spirit of "hikiwake," a judo term for a draw. Putin said he was surprised that Japan has imposed sanctions, together with the United States and the European Union, on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, southern Ukraine, indicating his dissatisfaction with Japan's move. While Japan has suspended the negotiations process over a territorial dispute involving the islands, Russia stands ready to resume the talks, Putin said during a meeting in St. Petersburg with representatives of news agencies from major economies, including Japan's Kyodo News. While Putin has shown a willingness to visit Japan as early as fall at the invitation of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the plan may be affected by strains over Crimea. The disputed islands -- Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group -- were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan's surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945, and the territorial row has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty. Putin said the sovereignty of Shikotan and the Habomai islet group is on the agenda of the bilateral talks as the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration does not address the issue. The disputed islands are known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. ==Kyodo Copyright 2014 Kyodo News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Russia’s landmark deal to supply China with natural gas via pipeline over 30 years will have profound impacts globally and create a new price benchmark that may pressure other producers, as consumers choose from a variety of supply sources, according to analysts. OAO Gazprom on Wednesday clinched a contract with China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) to sell an estimated $400 billion worth of gas over 30 years beginning in 2018 (see Daily GPI, May 21). By the end of this decade, Russia could be supplying almost 10% of China’s gas supplies. The deal to supply 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year via pipeline is priced at around US$10.00/Mcf, versus a current price of $14.00-15.00 for Asia Pacific imports, close to what most European utilities have agreed to pay over the past two years under discounted long-term contracts. “We, Russia and Gazprom, have discovered the Asian gas market for ourselves,” said Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller on Thursday at a forum. The transaction “will influence the whole gas market,” pressuring LNG projects in North America, Australia and Africa. Several analysts agreed that the partnership is a landmark for the global gas market. The compact “sets a new benchmark for what China is willing to pay for natural gas over longer-term contracts,” said Fitch Ratings. Asia liquefied natural gas (LNG) spot prices today are about $13.70/MMBtu, versus U.S. prices of about $4.50 (Henry Hub). “The deal changes the level playing field,” Societe Generale analyst Thierry Bros wrote. “China has now secured some new gas at a competitive price,” which means LNG shipped after the pipeline is completed “would need to be competitive.” China “now has a powerful stick with which to beat down LNG prices…They can tell their LNG suppliers ‘either you bring your price below Russian piped costs, or we will install a second line from Russia and cut you out.’” Russia “has thrown down the gauntlet to LNG producers courting Chinese buyers,” said London-based Timera Energy Director David Stokes. “Russian pipeline exports, which look to be competitively priced versus LNG, are set to have a material impact in eroding Chinese LNG demand. There is likely to be an important knock-on impact on the global LNG supply and demand balance, given the central role China plays in growth projections.” Expanding Gazprom’s Reach For Gazprom, the deal also gives it a brand-new market that’s roughly the size of Europe, said Wood Mackenzie Ltd.’s Stephen O’Rourke. Russia now supplies about one-third of Europe’s gas supplies, but more important, about 80% of Gazprom’s revenues are from Europe. “With European gas demand growth uncertain and the Ukraine crisis leading to calls for Europe to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, Gazprom now needs a ‘new Europe’ — enter China,” said O’Rourke. Gazprom could increase export volumes to China without affecting its ability to deliver to existing European customers, by developing untapped reserves in eastern Russia, said Fitch Managing Director Alex Griffiths, who heads natural resources and commodities. “Some have portrayed the deal as Russia turning away from Europe, in light of the ongoing situation in Ukraine. While it certainly begins to give Gazprom options in where to export, the company’s challenge historically has been to find ways to monetize its 23 trillion cubic meters of reserves at acceptable prices — and the best scenario for the company is an increase in production. “The deal is therefore positive for Gazprom’s medium- to long-term prospects, especially if it opens the door for a further deal to sell gas from its developed western fields to China in due course…” The price Russia fetched may be comparable to that of Gazprom contracts with Western Europe customers, but it’s “far above the prices at which gas can be sold in Russia,” said Griffiths. “A key difference is that gas to be sent to China will come from largely undeveloped fields, implying a significant upfront investment, which President Putin announced as US$55 billion. The 38 bcm announced is equal to about a quarter of Gazprom’s annual deliveries to Europe.” Russia also has announced it may abolish the mineral extraction tax for gas fields that deliver gas to China, potentially adding even more to Gazprom’s bottom line, he said. Russia likely is looking well beyond China for customers. Rumors are circulating that a transaction similar to the one with China is being negotiated with India. Russia is building new facilities and expanding other LNG export plants on its Pacific coast, near Sakhalin Island, where ExxonMobil Corp. and others are partnering. ExxonMobil struck an alliance with Russia’s OAO Rosneft in 2011 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31, 2011). The pipeline to China would position Gazprom with leading Asia Pacific gas buyers, putting it at an advantage geographically over exports from North America and elsewhere. China Gas Demand Expected to Quadruple by 2035 However, the Asia Pacific region will need a lot of gas to keep up with demand. The International Energy Agency has predicted that China’s gas demand will quadruple by 2035. Russia exports will be a “drop in the bucket” as far as Asia Pacific’s thirst for gas, said Ziff Energy’s Ed Kallio, who directs gas consulting. “It doesn’t even come close. This doesn’t even scratch the surface.” And China hasn’t placed all of its bets on Russia, with large investments in gas schemes around the world, including British Columbia (BC), where a dozen-plus LNG export terminals are on the table. It’s also a big investor in Australia export projects. As well, China is planning to build at least 15 gas import terminals, which would make it the biggest gas importer after Japan. BC Premier Christy Clark said she didn’t think the Russia agreement would satisfy China’s thirst, nor its need to diversify supply. “I don’t think there’s a country in the world that today wants to depend on Russia as their sole supplier of natural gas,” said Clark. “Providing the assurance that we are not going to play politics with energy — I think that’s worth a lot to our potential partners out there, I think, especially China…We’ve certainly seen the way that Russia likes to do business these days, and we certainly know that the Chinese want a dependability of supply. We can supply that.” Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. CEO Hal Kvisle isn’t overly concerned about the deal pressuring Canada LNG. The former chief of TransCanada Corp. discussed the tie-up during a conference call during Talisman’s annual investor day. The quantity of gas directed to China isn’t enough “to swamp the market…It certainly doesn’t shut the door on LNG exports from Canada.” Woodside Petroleum Ltd. CEO Peter Coleman, whose company is Australia’s biggest gas exporter by volume, agreed that China would need a lot of gas from a lot of sources. Australia export facilities, including those backed by Chevron Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips, have faced huge cost overruns and labor shortages, but the backers haven’t signaled a slowdown. “China’s growth is coming off such a small base at the moment…It’s got a lot of headroom in it,” Coleman said. Wood Mackenzie’s Gavin Thompson, who heads Asia gas research, said the “comparisons with the development of Gazprom’s export business into Europe are clear, with almost identical population sizes between Northeast China and Western Europe. Gazprom’s exports to Western Europe first reached 38 bcm by the mid-1980s and have since increased to over 150 bcm into the whole of Europe. “We anticipate overall gas demand from China over the next two decades will grow more rapidly than that witnessed in Europe from the mid-1980s.” He said eight provinces in Northeast China would receive the East Siberian gas; the area has a population of around 360 million, roughly equal to that in Western Europe. The region also experiences “extremely cold winters and suffers from a shortage of indigenous supply options.” By 2025, Wood Mackenzie estimates that total gas demand from the eight provinces alone will reach 125 bcm; the Power of Siberia gas pipeline system would meet “over a quarter of regional gas demand by this time.” Without that eastern Russian supply, the region was facing increased reliance on imported LNG, Thompson said. Qatar, the world’s largest LNG producer, already is negotiating with CNPC and state-owned PetroChina Co. to supply 7 million metric tons/year (mmty); China now has long-term contracts for around 5 mmty. Major gas fields offshore Mozambique and Tanzania also hold promise. Too Much Gas? With gas reserves increasingly growing worldwide as unconventional drilling techniques improve, will there be enough buyers? “There will be more gas than needed, so those who get to the market first and cheapest will win,” said Sasol Petroleum International’s Ebbie Haan, managing director. There’s also the political strength that China and Russia gain through the gas alliance. “From the perspective of international relations,” said Thompson, “this deal also signals a deepening of energy ties between Russia and China. They now cooperate across a range of different commodities and have established a broad base for further increases in trade in oil, gas, LNG, coal and electricity.” The crisis in Ukraine, which has strained Russia relations with Europe and the United States gave “new urgency to the Russian desire to branch out to new markets,” said Credit Suisse analysts. “The implied price comes out at just under $10.00/MMBtu, but more importantly, provides China with something of a lever to cap ‘expensive’ LNG.”
By Hiroki Sugita TOKYO, May 1, Kyodo Every time the U.S. president visits Asia, there are agreements, such as the "Global Alliance" or the "Strategic Partnership," which are well received in Asian countries but very modest in terms of concrete actions and effectiveness. In his late April visit to Asia, President Barack Obama was gracious enough to tell the people in the countries he visited exactly what they wanted to hear. Of course, Asians are happy right now, but we cannot ignore deeper doubts about whether he will follow through on what he said. In Tokyo, the first stop of President Obama's Asian trip, he said that the Senkaku Islands fall under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, in a show of U.S. commitment to defending the Japanese-administered islands against any attempt by China to seize them. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan praised Obama's statement, which no previous U.S. president has voiced, as "epoch-making." Japanese security experts say that the statement is the best way to deter China from starting any military operations against the islands in the East China Sea. Then, in Seoul, Obama rebuked Japan and pleased South Korea. At a press conference with President Park Geun Hye he described "comfort women" as a "terrible and egregious" violation of human rights and for the first time urged Mr. Abe to address the issue with the South Korean government. Many of the comfort women who were forced to work at Japanese military brothels during World War II were from the Korean Peninsula. President Park followed Obama by saying delightedly, "I really look forward to efforts made by the Japanese side." In Manila, Obama announced a defense pact that would give American forces greater access to Philippine military bases and facilities, including airfields and seaports. The main purpose of the pact is to fend off China's military expansion in the South China Sea. Asians except Chinese welcome all of Obama's words and policies. Many Japanese even support the "comfort women" statement. Although Obama's comfort women comment clearly puts Abe in an awkward position, it may act as a catalyst to end the bickering between Japan and South Korea over this issue. According to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the remark was in line with the purpose of Obama's trip, namely to cement ties with Japan and South Korea and to encourage improved dialogue between these nations. However, the question is: to what extent can Obama oversee the implementation of these words and agreements? Asians were joyful when Obama announced the U.S. pivot to Asia three years ago after its long and enduring Middle East military ventures. But, we soon found in dismay the policy (later called "rebalancing") more rhetorical than real, as it lacked follow-up measures. Since the pivot announcement, Obama has cancelled two trips to Asia to deal with domestic political affairs, and last year he gave silent approval to China's Air Defense Identification Zone, over protests from Japan. One of the pillars of the pivot is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which was intended to create an Asia-Pacific free trade zone. During this trip to Asia, Obama made it clear that the United States would not make meaningful concessions to Japan and other TPP countries on trade negotiations for fear of angering some U.S. industries. Again, it is clear that Obama places domestic politics above Asia rebalancing. Even the Senkaku statement is not so assuring. At the Tokyo press conference, Obama avoided answering a question about the use of U.S. military force if China were to make a military incursion into the Senkakus. He explained that what he had said about the U.S. commitment to the islands was nothing new; it just repeated the U.S.'s historical interpretation of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. This response gave the impression that he would be very hesitant to use any kind of force. Given Obama's weak reaction to his declared redline regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria and his ineffective response to the crisis in Ukraine, some Japanese naturally wonder whether the Senkaku statement is another Obama redline that would be easily ignored. Considering China's substantial economic and military strength, it is highly unlikely that the United States would get involved in a confrontation with China over a group of small and inhabited islands. Because of strict budget cuts, the U.S. military cannot meaningfully strengthen its presence. Yoko Iwama, a professor at the National Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, noted, "The Ukraine crisis shows the U.S. still has to put a great deal of efforts into Europe to counter Russia. It is too much to ask the U.S. to show strong presence both in Asia and Europe." Although security ties with the United States are the foundation for stability in the region, Asian countries would be wise not to expect much from the United States in the events of conflicts. It is equally important that Asian countries strengthen their own individual defense capabilities and build better relations with China. Obama has a unique capability to please host countries, as we saw in his April trip to Asia. In November, he will go to Beijing to attend the annual Asia-Pacific leaders' meeting. He most likely will reiterate strategic relationships with China for global and regional agendas, which the Japanese and Filipinos will not be happy to hear. In Tokyo he called on Japan to have talks to de-escalate the tension over the Senkakus saying, "I've said directly to the prime minister that it would be a profound mistake to continue to see escalation around this issue rather than dialogue and confidence building measures between Japan and China." If the issue is not resolved by November, then Obama in China may blame Abe for not doing enough. Asians should not be happy or disappointed each time the U.S. president makes a statement on the region. We can't expect magic bullets from the United States for Asian problems because they do not have quick solutions. Therefore, we Asians must find our own solutions to the Senkakus, comfort women, China, and any other issues we face. (Hiroki Sugita is managing feature writer of Kyodo News.) ==Kyodo
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Citation by Easybib Save this citation Do the European Parliamentary Elections Matter? Interviewee: Judy Dempsey, Nonresident Senior Associate, Carnegie Europe Author: Jeanne Park, Deputy Director May 22, 2014 Millions of voters from twenty-eight member states will take part in the European Parliament elections this week, a process that, for the first time, will partly influence who becomes the next EU chief. Judy Dempsey, an expert on European politics at Carnegie, says that it's been roughly two decades since the EU had a formidable Commission president that could hold sway with the various member states. She says this seems unlikely to change: "At the end of the day, it will be the leaders of the big European countries that will do the backroom deals." Meanwhile, Dempsey says that significant victories for far right or far left parties, which many are anticipating, could install a parliament with "a shrilled anti-American tone, more scepticism regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and a more restrictive policy with regard to immigrant and human rights." Election posters of Socialist candidate for European Commission president Martin Schulz (R) of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and German chancellor and head of the Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel, in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo: Fabian Bimmer/Courtesy Reuters)Why do these European Parliament elections matter? For the first time since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, the European Parliament will play a part in choosing the president of the European Commission. Who are the front-runners to replace outgoing president José Manuel Barroso? The two main front-runners are Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, who is supported by the conservative grouping of the European People's Party, and Martin Schulz, a German politician and the current president of the European Parliament, supported by the European Parliament's Socialist grouping. A caveat: Even if either candidate's party manages to get the most votes, there will be a lot of horse-trading between the member states as to who will become Commission president. Much depends on the composition of the next European Parliament. It may be a hung parliament, or it may be a parliament consisting of very different alliances. At the end of the day, it will be the leaders of the big European countries that will do the backroom deals. How important is this job if so much power continues to reside with national leaders? The leaders of the EU countries have immense power, particularly German chancellor Angela Merkel. That being said, so much depends on the personality and confidence of the president of the Commission. It has been a long time since the EU had a president that could hold sway over the member states. The last was Jacques Delors (EC president 1985–1994). Since then, the Commission presidents have been generally weak and often beholden to the member states. There is a consensus that the outgoing president, José Manuel Barroso, has been very disappointing. But then it was Germany and France who supported his candidacy; neither Berlin nor Paris wanted a very strong Commission president who could challenge their own national interests. By the way, don't forget you can have very strong commissioners. The trade and competition commissioners have immense executive powers. Those two have been crucial in giving Europe a big influence when it comes to defending trade and competition policies. And they have worked hard in trying to negotiate TTIP. The general mood regarding the elections, across the twenty-eight member countries, seems to be one of apathy. What's behind this? "The recent economic crisis has fed into this sense of disillusionment with Europe and boosted eurosceptic parties across the continent." The turnout continues to decline. This time around, the recent economic crisis has fed into this sense of disillusionment with Europe and boosted eurosceptic parties across the continent. The two most prominent are Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP) and France's Front National. But it must be said too that the mainstream parties standing for the European Parliament have not done the kind of grassroots campaigning necessary to defend Europe. In contrast, the nationalist/populist and fringe parties are exploiting this weakness with their own high-profile campaigning. They are well organized and highly motivated, and they are able to sell a very clear message. Does this apathy reveal a larger disconnect between Europeans and EU institutions? There is a huge disconnect, even though European Parliament deputies keep vowing to bridge this gap even through basic electioneering. This has not happened. Many observers are anticipating big gains for anti-EU parties in the upcoming European Parliament elections. How would victories for fringe parties (on the left and right) impact EU policymaking? "If the fringe parties do well, it could lead to paralysis in the European Parliament." If the fringe parties do well, it could lead to paralysis in the European Parliament. It could also lead to shifting alliances. If—and it's a big if—these fringe parties, left or right, could establish a united front in the parliament, then we could expect a shrilled anti-American tone, more scepticism over agreeing to TTIP, and a more restrictive policy with regard to immigrant and human rights. It is said that the European Parliament still lacks legitimacy in the eyes of many voters. What further steps can be taken to bridge the oft-referenced "democratic deficit"? Indeed, the European Parliament still lacks legitimacy. Voters across Europe cannot vote for Juncker or Schulz. Pan-European candidates do not exist. Voters can only vote for their own national list; or if they are living and registered in another EU country, they have to choose whether they will vote for the candidates in that country or their own country. Clearly, the gap between European citizens would narrow if there were genuine, pan-European political parties, and if the European Commission president was directly elected. In light of the crisis in Ukraine, there is a renewed interest in a common defense and security policy. How can the incoming European Parliament boost European foreign policy in the coming months and years? The Ukraine crisis has in fact exposed deep divisions in the EU over security and foreign policy. A real discussion about Europe's security and foreign policy has yet to begin. The outgoing European Parliament did some excellent analyses on the weaknesses of European foreign policy. But it relies on the member states to make that essential difference when it comes to giving the EU a serious foreign, security, and defense dimension. NATO in fact has been setting the agenda on security issues. Even then, the western European members of NATO cannot agree about deploying troops on a permanent basis to the eastern European members of NATO. Why have so many fringe parties and politicians aligned with Russian president Vladimir Putin? For many of these fringe parties, they find Putin's conservatism, his opposition to the so-called decadent West, and his anti-Americanism and anti-NATO stance appealing.
Japan may set a two-stage approval process for the Cabinet before lifting the self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, ruling party sources said Thursday, as the outlook remains uncertain for the ruling bloc to reach an early agreement over the controversial issue. The New Komeito party has proposed to the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the Cabinet first approve a roadmap of legal challenges that need to be tackled, and then what steps Japan will take, including reinterpreting the Constitution to allow the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, the sources added. The two-stage process would enable the government to make necessary preparations to draft legislation after the first stage, while New Komeito can buy time and put off what could be the most contentious issue of deciding whether Japan should defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense. The plan has been floated as a compromise for the ruling parties to avoid a rift and some LDP lawmakers have expressed their support, although the government has yet to give the nod, according to the sources. Tokyo is seeking early approval in time for the planned revision to Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines by the end of the year, and hopes to revise relevant laws from an extraordinary Diet session in the fall. In the first round of approval, the Cabinet would recognize a set of domestic legal challenges in three major areas -- how to handle "gray zone" incidents that are not considered full-fledged military attacks on Japan, U.N. peacekeeping and collective security operations, and whether to exercise the right to collective self-defense, the sources said. The LDP and the junior coalition partner New Komeito started their debate earlier this week on reworking Japan's legal framework amid security threats from an assertive China and North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs. The parties have already decided to focus on "gray zone" incidents first, rather than tackling the controversial issue of collective self-defense from the start. Some New Komeito lawmakers have suggested the ruling bloc should not wait until they can agree on all of the three areas to start drafting legislation, but the LDP has insisted that the three should be a package. Prime Minister Abe is seeking to secure the support of the ruling parties for lifting the self-imposed ban by a Cabinet decision, but New Komeito remains cautious about reinterpreting the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution that has never been amended since 1947. Japan has maintained it has the right to collective self-defense but cannot exercise it due to the constraints of Article 9. In a report submitted to Abe last week, a panel of security experts argued that collective self-defense falls under "the minimum" level of defense allowed under the supreme law and called for changing the current interpretation. ==Kyodo Copyright 2014 Kyodo News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140522/japan-may-set-2-stage-approval-cabinet-over-collective
“Putin brought us back home without firing a shot,” Pivnenko said. “He’s like family now.” http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-05-22/putin-s-singapore-dream-costs-crimeans-their-banks-and-burgers Bloomberg News Putin’s Singapore Dream Costs Crimea Banks and Burgers By Evgenia Pismennaya May 22, 2014 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Men stand at the entrance of a closed McDonald's restaurant in Sevastopol on April 5, 2014. Photographer: Vasiliy Batanov/AFP via Getty Images President Vladimir Putin is trying to transform Crimea into the Singapore of the Black Sea. That effort so far has cost Russia’s newest republic its entire banking system and all three of its McDonald’s. After Putin annexed Crimea in March, the government in Kiev banned all lenders operating under Ukrainian law from the region. Now almost every bank on the peninsula, from billionaire Igor Kolomoisky’s Privatbank, Ukraine’s largest, to Italy’s UniCredit SpA (UCG) has been shuttered. Unlike UniCredit, which is refunding deposits, Privatbank simply pocketed the cash, leaving its clients to seek compensation from Russia. “Thank God they decided to return my money,” said Alla Anisomova, a retiree in her 60s who gets by on less than $300 a month. Anisomova is among the thousands of people who have flocked to the former Privatbank branch on Lenin Street in Kerch, a city on the eastern edge of Crimea, to apply for redress from Russia’s Deposit Insurance Agency. The agency, which now controls the building, has pledged to return deposits of as much as 700,000 rubles ($20,000). Related: Ukraine Forces Suffer Worst Losses of Crisis Amid UnrestDeath Threats Haunt Eastern Ukraine as Gunmen Target Vote For Anisomova and Crimea’s other 600,000 or so pensioners, the headaches of navigating the new bureaucracy have an upside. Putin has increased their monthly stipends 50 percent and by July will raise them to double what Ukraine paid. Those payments are made through local post offices, in cash. Albania, Barbados The pension increases, deposit compensations and pay raises for 140,000 public workers are part of the $48 billion Russia may spend by the end of the decade to transform Crimea into a commercial hub similar to Singapore, according to Oleg Savelyev, head of the new Crimea Affairs Ministry. That’s about 10 times the annual output of the region of 2 million people. “I blew the dust off the book, ‘Singapore: From Third World to First’ by Lee Kuan Yew to have another read when I became minister,” Savelyev said in an interview in his office in the Economy Ministry in Moscow, where he was deputy minister before his promotion. “We will pursue Singapore’s model in Crimea, we’ll ensure a comfortable business environment there.” Lee, who ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990, turned the former impoverished British colony into one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The World Bank ranks Singapore No. 1 on its annual ease of doing business survey. Russia is 92nd, just behind Albania and Barbados. New Russia “Regulatory principles in Crimea will be much better, simpler than in the rest of Russia,” said Savelyev, 48, who was added to the European Union’s sanctions list last month. “The region will not have the stifling bureaucratic system that Russia is notorious for. Our task is not to replicate the Russian model, but to create a much better one.” It’s not just banks that Russia has in mind for Crimea, there’s also gambling, tourism and wine. The peninsula will be designated a special economic zone, unique among the 84 regions of the world’s largest country. The casinos will probably be located in Yalta, acting Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov said. “Casinos won’t be scattered around Crimea,” Aksyonov said in an interview in Simferopol, the regional capital. “The zone will be confined to an area of 50 to 100 hectares.” Yalta, a resort city where Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov did some of their writing and czars Alexander III and Nicholas II built palaces, became the main holiday destination for Soviet workers under communism. Now the real estate along Yalta’s picturesque embankment is the most expensive in Crimea. Roosevelt, Churchill The main attraction is the Livadia Palace, where wax statues of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill commemorate their meeting in 1945 to discuss the reorganization of Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. “Crimea’s economic potential is incredible,” Aksyonov said. “We’ll only need Russian aid during the transitional period. We’ll return the funds with interest.” Vladimir Gubanov, who runs a division of Massandra, the winemaker founded by Nicholas II before Russia’s last czar and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks, said he couldn’t agree more. Orders for Massandra’s wines from Russian retailers have doubled and even tripled since annexation, Gubanov said. “Taxes in Russia are lower than in Ukraine and the number of potential investors is many times higher,” Gubanov said. Lawmakers in Moscow are working on a draft bill that will offer tax and other incentives to stimulate exports, according to Savelyev, the minister for Crimea. Businesses there will operate under English commercial law rather than Russian legislation to attract foreign investment, he said. ‘Boldest Dreams’ “We will try to put our boldest dreams into practice,” Savelyev said. Those dreams sound promising, but they aren’t helping business owners now, said Natlia Kochurina, who owns a 10-room hotel in Kerch, where ancient Greeks established a colony about 2,600 years ago. Tourism is one of the mainstays of the economy of Crimea, which National Geographic magazine named one of the world’s top travel destinations last year, calling it “a diamond suspended from the south coast of Ukraine.” Colonized by ancient Romans as well as Greeks, Crimea was part of the Ottoman Empire until Catherine the Great’s lover Grigory Potemkin engineered Russia’s peaceful acquisition of the peninsula in 1783, writing “Russia needs its paradise.” Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, a move Putin called a mistake that needed to be rectified. Presidential Election The peninsula attracted 6 million visitors last year, about 70 percent of whom were Ukrainian and 25 percent Russian. Kochurina said those numbers have plummeted since annexation as the government in Kiev urges people to boycott the region and skirmishes continue between federal forces and seperatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Elections to replace Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia amid bloody protests in February, are slated to be held May 25 in Ukraine. Add to that the fact that all transactions are cash only because credit and debit cards no longer work and Kochurina said she’s starting to wonder how long she can stay in business. “Our future looks very vague,” Kochurina said. Another economic pillar, shipping, is also foundering, according to Leonid Orlov, deputy head of Krym, one of Crimea’s five main ports. The wharves are empty and the loading cranes are idle, Orlov said in an interview in Kerch, which is separated from Russia’s southern Krasnodar region by the Kerch Strait. ‘Political Blockade’ “An economic and political blockade is in place,” said Valery Belyakov, the deputy head of the Temryuk port on the Russian side of the watery divide. “Crimea’s main ports are in a state of legal limbo.” The local government plans to close two ports, in Fedosia and Yevpatoria, as part of a massive overhaul of the peninsula’s infrastructure, Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev said on his Facebook page. Authorities plan to construct a new terminal at Crimea’s only international airport, in Simferopol, and build ring roads around Simferopol and Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. They also plan to connect Sevastopol and Kerch, on opposite sides of the peninsula, by rail. The most ambitious project is the 5-kilometer bridge that Russia plans to erect across the Kerch Strait, a project that may cost as much as $5.8 billion, according to the Regional Development Ministry in Moscow. Build, Putin! The government plans to start accepting bids for the bridge, which will have a four-lane highway and two railway tracks, later this year, according to Sergei Kelbakh, chairman of Russian Highways, the state-run company overseeing the project. Companies from China, Turkey and South Korea have already expressed interest, Kelbakh said in an interview, declining to be more specific. Currently there are just two ways to reach Crimea directly from Russia, either on a two-hour flight from Moscow or a 30-minute ferry ride across the strait. “Build the bridge, Putin!” a passenger on the Nikolai Aksenenko ferry wrote in the ship’s comment log, identifying himself as Ustinov from Moscow and Sochi. “The ferry’s slow!” Aksyonov, the acting premier, acknowledged that any hope Putin has of replicating the commercial success of Singapore hinges on his ability to root out corruption. The practice is deeply entrenched in both Russia and Ukraine, which are ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt major economy and the most corrupt country in Europe, respectively. ‘Like Family’ “I summoned the ministers and warned them against taking bribes,” Aksyonov said. “Those caught taking or giving bribes will be sent to work in Magadan,” Aksyonov said, referring to the region of northeast Russia that became a forced-labor hub during the Stalin era. Aksyonov said Crimeans are prepared for the “temporary economic difficulties ” that come with reuniting with Russia after six decades apart. That position was seconded by Yury Pivnenko, a retired fireman who supplements his pension by driving a taxi in Alushta, about 50 kilometers south of Simferopol. “Putin brought us back home without firing a shot,” Pivnenko said. “He’s like family now.” To contact the reporter on this story: Evgenia Pismennaya in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editors responsible for this story: Hellmuth Tromm at email@example.com Brad Cook
Deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra appeared before Thailand's governing junta council on Friday, one day after the military announced it had taken power in a coup. She is among the 155 political figures summoned by the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council who have been prohibited from leaving the country without permission (Bangkok Post). Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha addressed the civil service, calling on their help in implementing reforms before "return[ing] power to the people." Meanwhile, a nationwide curfew was in force as protestors were dispersed, though some dissent was seen in Bangkok, and television stations have had their programming replaced by the military's (Reuters). The United States declared the takeover a coup, which could prompt curtailed aid and military relations (WSJ). Analysis "In the nation's capital, troops and police officers appear to be exercising restraint. Let us hope this continues, for there is a long history of rights violations under martial law in Thailand. In some 30 of Thailand's 76 provinces, martial law was already in place before Tuesday, in some cases for years. Extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture have been documented under military jurisdiction. There has been almost no accountability for these violations," writes Sam Zarifi in the New York Times. "Whatever appointed government is put into place by the military likely will launch reforms that, in theory, could help cleanse Thailand's political system of graft and vote buying but that, in reality, will be designed to try to ensure the Shinawatras and their political base are disempowered once and for all. This will not be an easy task; in fact, it is probably impossible. The supporters of Puea Thai include both the majority of Thais and a small, hardened minority of activists who will be willing to fight the Thai military in Bangkok or in upcountry towns," writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick. "If the coup results in the military's unilateral appointment of a new prime minister who is unacceptable to the Thaksin side a further escalation is bound to occur. Yet such bleak predictions belie the potential for progressive change that lies at the heart of all crises. Rather than seeing Thailand's troubles as a decline one might equally interpret them as a negotiation of a new social contract ahead of a sea change in the structure of the Thai state," writes Serhat Ünaldi in the Diplomat.
Friday, May 23, 2014
May 21, 2014 2:54 AM Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Asian countries against building what he sees as unhelpful military alliances, in what is seen as a swipe at nations that have developed closer defense ties with the United States. The comments came Wednesday in Shanghai at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), a regional grouping China hopes to use to offset U.S. influence. "We should stick to the basic norms in international relations such as the respect for the independence of sovereignty and integrity of territory, mutual non-interference into internal affairs. We should respect the political systems and development methods different countries choose willingly. We should respect and look after the reasonable security concerns of every country. It is disadvantageous to the common security of the region if military alliances with third parties are strengthened,” said Xi. Many of China's neighbors have boosted their military cooperation with the U.S. in response to what they see as China's increasing use of force and intimidation in its many territorial disputes. In particular, Beijing's maritime spats with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea have worsened in recent months. During a visit to Asia last month, President Barack Obama sought to reassure allies such as Japan and the Philippines that his long-promised strategic shift towards Asia and the Pacific, widely seen as aimed at countering China's rising influence, was real. The CICA grouping includes Vietnam, while the Philippines and Japan are not members but had representatives at the meeting. The group also excludes the U.S., while including nations such as Iran and Russia. Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week after Chinese state oil company CNOOC deployed an oil rig 150 miles off the coast of Vietnam in waters also claimed by Hanoi. The rig was towed there just days after Obama left the region. The move was the latest in a series of confrontations between China and some of its neighbors over the potentially oil-and-gas rich South China Sea. Washington has responded with sharpened rhetoric toward Beijing, describing a pattern of “provocative” actions by China. The CICA is relatively obscure in comparison to other Asian regional groupings, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but Beijing, which took over as chair of the CICA from Turkey this week, hopes to use the group and others like it to help expand Chinese influence across the region. President Xi said the grouping should help create a "new regional security cooperation architecture." Although he provided few details, he said this could include a "defense consultation mechanism" and a "security response center" in case of regional emergencies. Addressing China's territorial feuds, he said Beijing is "committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty, and maritime rights and interests." State broadcaster China Central Television aired the arrival of various leaders for the meeting live, but, underscoring the sensitivity of China's territorial disputes, it cut away from images of Xi shaking hands with the representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Asian countries against building what he sees as unhelpful military alliances, in what is seen as a swipe at nations that have developed closer defense ties with the United States. The comments came Wednesday in Shanghai at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), a regional grouping China hopes to use to offset U.S. influence. "We should stick to the basic norms in international relations such as the respect for the independence of sovereignty and integrity of territory, mutual non-interference into internal affairs. We should respect the political systems and development methods different countries choose willingly. We should respect and look after the reasonable security concerns of every country. It is disadvantageous to the common security of the region if military alliances with third parties are strengthened,” said Xi. Many of China's neighbors have boosted their military cooperation with the U.S. in response to what they see as China's increasing use of force and intimidation in its many territorial disputes. In particular, Beijing's maritime spats with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea have worsened in recent months. During a visit to Asia last month, President Barack Obama sought to reassure allies such as Japan and the Philippines that his long-promised strategic shift towards Asia and the Pacific, widely seen as aimed at countering China's rising influence, was real. The CICA grouping includes Vietnam, while the Philippines and Japan are not members but had representatives at the meeting. The group also excludes the U.S., while including nations such as Iran and Russia. Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week after Chinese state oil company CNOOC deployed an oil rig 150 miles off the coast of Vietnam in waters also claimed by Hanoi. The rig was towed there just days after Obama left the region. The move was the latest in a series of confrontations between China and some of its neighbors over the potentially oil-and-gas rich South China Sea. Washington has responded with sharpened rhetoric toward Beijing, describing a pattern of “provocative” actions by China. The CICA is relatively obscure in comparison to other Asian regional groupings, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but Beijing, which took over as chair of the CICA from Turkey this week, hopes to use the group and others like it to help expand Chinese influence across the region. President Xi said the grouping should help create a "new regional security cooperation architecture." Although he provided few details, he said this could include a "defense consultation mechanism" and a "security response center" in case of regional emergencies. Addressing China's territorial feuds, he said Beijing is "committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty, and maritime rights and interests." State broadcaster China Central Television aired the arrival of various leaders for the meeting live, but, underscoring the sensitivity of China's territorial disputes, it cut away from images of Xi shaking hands with the representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.
The environment in which Japan exists is changing. Tokyo must change along with it, or live at the mercy of others. Michael Mazza, May 20, 2014 inShare.1On Thursday, May 15, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that his government was officially launching discussions on revising the constitution’s interpretation to allow for collective self-defense. That it was clear this was coming does not make the announcement any less momentous. For sure, Abe does not have a smooth path to updating the government’s interpretation of the Japanese constitution. The Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partners are not keen on the change, there is resistance within the LDP itself, and Japanese voters remain skeptical. At the end of the day, however, the arguments for allowing collective self-defense are persuasive, and if Abe can continue delivering on his promise to revitalize the economy—first quarter GDP growth reached 5.9 percent, and a major fiscal stimulus is planned for the second quarter—he just may get his way. A primary argument from the opposition is that permitting collective self-defense will inevitably lead to Japanese involvement in overseas conflicts in which the country has little at stake. The argument is both alarmist and assumes an exceedingly narrow definition of the national interest. It has become clear that a broadened interpretation of the constitution would put well-defined limits on when Japanese forces could act to defend others. Opening the door to collective self-defense does not constitute a blank check for armed intervention abroad. According to the Japan Times, a government panel that studied the issue concluded that Japan should aid another under attack “if such an attack could lead to a direct attack to Japan, critically damage the Japan-U.S. military alliance, considerably affect the international order, or remarkably damage the life and rights of the Japanese people.” None of these is a peripheral interest. Rather, Abe and his advisers see the right to exercise collective self-defense as necessary to ensure the security and prosperity of Japan as well as regional peace. Regional peace, meanwhile, increasingly appears to hang in the balance. China is antagonizing its neighbors and testing the United States at a troubling clip. Pyongyang is testing missiles and threatening to detonate a nuclear device while the two Koreas exchange artillery fire in the Yellow Sea. Tens of thousands of Taiwan’s citizens recently took to the streets to protest closer ties to mainland China. And right now, ships are firing water cannons at and ramming each other off the Vietnamese coast, while Chinese vessels attempt to starve out Philippine marines on Second Thomas Shoal. An incident leading to escalation—either unwanted or intentional—is no distant possibility. Japan’s current leadership knows that Japanese interests extend far beyond the southern Ryukyu islands. That Abe should want tools to defend Japanese interests further afield—whether it be to ensure continued freedom of navigation or protect an Asian order in which states do not resort to aggression to achieve their ends—should come as little surprise. Still, although pursuing a revised interpretation of the constitution is both natural and rational, it is also revolutionary. Even if applied in only a very narrow range of scenarios, exercising the right to collective self-defense will be a monumental change for a country that has more or less outsourced its own self-defense since the end of World War II. There are implications for defense spending and for the types of forces Japan fields—for how they train, how they operate, and how they interact with foreign militaries. There are implications for Japan’s foreign policy—for the types of relationships it pursues and the defense agreements it forges. Finally, there are even implications for Japan’s identity. Japan’s people have defined their country as a pacifist one for decades. But should the Maritime Self-Defense Forces one day lawfully come to the defense of a U.S. warship under attack or of a Korean freighter beset by Somali pirates, there will naturally be questions about just what it means for Japan to be “pacifist.” None of this is to say that Abe is acting rashly or impulsively. Rather, he has recognized that the environment in which Japan lives is changing. Japan must change along with it or live at the mercy of others less hesitant to shape the world to their own desires. Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Follow him on Twitter: @Mike_Mazza.
By DANESSA O. RIVERA, GMA NewsMay 22, 2014 6:40pm 22 23 0 69 Connectivity is key to equitable development under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) starting 2015, a Singaporean official told business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Makati City on Thursday. The region should not just focus on forming an single-market because it is only one pillar of the AEC, Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Transport in Singapore, said during the discussions on "Connect on Trade: Lifting Barriers to Growth." To have equitable development across the region and to be competitive globally, "you need connectivity," which remains a challenge, she said. "We need connectivity to make sure there is free flow of goods and services, equitable development, and increased competitiveness," she said. By 2015, the AEC sets in motion the creation of single market for the 10-nation bloc which include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Air, cyrber, land connectivity ASEAN connectivity has three key areas: air, cyber space, and land and rail. Air travel is expected to grow significantly in the region due to a growing middle class, Teo said. "The demand for air travel in our part of the world will grow tremendously, because the growing middle class will exceed North America and Europe combined," she noted. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects air passengers to grow by 800 million this year, of which half would originate from the ASEAN region. The ASEAN open skies policy can be patterned after the European single aviation market, Teo said, noting the region can expect a multi-fold increase in number of flights, including direct city links, as well as reduced cost in air transport for passengers and freight. A challenge to regional connectivity is the capacity of airports. "There's a lot of need and opportunity to invest in airport capacity," Teo said. To unleash the full growth capacity of the region, the AEC should also sign air transport agreements with other big economies. Teo said the region currently has an air transport agreement with China and in the works are Japan, Korea and India. – VS, GMA News