Sunday, January 8, 2017

China - President Putin on South China Sea issue

Video - Chinese fighter jets hone combat maneuvers in drills over South China Sea

China Insight— A military for 21 century 12/17/2016

One-China policy not a capricious request

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen arrived in Houston for a brief transit stop in the US during her trip to four Central American countries, with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties. On her return, she is expected to transit from San Francisco. Such "transit diplomacy" was favored by the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian authorities, the significance of which often outweighed the trip to Central America.

Whether Donald Trump will meet Tsai had generated heated discussions. But the Trump team ruled out meeting Tsai this trip. Trump's team and Tsai did not use Tsai's trip as an opportunity to reinforce previous provocations triggered by the phone call between the two. It is hard to say if they are taking a step back. But the mainland does not fear their provocations. The mainland has seized the initiative. The US and Taiwan now should restrain, or be forced to restrain, themselves. 

Tsai had a phone call with Trump, but soon Sao Tome and Principle broke ties with Taiwan. It is certain that more countries will do the same. The US passed bills that allow serving officers to visit Taiwan, while Chinese fighter jets patrolled around Taiwan and China's aircraft carrier passed the island. It is widely expected that the mainland will impose further military pressure. Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes.

Trump is yet to be inaugurated, and there is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan. But in case he tears up the one-China policy after taking office, the mainland is fully prepared. Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary. We would like to see whether US voters will support their president to ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing does not need to feel grateful to Trump for not meeting Tsai. The one-China policy is the basic principle reiterated in the three Sino-US joint Communiqués. It is also the foundation of the profound bilateral relationship. Sticking to this principle is not a capricious request by China upon US presidents, but an obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific. If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.

The Trump-Tsai call indicates the eruption of the Taiwan independence tendency by Tsai authorities. The mainland should mobilize all possible measures to squeeze Taiwan's diplomacy as well as deal a heavy blow to Taiwan's economy. It should also impose military pressure on Taiwan and push it to the edge of being reunified by force, so as to effectively affect the approval rating of the Tsai administration. 

We should take Tsai's denial of the 1992 Consensus as a turning point and end the disturbance of Taiwan independence on cross-Straits ties. The Democratic Progressive Party should be made to realize that if it continues to engage in Taiwan independence moves, the political costs will be more than it could bear.

New word in political vocabulary? ‘Alt-right’ used for right-wingers now refers to Trump supporters

Bernie Sanders On Obamacare: It’s GOP’s ‘Job To Come Up With Alternative’

Video - The Legacy Of Barack Obama - Fareed Zakaria

Hillary Clinton Receives Ovation at ‘The Color Purple’


Hillary Clinton, who has kept a relatively low public profile since losing the presidential election two months ago, on Sunday showed up at the final performance of a revival of “The Color Purple” on Broadway.
Mrs. Clinton received a sustained standing ovation from the sold-out crowd, a response far warmer than the scattered booing and clapping that greeted the arrival of Vice President-elect Mike Pence when he attended “Hamilton,” just one block north, on Nov. 18. Mrs. Clinton was accompanied by her husband, Bill Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.
Because the Sunday matinee was the last performance for this acclaimed production, which won last year’s Tony for best musical revival, there were other boldfaced names there as well, including Phylicia Rashad (the 2004 Tony winner for best actress in a play, “Raisin in the Sun”) and Debra Messing, who made her Broadway debut in 2014 in “Outside Mullingar.”
Public sightings of Mrs. Clinton in the weeks since the election have still been sufficiently rare that they create a stir on social media. Strangers seek photographs with her at stores and in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. But Mrs. Clinton has indicated that she and her husband plan to attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president on Jan. 20.
“The Color Purple” tells the searing story of a young black woman abused by her stepfather and her husband in rural Georgia in the early 20th century. The musical is an adaptation of a best-selling 1982 novel, by Alice Walker, which was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Steven Spielberg adapted the novel into a film in 1985, and Oprah Winfrey, who was featured in the film, went on to become an important champion, and co-producer, of the musical.

Video Interview - President Obama - ABC - George Stephanopoulos

President Obama says he advised Trump to trust the U.S. intelligence community

President Obama, in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC, said he told President-elect Donald Trump that he must have confidence in the U.S. intelligence community in order to make good decisions.
"When I talked to him about our intelligence agencies, what I've said to him is that there are going to be times where you've got raw intelligence that comes in and, in my experience over eight years, the intelligence community is pretty good about saying, 'Look, we can't say for certain what this means,' " Obama said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week.
"But there are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working," Obama said. "And the people that you put in charge are giving you their very best assessments."
Trump said Friday that he had a "constructive" meeting with intelligence officials, but still had questions about assertions that Russia hacked Democrats during last year's election in order to boost Trump's campaign and defeat Hillary Clinton.
In a report released by the intelligence community Friday, U.S. officials said they "assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election."
"I think that what is true is that the Russians intended to meddle and they meddled," Obama said on ABC.
He also warned against letting partisanship undermine faith in U.S. intelligence-gathering.
"One of the things I am concerned about is the degree to which we’ve seen a lot of commentary lately where there are Republicans or pundits or cable commentators who seem to have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than fellow Americans because those fellow Americans are Democrats," Obama said. "That cannot be."
Obama acknowledged that he underestimated Russia's hacking abilities.
"I don't think I underestimated (Vladimir Putin), but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyber hacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating," he said.
Obama urged Trump and Congress to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity and prevent any more foreign interference in U.S. elections.
“I think it's important that Congress, on a bipartisan basis, work with the next administration, looking forward to make sure that this kind of (foreign) influence is minimized," the president said. "We have to remind ourselves we’re on the same team. Vladimir Putin’s not on our team."
Obama also said he has talked to Trump about Trump's fondness for using Twitter to communicate with the American people.
"I've said to him, and I think others have said to him, that the day that he is the president of the United States, there are world capitals and financial markets and people all around the world who take really seriously what he says, and in a way that's just not true before you're actually sworn in as president," Obama said.
Obama said he told Trump that running the country is much different than running a business.
"You can't manage it the way you would manage a family business," Obama said. "You have to have a strong team around you. You have to have respect for institutions and the process to make good decisions because you are inherently reliant on other folks."
The president said his private conversations with the incoming commander-in-chief have been "cordial" and that Trump has been open to his advice.
"The main thing that I've tried to transmit is that there's a difference between governing and campaigning, so that what he has to appreciate is as soon as you walk into this office after you've been sworn in, you're now in charge of the largest organization on Earth," Obama said.
Obama said he and Trump are opposite in many ways but that they have one big thing in common — confidence.
"It's probably a prerequisite for the job, or at least you have to have enough craziness to think that you can do the job," Obama said.

Pakistan - Who decides Fata’s fate?

In colonial literature as well as in contemporary analysis, the tribal areas of northern Pakistan have been stereotypically represented. They are depicted as either a populace of permanently armed warriors who sit in jirgas all day or, as nomadic victims trapped in conflict under imperialist attacks and state exploitation awaiting rescue from donors, development workers and Phd documentary makers.
The Fata reform debate is predictably hinged on these two pivots of culture and conflict, as if no other framework may be imagined or voiced by the citizens themselves. In this postcolonial transitionary moment, the government may like to revisit its poor record in nation-building or territorial integrity, to avoid repeating historical mistakes.
Under the government’s proposed Fata reforms, why should the decisions of ‘Elders’ and not the ‘youth’ prevail in the re-structuring of the agencies? Why should women not be consulted and offered the extension of the progressive laws of Pakistan, if they are citizens of the same country?
Who benefits from the continuation of the rule of exceptionalism claimed by a majoritarian religion and military powers?
As spokespersons and gatekeepers of traditions, Elders may be wise in experience but they have also been allies in retaining the privileges of political agents. Such collusion is a legacy of the historical practice that embedded colonial and exploitative economic power in India. Bureaucrats, chieftains, religious leaders and donors only devise means of retaining the status quo and reaping profit. The leadership of the Fata Reforms Committee should not be decided on the basis of age or experience but in fact, for intrepidness. Why do we admire that quality in the young leaders of Kashmir but not for Fata?
Reform means more than just re-forming Fata’s institutional and administrative structures. There is a live debate amongst the people of Fata. It is not valued because it has no formal representative channel of communication. To include the voices of the young, women and multiple minorities in the new social contract for the agencies does not mean holding a referendum under the prevailing unequal political climate. This would only invite a perverse manipulation of ballots. Excluding the views of the displaced and dispossessed simply encourages simmering resentment, disconnection and rebellion in the long run.
Under the proposed reforms, why should the decisions of ‘Elders’ and not the ‘youth’ prevail in the re-structuring of the agencies? Why should women not be consulted and offered the extension of the progressive laws of Pakistan, if they are citizens of the same country? Who benefits from the continuation of the rule of exceptionalism.
It has been overwhelmingly clear for years that the FCR is an unacceptable feature in Fata and must be dismantled completely. This has opened up the important debate of whether the best option is to replace regulation with the proposed Rewaj Act.
Many liberals reject the ideal of a parallel legal system primarily due to the patriarchal nature of informal justice regimes and their bias against women and minorities. However, to align the justice system of Fata with the Constitution requires a better strategy than the unsuccessful attempt to simply outlaw jirgas, as in Sindh.
The significance of the recommendation for replacing the FCR with the Rewaj Act is that it calls for scrutiny of all judgments by the High Courts and Supreme Court, in order to ensure that no judgment can circumvent either human rights or Quranic principles. For some in Fata, this is a practical recommendation while for others it is a stalling strategy. Whichever prevails, the opposing voices must be given fair hearing.
There are also signs that this debate is gendered and generational. It is not urbane Pakistanis but the residents of Fata who are debating the value of tribalism and tradition, too.
Romanticising culture as an ideal becomes a lever of control that justifies the refusal to arithmetically account for citizens’ needs via a regular census. This makes it impossible to prescribe a uniform policy or a fair system of compensation of displaced or vulnerable peoples.
As the government attempts to finalise a political framework for Fata, the economic hitmen are preparing business briefs and loans under the guise of altruism. The favoured mantra is to foster the “resilience of the people”. Recovery, restoration, sustenance, assistance and rebuilding do not define the needs of the affectees but the priority of the specialist bent of the donor in question.
There is broad consensus that Fata should merge with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the FCR must be dismantled along with all its proxy political and economic powers and influence. Critically, the Fata Secretariat needs a very focused, professional and sustained strengthening process and not some ad hoc, throw-a-few-dollars triumphant development. If it is to function as the hub of policy and implementation then let the Secretariat be consciously supported by independent economists, intelligentsia, social workers and participatory processes throughout the transition period — but as a collective dialogue and not through individual non-representative consultancies.
Instead of centralised plans and international donor dependency, it is local government that is the most reliable and accountable litmus of efficacy in peoples’ governance. This must be strengthened.
A democratically imagined administrative structure that is invested in accountable and creative reform for the people is possible if there is no pandering and negotiations with some vague thing called traditional buy-in.
It is time to listen to the voices of reason from within Fata. As Sher Rehman from the remote Shawal district in North Waziristan says wisely, “Traditions don’t end just because new laws are passed.” And anyway….who fears rights-based laws? Only those players or practices that benefit from denial of these rights. Reform cannot be led by just men, money, mullahs and the military. Fata deserves better than a repetition of Pakistan’s postcolonial mistakes.


#RecoverSalmanHaider: Bilawal urges for safe and sound recovery of Salman Haider

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed deep concern over the reported kidnapping of Human Rights activist Prof. Salman Haider from Islamabad and demanded his immediate recovery.
“Disappearance of a human rights activist from country’s capital has laid bare the harrowing depth of insecurity in Islamabad streets during PML-N’s government and its Interior Ministry,” he added.
PPP Chairman urged for safe and sound recovery of Prof. Salman Haider and action against those involved in his kidnapping.
He said citizens going missing without any clue and government’s lacklustre attitude towards them speak the volume of injustice to the both people and the country.

China’s Trouble With Pakistan’s Turbulent Democracy

Beijing’s ‘diplomatic cover’ for Masood Azhar is bad for both Pakistan and China

A retired Chinese diplomat, Mao Siwei, in a blog a fortnight ago, critiqued his government’s decision to block attempts to impose a United Nations ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed leader, Masood Azhar. While Mao served in India, his views on Pakistan’s terrorist networks were influenced by his term as China’s deputy ambassador in Islamabad at a time when militant groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban were threatening the capital city itself — and, among others, killed several Chinese workers. “Is Azhar a terrorist?” asks Mao, and writes “the answer should be yes.”
The social media views of a retired official are no indication of government policy. In China, where the foreign ministry infamously lacks influence, they probably count for even less. However, the blog has helped underline the increasingly strident and public support by Beijing for any actions, rogue or otherwise, of Islamabad. It also underlines the increasing contradictions this “back Pakistan, wrong or right” policy means for China’s other foreign policy positions.
One contradiction, and the most obvious, is that Beijing has sought global support for its own support against homegrown Islamicist terror groups. Therefore, its provision of diplomatic cover for the most egregious of Pakistan’s terrorism-related activities severely undermines its own policy on that front. India would be well within its rights to say it will “review,” for example, its stance on the Uighur separatist movement in China.
The other is China’s entire stance on how best to help Pakistan. Beijing accepts that its “all weather friend” is a troubled nation. It argues much of what it does, from building economic corridors to becoming Pakistan’s primary supplier of weapons, is designed to help stabilise that country and ensure it does not collapse. India has heard similar arguments — from the United States during its periodic bursts of bonhomie with Pakistan. The Chinese arguments are as short-sighted as the American ones. There is a consensus across the world that the source of that country’s instability is its military’s outsized political role, its demonisation of India to legitimise that role, and the sponsorship of terrorist groups to maintain a state of conflict between the two countries. These militant groups have developed an additional utility for the generals of being used to keep Pakistan’s own democratic parties in line.
Nothing China is doing addresses this core problem in Pakistan. If anything, it only further metastasises the cancer that afflicts that country. Mao’s blog implicitly highlights this issue. The more blatantly Beijing bends over backwards on behalf of Islamabad, the worse that country’s behaviour will become in the long-term. And, in the short-term, whatever little progress is possible on the India-China front is being sacrificed.

Pakistan - ‘Sending Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi-led coalition not appropriate’

A senior Pakistani analyst believes that appointment of former Pak army chief General Raheel Sharif (retd) as Saudi led coalition chief is not appropriate.
In an interview with a foreign news agency, Lieutenant General Talat Masood (retd) said the whole coalition is controversial and heading an organization which does not have the full support of Muslim world is not a correct decision to be made.
Defence Minister Kh Muhammad Asif has confirmed the recent development that Gen Raheel was made the chief of Saudi led coalition.
Gen Talat Masood said that this coalition backs Saudi Arabia which is fighting war in Yemen and has its own interests. “There are many countries which are backing Saudi Arabia, but at the same time there are also countries which are opposing Saudi Arabia in Yemen,” he noted.
He said at the personal level, this appointment shows that Gen Raheel Sharif’s services during his three-year tenure as Pak army chief had been lauded and the Saudis appointed him on the basis of his performance, but the fact remains that this appointment has been done by the approval of Pakistani government, so there seems to be sort of approval of military engagement against Yemen by this coalition.
“One should be very careful while engaging in military operation in Yemen especially when there is no unanimity in the Muslim world specially regarding Yemen conflict,” said the analyst.
He was of the opinion that viewed the coalition cannot achieve its targets without key regional countries rather it could become a coalition against each other actually.