Posted: July 2, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Space & Aviation | Tags: ATR 72, Aviation Safety Council, Cockpit voice recorder, Flight simulator, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Police Force, Keelung River, Taipei, Taipei Songshan Airport, Taiwan, TransAsia Airways
Official report confirms that the crash that left 43 people dead was caused by an engine malfunctioning and a pilot mistakenly shutting down the other
Andrea Chen and Sijia Jiang report: The captain of the TransAsia aircraft that crashed into a river in Taipei in February, killing 43 people, shut down the plane’s only working engine by mistake after the other had failed, a report by accident investigators confirmed on Thursday.
“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Captain Liao Chien-tsung was heard saying on flight recorders eight seconds before the crash, the report by Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said.
Liao was initially hailed a hero for steering the aircraft away from buildings.
His training records released by the council showed that he had failed a simulator check during his test for promotion to captain last year due to “insufficient knowledge” of engine flameout.
But the council did not apportion any blame in its report.
A Hong Kong-based pilot told the South China Morning Post that TransAsia had tested all pilots on the handling of engine failure since the crash and 30 per cent failed. Those who failed would receive more training and be retested. He said pilots were supposed to turn off a failed engine to secure it.
The passenger flight GE 235, an ATR72-600, clipped a bridge and crashed into the Keelung River with 58 people on board, including 31 from the mainland, just minutes after taking off from Taipei Songshan Airport.
Among the dead were the captain and the co-pilot. Thirteen passengers and one cabin crew member sustained serious injuries. The other person on board suffered only minor injuries. Two people on the ground – a taxi driver and his female passenger – suffered minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 1, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China | Tags: Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, China, Communist Party of China, Han Chinese, Hotan, Intermediate people's court, Qiemo County, Uyghur people, Xi Jinping, Xinjiang
The upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do
Felicia Sonmez writes: Quality over quantity. Less is more.
Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”
Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.
In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.
China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.
[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.
The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 30, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Japan | Tags: 1964 Summer Olympics, 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Summer Olympics, British Iraqis, Hakubun Shimomura, Japan, Olympic games, Tokyo, Yōichi Masuzoe, Zaha Hadid
Jun Hongo reports: Japan’s sports minister on Monday said the government will stick to its original construction plan for a new national stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, noting the project will now cost about $2 billion.
Designed by U.K.-based architect Zaha Hadid, the new stadium will feature two arches on its top and a retractable roof that won’t be completed in time for the Games. Construction is scheduled to finish before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan will also host. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 29, 2015 Filed under: Asia, History, Japan, Religion | Tags: Alliance Defending Freedom, Hobby Lobby, Homosexuality, Kawasaki Japan, Same-sex marriage, Shinto, Shinto priest, Shinto shrine, Supreme Court of the United States
TOKYO — John Matthews writes: In January 1999, a Shinto priest unofficially married two men in a shrine in Kawasaki, an industrial city near Tokyo. Literally “the way of the gods,” Shinto is officially the state religion of Japan, but it does not influence modern Japanese life the way that Christianity dominates in the United States. Rather, it’s more a matter of a shared culture — of ritual practices and belief in spirits — against which some people define themselves.
The ceremony took place at Kanamara Shrine, best known for its annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, during which participants pray for easy childbirth or protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Hirohiko Nakamura, the priest who performed the rites, told local media then that this was probably the first time a wedding ceremony had been held for two men in Japan. “This may become a call to seriously think about the diversity of sex,” he said.
“In Shinto, it says make many children, expand humanity, and be prosperous. And yet, it’s not explicitly written anywhere that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.”
— Hisae Nakamura
Fast-forward 16 years. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, overturning decades of often active and religiously motivated government discrimination against a minority of Americans. In Japan, gay marriage remains illegal — except for in one district, or ward, in Tokyo, which began recognizing same-sex marriages in March. A month earlier, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been arguing for revising Japan’s Constitution to allow a more assertive military, said that reforming the Japanese Constitution to allow for gay marriage would be difficult.
[Check out Louis Crompton‘s 2003 book “Homosexuality and Civilization” at Amazon.com]
Across Japan, opinions about gay rights diverge. Technically, homosexuality is legal, Kazuyuki Minami, a lawyer in Osaka, reminded a journalist from the Associated Press, “but the atmosphere is such that most people feel homosexuals should not exist.” Reuters, citing a mid-2013 poll by the research firm Ipsos, reported that while 60 or 70 percent of people in most Western nations say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, only 5 percent of Japanese do. Kanae Doi, the Japan director for the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch, told Foreign Policy that while many Japanese are not opposed to homosexuality, “they don’t really see it.”
[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]
And while Shinto doesn’t have a clear stance on homosexuality, it “advocates that it’s not natural,” as one Shinto priest told me in Tokyo’s prominent Meiji Shrine in early June, a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling. The Association of Shinto Shrines, the administrative body that oversees Japan’s estimated 80,000 shrines and 20,000 priests, tend to be conservative on social issues, the priest said. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 29, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Diplomacy, Global, War Room | Tags: Boston Business Journal, Defense Department, Dion Nissenbaum, Futurist, Gabourey Sidibe, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Peter Singer
World War III scenarios could become a reality, says Peter Singer, Author of ‘Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War‘
WASHINGTON— Dion Nissenbaum writes: Peter Singer, one of Washington’s pre-eminent futurists, is walking the Pentagon halls with an ominous warning for America’s military leaders: World War III with China is coming.
In meeting after meeting with anyone who will listen, this modern-day soothsayer wearing a skinny tie says America’s most advanced fighter jets might be blown from the sky by their Chinese-made microchips and Chinese hackers easily could worm their way into the military’s secretive intelligence service, and the Chinese Army may one day occupy Hawaii.
“It may not be politic, but it is, in my belief, no longer useful to avoid talking about the great power rivalries of the 21st century and the real dangers of them getting out of control.”
The ideas might seem outlandish, but Pentagon officials are listening to the 40-year-old senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank.
In hours of briefings, Mr. Singer has outlined his grim vision for intelligence officials, Air Force officers and Navy commanders. What makes his scenarios more remarkable is that they are based on a work of fiction: Mr. Singer’s soon-to-be-released, 400-page techno thriller, “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.”
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
“World War III may seem like something that was either a fear in the distant past or a risk in the distant future,” Mr. Singer told a dozen Air Force officers during a Pentagon briefing last week. “But, as the Rolling Stones put it in ‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘It’s just a shot away.’ ”
Pentagon officials typically don’t listen to the doom-and-gloom predictions of fiction writers. But Mr. Singer comes to the table with an unusual track record. He has written authoritative books on America’s reliance on private military contractors, cybersecurity and the Defense Department’s growing dependence on robots, drones and technology.
[Order Peter Singer’s book “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War” from Amazon.com]
The Army, Navy and Air Force already have included two of his books on their official reading lists. And he often briefs military leaders on his research.
“Ghost Fleet,” co-written with former Wall Street Journal reporter August Cole is based on interviews, military research and years of experience working with the Defense Department.
“He’s the premier futurist in the national-security environment,” said Mark Jacobson, a special assistant to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who made sure his boss read the book. “Peter’s always where the ball is going to be. And people in the Pentagon listen to what he has to say.”
Release of the book by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Tuesday comes during a new period of soul-searching for the U.S. military. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 28, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Japan, War Room | Tags: Boeing P-8 Poseidon, China, Land reclamation, Philippines, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, Surveillance aircraft, United States Navy
Tensions have risen in recent weeks over China’s extensive land reclamation activity in the Spratlys. The U.S. hopes Japan will join its maritime air patrols over the disputed waters to check on what it sees as China’s expansionism.
Chiko Tsuneoka reports: Japan’s next-generation surveillance plane, officially unveiled earlier this week, will enable its military to conduct longer reconnaissance missions at a time when Tokyo is paying close attention to China’s growing presence in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
The P-1, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., is crammed full of high-performance sensor equipment and the latest data-processing systems to detect submarines and small vessels.
“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary.”
The new plane, billed as the world’s first production aircraft to use fly-by-light fiber-optic cable technology, has a cruising speed of 830 kilometers an hour (515 mph), 30% faster than the P-3C patrol plane it will replace, and a range of 8,000 kilometers, an increase of more than 20%.
“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary” for detecting submarines and other targets, said Cmdr. Jun Masuda of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s 511 Fight Unit during a presentation of the new jet at the MSDF’s Atsugi Air Base in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
The introduction of the P-1 comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is looking to pass security legislation to expand the scope of Japan’s military activities and bolster U.S.-Japan joint defense operations, partly in response to Beijing’s expanding military footprint in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 26, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Politics | Tags: Associated Press, Beijing, China, Communist Party of China, Democracy, Government of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Pan-democracy camp, People's Daily, Regina Ip
Isabella Steger reports: Beijing is striving to present a united front with its supporters in Hong Kong’s legislature, even as the pro-establishment camp is rocked by a series of leaked online conversations related to last week’s failed vote on a 2017 election overhaul.
“According to the leaked conversations published by the Oriental Daily, participants in the online chat included Jasper Tsang, a veteran pro-Beijing politician who is also the president of the legislature. The conversation shows Mr. Tsang was involved in the discussion last Thursday morning to orchestrate the timing of the vote.”
On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily newspaper published a series of conversations among a group of pro-Beijing lawmakers on the popular mobile messaging service Whatsapp, showing the internal debate before the vote took place and the politicians’ reactions afterwards.
An image of the Oriental Daily’s report on the leaked chats on Thursday.
Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal
“That compromised Mr. Tsang’s obligation to remain neutral as president of the Legislative Council, opposition lawmakers said, with some demanding that he step down.”
Pro-Beijing lawmakers last week attempted to stage a walkout of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to delay a vote on the election plan. Yet the tactic backfired: The vote was not postponed, and the package – which had been expected to narrowly fall short of passage – met a resounding defeat. In the wake of the vote, pro-Beijing lawmakers such as Regina Ip, a former security secretary, and Jeffrey Lam, who initiated the walkout, delivered emotional public apologies over the blunder.
“Everyone who could be a potential defector in the opposition has already spoken, it doesn’t look like there will be a change to the final result.”
— Mr. Tsang wrote in the chat, according to the leaked transcripts
The election plan, which for the first time would grant the public the right to vote for the city’s top leader, is opposed by pro-democracy lawmakers because it only allows pre-screened candidates to run. While pro-Beijing lawmakers hold a majority in Hong Kong’s legislature, the pro-democracy camp’s opposition to the measure denied it the two-thirds majority required for passage. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 22, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Baghdad, Big Brother, Bret Stephens, Eason Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Jason Rezaian, journalism, North Korea, propaganda, WSJ
Journalism from places like North Korea and Iran should be prefaced with a disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too
Bret Stephens writes: The New York Times recently featured a photo and video essay by the celebrated photojournalist David Guttenfelder titled “Illuminating North Korea.” It’s a potent reminder that nothing is so blinding as the illusion of seeing.
I don’t mean to disparage Mr. Guttenfelder’s photographic skills or his sincerity. But what are we to make of a photo essay heavy on pictures of modern-looking factories and well-fed children being fussed over in a physical rehabilitation center? Or—from his Instagram account (“Everyday DPRK”)—of theme-park water slides, Christian church interiors, well-stocked clothing stores and rollerblading Pyongyang teens—all suggesting an ordinariness to North Korean life that, as we know from so many sources, is a travesty of the terrifying truth?
I’ve been thinking about Mr. Guttenfelder’s photos, and of the prominence the Times gave them, while considering the trade-offs between access and propaganda. In April 2003, Eason Jordan, then CNN’s news chief, wrote a revealing op-ed in the Times about his network’s coverage of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
“Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders,” Mr. Jordan wrote. “Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard—awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”
It was an appalling confession of a massive journalistic whitewash, all for the sake of scoring prime time with tyrants. But sometimes it takes a great fool to reveal an important truth. In this case, the truth that much of what passes for news reporting from closed societies is, if not worthless, compromised to the point that it should be prefaced with an editorial disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 21, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, China, Food & Drink, Global | Tags: Aung San Suu Kyi, Beijing, Burma, Cat meat, China, Communist Party of China, Dog, Dog meat, Food safety, Hong Kong, Humane Society International, List of British comedians, President of the People's Republic of China, Ricky Gervais, Twitter, Xi Jinping, Xinhua News Agency
Alyssa Abkowitz writes: The dog days of summer have arrived.
As locals prepare for the annual Yulin Dog Eating Festival in China’s Guangxi region, animal rights organizations are unleashing high-profile figures and waging global social media campaigns in an effort to bring the event to heel.
“An estimated 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual festival, which marks the traditional start of summer and will occur on June 22 this year. Festival participants typically pair dog meat with lychees and a bevy of grain alcohol.”
As of June 18, Animals Asia, a Hong Kong based advocacy group, said that within the past two weeks, around 70,000 people had signed a letterasking China’s dog meat traders to stay away from the festival. It’s the first year Animals Asia has run a petition, the group said.
British comedian Ricky Gervais has partnered with Humane Society International to campaign against the festival. Mr. Gervais recently tweeted out, “Please help our best friend. #StopYuLin2015.” He included a photo of a canine with lipstick rings on its face, along with the caption: “The only marks you should leave on a dog.”
Humane Society International also launched a letter-writing campaign and has bestowed the name “Ricky” (in Mr. Gervais’ honor) to a black-and-white pooch rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse last month. According to the Humane Society, 400,000 people have used the organization’s websiteto send messages directly to Guangxi’s Communist Party secretary, Peng Qinghua. Mr. Peng could not be reached for comment, and Humane Society officials did not immediately respond to a request for further details on how the messages were delivered and whether they had successfully reached his office.
[Read the full text here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]
Raise UR Paw, a non-profit in Canada, said that as of June 15 its letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the petition website change.org had received more than 340,000 signatures. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 20, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Entertainment, Japan | Tags: Comics Books, Dracula, Horror, Illustration, Magazines, Movie Poster, Poster Art, Thriller, Vampire, Werewolf
via vampirestatebuilding, suicidewatch
Posted: June 19, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Law & Justice | Tags: Alan Leong, Beijing, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, China, Communist Party of China, Crown colony, CY Leung, Electoral reform, Hong Kong, Legislative Council of Hong Kong, National People's Congress, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp
The territory blocks Beijing’s preferred election law
Hong Kong democrats celebrated Thursday as the city’s legislature blocked passage of the Beijing-backed election law that sparked last year’s 75-day mass protests. Not that this was a surprise. Beijing’s vision of democracy—a rigged election in which Hong Kongers could vote only for candidates chosen by a small pro-Beijing committee—was politically dead on arrival.
“All 27 pro-democracy legislators voted no and even picked up a vote from outside their caucus. The pro-Beijing camp staged a disorderly last-minute walk-out, leaving only eight votes in support of Beijing’s proposal. The veto would have held either way, but the scene was an appropriate end to the government’s attempt to subvert universal suffrage.”
Democrats in the legislature had the votes to block Beijing’s plan since it was announced last August. Then came the protests, during which democrats displayed greater numbers and determination than anyone expected. Public opinion, long critical of the government but divided on the reform vote, increasingly came to favor veto. Outside the legislature on Thursday, democrats outnumbered nominal pro-Beijing demonstrators, who wore matching shirts, refused to speak to the media and spoke Mandarin, not Hong Kong’s dominant Cantonese language.
“Unless Beijing puts forward a more acceptable plan, Hong Kong’s next leader will be selected in 2017 like the last, by a 1,200-member committee of the territory’s elite.”
All 27 pro-democracy legislators voted no and even picked up a vote from outside their caucus. The pro-Beijing camp staged a disorderly last-minute walk-out, leaving only eight votes in support of Beijing’s proposal. The veto would have held either way, but the scene was an appropriate end to the government’s attempt to subvert universal suffrage. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 17, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Global, Law & Justice | Tags: Alan Leong, Beijing, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, China, CY Leung, Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Mainland China, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp
For the Chinese government, the defeat was a blow to its effort to integrate Hong Kong into the mainland. And it was a rare defeat for the country’s Communist Party
HONG KONG — Isabella Steger
reports: Hong Kong’s legislature rejected a Beijing
-backed election-reform plan, ending a year of turmoil in the city and dealing a setback to the former British colony’s relationship with mainland China.
The outcome was expected, but the vote was called abruptly amid the second day of debate for the package, which would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to vote for their leader for the first time but required that candidates be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.
“After about 20 months of intense political wrangling, many people feel fatigued. No matter what the result today, society needs some time to calm down and reflect on what has happened over these past 20 months, and think about the future direction of Hong Kong.”
— Carrie Lam, the city’s No. 2 official who has spearheaded the effort to sell the electoral overhaul plan
Pro-government lawmakers walked out of the legislature before the vote, leaving the chamber filled with mostly opposition lawmakers, who had vowed to reject the plan. The vote was 28 against and eight in favor, with 34 not voting. The vote would have required a two-thirds majority to pass.
“After about 20 months of intense political wrangling, many people feel fatigued,” said Carrie Lam, the city’s No. 2 official who has spearheaded the effort to sell the electoral overhaul plan, in concluding remarks in the legislature just before the vote. “No matter what the result today, society needs some time to calm down and reflect on what has happened over these past 20 months, and think about the future direction of Hong Kong.”
Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok is surrounded by veto signs during his speech in Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
“We used our sacred vote today to veto a fake universal suffrage proposal. We helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing that we want real choice. This isn’t the end of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. A new chapter starts today.”
— Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator, told reporters after the vote
The vote on Thursday marks probably the most critical event in Hong Kong’s political development since pro-democracy activists started angling for greater democracy in the territory in the 1980s. Ms. Lam said Thursday that she couldn’t predict at what point Hong Kong’s democratic development would resume.
The rejection of the reform proposal was a victory for pro-democracy legislators who stuck to their pledge to reject the plan. The group had come under pressure from Beijing, which said they could be held to account for their votes. It was a serious defeat for Hong Kong’s government, which was forced to promote Beijing’s plan despite opposition in Hong Kong.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
“We used our sacred vote today to veto a fake universal suffrage proposal,” Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator, told reporters after the vote. “We helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing that we want real choice. This isn’t the end of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. A new chapter starts today”. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 17, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Breaking News, China | Tags: Agence France-Presse, Alan Leong, Beijing, Carrie Lam (politician), China, Hong Kong, Legislator, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp, South China Morning Post
Hong Kong (AFP) – Hong Kong lawmakers rejected a Beijing-backed political reform package Thursday as pro-democracy legislators united to vote down the divisive electoral roadmap that has sparked mass protests.
Most pro-government lawmakers staged a walkout as the bill headed for defeat, with just eight casting their vote in support of the package and 28 voting against it.
Posted: June 16, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Law & Justice | Tags: Beijing, British Empire, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, China, CY Leung, Democracy, Government of Hong Kong, Government of the People's Republic of China, Greenwich Mean Time, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Basic Law, Hong Kong people, Occupy Central, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp
Isabella Steger reports: Hong Kong’s legislature is expected to vote down a proposal that would let the public directly elect the city’s chief executive in 2017 — but only from a prescreened slate of candidates. The showdown follows city-wide protests and a year and a half of efforts by Hong Kong’s leaders to sell the Beijing-backed election plan. Here are five things to know about the vote.
1. The Legislature Will Vote This Week
The proposal currently on the table will be put to a vote this Wednesday and Thursday. This is arguably the most critical of five stages in the election overhaul blueprint, laid down by Beijing and in accordance with the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution
2. Pro-Democracy Lawmakers Oppose the Package
The package lays out the rules for electing Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017 within a framework formulated by Chinese authorities, in which all candidates must be nominated by a 1,200-member committee that is heavily pro-Beijing. After slight tweaks announced in April, the opposition maintains that the system is not democratic enough to allow one of their own candidates to stand.
3. The Plan Is Not Likely to Pass
27 pro-democracy lawmakers — who control a little more than one-third of the city’s legislature –say they will vote against the package, as has one lawmaker who isn’t part of the opposition camp. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 14, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Breaking News, Japan, War Room | Tags: Aftermath of World War II, Agence France-Presse, Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, Asia Pacific, Democratic Party of Japan, Japan, Kiyomi Tsujimoto, Liberal Democratic Party (Japan), Pacific Ocean, Philippines, Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, Tokyo
Thousands of Japanese rallied Sunday in protest at plans by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bolster the role and scope of the pacifist nation’s military
The protest which surrounded the Diet building was held as the nationalist premier tries to force through parliament a set of controversial bills making the changes.
The bills are a pet project of Abe, who says Japan can no longer shy away from its responsibility to help safeguard regional stability, and must step out from under the security umbrella provided by the United States.
The draft legislation would broaden the remit of Japan’s well-equipped and well-trained armed forces.
It would allow them to go into battle to protect allies-so-called “collective defense“-something which is banned by a strict reading of Japan’s pacifist constitution. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 14, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Diplomacy, Think Tank | Tags: Barack Obama, Beijing, Cold War, Foreign Affairs, George F. Kennan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Mao, Michael Pillsbury, Michael W. Smith, Richard Nixon, U.S.-Chinese relations, Xi Jinping
As tensions with China rise, U.S. foreign policy thinkers are dusting off ideas from the Cold War—and questioning the long-standing consensus for engagement with Beijing
Andrew Browne writes: Writing in 1967, at the height of the Cold War, Richard Nixon proclaimed a new American ambition: to “persuade China that it must change.”
“Taking the long view,” he wrote, “we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors.” Four years later, having ascended to the White House, Nixon engineered an “opening to China” that promised to turn the communist giant into a diplomatic partner, one that would adopt America’s values and maybe even its system of democracy.
“The turmoil in U.S. policy has been especially evident in recent months. An unprecedented stream of advisory reports from leading academic centers and think tanks has proposed everything from military pushback against China to sweeping concessions.”
For many Americans today, watching the administration of President Xi Jinping crack down hard on internal dissent while challenging the U.S. for leadership in Asia, that promise seems more remote than ever before. In his recently published book “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” Michael Pillsbury—an Asia specialist and Pentagon official under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—writes that China “has failed to meet nearly all of our rosy expectations.”
[Order Michael Pillsbury’s book “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower” from Amazon.com]
U.S. foreign policy has reached a turning point, as analysts from across the political spectrum have started to dust off Cold War-era arguments and to speak of the need for a policy of containment against China. The once solid Washington consensus behind the benefits of “constructive engagement” with Beijing has fallen apart.
“The prescriptions vary, but their starting point is the same: pessimism about the present course of U.S.-Chinese relations.”
The conviction that engagement is the only realistic way to encourage liberalization in China has persisted across eight U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. Jimmy Carter bequeathed Nixon’s policy to Ronald Reagan; George W. Bush to Barack Obama.
The turmoil in U.S. policy has been especially evident in recent months. An unprecedented stream of advisory reports from leading academic centers and think tanks has proposed everything from military pushback against China to sweeping concessions. The prescriptions vary, but their starting point is the same: pessimism about the present course of U.S.-Chinese relations.
President Richard Nixon, right, toasts Chinese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai during a banquet in Hangzhou, China, on Feb. 27, 1972.Photo: CORBIS
“For its part, China is utterly convinced that the U.S. is pursuing a policy of containment. “
The mood shift in Washington may end up being every bit as consequential as the one that came over the U.S. immediately after World War II, when it dawned on America that the Soviet Union wasn’t going to continue to be an ally. That is when the legendary U.S. diplomat and policy thinker George F. Kennan formulated his plan for containment.
“In one important respect, history is repeating itself: Both China and the U.S. have started to view each other not as partners, competitors or rivals but as adversaries.”
In a 1947 article in Foreign Affairs, he wrote that the U.S. “has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.” Kennan’s strategy—to bleed the Soviet Union through nonprovocative resistance—offered comfort to Europeans who feared that they faced a stark choice between war and capitulation.
“China’s missile and naval buildup, as well as its development of new cyber- and space-warfare capabilities, are aimed squarely at deterring the U.S. military from intervening in any conflict in Asia.”
A similar anxiety about China’s actions and intentions has now taken hold among many Asians. U.S. friends and allies in the region are flocking to America’s side to seek protection as Mr. Xi’s China builds up its navy, pushes its fleets farther into the blue ocean and presses its territorial claims. In what is just the latest assertive move to alarm the region, China is now dredging tiny coral reefs in the South China Sea to create runways, apparently for military jets.
[Read more here, at WSJ]
The U.S. is resisting. President Obama’s signature “pivot” to Asia—designed both to calm anxious U.S. friends and to recognize the region’s vast strategic importance in the 21st century—is bringing advanced American combat ships to Singapore, Marines to Australia and military advisers to the Philippines. Japan, America’s key ally in Asia, is rearming and has adjusted its pacifist postwar constitution to allow its forces to play a wider role in the region. The purpose of much of this activity is to preserve the independence of smaller Asian nations who fear they might otherwise have no choice but to fall into China’s orbit and yield to its territorial ambitions—in other words, to capitulate. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 14, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Global, Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: Beijing, Candlelight vigil, Democracy, government, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Federation of Students, Hong Kong people, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Northern and southern China, Pan-democracy camp, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Thousands march on the legislature to demand a freer vote
Joanna Plucinska reports: Nine months after the Umbrella Revolution began, pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand a say in the way the city’s leader is elected in polls slated for 2017.
“We’re not North Korea, we know what freedom is.”
— Carol Lo, a protester at Sunday’s rally
A crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people—workers and families as well as students and democracy activists—marched on Sunday afternoon from Victoria Park, a traditional gathering place for protests, to the legislature buildings downtown. Many carried yellow umbrellas—adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement after protesters took to carrying them during last year’s unrest to protect themselves from police pepper spray.
Riot police use tear gas against protesters after thousands of people blocked a main road at the financial central district in Hong Kong, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas on Sunday and warned of further measures as they tried to clear thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered outside government headquarters in a challenge to Beijing over its decision to restrict democratic reforms for the city. (AP Photo) HONG KONG
Others carried signs that read “Citizens Against Pseudo-Universal Suffrage,” declaring their opposition to the form of democracy described in a political reform bill to be voted on by the city’s legislature on June 17. That bill will allow the central government in Beijing, and a 1,200 member electoral college composed mostly of pro-establishment figures, to vet all candidates for the position of Chief Executive, as the city’s top official is known. Similarly unrepresentative electoral methods helped to spark last fall’s Umbrella Revolution, and protesters are once again demanding broader political rights.
“I’m a genuine citizen of Hong Kong, I’m not from China. Most people from China are after money, but I’m after truth.”
— Protester and Uber driver Chao Sang
“We’re not North Korea, we know what freedom is,” said Carol Lo, 35, a protester at Sunday’s rally and a parent of a 9-year-old girl. Lo voiced fears for the political future of Hong Kong’s next generation: “How will [my daughter] survive, if this situation gets worse and worse?” she said.
Policemen rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Another protester, Uber driver Chao Sang, voiced the growing tendency of many Hong Kongers to see themselves as politically, linguistically and culturally separate from mainland Chinese. “I’m a genuine citizen of Hong Kong, I’m not from China,” he told TIME. “Most people from China are after money, but I’m after truth.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 10, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Global, Science & Technology | Tags: Apple Inc, Apple Store, Car Kit, Carlo De Micheli, DIY, Electric vehicle, Hong Kong, iPhone, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tesla, United Kingdom, United States
The OSVehicle can be built in little over an hour from parts shipped in flatpacks from Italy and China
The car industry is tormented by how new rivals are coming in and upending the existing ways of doing business — whether that’s Tesla, Google or Apple.
One Hong Kong-based start-up wants to help accelerate the disruption.
OSVehicle will on Tuesday launch its latest “do-it-yourself car” — an electric four-seater that it says can be built in little over an hour from parts shipped in flatpacks from Italy and China.
“It lowers the barriers to entry for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to create vehicles in a whole new segment of the industry.”
— Carlo De Micheli, head of innovation at OSVehicle
The kit is aimed at companies that want to sell electric vehicles or run car sharing schemes, with would-be carmakers buying a platform from OSVehicle rather than a complete product.
“Companies that are entering this market are focusing on specific technologies, such as self-driving or high power electric vehicles. We are eager to see all the open source components that come out of their research…adopted by other companies worldwide.”
— Carlo De Micheli
They order the chassis, electric power-train, suspension, steering system and wheels from OSVehicle. Customers then create the bodywork to their own design.
“They order the chassis, electric power-train, suspension, steering system and wheels from OSVehicle. Customers then create the bodywork to their own design.”
“It lowers the barriers to entry for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to create vehicles in a whole new segment of the industry,” said Carlo De Micheli, head of innovation at OSVehicle.
The kit car platform is based on another by OSVehicle that is a two-seater called Tabby.
The company has yet to decide on the price of the four-seater platform. The two-seater iteration of its Tabby platform retailed at $4,000, excluding the lithium-based battery pack.
The “OS” in OSVehicle stands for open source and the company is part of a growing trend of transparent innovation in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »