And so the plot thickens. Hands down, China is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea. It is gobbling-up maritime features left and right. Littoral states, friendly or not to them, are no longer turning a blind eye. Things are getting out of hand. And with the (1) intentional ramming and sinking of boats; (2) water cannon forays; (3) burning and looting of Chinese factories in Vietnam; (4) killing of Chinese nationals also in Vietnam; (5) USA’s Asian Pivot; (6) incarceration of eleven Chinese poachers in Half Moon Bay by Philippine Maritime Forces; (7) brazen installation of an oil rig in the Paracels; (8) construction of an unsinkable aircraft carrier / airstrip in the Mabini reef; (9) continued air and sea stand-off in the Senkaku/Diayou island chain; (10) harassment of Philippine troops stationed at the Ayungin shoal; (11) abduction of two Chinese nationals in Sabah, Malaysia, allegedly by the Abu Sayaff; (12) and China’s bellicose statements in its state-run media, a global war is not far off.
For quite some time now, I have kept my silence on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute. It’s not that I have lost interest or have have adopted a defeatist perspective but it’s just that I am too infoxiated by it. Apparently, any issue, no matter how relevant, loses its “bite” when one is inundated by it. At first, I thought I can train my mind and body to endure processing 200-300 news feeds for a few hours everyday. I did. However, after a couple of months, the topic lost its flavor and I sank into a writing stupor.
A major part of the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea dispute stems from misunderstandings on the definitions of maritime features. These features, as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), determine the extent of Territorial Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones. It follows that countries who ratified the convention are bound by the agreement. It is unfortunate that although shoals, rocks, reefs, islands, and low tide elevations are reported in the press, why they are relevant allude us. Therefore, it is essential that we understand what they are and how they affect the sovereignty and rights of the countries they belong to.
The United States of America (USA) is cutting its military budget to pre-World War II levels. Due to the Afghanistan war, the United State’s longest ground war, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel proposes that it is necessary to refit the armed forces. He proposes to reduce the army to pre-World War II levels – about 450,000 strong, from post 9/11 570,000. He also proposes to decommission the nuclear super aircraft carrier USS George Washington. But the cut doesn’t stop there, the air-force’s entire A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft fleet, that benefits ground forces in combat, is also scheduled for the chopping board.
When trying to get a ‘low-down’ on a big and complicated issue such as the West Philippine Sea (WPS) / South China Sea (SCS) dispute, more often than not, facts, details, and fine-print obscure the matter considerably – if not completely. Like learning a new language from a dictionary, infoxiation – or the over abundance of information, just gets in the way. If the intent is simply to learn how to say, “back-off” in Mandarin, etymologies, phonetics, and other nuances, though important in their own right, dissuade the reader from reaching his/her objective – to be informed. Such is the case of the WPS/SCS dispute, it is obscured by in-obscurity! There are just too many materials on the issue and they grow every day.
It is quite mind-boggling how the government can claim positive economic growth while there is a 12.1M employment deficit. According to Okun’s law, “a one point increase in the cyclical unemployment rate is associated with two percent age points of negative growth in real GDP.” Therefore, the relationship between GDP and employment is directly proportional: positive economic growth means more jobs, vice-versa. Thus the current domestic economy-to-employment ratio is anything but logical.
China is waging “Lawfare” – China’s implementation of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), that requires all aircraft passing over Japanese occupied Diaoyu islands and the seas surrounding it to register with Beijing or else face “defensive measures,” is a clear example of Lawfare or the “Act of Using International Laws as a Weapon of War.” The term was coined by Air Force General Charles Dunlap in 2001 at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy in Harvard.
It is amazing how a developed nation, like China, acts like a brat in the face of legitimate political criticism. It is like a one-upped school bully that resorts to name calling to feign courage and hide humiliation.
China has invaded us and we have not even noticed. “The Malaysian Insider,” a foreign newspaper, reports that the Chinese “navy has drilled 30km from…
I find it morbidly entertaining how people latch-on to issues that are insignificant, irrelevant and inconsequential – that in any way, neither improve nor degrade their lives. Rather than waste our time trying to get the latest buzz on a scandal that has neither substance nor importance, why don’t we focus on more useful and meaningful things?
Given the open proliferation of addictive and mind altering substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, in my opinion, discussions on marijuana legalization is irrelevant and…