Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bullying who? By Erick San Juan

Bullying who? By Erick San Juan

In recent events in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) where the US has shown its military power both air and sea created another tensed situation, which could lead not only to a regional conflict but a global war.

Situations like this could be avoided, as what Henry Kissinger, America’s prominent former secretary of state, had said, that the U.S. and China should look to the example of Deng Xiaoping when it comes to defusing China’s disputes with other claimants in the South China Sea.

“Deng Xiaoping dealt with some of his problems by saying not every problem needs to be solved in the existing generation,” Kissinger said in Singapore, where he attended Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral. “Let’s perhaps wait for another generation but let’s not make it worse.”
Applied to the South China Sea situation, that might mean shelving knotty issues surrounding territorial and maritime claims for now and perhaps even focusing on joint development.
 Kissinger is hardly the first person to suggest this. Just last month, Kurt Campbell, who was America’s top diplomat in the Asia-Pacific under the Obama administration until 2013, suggested at a keynote address to the Jamestown Foundation’s Fifth Annual Defense and Security Conference that the best we could do in the current environment is “export these problems into the future” and “establish some degree of understanding that the status quo or moderate adjustment of the status quo is in the best interest of all.”

However, while such an approach might be ideal in theory, Campbell himself admitted that in practice, no one is embracing this idea in the South China Sea.

“I think it would be fair to say not only have we been unsuccessful in basically persuading Chinese friends that this is the right approach in the South China Sea and elsewhere; we haven’t had very much success with other countries in that context as well,” he said. (Source: Prashanth Parameswaran, 4-7-15)

Time is of the essence as China is ‘hurriedly’ building structures in the reclaimed areas in the SCS and putting the territorial disputes in the back burner will give much time for China’s growth in the area. Which is why China wants bilateral talks in order to gain leverage in all aspects being the region’s superpower compared to the smaller claimant-countries.

Why are we being bullied by China? No thanks to the Mt Pinatubo explosion that discreetly pressured the US government to vacate Clark air base and Subic naval base and not the so called 'Magnificent 12'  anti- bases senators. The worst, the abrupt withdrawal led to a power vacuum not allowing our nation to develop a security plan. Our military camp was even privatized in the guise of modernizing our armed forces and make it self-reliant in vain.

In the recent development in the contested areas in the SCS, some pundits assessed US as the new bully, using sophisticated air and sea assets near China’s reclamation projects. But if one will look at it in another angle, there could be another motive by this aggressive move by the US military in the region, and this might involve the Philippines.

Talks about revisiting the Mutual Defense Treaty together with the Visiting Forces Agreement and the recent one – Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement could be the reason why suddenly the US is in the picture using the South China Sea territorial issues. The 'big brother' is sending the message that we need them very badly especially in the midst of the Bangsamoro Basic Law hearing.

We have to be wary and very observant  as to the real motives of this new ‘play’. Is the US – China tension for real, or is it all for a show? We have been used as a cannon fodder and was put in the crosshairs from Uncle Sam’s foes in the past. If we will allow it again this time, we are really looking for trouble.

Again, no thanks to our corrupt leadership.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

China's Strat by Erick San Juan

China's Strat by Erick San Juan

While China was prepared to talk, it would not back down on the construction (in the South China Sea) that, it is something that falls fully within the scope of China's sovereignty. The determination of the Chinese side to safeguard their own sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock, and it is unshakable.", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The above-mentioned statement was the response of Minister Wang when US Secretary of State John Kerry, in his two-day visit to Beijing, "urged China... to take actions that will join with everybody in helping to reduce tensions and increase the prospect of a diplomatic solution" in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

What else is new? There had been talks between US diplomats and Chinese officials in the past and there seemed to be no stopping the People’s Liberation Army and Navy in its militarization of the SCS. Is the US being too soft on China and will just have to tolerate its actions despite the growing protests of the other SCS claimants?

I really have to rethink what Ferdie Pasion said in his text message that the "US wants the Philippines to be ‘China’s Ukraine’ to ‘sap the resources’ of China and stop the rapid rise of China and ASEAN’s economies. The only problem is that - it is us Pinoys who will have to do the ‘dying’ on the altar of this evil experiment of the American military industrial complex. No to war! No to massive depopulation through American – instigated war between China and the Philippines! China is willing to have bilateral talks with the Philippines but what the US want is a multilateral dialogue among the claimants and China which is not what China wants ever since." And in Ferdie’s viewpoint, China wants peace but the US wants war to erupt between China and the Philippines because in the process the American private corporations will earn while the Filipinos will die in a war that we can never win.

This is the sad reality and I have been telling this through my radio broadcasts that aside from being short changed we will always play as their cannon fodder.

The so-called talk between Kerry and Xi are all for a show because there seems to be an understanding between the two superpowers on how they will both benefit from this part of the region by using us and all our country’s riches.

And from the words of Dr. Sukjoon Yoon (a retired Captain of the Republic of Korea Navy) in his article ‘Why is China Militarizing the South China Sea?’ - Sadly, therefore, we should see the militarization of the South China Sea as a misguided statement of China’s political choices, rather than an expression of military flexibility. For more than 10 years now, the PLAN’s naval modernization has focused on the assertive manifestation of solid naval power. Of course, this has disturbed China’s neighbors, the small and weak ASEAN countries, as well as sending the wrong signals to Japan and the United States: this is not the way to become a true maritime power.
Throughout history, most maritime powers striving for “command” of their seas to protect their national commerce and other interests have faced severe financial and military resources deficits, so that absolute sea control has remained a matter of political imagination.

True, naval powers respect their neighbors and cooperate with them; maritime peace and prosperity is best maintained by recognizing maritime domains protected by properly codified international law: purely military tools are insufficient.

The South China Sea disputes are unnecessarily complicating China’s own progress: surely China’s “peaceful rise” should contribute to the common destiny of East Asia. On a more positive note, the PLAN is starting to develop a conceptual understanding of modern naval warfare and to incorporate this into its strategic approach. This militarization of the South China Sea is a fruitless distraction: China will only become a true maritime power by making further adjustments to outdated mindsets, both within the PLAN and also in the wider political leadership.”

There's even a 'joke' that during the meeting of China's president Xi Jin Ping with US State Department Secretary John Kerry, Sec. Kerry secretly whispered to Pres. Xi to stop invading the Pacific Ocean, the perceived US territory and just mind China's business in it's 9 dash line control of South China Sea.

 We have to be wary and united in order to survive a geopolitical strategy being played against us.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Human Error by Erick San Juan

Human Error by Erick San Juan

"Human error is always the first explanation you should consider for a laboratory accident. The easiest way to transfer something from one place where it's supposed to be, to another where it isn't supposed to be is by a worker moving from one place to the other." Richard Ebright, the Rutgers microbiologist and biosafety expert.

Sloppy biosafety practices can result in pathogens being tracked out of labs on shoes, coats, gloves, hands or other materials that weren't properly sterilized before being removed, he said.

Federal officials did not provide any information on how they suspect the bacteria got out.

The use of the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is highly regulated in research because it's deemed to pose a significant health threat, can kill up to 50% of those sickened, and is classified as a potential bioterror agent by the Federal Select Agent Program. Tulane scientists had been doing research to develop a vaccine for the bacterium, which is primarily found in soil and water in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, and causes a disease called Melioidosis that can manifest with a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe.

Burkholderia pseudomallei can cause a potentially serious disease in people and animals called melioidosis, that has a wide range of non-specific symptoms, such as fever, headache, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain, and infections are often mistaken for other diseases such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. The time between exposure to the bacteria and the development of symptoms can range from one day to many years, according to the CDC, though most human infections do not cause symptoms.

Several countries have studied using the bacteria as a bioweapon because strains can be obtained from the environment and engineered to be resistant to multiple antibiotics, according to the UPMC Center for Health Security, an independent biosecurity think tank. (Alison Young, USA TODAY, 3/5/2015)

Accident in the laboratory of the highest level of protection in Tulane National Primate Center in Louisiana, USA resulted in the leak of a highly deadly bacteria that is common in Asia. After it hits an organism, for example a human, he may suffer from an acute infectious disease, death occurs within 2 to 4 days. One of the researchers who studied the circumstances of the incident was infected by the virus. Also the virus killed several monkeys, whose bodies were found far beyond the laboratory. The population of the surrounding areas is at risk of a possible contamination. Meanwhile the US authorities are trying to hide from the public and the international community.

The true goal of the US in the use of biological laboratories in the region is the collection and systematization of data on biological safety of the ‘studied’ countries. The accumulated information is used to create new types of viruses and bacteria which are components of biological weapons. And the concerned US scientist does not intend to share the results of the research with the national authorities.

With high probability it can be argued that due to the presence of the laboratory in the territory of Cambodia, Cambodian authorities believe that Americans mapped the landscape of microbiological infections and immunological status of Asia as a whole. Apparently for the same purpose, the US reportedly needs laboratories in the Philippines. It may increase the risk of uncontrolled leakage of various hazardous biomaterials and provoke a biological catastrophe.

Aware of the risks of uncontrolled leakage of dangerous biological materials, the US consciously withdrew their laboratories outside its territory, as in the case of any incidents in other countries it will be virtually impossible to prove the fact that the specialists and scientists from the US had been involved in it.

The mere fact that it's an open secret that the US military business and pharmaceutical corporations have been involved and actually engaged in so many research centers using live bacteria and creating strains that are being used as bioweapon, sloppiness in handling such high risk pathogens is not an excuse. Or is it a deliberate leak?  Just asking.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sino-American Relationship by Erick San Juan

The current Sino-American relationship if we are going to base it from what is happening in geopolitics, especially in the Pacific region, there are some flashpoints that can be considered as too complicated and should be handled with caution.

As what Gareth Evans wrote in his article, A new blueprint for US-China relations -    “What makes the Sino-American relationship dangerous is that powerful forces in both countries seem intent on a collision course. On the Chinese side, under Xi Jinping’s assertive leadership, the government is no longer heeding Deng Xiaoping’s injunction that the country should “hide its strength, bide its time, and never take the lead” in international affairs. It has pursued manifestly expansionist territorial claims, most notably in the South China Sea, and shown a clear determination to resist the indefinite continuation of American dominance in the region. The prevailing Chinese mindset is that the US is intent on isolating, containing, and undermining it.”

Yes the assertive leadership of China’s Xi Jinping makes it difficult for other nations in the region not to be nervous in case of a confrontation especially among the claimants in the disputed territories. Tagged as the bully in the region, China’s recent activities in the South China Sea has contributed more tension to the already tensed situation in the area. But this is just one part of the contested area. There are other flashpoints like the one with Japan and also the Taiwan issue that China must address with diplomacy in order to avoid confrontations that might lead to a regional conflict in the process.

From the said article by Evans, he included some salient points from the ‘blueprint’  that will help ease the tension between China and the US. Written by the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, head of the Asia Society Policy Institute and was released for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Rudd used the term “constructive realism” which is a clunky label, but his analysis and policy prescriptions are compelling (according to Evans).

The “realist” dimension of Rudd’s argument recognizes that certain areas of disagreement – including Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, US alliances in Asia, Chinese military modernization, and the legitimacy of China’s political system – will remain intractable for the foreseeable future. They will defy easy solutions – and thus will require very careful management.

The “constructive” part of Rudd’s thesis argues for systematic collaboration – with the US treating China more as an equal – in tackling a series of other difficult issues at bilateral, regional, and global levels. Bilaterally, such cooperation might involve an investment treaty, a joint intelligence task force on terrorism, a cyber-security protocol, agreed measures for managing unplanned military incidents and mutual ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

On a regional level, Rudd argues, the US and China could work on joint strategies to denuclearize and, ultimately, reunify the Korean Peninsula; tackle the lingering sore of Japan’s war history; harmonize regional trade agreements; and transform the East Asia Summit into a more complete Asia-Pacific Community.

Globally, Rudd believes that the joint agenda could focus on combating climate change, revitalizing the G-20, further internationalizing the renminbi; giving China a greater role in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; and reforming other key international institutions within the UN system.

Methinks that Uncle Sam will never treat China as well its equal. One glaring example is Obama’s pivot to Asia which only shows that Washington's reach is extended to this side of the Pacific, and all its allies here should help in maintaining such status quo.
Economics is another factor where China’s soft power approach towards its neighbors helped in some ways to win the hearts of their leaders. Although Obama’s TPP with all its shortcomings, tried to counter China’s soft power strategy.

With the help of BRICS and the bank they created like AIIB and NDB, that will counter the IMF and World Bank, China will no longer be interested to take part in the said lending institutions. It’s quite obvious that China and the rest of the BRICS wanted to create a multipolar world, giving more room for development to other developing countries which was neglected by the unipolar world wherein a single superpower (the US) has all the means to prosper and using Third World countries as its supplier of raw materials and cheap labor.
Creating a balance in many aspects in the global arena will level the playing field and give chance for all nations to develop so that peace can be attain where hegemony and a unipolar world will only be a thing of the past.