Trump’s Dangerous Message on Hong Kong

Trump’s remarks will be read in the historical context of his previous comments on repression in China. In a now-infamous interview with Playboy in 1990, Trump reflected on a recent visit to the Soviet Union. “Russia,” he said, “is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.” The interviewer followed up by asking, “You mean firm hand as in China?” Trump responded: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they…

Philippines Pushing Back Against Chinese Militia South China Sea Presence

Chinese maritime militia vessel in 2009. US Navy Photo MANILA – The Philippines have begun to push back against the strong and sustained presence of Beijing’s paramilitary ships in the South China Sea, calling the deployment of Chinese militia ships in huge numbers a threat. Manila filed two diplomatic protests last month against the swarming presence of militia vessels in waters surrounding Pagasa Island (Thitu Island), its biggest occupied island in the South China Sea in the Spratly Island chain.The diplomatic notes also covered the undeclared passage of four Chinese warships within…

Decoding Australia’s Strange Silence Over China’s Transgressions in the South China Sea

Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper strongly advocates the geostrategic concept of the Indo-Pacific and the global rules-based order. In its first comprehensive guide-book for international engagement in 14 years, Canberra makes the case for an Indo-Pacific of openness, prosperity, and inclusiveness. Of note, the term Indo-Pacific appears more than 70 times in the document. The White Paper signals the country’s increased engagement with the Southeast Asian region in the context of China’s assertive pursuit of regional influence and territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. Australian policymakers have paid…

Revisiting the Hague arbitral ruling

Revisiting the Hague arbitral ruling I am reprinting portions of an article written by Filipina Johanna Son, a resident of Bangkok which had extensive quotes from Marites D. Vitug. It came out in the Bangkok Post on Aug. 20, 2018 which I also reprinted with permission. Based on recent pronouncements from the Palace, it would seem that President Duterte will raise the issue of the Hague ruling with President Xi Jinping, I believe that the column is still pertinent one year later. …..,“The (Permanent Court of Arbitration) verdict is…

US Marines sailed through the Strait of Hormuz with an armoured vehicle on the flattop’s flight deck, ready to fight off Iranian gunboats

Photos from a recent Strait of Hormuz transit by the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Boxer showed an 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit light armoured vehicle parked on the flight deck, a sign that this warship was expecting trouble in the hostile waterway. The Boxer was harassed by Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz last month, and the US says the warship downed one, if not two, of them. Another potential threat in this region is Iranian gunboats, which have targeted commercial shipping in recent months. Last fall, Marines…

US Marines sailed through Strait of Hormuz ready for an Iran fight

US Marines embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer recently sailed through the Strait of Hormuz with an armored vehicle strapped to the flight deck, ready to fight off drones and Iranian gunboats. A light armored vehicle (LAV) belonging to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit can be seen on the flight deck as an AH-1Z Viper lifts off in a recently-released Marine Corps photo, NPR’s Phil Ewing first noted. An AH-1Z Viper attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) takes off during…

Washington Sleeps While China Makes Waves in South China Sea

Dark clouds continue to hang over the East Sea horizon because of China’s provocative actions in offshore oil and gas operations in disputed waters, and the nearby escalating Hong Kong protests, forcing many observers to give pause about the mariner weather lore: “Red sky in the morning, sailors (citizens) take warning.” At last month’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) South China Sea conference in Washington, some panelists held court about why the international community, especially the U.S., should speak out about China’s offshore oil and gas development in…

America’s Anti-China Mood Is Here to Stay

The U.S.-China trade war that began last year continues to drag on as a long-term war of attrition. Negotiators ended their latest round of talks at the end of July with few results, and each side rang in August by announcing a new set of retaliatory measures. Optimists hope to see the talks resume in September, and their spirits were buoyed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to push some tariffs back from September 1 to December 15. Yet even if there are significant breakthroughs on the trade…