The point here is an old one, brilliantly encapsulated by Niebuhr, about
the naivety of liberal internationalists. The selfishness of nations, he
argued, is proverbial. The politicians talked a big game at Paris, but
they simply preserved their illusions intact.
China's leaders, we are told, are leading us to planetary carbon
salvation. For a reality check, consult a new
report published by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation. "With
China's economic growth faltering, the last thing the Communist Party wants is
to hobble its economy further by curtailing the use of fossil fuels upon which
its economy depends," writes Patricia Adams in The Truth About
China. "A major cutback in fossil fuels use represents an
existential threat to the Communist Party's rule. It simply isn't going to
Illusions are dangerous, particularly in politics. Writing in the 1930s,
the liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr observed: "The prestige of the
international community is not great enough to achieve a communal spirit
sufficiently unified to discipline recalcitrant nations." And he warned
against "a too uncritical glorification of co-operation and
mutuality" between powers with opposing national interests.
Yet it is the prospect of global co-operation and mutuality that so many
politicians and journalists today glorify. On climate change, the argument
goes, political convergence is inevitable. Barack Obama, ironically an admirer
of Niebuhr, hails this month's UN accord to cut emissions as a historic
breakthrough. Indeed, for many influential writers – Thomas Friedman from The New York Times,
for example – the Paris climate agreement is a "big, big deal".
In reality, it represents a triumph of wishes over facts.
nations have agreed to volunteer their carbon-cutting promises to the IPCC
every five years. But they don't have to set ambitious goals. Nor are they
required to meet their targets, because there is no penalty for non-compliance.
No disciplining recalcitrant nations here.
Unlike the Kyoto treaty in 1997, Paris is not legally binding. Nations can
provide excuses for failure and pledge to do better next time. That's a victory
in so far as the UN process continues, but there is a distinct lack of progress
in slashing emissions. No wonder the most prominent climate activists – from
Jim Hansen in the US to George Monbiot in Britain – are outraged.
Climate enthusiasts say Paris heralds a move to a zero-carbon economy. Somebody
forgot to tell Malcolm Turnbull. Within days of Paris, his government announced
approval for one of the world's largest coal mines. Environmentalists should
not be shocked. According to the International Energy Agency, south-east Asian coal demand will triple for at least 25
years and Australia will be the world's largest coal exporter by 2020.
leaders, we are told, are leading us to planetary carbon salvation. For a
reality check, consult a new report published by the
London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation. "With China's economic
growth faltering, the last thing the Communist Party wants is to hobble its
economy further by curtailing the use of fossil fuels upon which its economy
depends," writes Patricia Adams in The Truth About China. "A
major cutback in fossil fuels use represents an existential threat to the
Communist Party's rule. It simply isn't going to happen."
China will commit to, Adams argues, is to continue to improve the energy
efficiency of its economy as it grows – a goal it has long pursued. It only
says it will start reducing emissions in 2030. Still think China is a green
leader? On the eve of the summit, Beijing revealed it had burned 17 per cent
more coal a year than it had formally disclosed.
India? This month Coal India confirmed that coal production would double in the
next decade. Why? Because millions of Indians still live in the dark, their
leaders are unwilling to accept anything that depresses their economic growth
and carbon remains the cheapest source of energy to reduce poverty.
crowd hails the global climate fund, where rich nations foot the bill – $100
billion a year from 2020 onwards – for climate mitigation in the developing
world. Don't bet on it. This year, the developed world raised less than one
hundredth! And it is far from clear how a climate-sceptic US Congress
contributes the lion's share. Imagine an American politician asking voters to
pay higher taxes so Uncle Sam can help China become energy efficient and more
Climateers treat catastrophic global warming as established fact, but climate
sensitivity still appears to be at the low end of the IPCC's range while
greening the global economy is not a cost-free exercise. The conventional
wisdom always stresses the benefits of decarbonisation. It rarely acknowledges
the costs, especially for the non-OECD nations that account for about 60 per
cent of global emissions.
though it is to say so, the best way to deal with climate change is through
economic growth so nations, especially poorer ones, are better able to adapt to
environmental challenges. What will also help is entrepreneurial spirit. Think
of the free-market revolution known as fracking, which emits half as much as
carbon, and the Bill Gates-led green energy innovation fund.
command-and-control mechanisms lack broad public support – think of the
backlash against Labor's carbon tax – and amount to lost jobs, lower
growth and higher prices up and down the energy chain. And none of the
renewable energy sources is as remotely efficient as carbon.
say climate change represents such a grave threat to humanity that the world
will come together to end fossil fuels entirely. But history is not on their
side. International agreements do not guarantee practical outcomes while
multilateral bodies do not hasten the process of harmonisation and political
Kellogg-Briand Pact in Paris outlawed war about a decade before the outbreak of
World War II. Test ban and anti-proliferation treaties have not stopped states
bent on creating nuclear arsenals. The UN is not a moral arbiter nor is it an
effective law-making body. The interests of its member states are too diverse.
It is relevant as a forum where disputes and grievances are aired. But the
agreements the UN reaches, even when they command broad support, are all too
often violated when they clash with vital national interests.
here is an old one, brilliantly encapsulated by Niebuhr, about the naivety of
liberal internationalists. The selfishness of nations, he argued, is
proverbial. The politicians talked a big game at Paris, but they simply
preserved their illusions intact.
Tom Switzer is
a research associate at the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre
and host of Between the Lines on ABC's Radio National. Illustration: Michael Mucci
statue of a girl symbolising "comfort women" in front of the Japanese
Embassy in Seoul
The foreign ministers of South
Korea and Japan said Monday they had reached a deal meant to resolve a
decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run
brothels during the second world war, a potentially dramatic breakthrough
between the neighbours and rivals.
The deal, which included an
apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a 1 billion yen ($8.3
million) aid fund from Tokyo for the elderly former sex slaves, could reverse
decades of animosity and mistrust between the thriving democracies, trade
partners and staunch US allies.
The issue of former Korean
sex slaves, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” has been the biggest
source of friction in ties between Seoul and Tokyo, with animosity rising
precipitously since the hawkish Abe’s 2012 inauguration.
Japan appeared emboldened to make the overture
after the first formal leaders’ meeting between the neighbours in 3 ½ years, in
November, and after South Korean courts recently acquitted a Japanese reporter
charged with defaming South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye refused to review a
complaint by a South Korean seeking individual compensation for Japan’s
forceful mobilisation of workers during colonial days.
Many South Koreans feel
lingering bitterness from the legacy of Japan’s brutal colonial occupation of
the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. But South Korean officials have also faced
calls to improve ties with Japan, the world’s No. 3 economy and a regional
powerhouse, not least from US officials eager for a strong united front against
a rising China and North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles that could
target the American mainland.
China has also been calling on South Korea to help
with its campaign to make the world more aware of its suffering during the
Japanese invasion, successfully having documents on the Nanking massacre listed
in Unesco’s Memory of the World register. A deal between South Korea and Japan
would help Abe sap China’s efforts, while allowing Park to ease worries in the
US that her country is pivoting too much toward China.
“Park’s definitely been
feeling the pressure from the US and needs to do more to dispel lingering
doubts about whom she’s siding with,” said Yang Kee Ho, a professor of Japanese
studies at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul.
“For Abe, these talks have the purpose of
preempting China’s comfort women pitch.”
Japanese Foreign Minister
Fumio Kishida and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, made the
announcement after their closed door meeting Monday.
Yun said the agreement is
final and irreversible as long as Japan faithfully implements it promises.
“Abe, as the prime minister
of Japan, offers from his heart an apology and reflection for everyone who
suffered lots of pain and received scars that are difficult to heal physically
and mentally,” Kishida told the same news conference.
There has long been
resistance in South Korea to past Japanese apologies because many here wanted
Japan to acknowledge that it has a legal responsibility for the women. Japan,
for its part, had long argued that the issue was settled by a 1965 treaty that
restored diplomatic ties and was accompanied by more than $800 million in
economic aid and loans from Tokyo to Seoul.
Historians say tens of
thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to
front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers. In South
Korea, there are 46 such surviving former sex slaves, mostly in their late 80s
or early 90s.
Better relations between
South Korea and Japan are a priority for Washington. The two countries together
host about 80,000 US troops and are members of now-stalled regional talks aimed
at ending North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in return for aid.
In India, the judiciary is hermetically sealed off from democratic
checks and balances.
countries like India and the United States, activists frequently complain about
judicial activism: judges are said to be guided by political considerations in
interpreting the law. Certainly, judicial activism is more plausibly a danger
in countries that follow common law systems derived from England, where
judicial precedents are given more weight than in civil law systems where
legislatures codify laws, which then take precedence over judicial
India have one of the democratic world’s most unaccountable judicial branches?
The issue of judicial accountability has been the matter of great debate in
India over the past two decades. No country in the world has reached the
extreme of judicial power that India has.
most other democratic countries, judges in India were initially appointed by the government,
after consulting with the Chief Justice of the Indian Supreme Court. However,
many politically-biased judges were appointed, leading to the establishment of
an extra-constitutional “collegium system” in which only judges could appoint
other judges, placing India’s judicial branch outside of the checks and
balances of the legislative and executive powers in the country. The collegium
itself is made up of three to five senior
judges who can consult with the government, which can only exercise its power
by sending a proposed appointee back for reconsideration. However, “if the
collegium reiterated its choice unanimously the government would have to
appoint that judge.”
practice was rationalized in a strange manner, one which was not laid out in
the Indian Constitution. In 1993, the Supreme Court held that since the
independence of the judiciary was part of the basic structure of the
Constitution, it could not be compromised through executive or legislative
interference in the appointment process. Therefore, only the judiciary itself
could appoint judges. The basic structure doctrine has been used by the Supreme
Court to prevent numerous constitutional amendments, despite there being no
stipulation for this concept in either the original Indian Constitution or in
the works and thought of its founders. In a 1951 Supreme Court case, the court held that no part of the constitution was
there is no doubt that corruption and nepotism are problems in India to be
guarded against, especially by the branch of government whose job it is to
upload the law, it would be exceedingly strange for a branch of government to
be completely unaccountable by appointing its own successors without public
input. Therefore, all major Indian parties agreed unanimously to curtail the
collegium system last year with the passage of the ninety-ninth Constitutional
Amendment Act, 2014 in the Indian parliament, which was subsequently ratified
by state legislatures. The amendment created the National Judicial
Accountability Commission (NJAC) which stipulated that “the chief justice of
India, two senior-most judges, the union law minister and two ‘eminent persons’
[would be] trusted with the authority to finalise appointments.”
the Supreme Court invalidated the NJAC in a ruling in a 1,030
page ruling in October, and the collegium system endures. However, as
consolation, in December the Supreme Court came out with a list of guidelines
to improve the collegium system, and asked the central
government to finalize a “memorandum of procedure (MOP) in consultation with
the chief justice of India.” While many of the proposals by the government and
judiciary aim at improving communication between the two and increasing
oversight, the main problem of there being a lack of judicial transparency and
accountability remains. As long as judges appoint new judges, the system perpetuates
itself, making it increasingly more difficult for Indian governments to prevent
judges–many already issue directives that are usually the prerogative of the
cabinet or parliament–from obtaining a role in governance that far exceeds the
role normally played by a judicial branch in most countries. By Akhilesh Pillalamarri for The Diplomat
The drone prototype will conduct flight tests over the South China Sea
revealed its largest indigenous high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) this December, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly
reports. According to local media reports, the prototype was completed at the
beginning of November and will commence test flights over the South China Sea
in the summer of 2016.
prototype is a joint project of Vietnam’s Academy of Science and Industry and
the Ministry of Public Security. The new UAV, designated HS-6L, will perform
both civilian and military tasks, judging from the aircraft’s design features.
media reports that the unarmed UAV prototype sports a Rotax 914 engine and a
22-meter wingspan. It has a range of up to 4,000 kilometers as well as an
endurance of up to 35 hours. It will be equipped with unspecified optical and
radar surveillance systems.
Jane’s Defense Weekly notes that the Vietnam may have received design assistance from
Belarus, given that the unveiling of the aircraft coincided with the visit of
the chairman of the Belarus Academy of Science.
Vietnam purchased a number of
Grif-K tactical drones from Belarus. The Belorussian UAV has a wingspan of 5.7
meters, a maximum take-off weight of 120 kilograms, and a payload of 25
and 2015, Vietnam also ordered Israel-made
Orbiter 2 and Orbiter 3 drones for use in the Vietnamese Army’s artillery
has been trying to build an indigenous UAV since at least 2008. In May 2013,
Hanoi flight tested six drones, all with inferior performance characteristics
in comparison to the new HS-6L prototype as The Diplomatreported:
drones have a weight of 4 kg to 170 kg and wingspans ranging from 1.2 to 5
meters. The smallest of these “can fly at 70 kph [kilometers per hour] within a
radius of 2 km and at a maximum altitude of 200 m,” while the biggest one “can
fly at 180 kph, within a radius of 100 km and at an elevation of 3,000 meters.
It can continuously fly for 6 hours in both daytime and nighttime.”
unmanned aircraft are equipped with cameras, spectrometers and other devices
and will be “used for [the] supervision of environmental natural resources in
difficult direct approach territories; observation, communication and seashore
rescue; exploration of natural resources, control of forest fire[s], and to
follow the situation of national electricity system and transport” (…)
HS-6L could be used for surveilling the Chinese naval base at Sanya on
China’s Hainan Island and military facilities (e.g., ports and airfields) that
China is building in the potentially oil-rich South China Sea. By Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Among the several platforms he
compromised, was the passive phased array radar used by the MiG-31 Foxhound
China should be wary of a
Tolkachev-esque figure eroding its strategic position vis-a-vis the United
Will we ever have a Chinese Tolkachev?
detailed in David Hoffman’s Billion Dollar Spy,
between 1979 and 1985, Soviet radar engineer Adolf Tolkachev turned his hatred
of the Soviet regime into some of the most devastating industrial espionage
ever conducted. Tolkachev took advantage of his position at the radar design
firm Phazotron to make copies and photographs of volumes of material associated
with Soviet radar and electronics systems. This gave the United States an
inside look at the sensor capabilities of the USSR’s most advanced fighters and
impact of Tolkachev’s espionage was virtually incalculable. The material
acquired helped to shift decisions and priorities within the U.S.
defense-industrial complex, especially with regard to aerospace technology. It
may have given the U.S. a massive, enduring advantage in aircraft effectiveness
since the 1980s; understanding the limitations on how Soviet aircraft see the
battlespace has made them much more vulnerable to U.S. attack than would
otherwise have been the case.
espionage was even, in broad terms, within the lines that the United States now
declares should delineate “legitimate” espionage. The U.S. did not use the
information it gained from Tolkachev to attempt to reverse engineer or copy any
Soviet systems. It did not, in other words “violate” the intellectual property
rights of major Soviet enterprises. Rather, the stolen data provided
information on the capabilities and priorities of Soviet technology, thereby
giving the United States a strategic advantage in developing its own tech. A
fine distinction, perhaps, but one which the United States holds to today.
does China need to worry about its own Tolkachev? The idea that someone might
play Snowden with a trove of Chinese military and electronic data, secreting
away the details of the components of the J-20, or J-31, or Df-21, on a few
thumbdrives is alternatively appealing or terrifying, depending on whether you
work for Chinese intelligence.
the potential for a Tolkachev is real, the impact would likely be far less
consequential. The Chinese national innovation system (NIS) shares some
similarities with the old Soviet system, but has become far less centralized.
The most sophisticated electronics come from a host of different firms, often
carrying dual-use applications that make them accessible to the United States
without the need for espionage.
we know more about the Chinese NIS today than we ever knew about the Soviet.
This is true not only of its output (we know more about the J-20 than we did
about Soviet MiGs at similar stages of development), but also its internal
processes; the Chinese system is more transparent and accessible than the
the things we do know is that Chinese military technology is not (yet) as
competitive as that of the USSR during the height of the Cold War. The Chinese
NIS has become adept at what amount to “architectural” innovations,
reconfiguring existing systems in order to produce something new and effective,
but has not generally achieved the kind of disruptive innovation that the USSR
occasionally pushed for. This means that a Chinese Tolkachev has somewhat less
to offer the United States. Of course, this will likely change over the next
for all the warnings about Chinese theft of U.S. defense technology, the U.S.
has its own formidable cyber-capabilities, and undoubtedly closely monitors the
development of Chinese military technology. Indeed, the one area where a
Chinese Tolkachev might have the most impact would be in the cyber-domain: a
clear glimpse into the operations of the PLA’s corps of cyber-soldiers might
prove very helpful, indeed.
And so the answer is “Yes, but.”
could have the impact he did because he worked at the dawn of the era of
digital knowledge. U.S. spies could miniaturize equipment to acquire technical
data, but could not access that data themselves without direct human
intervention. We can certainly still imagine the possibility that a disgruntled
Chinese PLA employee could download reams of data on a thumb drive and pass it
to the CIA, but we would likely find the information less surprising, and less
strategically useful, than we did in the 1980s. By Robert Farley for The Diplomat
An armed police officer is
silhouetted against against a church decoration in Depok, south of Jakarta, on
Christmas eve. (Antara Photo/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)
As Christians across Indonesia
streamed into churches to attend Christmas masses and services this year, they
couldn’t possibly miss the heavy security presence. The sight may be
surprising if not disconcerting for Christians elsewhere but heavy
security at festivals held by religious minority groups has become the
norm in Indonesia.
question remains why it is necessary at all.
There’s no denying that the initiative to
“secure” religious minority events is laudable. The media was filled with
reports about how police officers conducted bomb sweeps in churches and how
moderate Muslim youth groups such as Nahdlatul Ulama's Banser activists
volunteered to stand guard to help ensure that Christians were able to
celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Indeed tales of heroism aren’t in short
supply, especially with regard to the voluntary brigade. In 2000, for example,
a NU Banser member by the name of Riyanto perished while on duty at the Eben
Haezer Church in Mojokerto, East Java. His bravery in volunteering to help guard
a church was in no question as the year was precarious, witnessing multiple
bomb attacks on churches in the country. It was doubly affirmed in his decision
to dash out of the church carrying a bomb he had spotted inside. The bomb
detonated outside, killing Riyanto in the process.
Fifteen years have passed since Riyanto’s
sacrifice and yet Christians still can’t feel wholly safe when publicly
celebrating their most important festivals such as Christmas and Easter without
the “protection” of security personnel. While most Indonesian Christians who
grew up in the Reformasi era may consider Christmas with guards as a
run-of-the-mill thing, the older generations may still remember it wasn’t
always like that.
The 1998 Reformasi may have given birth to
democracy for Indonesia but it also spawned an increased level of lawlessness
that religious minorities have to face. The Jakarta-based Setara Institute
chronicled a consistently worrying state of religious freedom in the country.
In 2012 there were 145 cases of government abuse of religious freedom, with a
total of 264 cases of attacks against religious minorities. The figures for
2013 didn’t show much improvement.
In the run-up to Christmas this year,
supporters of the hard-line vigilante group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) paid
visits to several shopping malls in Surabaya to warn businesses against
“forcing” their Muslim employees to don Christmas paraphernalia in the line of
duty. Interestingly, however, the malls under the FPI watch are traditionally
viewed as those most frequented by middle-class non-Muslim Surabaya residents.
Even more noteworthy was the support given
to the FPI by the Surabaya Police for these vigilante actions. The media
liaison officer of the Surabaya Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Lily Djafar, confirmed
that all the district police headquarters in Surabaya had sent letters to
businesses under their jurisdiction with advice to refrain from overt Christmas
displays for their shops. She reasoned that it was important so as not to give
reason for FPI to raid these businesses.
Prior to the FPI round-the-town patrol,
the government-funded Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) issued a fatwa
forbidding Muslims from participating in Christmas celebrations, though it
later denied the fatwa meant that Muslims weren’t allowed to convey Christmas
good wishes to Christians. However, it certainly emboldened one Facebook
commentator to warn Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil against entering any church
during the Christmas season, which the latter rejected completely, in the name
Admittedly, not all Muslims were to be
cowed by MUI’s nannyish injunction. Twelve students from the Islamic State
University (UIN) Walisongo in Semarang turned up at a Roman Catholic church to
wish everyone a merry Christmas and even stayed to listen to mass.
The courage of these Muslim students was
no doubt extraordinary. Their action would have elicited criticism from among
the more orthodox sections of their own faith. These students were evidently
more courageous than the police officers who, rather than standing firm in
defense of pluralism, chose to counsel individual citizens to sacrifice their
constitutionally guaranteed freedom in the face of bullies.
Given the information imparted Wikileaks
cables that a number of former police generals were linked to the
FPI, the blatant refusal by the police to defend minority rights is sinister.
But after so many surreal breaches of trust, it becomes harder and harder
to believe that police neglect of duty is not the norm in this country.
In a metaphor more suited to Easter, like
Pontius Pilate, the police washed their hands of responsibility for
allowing the FPI to conduct raids on businesses that overtly acknowledged the
Christmas season. Like in all the cases of church closures in the last decade,
the police never worked up the courage or perhaps the will to protect
minorities from unlawful acts.
Christians sometimes refer to Jesus Christ
as the Prince of Peace. So it seems highly ironic that the celebration of his
birth in Indonesia has been tainted with specters of unease, evident in the
presence of armed guards. Noble volunteers from non-government bodies such as
Banser aside, the permanent presence of police officers at Christmas becomes a
hollow form of compensation by the state for allowing religious extremism to
fester, even 15 years after the bold sacrifice of Riyanto, a private citizen
who wanted to do something for his fellow human beings.
China’s military activities on its
ocean frontier have given rise to a fear that it’s seeking to expand its power
at the expense of others now that it has a more powerful navy. The essence of
this idea is that China’s activities are expansionist and more aggressive
compared with twenty or thirty years ago because it has a new urge for more
territory or because it wants to throw its new-found weight around in maritime
areas to rewrite regional order.
interpretation is possible, more in conformity with the facts, and less
South China Sea Conflict Area
China’s ocean frontier has, for the most part, never been settled in the five
centuries since the idea of maritime borders under international law was first
articulated in 1609.
China’s primary motivation in recent South
China Sea military activities, then, is to defend what it sees as its island
territories which neighboring countries have attempted to usurp.
Regional order (the balance of economic
and military power between Japan and China and between the mainland and Taiwan)
has already been rewritten by China’s peaceful rise and any additional gains
accruing from the control of its claimed small island territories in the South
China Sea would be marginal. For China, the main game on its maritime frontier
is successful unification with Taiwan, which sits at the northern end of the
South China Sea. Though China has come to describe the dispute in the Spratly
Islands as a “core interest” because it involves sovereign territory, that is
hardly new and is only a statement of the obvious. The more important
characterization driving Chinese policy for decades has remained, as one
Chinese government adviser observed in 1996, that the Spratly dispute is “small
in scale and local in nature.”
Beginning in the mid-1800s, colonial
powers such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, Italy, France,
Germany, Portugal, Russia and Japan successively became involved in carving out
spheres of influence or de facto sovereignty (“concessions” of some kind) over
enclaves of Chinese land territory in such a way that the country, weak in
naval power, didn’t place any priority on asserting or protecting a maritime
It wasn’t until an 1887 treaty with France
delimiting a sea border with the French protectorate of Tonkin that China began
to take any action to demarcate and defend an ocean frontier. That came just
two years after China had been forced by Japan to cede the island of Taiwan and
associated small islands to Japanese sovereignty. And it was only with the
defeat of Japan in 1945 that China again was in a position to demarcate and
defend its maritime frontier, including around Taiwan, free from foreign
military threat, invasion or occupation.
The opportunity was short-lived because
the country again fell into civil war, which resulted in an enduring stalemate
about the country’s ocean frontier. In 1949, the Communist victory was
incomplete. The rival government, the Republic of China (ROC) was able to
establish itself on Taiwan and the mainland government was forced into a protracted and still unfinished series of island wars
and political contests to mark out a maritime frontier.
Beginning with Canada in 1970, major
Western powers still recognizing the ROC began to shift their diplomatic
recognition from it to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This has the
inevitable effect under international law of preserving to a unitary China (led
by the only recognized government) all territorial rights of the ROC prior to
1949. Of special significance, these include the ROC claim to the Spratly
Islands, manifested in 1946 through physical occupation of the island of
Taiping (Itu Aba). The ROC and the PRC maintain nearly identical territorial
claims in the South China Sea.
China’s current claims on its ocean
frontier comprise three main elements: claim to territorial sovereignty over
Taiwan and other ROC-controlled islands, claim to territorial sovereignty over
a large number of other small islands in the South China Sea (Paracel and
Spratly islands) or East China Sea (Senkaku Islands), and claims to maritime
resource jurisdictions (not sovereignty) that might flow to China if its claims
to the land territories were recognized by adjacent states.
With the exception of the claim to the
Senkaku Islands, the territorial claims of China haven’t changed since before
1949. It was the ROC that in 1970 first claimed the Senkaku Islands and the PRC
was forced to follow suit since both governments were at that time competing to
be seen as defending the sovereignty of “one China."
The extent and character of China’s
sovereignty claims aren’t unusual and in broad terms conform to the practice of
other states with only one clear set of exceptions: China appears to claim
sovereignty over submerged reefs that wouldn’t normally qualify as land
It’s regularly asserted by some scholars,
media commentators and other analysts that China claims sovereignty over almost
the entire South China Sea. But that is based on a misunderstanding of the so-called
nine-dashed line that China has repeatedly included in maps of the South China
since 1947. In December 2014, in a study of China’s potential ocean frontier in the
South China Sea, the U.S. Department of State observed correctly
that China has never clarified the jurisdictional intent of the U-shaped line.
Thus, the current
maritime territorial disputes predate the rise of China’s power and increase in
its naval capability. Any assumption that China has somehow expanded its
maritime claims because it now feels more powerful is not borne out by the
facts. One of many things that have changed about the disputes is China’s
willingness to act robustly, as most states would, to defend pre-existing
sovereignty claims that have been in place for at least 66 years.
Greg Austin is a Professorial Fellow with
the EastWest Institute in New York and a Visiting Professor at the University
of New South Wales Canberra. This article first appeared in the Strategist.
forces are mobilizing for a manhunt in steamy jungles on the far-flung island
of Sulawesi to flush the country’s most-wanted man from his hideout and deal a
pre-emptive blow to Islamic State.
The real threat could be much closer to home.
Militant leader Santoso, the first Indonesian to publicly pledge loyalty
to the radical jihadist group that holds swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq,
has eluded capture for years. He has until Jan. 9 to surrender.
But while the army girds for action just south of the equator, alarm
bells are ringing in the capital, Jakarta.
Raids by security forces across the populous island of Java last week
netted several Islamic State supporters and foiled a string of attacks. Police
said the men arrested were just foot-soldiers and their leaders are still on
the run, plotting attacks on government leaders, officials and buildings.
Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based expert on Islamist militants at the
Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, says there is only a slim chance in
Indonesia of an Islamic State attack like last month’s bloodshed in Paris, but
the threat is growing under the government’s nose.
“While the police and army have been focused on going after Indonesia’s
most-wanted terrorist, Santoso, in the hills of Central Sulawesi, ISIS has
succeeded in building a network of supporters in the suburbs of Jakarta,” she
wrote in a commentary last month, using a common acronym for Islamic State.
She said homegrown militants have mainly targeted the police in recent
years, but there may now be a shift back to Westerners and soft targets.
Australian Attorney General George Brandis, who was in Jakarta this week
to bolster security coordination, told the Australian newspaper he had “no
doubt” Islamic State was seeking to establish a “distant caliphate” in
Indonesia was the second most popular tourist destination for
Australians in 2014-15, official data show, with 1.12 million journeys – a
large number to the resort island of Bali.
The bombing of two nightclubs in Bali that killed 202 people, mostly
tourists, was among a spate of attacks during the 2000s in Indonesia, home to
the world’s largest Muslim population.
Police have been largely successful in destroying domestic militant cells
since then, but they now worry the influence of Islamic State could bring a
return of jihadi violence.
Officials believe there are over 1,000 Islamic State supporters in
Indonesia. Estimates of the number who have returned from Syria range from 100
to 300, though this includes women and children.
The government worries that Santoso, who has run militant training camps
from the tree-covered hills of the Poso district where he hides and posts
videos on radical websites, could be an ideological lightning rod for
combatants returning to Indonesia.
Jones told Reuters that Santoso had developed an international
reputation in Islamic State circles, with contacts among fighters in Syria.
“This is one of our priorities because there are lots of networks in other
areas affiliated with Santoso,” said National Police spokesman Agus Rianto,
adding that authorities could target him because they knew roughly where he
Supporters mostly locals
Idham Azis, police chief of Central Sulawesi province, told Reuters the
kitchenware salesman-turned-jihadi has followers across Indonesia but his
bedrock of support is in the Poso region.
“Islam should be defended in any way possible even if that means using
violence,” Adnan Arsal, the head of an Islamic school told Reuters on the edge
of the jungle where Santoso is believed to be hiding.
Santoso’s militancy sprang from religious strife that swept through
Indonesia after the downfall of autocratic leader Suharto in 1998. Poso, an
area dotted with Christian churches and Hindu temples, saw some of the most
A friend of the militant, Mohammad Guntur, said Santoso had watched as
his parents and relatives were killed in communal clashes.
“One of his cousins was impaled like an animal,” he said.
In the years that followed, Santoso was known to have liaised with
militant networks that carried out many attacks, including the 2002 Bali
Santoso’s wife Suwarni, a 34-year-old mother of three, said Santoso fled
three years ago.
“The last thing I remember him saying was to take care of the kids: send
them to school, make sure they pray and read the Koran with them,” she told
Reuters from her wooden shack in a Poso village.
Determined to capture Santoso, President Joko Widodo in March approved
the first major military counterterrorism operation since the bombing of two
Jakarta hotels in 2009. A blitz by troops, warships and fighter jets weakened
Santoso’s forces, but he got away and officials believe he still commands 30 to
Santoso styles himself as commander of the Islamic State army in
However, security experts believe the most serious threat comes from
growing support for Islamic State beyond Sulawesi’s jungles.
“The thought that Indonesia could be taken over by IS is just absurd,”
said Hugh White, professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National
University. “But the idea that Islamic State could undertake terrorist
operations in Indonesia aimed at destabilizing it, that is entirely possible.”
Right now the uncertainty caused by the
US Federal Reserve's rate hike has already passed, but Indonesia still has to
be careful about the next step of the US central bank. Back in 1994 when the
Fed increased its rates twice in just two months, Mexico, which was running a
high trade deficit and issuing numerous global bonds, was affected.
Mexico faced default; the peso's value slumped, with a
total devaluation of 35 percent by the end of 1994. There was capital flight of
US$4.5 billion just two days after the devaluation and around $45 billion in
mutual funds was liquidated. In 1995 and 1996 the inflation rate reached 35.1
and 34.3 percent, respectively. Previously, in 1994, it had been 7 percent. The
crisis also spread to Argentina and Brazil in an effect called the Tequila
Currently, Indonesia has similar indications to the
Mexico of 1994. First is the current account deficit. 2014 was the third year
in a row that Indonesia ran a current account deficit; the last surplus was in
2011. According to the latest data, by the third quarter of 2015 Indonesia
still had a $4 million deficit, or 1.86 percent of GDP. In fact, Indonesia is
the only one of the ASEAN “big five” (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the
Philippines and Indonesia) running a current account deficit. Mexico, prior to
the crisis, also ran a current account deficit, at the threatening level of 4.8
Second is the global bonds position. Indonesia has
been issuing many bonds, causing the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR – the
percent of debt compared with the export of goods) in 2014 to reach 23 percent,
the highest among ASEAN countries; indeed, no other ASEAN countries have a DSCR
of more than 8 percent. Mexico was at 37.6 percent prior to the crisis in
1993.Indonesia is also under pressure from its failure to attain its tax income
target; tax income this year is expected to be only around 80 to 85 percent of
the target. The budget deficit will possibly reach 3 percent of gross domestic
product (GDP) by the end of the year, up from the safety level of 2.5 percent,
meaning the government may be forced to issue further bonds. The tax income
target for 2016, an increase of 15 percent from this year’s target, meanwhile
threatens Indonesia with the possibility of a higher deficit next year. Mexico's
problem of issuing too many global bonds was actually a dilemma because its did
not want to increase interest rates despite the Fed's rate increase.
Banco de Mexico regulated the exchange rate (at the
time it was pegged against the US dollar) by using global bond instruments and
the bank issued dollar-nominated bonds to buy pesos to maintain the value of
the peso against the dollar.
Investors saw the peso as overvalued and enacted
Will Indonesia be like Mexico?
Some economists say that currently, Indonesia is still
safe. Regarding the current account deficit, David Sumual, chief economist at
Bank Central Asia (BCA), explained that the deficit could be offset by a
foreign investment inflow."The construction of infrastructure helps to attract
investors, but we need to carefully prioritize the infrastructure. As long as
we build what investors need, such as electricity, ports, road access and
logistics, we are safe, but since the infrastructure is financed by debt, if we
get it wrong, in three to four years we will be trapped in debt
insolvency," he told thejakartapost.com on Tuesday.
David said that currently Indonesia's currency
position was good because it has already depreciated, unlike in 2009 to 2014
when the rupiah overly appreciated. The weakness of the rupiah should be used
as a chance, he added, to encourage local industries and decrease imports.
Prior to the crisis, the strong Mexican peso caused the demand for imports to
increase, resulting in a trade deficit.
Regarding global bonds, Raden Pardede from Creco
Consulting said that the DSCR was high, but the important thing was for
Indonesia to maintain the trust of foreign investors.According to Raden, the
banking system is strong. The capital adequacy ratio (CAR) is more than 20
percent and even higher among state-owned banks, at 29 percent."But we
need to be more disciplined in the fiscal sector. The tax target in 2016 must
be revised and the administration must be repaired or else we’ll be trapped in
a budget deficit again and need to issue more bonds," he said.
Jahanzeb Naseer, head of Indonesian research at Credit
Suisse, said he appreciated the government's actions. Rather than playing on
monetary aspects, the government is issuing economic packages that stimulate
the economy from the consumer's side."The stimulus is creating more
purchasing power and in the end will increase consumption. The government is
also carrying out structural reform such as cutting red tape and inconsistent
regulations and setting more predictable formulae for minimum wages. Anton
Islam is a journey and ISIS is the
destination - why do I want to celebrate Obama’s legacy? Because The Islamic
State was always going to happen
I’d like to pay tribute to Barack Hussein Obama and his
incredible legacy. Obama is a Muslim. I’m not just saying that, he really is.According to the Islamic faith, if your father is a
Muslim then you are too. Obama’s father was a Muslim.
That doesn’t mean that he is a practicing Muslim or that he is working
to advance an Islamic agenda. To determine that, we would have to look at his
His predecessors, George Bush 1 & 2 toppled a pro-American brutal
dictator in Iraq. By doing so, they unleashed the forces of radical Islam in
Blind Freddie could see that this was an epic fail and Obama and his
radical Left power base clapped their hands with glee. Every victim murdered by
radical Muslims was laid at the feet of George Bush and the Neo-Cons and fair
To his credit however, George Dubya eventually wised up and put enough
boots on the ground to stabilise the situation. He put Iraq on the road to a
workable, if far from perfect, compromise.
If Obama had any shame whatsoever, you would have expected him to have
practised what he preached and left the Middle East well alone. Instead, he did
Barely had he unpacked his golf clubs in the Oval Office than he
launched a campaign to destabilise the regime of every American ally in the
Middle East. The result was initially heralded as “The Arab Spring.”
The Egyptians were among the first out of the gate. They joyously
celebrated their new found freedom by pack raping an unfortunately naïve CBS
news girl called Lara Logan. The Egyptian doctors refused to treat the
traumatised Ms Logan after hearing a rumour that she was Jewish.
It may be a stretch to call Lara Logan lucky. Compared to the US
Ambassador to Libya however, she got away pretty lightly. Buoyed by his
“success” in overthrowing staunch US ally Hosni Mubarak and replacing his
Government with Al-Qaeda’s parent organisation (The Muslim Brotherhood), Obama
turned his attention to Libya.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was no great friend to the West. He was
however a pragmatist.
After seeing what George W did to Saddam he became far more
conciliatory. He was keeping a lid on radicals in his country and posed little
threat to America. Clearly he had to go. Once more, Obama used US muscle and
influence to help Al-Qaeda rebels to overthrow this “legitimate” ruler.
In an exuberant display of Islamic gratitude, the rebels attacked the
American Consulate in Benghazi killing the Ambassador and three others in the
Iraq fared little better. Al- Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had been beaten into
irrelevance under George Bush.
Obama’s celebrated troop withdrawal from a recently stabilised Iraq
left a huge power vacuum. Thanks to Barry, AQI were able to regroup and
rebranded themselves as ISIS. Within weeks they were able to overrun swathes of
territory and rout the Iraqi army which proved to have little backbone without
They have since used this territory as a launching pad for horrific
terror attacks throughout the Western world.
So why do I want to celebrate Barry’s legacy? Because The Islamic State
was always going to happen.
Islam is a journey and ISIS is the destination.
What Obama has done is to bring that destination forward so that people
can now see where this journey ends.
Every time the Islamic State commits an atrocity, more people start to
question the politically correct drivel they have been fed.
People are waking up and getting angry. If the navy had changed the
Chaplains' hat badges five years ago, no one would have commented on it. Today
it sets off a firestorm of protests. Everywhere I go, people are angry and
looking for answers.
Eight years ago, if I had predicted that the leading presidential
candidate would be standing on a platform that included banning Islamic
immigration into the USA, people would have laughed at me.
No one is laughing today; particularly the Democrats.
Have a look at recent newspaper articles. When some dumb politician
declares that Islam is a religion of peace, thousands of comments
follow... 99% of them explode with anger. Importantly, the people
commenting are educated. They know about the Koran, they know about the Hadith,
they know about Taquiya.
Obama’s legacy is called Donald Trump. Trump’s ascendency is a direct
result of these informed people. Many of them are informed because of Obama’s promotion
of (or at the very least, lack of resistance to) the radical Islamic
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “A nation which wants to remain ignorant
and free, wants what never was and never will be.” Americans, like Australians
are losing their ignorance of this subject quickly.
The more Australians are educated on this subject, the better the
politicians we will get. Pickering Post readers are leading the nation in this
endeavour. Many of you have bought multiple copies of my book. Many more are
posting on facebook and introducing people to websites such as Religion of
Peace. Lots of you have contacted your MP’s demanding they become educated
This is how we will take back our country. This work is incredibly
important for our children’s future. We now have Liberal MPs admitting that
there is a problem with Islam. As the rise of ALA starts to show up in the
polls, we will see politicians, and particularly the Liberals, taking a much
closer look at this subject.
Please keep up your great work. We will win. How soon and how much
suffering we will have to endure depends on our efforts to wake up those who
are still in denial.
The efforts that you have made so far have been amazing.