Trump covets Xi Jinping’s status

 

China President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump

This is of course about the latest development in China where its ruling Communist party enthusiastically announced it would lift the two-term limit for the presidency, setting the stage for limitless authoritarian rule for President Xi Jinping.

Although the party wants it to appear that the ordinary Chinese folks were the ones clamoring to end the rule that limited Xi’s stay in power for just two terms, the fact is that it was China’s legislators who bulldozed this idea into becoming a constitutional amendment with immediate approval by the body.

This, after Xi recently consolidated his power and moved to change the rules so he could effectively become “emperor for life.”

The truth also is that this does not bode well for many in China who find their present ‘people’s democratic dictatorship’ government more to their liking rather than slide back and be under an autocratic government again as in the dark days of Chairman Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung).

China Communist Party (CCP) considers itself to be the only and true representative of the entire Chinese people. The CCP does not allow any other political power to challenge its rule, on the ground that they only represent some people, not all. Other political parties in fact do exist in China (quite a few), they are officially sanctioned and anyone can join freely. But they can only offer suggestions to the ruling party, and do not have real political power.

China has been a republic, hence has had a constitution for over 100 years. The content obviously changed throughout time. Currently it is on its 12th version. This recent revision/amendment that US President Donald Trump seems to covet will become the 13th version.

It is very ironic that a 21st century leader like Trump, who is suppose to emulate those before him in leading the nation and espousing the principles and ideals of freedom, justice and equality in a democratic world, is now singing hosannas to a would-be despot in China, the way he has been showing his high regard for Russia’s Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan and even our very own president, Duterte.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Mr. Trump said of Xi to the Republican donors, at a luncheon at Mar-a-Lago. Then he went on seemingly to express interest in doing the same thing in the United States so that he too could rule forever. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

A joke? Not really!

For one who is very much a narcissist, Trump wants badly to be among those he supports and admires most whose common peculiarity is that they have the power to do what they want done, good or evil in the eyes of some, yet continue to have high performance and trust ratings.

Sad to say that the bastion of democracy that is America does not does not and will not grant Trump the luxury of being thought highly of. He simply lacks the temperament and the acumen to be a competent leader of the free world worthy of praise and high expectations for peace and stability throughout.

Being uncomfortable with democracy Trump has no other recourse but to covet Xi’s status.

SAD!!!

 

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China’s interest in Philippine Rise – Part II

 

I decided to make this a sequel to the first part of this article, which can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/chinas-interest-in-philippine-rise/, for the simple reason that President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement, saying, that he would ‘go to war’ to defend Philippine Rise, is very much in the purview of the subject.

Although it has been clarified by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that Duterte’s warning of war has China excluded, for obvious reasons, still it is very reassuring to know that at least Duterte recognizes the significance and importance of this area for the generation of Filipinos to come.

What makes it equally reassuring is that China recognizes that the Philippines have sovereign rights over the area.

What was undoable at the South China Sea (SCS) or the West Philippine Sea, the country is now implementing it at the Philippine Rise, and for the same obvious reason stated above that like us, other claimant nations did not also have stronger counter claim against China’s historical rights over the area, notwithstanding the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Not even the greatest power on earth, the US, could stop China’s hegemony in the area. Thus, China was able to flex its muscle with impunity, to the extent that their man made militarized islands are now near our vicinity.

Could one blame Duterte, therefore, if he is seen now tugging the coattails of China rather than making the giant nation his and the country’s enemy?

But not at Philippine Rise, and this is why Duterte has now a battalion of Marines ordered to watch over the territory for any incursions without his knowledge.

So, can anybody say now that Duterte’s inevitable and close friendship with China is a big folly or is it somehow paying off?

The fact that China now is looking into joint exploration with the Philippines in disputed areas in the South China Sea – which Duterte sees as a recognition of “co-ownership” – is better than not being able to benefit anything at all from what is underneath this early on. For the truth is that even if the Chinese were not there, we could never exploit the area on our own because we do not have the means and the capability to do it, such that we still have to tie up with foreign entities to be able to extract whatever resources are there beneath the sea.

That is the reality of the situation now in the SCS and whether we like it or not, it is a pact we have to make and take advantage of if it is what it takes to make the lives of Filipinos better.

So the question now is: How about Philippine Rise?

Well, it will really depend on how the Chinese behave in the long haul. While we see them very active at the SCS, it does not mean that they are not, likewise, salivating at the prospect of being able to exploit the gas, oil, and mineral resources of the Philippine Rise.

It is safe to say, therefore, that the better option is to have ‘a wait and see attitude’ on how the Chinese operates at the SCS. If the Chinese remains the same in having the devious notion in business, as in: ‘what is ours, is ours, and what is yours, is ours’, then let us save the Philippine Rise from their clutches.

Let it be a learning process for the generations to come.

East China Sea territorial dispute

 

Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

What do East China Sea and South China Sea have in common?

Obviously, other than the fact that they are both seas, they also bear distinctly the name China, a giant nation now becoming a superpower next only to the USA.

I have written about East China Sea (ECS) before which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/east-china-sea/, and the reason why I am writing about it again is because I want these questions to be answered:

  • Will there be a repeat of South China Sea (SCS) in ECS?
  • Unlike the Philippines and its neighboring nations, will Japan allow China to occupy and/or construct islands in the ECS?

The whole world now knows what China has done in the SCS. It not only claimed practically the whole of the SCS, but it is now made up of militarized man-made islands – a conglomerate of garrisons if you want to call it that.

What is even worse is that some of this fortified islands are located at the Philippine’s ‘backyard’.

The reason why China acted with impunity in our part of the world is because China does not respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, the international agreement that defined the limits of the territorial seas of nations and the areas in which they could exploit marine resources.

But what made China pursue its evil scheme is that America, despite knowing what  was going on in the SCS, did not give a hoot and was just interested in making sure that the rules for the use of the high seas for international navigation are to be respected.

So if the greatest military in the world was not able to restrain China from militarizing the SCS, at the expense of the poor nations in the region, what power has the Philippines to stop China from developing islands in our own territorial waters?

Thus, the questions are being asked above. What I am just trying to point out here is that China’s aggressive presence in the SCS will never result to an ugly conflict because any which way one looks at it the Philippines can never win against China.

But the same cannot be said of China and Japan in the ECS because the latter has the military power to fight China and therefore cannot just be bullied like it has done to the Philippines.

It will be remembered that both China and Japan lay claim to a set of islands in the East China Sea that cover around 81,000 square miles. Called Senkaku in Tokyo and Diaoyu in Beijing, the area is near major shipping routes and rich in energy reserves.

In 2012, Tokyo’s decision to purchase three of the five disputed islands from their private owner triggered violent anti-Japanese protests in China, forcing Japanese firms to shut down businesses on the mainland. The following year, Tokyo lodged a protest following Beijing’s declaration of a formal Air Defense Identification Zone over parts of the East China Sea.

According to Ryan Hass, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at Brooking’s foreign policy program,  “the frequency of close encounters between Chinese and Japanese ships and aircraft in the East China Sea is intensifying” and will likely continue as both countries look to improve their respective air and maritime capabilities in the zone.

The SCS territorial dispute may have caught the attention of the whole world, but the ECS, described to be a lesser-known hotbed of tensions, might be more likely to trigger an international conflict.

 

The Mindanao martial law brouhaha – Part II

 

Senators Drilon, Pangilinan, Hontiveros and Aquino.

I need to have a sequel of the subject as it continues to boggle my mind why the idea of extending martial law for another year in Mindanao bothers some senators, the likes of Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV.

Though I did not mention their names as critics when I wrote Part I, for the simple reason that nothing much was said yet, I find it necessary to name them in Part II as I find their argument against the extension shallow, if not melodramatic.

Practically all of them were justifying their objection based on the legalistic side of the issue, like there must be and actual rebellion and not just a mere threat to overthrow the government, before effecting a longer extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Above all there was this collective fear that because the CPP-NPA has been declared by President Duterte as terrorist group, that martial law could expand beyond Mindanao and swamp over the whole country since the rebels are all over.

“If we were to believe that the government is intent on ending the war against the NPA, which operates not only in Mindanao but all over the country, then it is entirely possible that their operations would have to be extended beyond Mindanao to meet that objective,” Drilon said.

What I find equally exaggerated is the statement coming from a group of human rights lawyers, saying, that “extending martial law in Mindanao for another year seems to be part of a grand design or intent to eventually place the entire country under virtual military rule and completely transform the nation into a police state.”

In the same manner that, in the first part, I called baloney the CHR and the political critics of President Duterte who said that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule”, I am also calling the same the opinion of the human rights lawyers.

What I am just saying here is that after what we saw happened to Marawi City, do we still have to doubt the motives behind the Islamic extremists causing havoc in the country and trying to occupy a territory to be called their own, especially if foreign funds are being funneled for them?

Can we not just be realistic and pragmatic, like the approach taken by the Duterte administration, that what happened in Marawi could happen again because killing leaders does not necessarily mean that the hard-core organization they are espousing will cease operating.

Why should they be allowed to grow roots and influence others to join them and become larger and formidable before going against them?

The spirit of martial law is to fight lawlessness before wide conflagration of terror could exist and because President Duterte, a no-nonsense leader, knows what he wants for the country, I don’t think the rule of martial law will be abused either by the military or the police, the way it was abused during the regime of the dictator Marcos.

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not – Part II

Aung San Suu Kyi with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I am not over yet with the appalling Aung San Suu Kyi, the much talked about democracy activist who earned a global reputation as a symbol of defiance and strength in the face of a brutal military junta in her country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Suu Kyi’s stoicism and her refusal to leave her country, even though it meant forgoing a life with her sons husband, who lived overseas, became, likewise, a symbol of sacrifice, inspiration, hope and freedom for all the peoples in Myanmar.

For leading a non-violent resistance movement, even while under house arrest, Suu Kyi was aptly compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Evidently and subsequently she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but received it in person only in 2012, after her release in 2010. Her party swept elections a landslide victory in 2015, making her the de facto civilian leader of her country.

Now her reputation is rapidly disintegrating because of her refusal to speak out about — or take meaningful steps to prevent — the military crackdown targeting the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. An estimated 400,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed across the border to Bangladesh running from what appears to be a crackdown on their villages by the military that still controls crucial aspects of Myanmar’s government, including the state security apparatus.

Because of her silence, insensitivity and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas, dismal things are happening to her and I am citing two here for your information – one is a copy of a letter from Archbishop and former Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the other is a reprint of an article published in the BBC News, dated 3 October 2017, titled Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’:

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

God bless you.

Love

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa

Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’

An honour granting Aung San Suu Kyi the Freedom of Oxford has been withdrawn by the city’s council because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

The de facto leader of Myanmar was granted the honour in 1997 for her “long struggle for democracy”.

But a motion to Oxford City Council said it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following recent violence.

The trouble erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts, triggering a military crackdown.

Ms Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest in Rangoon as a campaigner for democracy while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was ruled by a military dictatorship.

She became a worldwide figurehead for freedom before leading her National League for Democracy party to victory in open elections in November 2015.

‘Absolutely appalled’

But her failure to denounce the military or address allegations of ethnic cleansing has been criticised by world leaders and groups like Amnesty International.

Other organisations are now reconsidering honours given to Ms Suu Kyi, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson said.

“I think it is perfectly natural to look around for ways of saying we disapprove utterly of what you are doing,” he told BBC Radio Oxford.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price supported the motion to remove her honour and confirmed it was an “unprecedented step” for the local authority.

People are “absolutely appalled” by the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding it was “extraordinary” she had not spoken out about reported atrocities in the country.

Last week it emerged St Hugh’s College, Oxford, had removed a portrait of Ms Suu Kyi from display.

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not

 

I have written a couple of blogs in the past about the predominantly Muslim ethnic group called the Rohingyas, in majority-Buddhist Myanmar (formerly Burma), and about human-rights icon and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which you can read at the following links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/myanmars-suu-kyi-fails-on-the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

As I am writing about Suu Kyi now I didn’t realize that, incidentally, I am simply and truly answering the question I posed in the last paragraph of my 2014 blog that, indeed, the lady that is always seen to have fresh flower tacked on her hair is far from being a laureate.

I need not write anymore who the Rohingyas are as I think I have adequately described them already in my 2009 blog. Suffice to say that since I wrote about them in 2009 until today their hellish plight has not gotten any better.

Many, including myself, thought that the Rohingyas predicament would change for the better, especially now that Suu Kyi has become the de facto (in reality/in effect) leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, but unfortunately the more they continue to be persecuted and dehumanized because of Suu Kyi’s utter silence and indifference.

Even Pakistani human-rights activist Malala Yousafzai said “the world is waiting” for Suu Kyi to speak out.

The hapless Rohingyas are at present facing a crisis as people which the United Nations human rights head called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Just to give you a better, but somber, perspective of the life of the Rohingyas now and the absolute insensitivity of Suu Kyi, I recommend that you get hold of the October 2, 2017 issue of Time magazine where a report written by Ms. Elizabeth Dias about them is simply unconscionable, as it is uncivilized.

Or you can just open this link and read more about the heart-breaking story that continues to plague the Rohingya people: https://thediplomat.com/2017/09/the-shame-of-myanmar/.