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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘southeast asia

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • The Cranky Sociologists notes the dynamics and statistics of global aging.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the effect of tides on Mercury, Jupiter’s moon Io, and exoplanet Kepler 10c.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the deployment of Russian nuclear-armed missiles within range of China and questions the possibility of an astronomical event in the 9th century.
  • The Financial Times‘s The World notes that Germany and Italy are disputing the governance of the Eurozone.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the United Nations is now recognizing the legal same-sex marriages of its workers.
  • Language Log looks at the new Chinese tradition of water calligraphy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the risk of cruise missile proliferation in Southeast Asia versus China.
  • Window on Eurasia notes concern among some Russians that China might want to take over parts of Siberia Crimea-style.

[ISL] “China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea”

I’m not sure that the artificial islands being built by China in the South China Sea actually count, at least insofar as they can change maritime boundaries. As noted by BusinessWeek‘s Joel Quinto, these by themselves are enough to serve as bases.

Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China’s weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. In recent months, vessels belonging to the People’s Republic have been spotted ferrying construction materials to build new islands in the sea. Pasi Abdulpata, a Filipino fishing contractor who in October was plying the waters near Parola Island in the northern Spratlys, says he came across “this huge Chinese ship sucking sand and rocks from one end of the ocean and blasting it to the other using a tube.”

Artificial islands could help China anchor its claim to waters that host some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The South China Sea may hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China has considered the Spratlys—which it calls Nansha—part of its territory since the 1940s and on occasion has used its military might to enforce its claim. In 1988 a Chinese naval attack at Johnson South Reef, in the northern portion of the archipelago, killed 64 Vietnamese border guards.

At a briefing last month, Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine defense minister, said land reclamation work at Johnson South Reef started in February. There have been reports of Chinese activity at two other reefs in the Spratlys. “They are creating artificial islands that never existed since the creation of the world,” says Eugenio Bito-onon, mayor of a sparsely populated stretch of the archipelago called Kalayaan. “The construction is massive and nonstop,” he says, and could pave the way for China’s “total control of the South China Sea.”

Such alarm has been stoked by Chinese news reports, such as one in February on the online portal Qianzhan. com that said Beijing had drawn up a plan to build a military base at Fiery Cross Reef, about 90 miles west of Johnson South. Establishing islands equipped with airstrips would allow China to set up an air defense zone similar to the one it created in November over a group of islands in the East China Sea where it’s contesting sovereignty with Japan.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2014 at 7:23 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Andreas Hein arguing that interstellar travel will be quite easy after the singularity hits, when our minds can be copied onto physical substrates.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the dispute between Vietnam and China over their maritime boundaries runs the risk of intensifying.
  • Far Outliers chronicles the Australian creation of the Ferdinand radio network in the 1930s, a network of civilian radio broadcasters in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea charged with reporting on border security.
  • Joe. My. God. notes controversy in Israel over a harmless music video by trans pop star Dana International.
  • Language Hat notes one Russian writer’s suggestion on how Russian-language writers can avoid Russian state censorship: write in officially recognized variants of the Russian language (Ukrainian Russian, Latvian Russian, et cetera).
  • Language Log examines “patchwriting”, a subtle variant of plagiarism.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is just one blog noting the insanity of George F. Will’s claim that being a rape victim on a university campus is a coveted status.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe links to OpenGeoFiction, an online collaborative map-creation fiction.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, before Hitler, the Biblical pharoah was the figure used as the embodiment of evil.
  • The New APPS Blog takes issue with the claim that photographs sully our memories. Arguably they supplement it instead.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw notes, following Australia’s recent budget cuts, how young people lacking connections can find it very difficult to get ahead.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that ethnic minorities and secessionist groups in Moldova are being mobilized as that country moves towards the European Union, and observes the maritime sanctions placed against Crimean ports.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is very skeptical of UKIP founder Alan Sked’s statements that the party was founded free of bigotry.

[LINK] “Vietnam Will Be the Loser in the Anti-China Riots”

Bruce Einhorn’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek article makes the point that recent riots in Vietnam targeting ethnic Chinese and their businesses will certainly not help the country’s economic prospects.

The latest round in the territorial dispute between China and Vietnam has had its first casualties. Anti-Chinese demonstrations have swept Vietnam since the two countries’ ships attacked one another in the South China Sea last week, and yesterday Vietnamese protesters targeted a steel mill in the central province of Ha Tinh, leaving at least one Chinese person dead and 90 injured. The mob went after the factory even though its owner, the Formosa Plastics Group (1301:TT), is not even from mainland China. It’s Taiwanese. But no matter: Hailing from a Chinese-speaking place and employing Chinese workers are crimes enough.

The Vietnamese government has only itself to blame for this disaster. After a Chinese state-owned company started drilling for oil in waters that Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, the leaders in Hanoi couldn’t figure out a way to respond, according to Jonathan London, a City University of Hong Kong professor and Vietnam expert. One easy option was to encourage a nationalistic fervor among Vietnamese. “The Vietnamese ‘street’ is extremely upset by these most recent developments,” he said Friday. “Vietnamese cyberspace is on fire.”

Sure enough, nationalist fervor quickly got out of hand. “The riots appear to be the result of carelessly planned small-scale protests initiated by state-run or state-invested foreign ventures which then quickly exploded,” London writes on his blog today. Making things worse, the leadership in Hanoi hasn’t been able to agree on a strategy. With the leadership paralyzed about what to do, “the absence of a clear, coherent voice from Hanoi is doing great harm,” he argues. “Instead of communicating with the world with the confidence it should, Hanoi is on the brink of a public-relations meltdown that would make even Malaysian aviation officials blush.”

China is trying to take the moral high ground, saying Vietnam’s government is at fault for the escalation of tensions. China has accused its neighbor of creating a media circus by arranging for reporters to cover the confrontation at sea between Vietnamese and Chinese ships. “This was all done for show in an attempt to present a false picture and deceive the public,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who called on the government in Hanoi “to immediately take effective steps to stop and punish these crimes, and to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Vietnam.”

[. . .]

No matter which side wins control of the disputed area, Vietnam seems certain to be the economic loser from this fight. Even factories untouched by the protesters have closed temporarily. For instance, most of the Vietnamese suppliers to Li & Fung (494:HK), the huge Hong Kong company that is the world’s biggest supplier of clothes and toys, are closed. Its chief executive, Bruce Rockowitz, said today after a shareholder meeting in Hong Kong that the shutdown in production could last a week. Yue Yuen Industrial (551:HK), the Hong Kong supplier of athletic shoes to Nike (NKE) and Adidas (ADS:GR), has shut its factories in Vietnam, which last year accounted for one-third of Yue Yuen’s total production.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly makes the point that photography can help people understand their world that more thoroughly.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to an analysis of the atmosphere of superhot hot Jupiter WASP 12b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Greenland’s geography has survived millions of years of ice, and notes reports that Israel apparently spies quite actively on the United States.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog’s Stacy J. Williams looks at the ways in which professional cooking is gendered.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes that Thailand’s eastern seaboard is quite rich.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers in North Dakota face the highest rate of workplace accidents in their country, a consequence of ill-regulated oil projects.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper taking a look at the abortive industrial revolution of Song China.
  • Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog observes that the ESA’s Rosetta probe is set to rendezvous with Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in just a few weeks.
  • Registan notes the preference for early marriages among Uzbeks.
  • Une heure de peine’s Denis Colombi reacts (in French) to the recent death of economist and sociologist Gary Becker.
  • Window on Eurasia wonders if Azerbaijan will face an Islamist political challenge.

[LINK] “Desperate Rohingya kids flee Myanmar alone by boat”

Margie Mason and Robin McDowell’s Associated Press article tracing the flight of two siblings–Rohinghya, Muslims persecuted in Burma–across Southeast Asia is compelling and terribly sad.

The relief the two children felt after making it safely away from land quickly faded. Their small boat was packed with 63 people, including 14 children and 10 women, one seven months pregnant. There were no life jackets, and neither sibling could swim. The sun baked their skin.

Senwara took small sips of water from a shared tin can inside the hull piled with aching, crumpled arms and legs. With each roiling set of waves came the stench of vomit.

Nearly two weeks passed. Then suddenly a boat approached with at least a dozen Myanmar soldiers on board.

They ordered the Rohingya men to remove their shirts and lie down, one by one. Their hands were bound. Then they were punched, kicked and bludgeoned with wooden planks and iron rods, passengers on the boat said.

They howled and begged God for mercy.

“Tell us, do you have your Allah?” one Rohingya survivor quoted the soldiers as saying. “There is no Allah!”

The police began flogging Mohamad before he even stood up, striking his little sister in the process. They tied his hands, lit a match and laughed as the smell of burnt flesh wafted from his blistering arm. Senwara watched helplessly.

As they stomped him with boots and lashed him with clubs, his mind kept flashing back to home: What had he done? Why had he left? Would he die here?

After what seemed like hours, the beating stopped. Mohamad suspected an exchange of money finally prompted the soldiers to order the Rohingya to leave.

“Go straight out of Myanmar territory to the sea!” a witness recalled the commander saying. “If we see you again, we will kill you all!”

It gets worse.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2014 at 7:14 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of young Russian military cadets training.
  • blogTO has a transcript of one of Ford’s most recent reported rants.
  • Centauri Dreams and D-Brief both note that the giant exoplanet Beta Pictoris b apparently has an eight-hour day.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin, focusing on Australia, discusses right-wing tribalism.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining various possibilities for orbits of planets in the Gliese 581 system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a proposal (with pictures) for a Io volcano observer space probe.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the continuing deterioration of eastern Ukraine.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis comments on the geographical illiteracy of the United States and of a very bad Pakistani school atlas.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that, today, Brunei is implementing full sharia law.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an Australian proposal to outlaw civil society-led boycotts.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a poll suggesting Americans don’t care about income inequality.
  • The Planetary Society Weblog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes that we’re getting closer to figuring out which Kuiper belt dwarf planet is larger, Pluto or Eris.
  • The Tin Man explains why he prefers Twitter to Facebook. (The former feels more free-form, less of a gated community.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes that responsibility for recent increases in birth rates in Russia can’t be assigned entirely, or even mostly, to the Russian government.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO shares vintage photos of cycling Torontonians, some dating back a century. Apparently there was much more traffic a century ago.
  • Centauri Dreams comments on exoplanet habitability, noting the discovery of Kepler-186f and the importance of a wildly shifting axis.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers, one examining the stability of the planets in the Gliese 581 system, the other looking at factors which might aid or hinder the habitability of exomoons.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis compares India and Indonesia, noting how Indonesia, while less territorially secure than India, is more culturally united. (By and large.)
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Robert Farley links to some interesting papers examining Jewish practice and politics in the US South and then the Confederacy.
  • Torontoist notes how TTC policies on graffitied streetcars led to a traffic shutdown on the Sheppard line.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little examines paradigms we can adopt to make change easier (or not).
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes a look at the contentious subject of the sterilization of the intellectually disabled. Are there circumstances where this is possible?
  • Window on Eurasia quotes from Eurasianist ideology Alexander Dugin, who (speaking of a supportive Armenia and a non-supportive Azerbaijan), warns that other post-Soviet countries can keep their borders only with Russian permission, and speculates about the possibility of Russian threats in Latvia.

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

[LINK] Some Monday links

  • Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell is skeptical of Josh Marshall’s new journalism site featuring paid advertisements from Big Pharma.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird provides another update about Ukrainian events.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that World Vision Canada, unlike its American counterpart, is legally required not to discriminate against non-heterosexuals.
  • Language Hat links to a study on the formerly Russophone Alaskan community of Ninilchik.
  • Language Log suggests that handwriting is a dying art in East Asia, too.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.
  • The Signal features a guest post from two librarians working for the Library of Congress explaining how they do their work.
  • Savage Minds explains the myth of the sexy librarian.
  • Torontoist has two photos memorializing recently-closed stores, one from the World’s Biggest Bookstore and the other from Sears in the Eaton Centre.

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