COLUMN: CHINA'S 21st-CENTURY CHALLENGE

PHOTO, CNN HOST FAREED ZAKARIA  --Vladimir Putin might be a 19th-century statesmen, using old-fashioned muscle to get his way, but it has become clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping goes one step further, comfortably embracing both 19th- and 21st-century tactics. Start with the 19th-century aspect—the huge Sino-Russian natural gas deal signed this week that is perfectly understandable in terms of realpolitik. Beijing has long sought secure energy supplies, and it places that vital interest above any desire to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea or strengthen global norms against aggression. In fact, the Chinese shrewdly recognized that the Russians, facing sanctions, were anxious to diversify away from their dependence on European customers. Beijing got a good deal. While the gas agreement has received all the attention, it’s also worth studying Xi Jinping’s speech in Shanghai, given the same day that the deal was struck. The meeting was a gathering of an obscure Asian regional group, one that includes Turkey, Iran and Russia but not the United States. His message was that Asians should take care of their own security. He made a veiled threat to outsiders who were trying to meddle in the continent’s affairs. “Someone who tries to blow out another’s oil lamp will set his beard on fire,” Xi said. He presented the Chinese view of the region, which he calls Asia—not the preferred US term, the Asia-Pacific. This implies that Washington, as an outside power, should not play a major role in the continent’s affairs. Xi also warned Asian countries not to “beef up a military alliance targeting a third party,” clearly a reference to countries such as the Philippines that are expanding their military cooperation with the United States. That’s power politics. But this week, we also saw a new world of great-power intrigue. The US Justice Department filed formal charges against five officials in the Chinese military and detailed the economic espionage that they have allegedly conducted against American companies over the last eight years. The action is unprecedented, especially since these officials are never going to be arrested — and will probably never leave China anyway. Why did the US do this? READ MORE...

ALSO: Believe us, it’s a miracle - PNoy at WEF

The case for the Philippine miracle. In laying the case for the Philippine miracle, no one has been more ardent in promoting the cause than Philippine finance secretary Cesar Purisima. The Philippines’ hosting of the regional meeting of the World Economic Forum was his brainchild. The idea of selling the country under Aquino as the new Asian economic miracle is the expensive contribution and task of foreign and Filipino public relations consultants. President Aquino’s demand for bankrolling the meeting in Manila and the PR effort was simple: he must be portrayed as the principal miracle worker. Executives, journalists and government officials wore a quizzical look on their faces after weathering the Philippine government’s presentation yesterday on the theme: “Philippines: The Next Economic Miracle” at the World Economic Forum on East Asia at the Makati Shangrila Hotel. When combined with the speeches of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the miracle presentation was quite a punishing smorgasbord of information and propaganda.
Thankfully, the foreign guests were unfailingly polite and did not wonder aloud what was miraculous about possessing the world’s worst international airport and their navigating through Metro Manila’s hellish traffic. But as one friend wryly remarked, “Yes, we get the point—reaching one’s destination and getting a decent hotel room after the long ordeal is a miracle in itself.” Taking a leaf from the Vatican --In examining the miracle claim, it helps to take a leaf from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church in assessing the worthiness of claims of miracles and the worthiness of candidates for sainthood.READ REPORT IN FULL...

ALSO: Asia’s mad lady in the attic

As the name-calling between Manila and Beijing becomes more heated, I think it will be good for us if it becomes a contest instead as to which country—China or the Philippines—is the real or original “Sick Man of Asia.” Whenever President Aquino talks about the recent show of economic dynamism by the Philippines to international audiences (as he planned to do in his Davos speech that did not get delivered last year), his favorite set-up line is to say that before he took the helm, the Philippines was called “the sick man of Asia.” His punch line is that with him in command, the epithet has become a thing of the past. One problem with citing history is that you never know what a little bit of impolite fact-checking will turn up. As with the President’s citation of Suedentenland in his interview with the New York Times, so the “Sick Man of Asia” lament misses the mark. China: the original sick man of Asia. READ MORE...

ALSO: Another killing

Last month, one of the questions asked of President Aquino by foreign journalists who covered the Manila visit of US President Barack Obama was about the high incidence of media killings in this country. President Aquino was not quite forthright in his answer, pointing to the arrest and prosecution of dozens of suspects in connection with media killings. Most of those suspects, however, were indicted in connection with only one case: the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. The majority of cases since 1986 remain unsolved. Obama visited Manila less than three weeks after a female tabloid reporter was shot dead in front of her house in Cavite. Before Rubylita Garcia died in a hospital, she pointed to a local police chief as the likely brains behind the attack. Last Friday, a Digos City broadcaster became the 28th journalist to be murdered under the watch of President Aquino. Organized crime rings are being eyed in the fatal shooting of Samuel Oliverio, a blocktimer of Radio Ukay.


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

China’s 21st-century challenge by FAREED ZAKARIA
 

MANILA, MAY 26, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) 


FAREED ZAKARIA: Fareed Zakaria is host of CNN’s flagship international affairs program—Fareed Zakaria GPS, Editor at Large of TIME, a Washington Post columnist, and a New York Times bestselling author. He was described in 1999 by Esquire Magazine as “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation.” In 2010, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 global thinkers.Since 2008, he has hosted Fareed Zakaria GPS, which airs Sundays worldwide on CNN. Dr. Zakaria’s in-depth interviews with the Dalai Lama, heads of state including Barack Obama, Manmohan Singh, King Abdullah II, Dmitry Medvedev, Moammar Gadhafi and Lula da Silva, as well as countless intellectuals, business leaders, politicians and journalists have been broadcast in more than 200 million homes around the world.

NEW YORK CITY: Vladimir Putin might be a 19th-century statesmen, using old-fashioned muscle to get his way, but it has become clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping goes one step further, comfortably embracing both 19th- and 21st-century tactics.

Start with the 19th-century aspect—the huge Sino-Russian natural gas deal signed this week that is perfectly understandable in terms of realpolitik.

Beijing has long sought secure energy supplies, and it places that vital interest above any desire to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea or strengthen global norms against aggression. In fact, the Chinese shrewdly recognized that the Russians, facing sanctions, were anxious to diversify away from their dependence on European customers. Beijing got a good deal.

While the gas agreement has received all the attention, it’s also worth studying Xi Jinping’s speech in Shanghai, given the same day that the deal was struck.

The meeting was a gathering of an obscure Asian regional group, one that includes Turkey, Iran and Russia but not the United States. His message was that Asians should take care of their own security. He made a veiled threat to outsiders who were trying to meddle in the continent’s affairs. “Someone who tries to blow out another’s oil lamp will set his beard on fire,” Xi said.

He presented the Chinese view of the region, which he calls Asia—not the preferred US term, the Asia-Pacific. This implies that Washington, as an outside power, should not play a major role in the continent’s affairs. Xi also warned Asian countries not to “beef up a military alliance targeting a third party,” clearly a reference to countries such as the Philippines that are expanding their military cooperation with the United States.

That’s power politics. But this week, we also saw a new world of great-power intrigue. The US Justice Department filed formal charges against five officials in the Chinese military and detailed the economic espionage that they have allegedly conducted against American companies over the last eight years. The action is unprecedented, especially since these officials are never going to be arrested — and will probably never leave China anyway.

Why did the US do this? In remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates speculated that the purpose was threefold—to signal to American companies that they should be on the watch for cyber theft, to signal to the Chinese that Washington was getting increasingly frustrated with this problem, and to signal to the American people that their government was taking this issue seriously.

The trouble is, no one believes it will make any difference. The Chinese have issued a blanket denial, going so far as to say that the Chinese military “never engaged in any cyber espionage activities,” which is impossible to believe. The Chinese officials listed are unlikely to face any kind of sanction; if anything, they might even regard being on this list as a badge of honor.

Some experts believe that the scale of China’s cyber espionage is off the charts. “It is the largest theft in human history,”

Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution told me, pointing to one example. The United States will spend around $1 trillion developing the F-35 fighter, which will be its most advanced weapon system.

“But we can now see clearly that elements of the F-35 have made their way into a similar Chinese plane. American investments that were meant to give it a 15-year battlefield advantage have been totally undermined,” Singer said. And he points out that China targets everyone from defense contractors down to furniture makers, whose chair designs get stolen and copied within a year.

Cyber attacks are part of a new, messy, chaotic world, fueled by globalization and the information revolution. In a wired, networked world, it is much harder to shut down this kind of activity that blurs the lines between governments and private citizens, national and international realms, theft and warfare. And it certainly will not be possible to do so using traditional mechanisms of national security. Notice that Washington is using a legal mechanism (which will be ineffective and largely symbolic) for what is really a national security issue.

The Sino-Russian gas deal reminds us that traditional geopolitics is alive and well. Washington knows how to work its way in that world with its own alliances and initiatives.

But cyber espionage represents a new frontier and no one really has the ideas, tools or strategies to properly address this challenge.

Aquino: Believe us, it’s a miracle by YEN MAKABENTA  May 23, 2014 10:28 pm MANILA TIMES


YEN MAKABENTA

First of three parts
Executives, journalists and government officials wore a quizzical look on their faces after weathering the Philippine government’s presentation yesterday on the theme: “Philippines: The Next Economic Miracle” at the World Economic Forum on East Asia at the Makati Shangrila Hotel.

When combined with the speeches of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the miracle presentation was quite a punishing smorgasbord of information and propaganda.

Thankfully, the foreign guests were unfailingly polite and did not wonder aloud what was miraculous about possessing the world’s worst international airport and their navigating through Metro Manila’s hellish traffic. But as one friend wryly remarked, “Yes, we get the point—reaching one’s destination and getting a decent hotel room after the long ordeal is a miracle in itself.”

Taking a leaf from the Vatican

In examining the miracle claim, it helps to take a leaf from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church in assessing the worthiness of claims of miracles and the worthiness of candidates for sainthood.

During the canonization process employed by the Vatican, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil’s Advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), is a canon lawyer appointed by Church authorities to argue against the canonization of a candidate. It is this person’s job to take a skeptical view of the candidate’s character, to look for holes in the evidence, to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate are fraudulent, and so on.

The Devil’s Advocate does battle with God’s Advocate (Latin: advocatus Dei; also known as the Promoter of the Cause), whose task is to make the argument in favor of canonization. This task is now performed by the Promoter of Justice (promotor iustitiae), who is in charge of examining how accurate is the inquiry on the saintliness of the candidate.

The office was established in 1587 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V. Pope John Paul II reduced the power and changed the role of the office in 1983. This reform changed the canonization process considerably, helping John Paul II to usher in an unprecedented number of elevations: nearly 500 individuals were canonized and over 1,300 were beatified during his tenure as Pope, as compared to only 98 canonizations by all his 20th-century predecessors.

In cases of controversy in recent times, the Vatican sometimes informally solicited the testimony of critics of a candidate for canonization. Aroup Chatterjee, the author of the book Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict, testified against the late nun as a devil’s advocate.

The British-American columnist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens was famously asked to testify against the beatification of Mother Teresa in 2002, a role he later described as akin to “representing the Devil pro bono.”

The case for the Philippine miracle

In laying the case for the Philippine miracle, no one has been more ardent in promoting the cause than Philippine finance secretary Cesar Purisima.

The Philippines’ hosting of the regional meeting of the World Economic Forum was his brainchild. The idea of selling the country under Aquino as the new Asian economic miracle is the expensive contribution and task of foreign and Filipino public relations consultants.

President Aquino’s demand for bankrolling the meeting in Manila and the PR effort was simple: he must be portrayed as the principal miracle worker.

They settled on the line: “Good governance is good economics” as the best way for making the case for a miracle.”

In an article by-lined by Purisima and published in newspaper advertisements and advertorials, Purisima sketched out the core argument: “Reforms have the power to alter a country’s destiny. This is why they inspire confidence from markets, businesses and citizens. The Philippines provides an example of how reforms can change perception and reality.”

Purisima contends in praise of his boss: “Since assuming office in 2010, President Aquino III has transformed the country from being “the sick man of Asia” to an economic success. He undertook reforms that economists have been urging and politicians shirking.”

Thrashing “the sick man of Asia” label is hackneyed and is as old as President Fidel V. Ramos, who thought he laid it to rest. Another problem is that no foreign journalist or analyst ever described the country as such.

No one will find a publication saying that, unless it is a local paper quoting the oft-repeated refrain of President Aquino (I discussed this in an earlier column, along with the stinging charge of the Financial Times Asia editor that the Philippines is like “the mad lady in the Attic.”).

Purisima and Aquino list among the achievements and reforms under the present government the following:
1. Putting in detention (and under hospital arrest) former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and filing multiple charges against her, many of which have already been dropped.
2. The impeachment of former Chief justice Renato Corona by the House of Representatives for failing to declare all his assets, and his conviction by the Senate. Unmentioned of course is the fact that Aquino purchased the impeachment by bribing legislators.
3. The impeachment of the former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who fortunately resigned instead of being subjected to abuse and humiliation by the government.
4. 487 cases against Tax evaders filed by the Bureau of internal Revenue.
Significantly, Aquino did not include the ongoing investigation of the pork barrel scam as among his transformational achievements. He and his government are not prepared yet to discuss this matter at length. It’s too close to home.

Purisima vs.Tiglao

Before Purisima was finished with his presentation before the WEF, my colleague Rigoberto Tiglao wrote a devastating column yesterday, calling Purisima “President Aquino’s biggest liar” (“Purisima: Aquino’s biggest liar”, May 23).

Tiglao documents in detail the fact that the big achievements being claimed by Aquino and Purisima were in fact the accomplishments of former President Gloria Arroyo, whose detention is being claimed by Aquino as his signal achievement. He cites as corroboration the official findings of the World Bank, crediting Arroyo with putting the nation and the economy on a stable and growth course forward.

If Tiglao’s column is not satisfactorily answered by Purisima, the entire WEF adventure will be all-for nothing.
The brief for the miracle, in fact, is quite abbreviated, and lacking in substance. This is a transformational event still waiting to be fleshed out.

When I wrote my column last Thursday, (“China practices statecraft, Philippines employs public relations,” May 22), my point was precisely to underscore a striking contrast:
While China uses serious statecraft in shaping its foreign policy and diplomacy, our government depends chiefly on publicity and press releases to advance its foreign policy goals. WEF is PR.

Bismarck drew the line: in statecraft, your objectives should not exceed your capabilities. In PR-driven diplomacy, you can claim colossal gains, perhaps even a miracle. But then follows the hard part, proving the miracle.

Miracle advocates hide behind the argument that to belie the miracle is unpatriotic. Really?

YEN MAKABENTA'S PREVIOUS COLUMN ON FEBRUARY 2014

Asia’s mad lady in the attic February 10, 2014 9:30 pm by YEN MAKABENTA


The Philippines is no longer the "sick man of Asia", as it is now a "viable destination for investments and tourists", President Benigno Aquino has said. Raul Dancel The Straits Times Saturday, May 24, 2014

As the name-calling between Manila and Beijing becomes more heated, I think it will be good for us if it becomes a contest instead as to which country—China or the Philippines—is the real or original “Sick Man of Asia.”

Whenever President Aquino talks about the recent show of economic dynamism by the Philippines to international audiences (as he planned to do in his Davos speech that did not get delivered last year), his favorite set-up line is to say that before he took the helm, the Philippines was called “the sick man of Asia.” His punch line is that with him in command, the epithet has become a thing of the past.

One problem with citing history is that you never know what a little bit of impolite fact-checking will turn up. As with the President’s citation of Suedentenland in his interview with the New York Times, so the “Sick Man of Asia” lament misses the mark.

China: the original sick man of Asia

In truth, the sick man of Asia nickname was originally pinned on China during the late 19th century and early 20th century when it was riven by internal divisions and humiliated by the great powers into writing unequal treaties with them.

Significantly, the epithet has never been pinned on the Philippines by serious journalists and observers.

No one in Malacañang’s massive communications group has found or will find a foreign publication describing our country as such. If it all, the search will probably find a Filipino source for it, perhaps a columnist who was trying to look clever and knowing.

William Safire in his Political Dictionary writes authoritatively that Turkey was the original sick man. He writes:

“In 1853, Russian Czar Nicholas I told British ambassador Sir George Seymore, “We have on our hands a sick man, a very sick man,” and Turkey was tagged throughout the remainder of the 19th century as “the sick man of Europe.”

Across the oceans and across history, the patient has periodically changed, but the phrase lingered on. Australian editor Colin Buingham wrote in 1967: “For years after the Second World War, France was frequently described as ‘the sick man of Europe.’ ”

Before World War II, however, as the Powers were merrily dividing the spoils in the Middle Kingdom, China was tagged as “the sick man of Asia.”

If China was the original sick man of Asia, why then would the Philippines wish to wrest that distinction from her—especially now when she is claiming all of the South China Sea as part of her sovereign territory? Perhaps, territorial greed can be cited as one of the signs of her sickness. But wishing to get the epithet for ourselves seems to me a little sick.

Bewailing a putdown that never happened and claiming to have surmounted it is false bravado, returning the epithet to China makes more sense.

Financial Times takes a shot

After President Ramos, the sick man epithet went into hibernation.

Not even the misfortunes of President Joseph Estrada could revive it, because the talk then turned to his unconstitutional removal from power.

When the economy thereafter began to strengthen under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it seemed like our neighbors and foreign observers were done taking potshots at us.

With Indonesia coming on strong, and all of Asean hailed as the next site of the Asian economic miracle, it seemed like we were at last on the way to joining the parade.

And with the highly popular election of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010, there was no point in worrying.

It was in this state of blissful complacency that I was startled in December 2011 by a commentary in the Financial Times, an occasional reading indulgence of mine.

In an op-ed piece entitled “Just two cheers for a sputtering Indonesian dream” (Financial Times, December 15, 2011), David Pilling, Asia editor of that UK paper, casually dropped our country’s name, and in a most annoying and dismissive way.

“Of South-east Asian economies, Indonesia is the only one the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expects to grow faster in the next five years—at an annual 6.6 percent—than it did in the last. Its seemingly inexorable expansion is being propelled by favorable demographics, a potent force in a country of 240m people. At this rate, Standard Chartered Bank expects it to be the sixth-biggest economy in the world by 2030, bigger than either Germany or the UK, and bested only by China, the US, India, Brazil and Japan.

“Yet Indonesia is falling far short of its potential. Economically, it is in a deliciously sweet spot. Why, then, in 2010 did it grow more slowly than the Philippines, often considered to be Asia’s economic equivalent of the mad lady in the attic?” (underscoring mine).

Mad lady in the attic? The putdown rankled. It reminded me of characters in English novels, like “Jane Eyre” and “Great Expectations,” characters whom time and fashions appeared to have literally passed by. The original mad lady was apparently stood up at the altar by her bridegroom, or something like that. And she went bonkers.

Is this how foreign eyes see us in the Philippines? Have recent changes for the better not counted for anything?

Pilling explains
I resolved at the time to write in future to Mr. Pilling to find out what he meant, and what exactly he found wrong with our country or our economy.

Last year, I did write Mr. Pilling, and within just a week, he graciously sent me his reply. He said that his remark had been flippant and regrettable. He explained that the Philippines for many decades had disappointed by failing to meet high expectations, such as being a country well-positioned to succeed immediately after the Second World War.

He then proceeded to say that in recent years, the Philippines had been performing well economically, and that its prospects for the future have appreciably improved.

The Pilling article had been written at a time of contraction by the Philippine economy, because of the underspending of the Aquino government and after 38 quarters of growth under President Arroyo. By the following year, the economy was back on track. By 2013 the economy had won investment grade ratings from the ratings agencies, and had recorded 7.6-percent growth in the first quarter, 7.2 percent for the entire year.

It appears that Mr. Pilling visited Manila several more times since his article first came out, and he has written more positively about developments here.

With the current name-calling between Manila and Beijing, I worry that foreign observers and journalists might start wondering about the state of mind of Filipino leadership today. Being called an old lady is not the worst putdown, and is certainly not as gross as being called a Nazi.

EDITORIAL - Another killing (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 26, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0

Last month, one of the questions asked of President Aquino by foreign journalists who covered the Manila visit of US President Barack Obama was about the high incidence of media killings in this country.

President Aquino was not quite forthright in his answer, pointing to the arrest and prosecution of dozens of suspects in connection with media killings.

Most of those suspects, however, were indicted in connection with only one case: the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. The majority of cases since 1986 remain unsolved.

Obama visited Manila less than three weeks after a female tabloid reporter was shot dead in front of her house in Cavite. Before Rubylita Garcia died in a hospital, she pointed to a local police chief as the likely brains behind the attack.

Last Friday, a Digos City broadcaster became the 28th journalist to be murdered under the watch of President Aquino.

Organized crime rings are being eyed in the fatal shooting of Samuel Oliverio, a blocktimer of Radio Ukay.

Journalists’ groups have lamented that a police task force will likely be formed to go after Oliverio’s killers, after which the investigation will sputter and die down. The case will then gather dust, like most of the murder cases targeting journalists since democracy was restored in 1986.

The failure to bring murderers to justice, as many quarters have pointed out over and over, has bred impunity and guaranteed more attacks on journalists. The theory is that many of the killings are ordered by influential local politicians who control those in charge of the criminal justice system in their turfs, from the police to prosecutors and judges. In several cases, police and military officers are suspected to be the culprits.

But police also fail to catch murderers who are ordinary criminals. Oliverio was reportedly critical of gambling and illegal drug operations in Digos. Unless law enforcers in the city are on the payroll of organized crime rings, nothing should stop the cops from going after the suspected murderers. Getting those responsible for media killings should not become just a tired refrain in this government.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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