August, 2012

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Posted by: | Posted on: August 17, 2012

A Code of Conduct for the South China Sea?

Vietnam recalls that China colonized Vietnam for more than 1,000 years, and, more recently, China attacked Vietnam in 1978, and China gained a foothold in the South China Sea by ejecting, first, South Vietnamese troops from their half of the Paracels in 1974 and then the forces of a unified Vietnam from some of the Spratlys in 1988. If Vietnam were to compromise its claims to the South China Sea, it would be almost surrounded by land features and maritime regimes that China claimed as its own.

Filipinos do not forget that Japan invaded their country from some of the Spratlys and, therefore, feel the need, for geopolitical reasons, to push their western frontier as far out as possible. There is also the demand for fish in the diet of almost 100 million Filipinos and for oil and gas for the economy of energy-hungry Philippines.

The two wings of Malaysia, which bases its claim on the claimed features’ location on its continental shelf, on their proximity to the Malaysian mainland, and on national security, are not only divided but also linked by a large expanse of the South China Sea. Brunei Darussalam feels the need for the resources lying within and beneath its “exclusive fishing zone” and continental shelf against the day when its currently lucrative oil and gas fields run dry. The Malaysian and Brunei claims, as well as those of others, overlap. In March 2009, the two countries’ leaders announced “the final delimitation of maritime boundaries” between them; the text of the agreement has not been released, however.

PacNet #45A Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

A Code of Conduct for the South China Sea?

by Rodolfo Severino

Rodolfo Severino [ the head of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. The full version of this article first appeared in the ISEAS Perspectives Series.

On July 20, 2012, foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for “the early conclusion of a Regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.” The statement that the Cambodian foreign minister, as chairman of the July 9 ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, issued on behalf of his colleagues invoked past ASEAN agreements pertaining to the rule of international law, self-restraint, the non-use of force, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Based entirely on an Indonesian draft cleared with all ASEAN member-states, the statement laid down what were the positions of ASEAN, claimants and non-claimants alike, on the South China Sea and their interests in it.

When contemplating a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, some facts ought to be taken into consideration and certain issues have to be resolved – or fudged – or, in any case, addressed.

One of those facts is what caused the downgrading of the 2002 document from what it initially was, a legally binding code, to a political declaration called, awkwardly, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which all of ASEAN’s foreign ministers and Wang Yi, China’s vice foreign minister, signed Nov. 4, 2002. The downgrading resulted from questions about where the “legally binding” code would apply. The question was raised primarily because of the dispute over the inclusion of the Paracels between Vietnam, which maintained its claim to the Paracels, and China, which had – and has – occupied them and steadfastly refused even to discuss the Paracels as disputed territory in the South China Sea.

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Posted by: | Posted on: August 16, 2012

My thought on the Devaraja and the modern political system in CANCAMBODIA

Hence, the collapse of Khmer empire is likely caused by the failure of this political system. The Devaraja that was claimed as King must be full of Dhamma (or Dharma) has become a Devaraja that leader can own everything as his private property (and in modern political system, the controlling or instructing a powerful leader not to own everything in accordance to his greed is absolutely impossible, so the creation of the rule of laws or principle is credibly vigilant to this natural greed). It has possibly become a centric political leadership which is consist of egoism and conceit.

Dear Lok Krou Sotheara et al;

Actually, the story of King Jayavarman II is likely narrated in a legendary event. As his father was a captive of King of Java, King Jayavarman II sneaked from Java to claim his monarchic line back in Cambodia. As I followed this event written by Gorge Cede, the event is likely a legend, not a fact. If Lok Krou happened to see some first hand source in the inscription mentioned about this event, I am grateful in your sharing.

However, the timeline of Khmer Empire seems splendidly emerge from this 802 episode of King Jayavarman II.     King Jayavarman II embarked a great march (may be similar to that of Mao in China) to rally support his kingship before the anointment at Mahendravarta. The story said by inviting a special Brahma from India to conduct this ceremony significantly gave a bloodline to the next great kings of Khmer Empire to having formal rituals performed by their own ministers (Khmer Brahmas). All ancient Khmer kings conformed the advises of Brahmas. And this cult consider a great success of political leadership in ancient time.

So the consecration of King Jayavarman II in that time might not be a creation of god-king or Devaraja of the king himself, it possibly constructed a political system of “Ancient Khmer Republic”. Stories tell in Buddhist scripture, ancient republic system of ancient India refers to king rules but supervised by Brahmas or the wises. And it has become Buddha’s republic for the Sangha that Buddha himself is just a particle of the larger Sangha (although he is a Buddha). All decision-making and disciplines inscribed in the scripture was made and agreed by the Sangha. Sangha in according to Vinaya must comprise of 4 Bhikkhus and up.

The Devaraja consecration on the top of Mehandravarta was not only a declaration of independence and sovereignty of Khmer Empire from Java (according to the legend), but it had erected an administration superseded the sustainable progress of this empire lasting 300 years.

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Posted by: | Posted on: August 16, 2012

Beijing considers stronger foreign ties by Financial Times

“The rebalancing [of the US in Asia] means certain Asean members can rely on the new US posture to hedge and leverage vis-a-vis China . . . In short, current internal Asean rifts are attributable not just to China’s assertive rise but also the US’ vigorous re-engagement.”
China’s relationship with Russia is also undergoing a major change. Chinese diplomats say the escalating crisis in Syria has pushed the countries much closer. Beijing and Moscow have jointly voted down three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria against a closed front of other countries.
“In the past, we happened to take the same position in the UN Security Council in some cases, but that was just because our national interests just happened to overlap, and there were other countries sharing our views, like in the Iraq case,” said one diplomat. “Now we have been pushed into a quasi-alliance.”

August 15, 2012

By Kathrin Hille in Beijing
Financial Times

When the Association of Southeast Asian Nations last month failed to agree a joint position on the South China Sea, the disputed waters contested by several of its members and China, many observers lamented the organisation’s weakness.
But in Beijing, the outcome was quietly celebrated as a success for its new foreign policy strategy as China seeks to use key allies to push through its own interests in the region.
Cambodia, which this year chairs the 10-nation Asean group, blocked an attempt by the Philippines and Vietnam to include a reference in the summit communiqué to a recent stand-off with China in the South China Sea.
“We co-ordinated very well with Cambodia in that case and . . . prevented an incident which would have been detrimental to China,” says Chen Xiangyang, a foreign policy expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
Analysts say Cambodia’s move to do China’s bidding is a glimpse of things to come as Beijing seeks to build foreign policy alliances it long eschewed. Deterred from such alliances by the collapse of its pact with the Soviet Union in 1961, China decided in 1982, when it started opening up after more than a decade of self-imposed isolation during the cultural revolution, that it should follow a strict policy of non-alignment.
But following the 2008 financial crisis, the Arab Spring and the growing US push to reassert its presence in Asia, this strategy is increasingly being challenged at home.
“The situation in China’s backyard has become more complicated, and there is a feeling that things are running out of control,” says Mr Chen. “Following the increase in Chinese power, we will need more friends. Otherwise we run the risk of isolation.”
Some Chinese scholars believe Beijing has already started watering down its traditional non-alignment dogma.
Posted by: | Posted on: August 15, 2012

A disconcerting silence in Cambodia by Asia Online Time

Apart from the technological barriers and oppression, there is a different value system informing behavior here, and this extends to media and publishing: dissent, criticism and confrontation are discouraged at a cultural level, not only by government. Self-censorship is rife because community values still rule over individuals’, and communal harmony over personal liberty and gain. Even when there is no direct threat, youth will often keep their thoughts to themselves in the presence of elders, and refrain from criticism among their peers, for fear of causing offence.

All told, this is an environment where intelligent, progressive and liberal debate is unlikely to flourish unless a few fundamental prerequisite human rights are established and protected, starting with freedom of thought.

A disconcerting silence in Cambodia
By Ryan Paine

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

When I arrived in Phnom Penh on the first night of Khmer New Year, I expected I would find more than a few small fireworks and a Ferris wheel. Assuming it was temporary, set up for the festivities, I had to get on it before it disappeared or fell down. In the end I didn’t rush because I found out it’s permanent. When I did finally have a ride, it sucked: too slow, only one revolution, and covered in garish advertising. I did win a toy that night though.

I also expected to find more media and publishing when I arrived here to work with a literary association, but it turns out the scene here is much like the streets were that night: quiet, and still quite dangerous. There was no Ferris wheel though – no place to go for a concise overview of modern Cambodian literature.

Of course I knew I was coming to work in a media industry where freedom of expression is not taken for granted the way it is at home in Australia. However, I hadn’t expected the gaping holes in publishing infrastructure created as a result of this freedom being so limited. It’s a self-perpetuating situation that leaves a disconcerting silence in the capital, but also a huge opportunity for the development of literary literacy and the improvement of the human condition this promotes.

There is actually a lot going on, despite the undeveloped publishing sector and the fact print publishing was introduced here as late as 1890, by the French, and only for government publications. The literary association I was working for is the capital’s leading youth and emerging writers’ association, so I was right in the thick of it. But still I had to dig deep by actively developing work with writers I met. The best way to access youth literature here is to go directly to the source.
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