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Collision exposes arbitrary nature of U.S. “FONOPs” in South China Sea

By APD Writer Ling Xiaoyun (Translated by Deng Xianlai) The U.S. Pacific Fleet said on its website that its guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel off the east coast of Singapore near the Malacca Strait on Aug. 21 at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time (2124 GMT Aug. 20). The New York Times cited the U.S. Navy as saying that the McCain was damaged near the rear on its port, or left-hand, side after colliding with the Alnic MC, a 600-foot vessel that transports oil and chemicals. Rescue missions were under way as 10 sailors on the destroyer were unaccounted for and five others were injured. Prior to this latest incident, another U.S. destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, collided with a large Philippine container ship in waters off Japan on June 17, leaving seven sailors dead and three others injured and causing extensive damage to the warship. In recent years, the United States, under the pretext of preserving freedom of navigation and maintaining regional order, has repeatedly flexed its military muscles by sending warships to the South China Sea for so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs). As a result, however, U.S. warships have frequently collided with civilian vessels during these operations, and thus have severely disrupted the orderly passage of ships. That begs the question: Are the U.S. warships safeguarding the “freedom of navigation” or rather its “arbitrariness of navigation” in the South China Sea? Are they maintaining regional order or rather disrupting it? Wilful U.S. missile-guided destroyers Possessing such advantages as heavy firepower and high flexibility, missile-guided destroyers are the most widely used type of vessels in modern naval fleets. The ships can be applied to a broad range of combat missions including assaulting submarines and surface ships, providing air-defense for fleets, and conducting escort, reconnaissance and patrol tasks. They can also fire torpedoes and attack land-based targets as well. The flexible nature of missile-guided destroyers enables them to easily adapt to the complicated terrain of the South China Sea, thus making them Washington’s preferred instruments in carrying out the so-called “FONOPs.” The fifth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain, is part of the Destroyer Squadron 15 of Carrier Strike Group 5 of the Seventh Fleet. The Seventh Fleet sailed to the Taiwan Strait on June 27, 1950, in violation of Chinese territorial sovereignty and subsequently participated in all major operations in the Korean and Vietnamese wars. Boasting superior combat capabilities, the McCain has repeatedly sailed to the Western Pacific over the recent years. On Aug. 10, the destroyer reached within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, which is part of Chinese territory in the Nansha Islands, and sailed for about six hours until being warned off by Chinese missile frigates Huaibei and Fushun. British newspaper The Guardian said the McCain’s sailing within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef was the third “FONOP” since U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office. The two previous ones were carried out by USS Dewey on May 25 near Mischief Reef and by USS Stethem on July 2 near Triton Island in the Xisha Islands. What makes the McCain incident different is that the site of its collision is a very busy and highly sensitive area -- the Malacca Strait. As the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, the Malacca Strait, 1,080 km in length, sees more than 50,000 cargo ships, oil tankers and other vessels passing through it every year. Statistics show more than a quarter of the world’s oil shipments travels through the strait. Should U.S. warships continue to sail arbitrarily and conduct “FONOPs” frequently in the busy waters, more collisions with merchant ships would be unavoidable. In the end, it was those merchant ships from all over the world whose freedom of navigation would be restrained. How ironic would that be! Lift a rock only to drop it on America’s own feet The origin of “FONOPs” can be traced back to an announcement by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Carter said that in consideration of the U.S. prominent status in world affairs, it had to take active measures to defend its rights from being illegally eroded by other coastal countries. Obviously, the so-called prominent status refers to nothing but the U.S. maritime military preponderance, and "to defend its rights" also reaffirms that the “FONOPs” are carried out to ensure the country’s own interests. In fact, the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem. Furthermore, the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which was approved by foreign ministers of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states on Aug. 6 in Manila, the Philippines, has de-escalated tensions in the region and brought the South China Sea on track of becoming a sea of peace and prosperity. As an outside party of the South China Sea issue, the United States has been constantly inciting instability in the region. The fact that the Trump administration has conducted three “FONOPs” in the South China Sea -- all in violation of China’s maritime sovereignty -- in less than three months is indicative of its unwillingness to relinquish the U.S. global hegemony, pull back in the Asia-Pacific, or abandon America’s strategic containment of China. Washington’s real purpose behind the “FONOPs” is to maximize its strategic and geopolitical interests and sway public opinion. In the near future, the United States is likely to continue with its arbitrary behavior and carry out more “FONOPs” in the South China Sea. However, such unjustified and unpopular actions will ultimately backfire. As a Chinese saying goes, it will lift a rock only to drop it on its own feet. In addition, with U.S. warships doomed to collide with more foreign merchant vessels during “FONOPs,” more countries would become dissatisfied and eventually get a better read of America’s hypocrisy and true intentions. Ling Xiaoyun, international strategies and defense issues Research Fellow at APD institute, researcher at the International Business School of Yunan University of Finance and Economics. He is a PhD in international relations and a postdoctoral scholar on military strategy. APD Review columnists are senior media workers and international issues experts with rich experience in international reporting.They comment on current international affairs from unique perspectives in accordance with the Asia-Pacific Daily’s notion of originality, exclusiveness, profundity, openness and interconnection. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

The World's First Geisha Cafe Opens in Osaka, Japan

OSAKA, Japan, Aug. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Maikoya Osaka, a high-end Japanese cultural experience venue, recently introduced the world's first geisha themed cafe and restaurant in Osaka. Here, visitors can meet and chat with an apprentice geisha, any time of the year. The building was constructed on a property where an actual geisha house stood until the mid-1980s. Located in Shinmachi, Maikoya Osaka is at the center of an area that served as an entertainment hub and had many geisha houses during the Edo period. Geisha tea ceremony at Maikoya Osaka Maikoya Osaka has many offerings. There is a cafe with specialty products such as golden ice cream and an elegant gold flake covered Kobe beef sandwich that costs $300. These dishes are served by a geisha whom visitors can chat and take pictures with. There's a live koto or shamisen performance at certain times of the day. Visitors also have the chance to make reservations to participate in a tea ceremony led by an English speaking geisha. For many who travel to Japan, one of the most elusive dreams is meeting an actual geisha; modern day geishas usually have closed networks and only a few extremely lucky or very well-connected people have the opportunity of glimpsing this mysterious world. Maikoya Osaka aims to open the exclusive world of the geisha to people of all walks, and teach visitors not only about geisha but also about the traditional Japanese arts and crafts that geishas excel at. These include the tea ceremony, Japanese dance, calligraphy, and Japanese cooking classes. Miho Hirata, who manages Maiko Cafe says, "The literal definition of geisha is 'art performer' (gei: art, sha: performer). A geisha must be good at traditional Japanese arts and crafts such as the tea ceremony, putting on a kimono, playing the shamisen, doing flower arrangement, and performing buyoo (traditional Japanese dance). We want to teach the world that geishas are artisans not courtesans. " The question everybody asks is if the Geisha Cafe is real. Are these actual geishas, or just girls wearing geisha make up? Hirata says it is difficult to answer but these people have other jobs or they are studying at a univeristy. They dress up like a geisha. At the same time Hirata notes that, "Everyone thinks geisha only exists in Kyoto; however, they historically practiced in more than 10 towns, with each town having a different code of behavior. We are based in Osaka, and we make sure that the staff members are familiar with the geisha culture in Osaka. This includes knowledge of Japanese arts, knowledge of the history and traditions of geisha, use of sonkeigo, ability to wear feminine attire correctly, and an awareness of iki, which means that conversation should always be respectful, discreet, elegant and intelligent. To interact with actual geisha as they practice their crafts, Maikoya Osaka is the best place to visit. Our building not only has Maiko Cafe and an amazing tea ceremony room perfectly suited for the most sophisticated geisha culture, it also serves as an upscale cultural activity center with many other things to do. Click here for more on Geisha Cafe and Maikoya Osaka luxury cultural activities. View original content with multimedia:


Daily average of 20 enterprises settle down in Horgos

Some 4,894 enterprises settled down in the city of Horgos, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in the first half of this year, China News Agency reported. According to Chen Chen, an official from the city's Market Supervision Administration, 2,406 enterprises settled down in the city in 2016, representing a daily average of at least six enterprises. In the first half of 2017, that figure exceeded 20. These enterprises are placing much hope in the future of Horgos, a frontier city along the traditional Silk Road thanks to the remarkable achievements regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, Chen said. Constant media coverage had further promoted the city domestically and abroad. The city's beneficial investment policy is also a great lure for enterprises. Boshihao Group, a Shenzhen-registered firm that develops and produces robots, registered in Horgos at the end of last year, producing 2,000 robots in the first half of this year. "We are exploring the markets in central Asia as well as Xinjiang," said Min Jianbo, general manager of the Group's Xinjiang branch. "The Belt and Road provides great opportunities for us," Min added. (BELT AND ROAD PORTAL)


Ministry of Commerce: further promote Belt and Road construction

Belt and Road construction made remarkable progress in the economic and trade sector in the first half of this year, while the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May achieved a series of important economic and trade outcomes. Commerce Vice Minister Qian Keming said recently that plans had been made to implement the agreements, turn the desire for promoting economic globalization into genuine actions, and push forward Belt and Road construction in scope and depth. An increasing number of countries and international organizations are coming to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. In May, China successfully hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which promoted Belt and Road construction to an all-time high, and created a strong motivation and much positive energy to solve current problems faced by many economies and boost economic globalization. Qian said achievements had been made in four aspects during the first half of this year. Firstly, trade cooperation was deepened. China actively expanded imports from Belt and Road countries, optimized the trade structure that was more open to each other and facilitated overall trade expansion. Secondly, investment cooperation was increased. China has continued to improve its policies and strengthen investment services, along with encouraging companies to invest in the countries along the Belt and Road routes. In the first half of this year, total investment in these countries was US$6.6 billion, with contracted projects worth US$71.4 billion, up 38.8 percent year-on-year. Thirdly, China continued to promote the construction of economic and trade cooperation zones in other countries. Chinese companies were encouraged to operate according to market requirements and to take development strategy, resources, market demand and other factors into consideration when building such zones. Fourthly, the construction of free trade zones was accelerated. At the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech and announced a series of significant measures, while witnessing the conclusion of over 270 agreements. Xi also announced the nation would hold the first China International Import Expo in 2018. Qian said the Ministry of Commerce was now making preparations for it, hoping to draw worldwide participation. Meanwhile, the ministry would properly implement major foreign aid measures, support developing countries in their economic development and improve people's wellbeing, and properly implement the agreements with related countries and international organizations to deepen Belt and Road economic and trade cooperation and benefit more countries and people. (BELT AND ROAD PORTAL)