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US, Britain, and France stand up to China in the South China Sea

International Law is a club for the US and its allies to bend other nations to their will

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The three nations which got together to create a ‘coalition’ that engaged in ‘precision strikes’ in Syria back in April are getting together again, this time the intended target is China.

In Syria, there was a tweet showing a video which was posted by a group which actively works with and around al-Nusra and ISIS terrorists and which video contents or origin was never verified.

Nevertheless, the claim was that a chemical attack had occurred and the site was Douma, where the Syrian government forces were gaining ground against the jihadists. So the story was that the Syrian government had carried out a chemical attack in Douma, and that the attack led to the deaths of nearly 600 people. And then, the leadership of Britain, France, and the US came out claiming that they had proof that Syria was ‘likely’ to have carried out a chemical attack in Douma on April 7th.

An OPCW investigation was called for and was dispatched, but the ‘coalition’ carried out a military strike on Damascus and surrounding areas hours before that investigation could be initiated. So, the allegations were that Syria had broken international law and that swift punishment was coming from a self appointed coalition before an independent investigation could be conducted.

That coalition, however, was breaking international law by carrying out a military strike without independently acquired evidence, and without a UNSC mandate, so they were breaking international law to punish the breaking of international law. But that works out well for Trump, May, and Macron.

Now, they’re claiming a breach of international law in the South China Sea, and they want to strutt about the area knowingly antagonizing the Chinese, instead of taking the matter up in a diplomatic fashion.

Deutsche Welle reports:

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is in China this week for the first time and at the top of the agenda between the two nations is China’s continued expansion of military installations in the South China Sea (SCS).

After Mattis met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that Xi told Mattis China would not “lose one inch” of territory “left behind by our ancestors.”

China frequently refers to islands in the SCS as part of its historical territory, although they are claimed by six other nations.

“Regarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, our attitude is firm and clear,” said Xi.

In early June at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference in Singapore, Mattis told the audience that there would be “much larger consequences” in response to China’s continued installation of military infrastructure on disputed islands in the SCS.

Joining the revamped US effort to increase pressure on China in the SCS, French Defense Minster Florence Parly said a French maritime task group, together with UK helicopters and ships, would conduct freedom of navigation operations, sailing naval vessels through international waters in the SCS, which China considers as its maritime territory.

Referring to the political differences between France and Britain, Parly said in a speech that when meeting in Asia, the two countries shared deeply significant “vision, strength and values” along with a “willingness to project them.”

Parly added that France supported a rules-based international order on the SCS and that freedom of navigation must be upheld.

“France fully supports a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which should be legally binding, comprehensive, effective and consistent with international law,” said Parly. “We should be very clear that the fait accompli is not a fait accepted.”

Freedom of navigation

By building military installations on islands in the SCS, China claims territorial sovereignty over areas far from the mainland, although this is not officially recognized by any international body. The freedom of navigation operations carried out by the US and other navies are a way to demonstrate the validity of international law.

China remains defiant in claiming international waters and is using its growing navy to enforce its territorial ambition.

Jonas Parello-Plesner, an observer who was aboard a French military vessel during the joint freedom of navigation operation announced at the Singapore conference, gave a first hand account to the Wall Street Journal of the flotilla’s encounter with the Chinese navy near the Spratly Islands.

Parello-Plesner reported that a Chinese frigate contacted the French vessel by radio as they passed through Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs, where China in recent years has built artificial islands and military installations.

“This is China warship calling. The Nansha islands are under Chinese sovereignty. What are your intentions?” After the French captain replied that they were lawfully sailing through international waters, they were tailed by Chinese naval vessels.

A Chinese lake?

It is estimate that in 2014, China began construction of artificial islands on reefs in the Spratly archipelago. This raised alarm in the US and Asia that China would be able to project its military around the SCS and potentially exert control over waterways that carried an estimated $3.3 trillion, or one-third of global trade, in 2016.

Despite continued international condemnation led by the US, China’s militarization of the SCS has continued unabated.

In 2017, satellite images released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (ATMI), part of the Washington-based think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), showed the extent of China’s military build up on the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands further north. According to the ATMI, China has extensive missile systems along with radar jammers on the islands.

The images clearly show completed airstrips and other infrastructure. In April 2018, China conducted its largest-ever naval exercise in the SCS. In May, the Chinese landed a warplane for the first time on an air strip on Woody Island, in the Paracels.

China’s ambition vs. international law

Although China continues to increase its capability, observers do not think that it is too late for international coalitions to maintain the integrity of international waterways passing through the SCS.

“Beijing is certainly winning more peacetime control over activity on and above the South China Sea each day, but it hasn’t completed that control yet,” Gregory Poling, the director of ATMI told DW, adding that increased engagement of the French and British navies send a strong signal to China.

“They make clear that the SCS is not a Sino-US issue,” said Poling. “It’s a matter of China vs. an overwhelming international consensus about international law and norms.”

As for the “consequences” promised by US Secretary of Defense Mattis, there are limitations to what the US military can do, outside of projecting force. Mattis is in China this week on his first visit since becoming secretary.

In May, the US rescinded China’s invitation to participate in Rimpac, an international biennial military exercise in the Pacific Ocean. On Tuesday the US aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Regan, anchored in Manila Bay to begin patrolling the South China Sea. It is the third US aircraft carrier sent this year.

“There are a lot of ‘larger consequences’ the US could consider, but most of them don’t come from the Pentagon,” said Poling, adding that while the joint training and deterrence measures were what the US Department of Defense should be doing, political pressure is what’s missing.

“Putting additional pressure on Beijing will require high-level focus and a strategy from the White House, which has been sorely lacking,” said Poling.

Putting pressure on Beijing

An important part of a political solution addressing China’s ambition in the SCS is building international coalitions. The UK and France declaring their will to cooperate on maintaining international maritime norms is a reminder to China that the SCS is still an important issue.

“The UK and France are showing that they care about the international rules that almost the entire world has signed up,” Bill Hayton a South China Sea expert at the UK-based think tank Chatham House, told DW.

“The right of all ships to sail wherever they want in the sea on the basis of innocent passage has been a fundamental international principle for decades but it looks as if China is attempting to unilaterally limit it,” said Hayton. “The recent voyages by French and British warships are a way of resisting that limitation.”

“The SCS needs to be put back at the top of the diplomatic agenda to isolate Beijing,” said Poling from CSIS.

It seems the UK and France have realized that the only way to salvage UN Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the principles on which it and the larger rules-based order are based is to join the effort to convince Beijing to clarify its claims,” he added. “The US cannot do it alone, even if it were so inclined.”

So, now, all of the sudden, there’s this international rules-based order that nations are expected to abide by to keep everybody from stepping on each other’s toes and to preserve peace and order, and prosperity, and all that sort of jazz. It doesn’t seem to mean that much to the Americans who are out slapping tariffs on the rest of the planet and dropping bombs wherever they jolly well please, and it certainly didn’t mean much to the ‘coalition’ which set out to bomb Syria just over two months ago. Where was, and is, international law relevant to these matters?

Part of what makes a law a law is that it has the respect of the community that it was promulgated to, but in the case of international law, it increasingly looks like it was and is something created by America and its allies as a club to use at their discretion to smear other nations with and to use as a pretext and/or justification for military or economic aggression. That’s why Nikki Haley considers it ‘patently ridiculous’ to apply human rights standards to America, and to measure America’s performance, as if America were actually expected to subject to those sorts of standards.

International law, based on what we see coming out of the West, then, is not so much actual internationally agreed upon standards of conduct to preserve peace and prosperity as they are a means of projecting the power of the West by means of internationally agreed upon propaganda.If and when it shows that it actually has the meanings which it says it has, in whichever body or agreement, then it should be demonstrated by realizing its application not just in non-NATO countries, but especially there, to be the examples of how nations in a civilized world ought to carry themselves.

For this reason, why should we expect China to waltz to the tune being played by the US, which is violating trade rules which it created for its own benefit with other nations, and which nations happen to be their own allies and trade partners? Is this why we’re seeing ‘freedom of navigation’ operations taking place in the South China Sea, instead of carrying out some diplomacy in the matter to help come to an understanding, because the US has no interest in diplomacy, and believes that action is required now while thinking and talking can go down later, after the US has what it wants? Then the question is, why now all of the sudden the interest from the US and its two best friends, when this issue is not a new one, what’s in it for them now that wasn’t there before? Is this part of a new pressure cooking campaign to push China in a certain direction, possibly trade related?

 

 

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AM HantsJohn MasonIsabella JonesLinda WrenJohn Vu Recent comment authors
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AM Hants
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AM Hants

Doubt China will have the patience of Russia.

John Mason
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John Mason

The messaging is plain: Iran, China, and Russia are the three key players in what promises to be the Eurasian Century. They are also working as one in the Real War on Terror in Syria. President Trump – and his administration – is the ultimate fraud here, willing to do anything – even provoke what Beijing says AN ALL-OUT WAR to divide and threaten these three countries in a desperate bid to regime change Syria, to stop the Eurasian Century from happening, and to “Make America Great Again”. All this has the potential to backfire splendidly though. Contrary to Trump’s… Read more »

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

Headline is wrong. To say someone is “standing up to” another, is to carry the implication that the one doing the “standing up” is being honourable, courageous, against a bully. It’s called the South China Sea. It’s along way from America, UK or France. They need to get the blazes out of there. Hopefully China can make them see that without resorting to force. The writer is correct though, regarding the total destruction of any sort of International Law especially. However, there is one thing the recent actions of the Rogue – 3 have done – they have highlighted for… Read more »

Linda Wren
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Linda Wren

China should call in American debt. That is legal.

John Vu
Guest
John Vu

Devil has a plan for your country: After Putin got his fill with Crimea and Syria, now it’s Deepstate’s turn to make some dough selling some surplus stale equipments to the Filip and Vn.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

Hold on a minute….I just read the article on Duran that the Eu wants to deepen economic ties with China due to the US actions and now they are going to try to “contain China”….good luck with both
http://theduran.com/eu-to-deepen-economic-cooperation-with-china-amid-trade-row-with-america/

Helen B
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Helen B

US, France and UK have no borders anywhere near the South China Sea.
Go home and sort out your own problems, of which there are many.
Mind your own business.

Che Serna
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Che Serna

The 3 stooges lead by the big pimp USA’s military industrial complex! No one has yet explained why China would want to stop freedom of navigation in the SCS. About 75% of all commercial shipping goes in and out of Chinese ports which include of course HK. Moreover, warships are not innocent passage in respect to the law of the sea convention. In which America refuses to ratify as a world rogue leader state. So on the one hand you have hypocrites lead by the USA wanting the rule of law which she USA refuses to join! Talk about American… Read more »

Nexusfast123
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Nexusfast123

Those people (Trump, May and the creepy French twat) are ignorant of history. I’m sure the Chinese have not forgotten what the European empires and the US did to them. Also ironic the vast majority of trade that passes through the SCS is Chinese. This is more a threat to China’s sea going commerce than China threatening other nations.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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