Sunday, May 25, 2014

China's East Sea justification absurd

China's East Sea justification absurd

To explain the reason for its placement of HD-981 oil rig in Viet Nam's sovereign waters, China has cited a 1958 Diplomatic Note written by the late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong (the 1958 Note, in short) as a "proof" of Viet Nam's recognition of China's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes. 

Dr. Ta Van Tai – lawyer, former lecturer and currently researcher at Harvard Law School – said there were two international legal arguments showing that China's explanation was absurd...

Click to read more: 

Viet Nam refutes China's false island claims as tensions continue to simmer

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh (right) answers questions at a press conference. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

HA NOI  (VNS) – Viet Nam yesterday reaffirmed its legal authority over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, refuting various Chinese claims that historical accounts might suggest otherwise.

Speaking at an international press conference held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Viet Nam's National Border Committee, said that a diplomatic note written by former North Viet Nam Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in 1958 did not affect the sovereignty of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

In 1958, China issued a declaration defining its territorial waters. Dong, Democratic Republic of Viet Nam's Prime Minister at the time, sent a diplomatic note to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.

The Chinese interpreted this as recognising China's sovereignty over the two groups of islands, but Hai said yesterday that the note only recognised China's 12 nautical miles territorial waters at the time and instructed Viet Nam's State agencies to respect that, but did not mention the Spratly and Paracel Islands, as they were not under the North's jurisdiction.

After the Geneva Conference on Restoring Peace in Indochina, July 21, 1954, Viet Nam was divided and the two archipelagos were under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Viet Nam (South Viet Nam) which declared its rights over the islands and exercised the rights in practice.

He added that since the 17th century, Viet Nam had exercised its sovereignty over the two archipelagos in a continuous and peaceful manner and according to international law.

Hai noted that at the San Francisco Conference held in 1951, 46 our of 51 nations attending objected China's claim on the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

Also at this conference, a delegation from Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai declared Viet Nam's sovereignty over the two islands and this did not meet any objections, Hai said.

When China used force to occupy Viet Nam's Hoang Sa in 1974, the Republic of Viet Nam and the then Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Viet Nam both protested the move, Hai said, noting that the United Nations Charter and international law prohibit the use of force to violate the territory of other countries.

China's memorandum issued on May 12, 1988 - an official document by the Chinese Foreign Ministry - also clearly confirmed a basic principle of international law that "invasion does not produce sovereignty" over a territory, Hai stressed.

Regarding the present situation, Hai said Viet Nam had consistently demanded China remove its oil rig and vessels.
He called on both sides to refrain from any military involvement.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, head of the International Law and Treaty Department under the foreign ministry, said as a member of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Viet Nam had every right to take legal action against China in accordance with international law.

Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of the Viet Nam Marine Police, said that three weeks after China put its oil rig in Vietnamese waters, Viet Nam had still not taken any action that could escalate the situation.

Do Van Hau, general director of Petro Viet Nam, also rejected China's claim on May 16 that Viet Nam had 37 oil rigs set up in the disputed waters.

Hau said all drilling and exploratory activities by Petro Viet Nam and its partners were conducted within the country's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

US support

The United States has said it would back Ha Noi in taking legal action against China to resolve dispute.

China has illegally installed an oil rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

At a press conference in Washington on Thursday, White House spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said the US supported the use of peaceful measures to address the current tensions.

He said the US had a national interest in maintaining peace and stability in the region, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce - and freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea (East Sea).

He said the US supported the use of diplomatic and other peaceful measures to solve the disagreement, including the use of arbitration or other international legal mechanisms.

The same day, Vietnamese scholars in the US said now was a suitable time for Viet Nam to take the issue to an international court.

They said the nation must consult legal experts in order to establish firm legal grounds for the move.

Dr. Ngo Nhu Binh, Director of the Vietnamese Language Programme at Harvard University, told Vietnam News Agency in New York that experts in many countries did not accept China's claim of the nine-dot line around the East Sea.

Chinese expansionism

Meanwhile, the Liaison Association for Overseas Vietnamese has issued a statement in the United States protesting against China's behaviour.

It said China's action was extremely dangerous and gravely violated the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea to which China was a signatory.

The association added that this also ran counter to bilateral agreements reached by high-level officials in the two countries and threatened maritime security and safety in the East Sea.

It demanded that China remove its rig, armed ships and aircraft out of Viet Nam's territory and called on it to respect bilateral and multilateral agreements on the East Sea.

The statement added that since the beginning of May, Viet Nam had exercised utmost restraint, shown every gesture of goodwill and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities..

Nevertheless China had not only failed to respond to Viet Nam's demands, but had been slandering and blaming Viet Nam while continuing to escalate the use of force and acts of violation in an increasingly dangerous and serious manner. — VNS

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just Imagine...
If Russia Had Toppled The Canadian Government

By Neil Clark

Why do we tolerate such brazen hypocrisy?

May 22 2014 "ICH" - "RT" - 

Just imagine if the democratically-elected government of Canada had been toppled in a Russian-financed coup, in which far-right extremists and neo-Nazis played a prominent role.

That the new unelected 'government' in Ottawa cancelled the law giving the French language official status, appointed a billionaire oligarch to run Quebec and signed an association agreement with a Russian-led trade bloc.

Just imagine…

If Russia had spent $5 billion on regime change in Canada and then a leading Canadian energy firm had appointed to its board of directors the son of a top Russian government politician.

Just imagine…

If the Syrian government had hosted a meeting in Damascus of the 'Friends of Britain'- a group of countries who supported the violent overthrow of David Cameron's government.

That the Syrian government and its allies gave the anti-government ‘rebels’ in Britain millions of pounds and other support, and failed to condemn ‘rebel’ groups when they killed British civilians and bombed schools, hospitals and universities.

That the Syrian Foreign Minister dismissed next year’s scheduled general election in the UK as a ‘parody of democracy’ and said that Cameron must stand down before any elections are held.

Just imagine…

If in 2003, Russia and its closest allies had launched a full-scale military invasion of an oil-rich country in the Middle East, having claimed that that country possessed WMDs which threatened the world and that afterwards no WMDs were ever found.

That up to 1 million people had been killed in the bloodshed that followed the invasion and that the country was still in turmoil over 10 years later.

That Russian companies had come in to benefit from the reconstruction and rebuilding work following the'regime change'.

Just imagine…

If the pro-Russian journalists who had faithfully parroted the claims that the Middle Eastern country that Russia had invaded in 2003 had WMDs did not apologise afterwards or show any contrition despite the enormous death toll; but instead carried on in their well-paid jobs to propagandize more illegal wars and’interventions’ against other independent countries, and attacked those honest journalists who didn't peddle the war lies.

Just imagine…

If over forty people protesting against the central government had been burnt to death by pro-government extremists in Venezuela.

That the Venezuelan government had launched a military offensive against people protesting for greater autonomy/federalization following visits by the head of the Russian SVR and Dmitry Medvedev to Caracas.

Just imagine….

If last August over six hundred people protesting in camps against the government in Minsk in Belarus had been massacred by armed forces. That this spring, the courts in Belarus had handed out death sentences to over 600 supporters of opposition parties.

Just imagine….

If Russia had spent the years following the end of the old 'Cold War' surrounding the US with military bases and pushing for Canada and Mexico to join a Russian military alliance. That earlier this month Russia carried out major military exercises in Mexico.

Just imagine….

If we had heard leaked telephone calls between a high ranking official from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Ambassador in Canada in which they discussed who should/shouldn't be in the Canadian government. That their approved candidate subsequently became the new, unelected Prime Minister following a Russian-financed 'regime change'.

That the high ranking Russian official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said : ‘Fxxx the EU’.

Just imagine...

If the Syrian air force had bombed a weapons depot in Israel and also bombed convoys which security officials said were carrying weapons to anti-government forces in Syria.

Just imagine...

If leading Russian politicians attended anti-austerity street protests in western Europe, handed out cookies to those protesting, and supported the protestors’ calls for the governments to step down.

Imagining what would happen if any of the above events occurred, and comparing it to what has happened in reality is highly instructive as it shows us what is wrong with the world today.

Actions have been taken by the US and its allies which would be considered totally outrageous if carried out by other countries. 

All we have to do is to switch the names of the countries concerned to see the double standards.

If Russia had attacked an oil-rich Middle Eastern nation in 2003, and pro-Russian journalists peddled the same sort of deceitful pro-war, WMD propaganda that neocons and faux-leftists did in the west when the US invaded Iraq, then we can be sure that Russia would have been regarded as an international pariah, and the journalists who acted as cheerleaders for the illegal invasion would be discredited for the rest of their lives. 

But the US is not subject to sanctions or treated as an outcast, its President in 2003, George W. Bush and his close ally Tony Blair, have yet to stand trial for war crimes, and the media 'pundits' who supported the invasion of Iraq are still in place and now pushing for a new Cold war against Russia and new military'intervention' against Syria.

If Russia had spent $5bn on toppling the democratically-elected government of either Canada or Mexico, and installed a pro-Russian junta in its place, we can be sure that within hours, a full scale military invasion by the US would have taken place, in order to remove the new 'government' from power. Western television news channels and elite pundits would be enthusiastically supporting the US action - declaring it to be a 'response to Russian aggression' and saying it was totally justified. 

But when the regime changing was done by the US in Ukraine, and a pro-US junta installed in power in Kiev, it’s a very different story. The same people who would cry ‘foul’ at the top of their voices if Russia engineered a coup in Canada or Mexico, celebrate the unlawful toppling of the legitimate government of Ukraine.

We already know how the US would respond, if another country sought to put nuclear weapons close to its territory – in 1962 the world came to the brink of war in the Cuban missile crisis. But while a third world war would undoubtedly be threatened again if Russian forces held military exercises in Mexico, it’s not considered provocative for NATO to hold military exercises in Estonia.

If the governments of Belarus and Venezuela had responded as brutally towards anti-government protesters as the Egyptian military regime did last August, or sent in the tanks and used heavy weaponry against their own people as the western-backed Kiev junta has, then we can be sure that the great'humanitarians' of the faux-left would be screeching not just for punitive sanctions but for air strikes too and for Presidents Lukashenko and Maduro to be carted off to The Hague.

We all know too what would have followed if it had been the Syrian air force that had bombed a weapons depot and convoys in Israel and not the other way round. 

Why do we tolerate such brazen hypocrisy?

There is no legal or moral basis for saying that the US and its allies should be able to do things, which if done by other countries, would be condemned as wrong and punished with the imposition of sanctions and/or military attack or invasion. 

International law and the principles of non-interference in other nations should apply equally to all: regardless of the country's political system or form of government. 

The British government has no more right to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria than the Syrian government has to interfere in the internal affairs of Great Britain. 

The US has no more right to 'regime change' in countries bordering Russia, than Russia has to 'regime change' in countries bordering the US.

We need a new international order based on the equality of all sovereign nations: a new "World of Equals", as envisaged by this year's Belgrade Forum, whose declaration can be read here

If we can imagine that, and work to put it in place, by exposing current western hypocrisy and double standards whenever they occur, then the world would be a much safer place.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Read this excellent commentary on the escalating crisis in Ukraine, and compare it to the official narrative of Western leaders and corporate media. . . 

ANSWER - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism
Ukraine, Russia and the United States at the brink
The neo-Nazi menace is real
Thirty-eight anti-fascist activists were murdered when a neo-Nazi militia set fire to a trade union building into which they had fled

By Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator
Are we moving to civil war in Ukraine? Russia is trying to prevent such a catastrophe. A civil war in Ukraine would invariably draw into the conflict the United States and its NATO allies on the side of the right-wing Ukraine government that seized power in a U.S.-backed coup d’état on Feb. 22 and Russia on the other.
Since the United States and Russia both possess large nuclear arsenals that, if used, would lead to the deaths of many millions of people, it would seem impossible to overstate the potential danger of this newest military crisis. Yet, U.S. elected officials including the White House and Congress seem glibly unfazed by the far-reaching potential consequences caused by their own foolhardy and arrogant interventionist actions in Ukraine. This includes their actions between November and the Feb. 22 coup and in their subsequent “tough stance” against Russia for its refusal to accept the half-fascist coup government in Kiev.
The majority sentiment in the United States, according to most public opinion polls, is decidedly opposed to an escalation of the crisis by the U.S. government. That sentiment has been ignored as the White House has dispatched war planes and troops to the region, imposed new sanctions on Russia, and dispatched first Joseph Biden and then FBI agents and CIA Director John Brennan to Kiev to help the new government set up an internal security apparatus.
The fascist menace is real

Click here to keep reading the full article:
Viet Nam commemorates and remembers the 60th anniversary of their great victory over French colonialism at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954.

From BBC NEWS MAGAZINE, May 4, 2014

Dien Bien Phu: Did the US offer France an A-bomb?

French soldiers during the battle for Dien Bien Phu
Sixty years ago this week, French troops were defeated by Vietnamese forces at Dien Bien Phu. As historian Julian Jackson explains, it was a turning point in the history of both nations, and in the Cold War - and a battle where some in the US appear to have contemplated the use of nuclear weapons.
"Would you like two atomic bombs?" These are the words that a senior French diplomat remembered US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asking the French Foreign Minister, Georges Bidault, in April 1954. The context of this extraordinary offer was the critical plight of the French army fighting the nationalist forces of Ho Chi Minh at Dien Bien Phu in the highlands of north-west Vietnam.
The battle of Dien Bien Phu is today overshadowed by the later involvement of the Americans in Vietnam in the 1960s. But for eight years between 1946 and 1954 the French had fought their own bloody war to hold on to their Empire in the Far East. After the seizure of power by the Communists in China in 1949, this colonial conflict had become a key battleground of the Cold War. The Chinese provided the Vietnamese with arms and supplies while most of the costs of the French war effort were borne by America. But it was French soldiers who were fighting and dying. By 1954, French forces in Indochina totalled over 55,000.

Find out more

rom comSoldiers advancing on Vietnamese positions
Listen to The Siege of Dien Bien Phu, written and presented by Julian Jackson on the BBC iPlayer
At the end of 1953, French commander in chief Gen Navarre had decided to set up a fortified garrison in the valley of Dien Bien Phu, in the highlands about 280 miles from the northern capital of Hanoi. The valley was surrounded by rings of forested hills and mountains. The position was defensible providing the French could hold on to the inner hills and keep their position supplied through the airstrip. What they underestimated was the capacity of the Vietnamese to amass artillery behind the hills. This equipment was transported by tens of thousands of labourers - many of them women and children - carrying material hundreds of miles through the jungle day and night. On 13 March the Vietnamese unleashed a massive barrage of artillery and within two days two of the surrounding hills had been taken, and the airstrip was no longer usable. The French defenders were now cut off and the noose tightened around them.
It was this critical situation which led the French to appeal in desperation for US help. The most hawkish on the American aide were Vice-President Richard Nixon, who had no political power, and Admiral Radford, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Also quite hawkish was the US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was obsessed by the crusade against Communism. More reserved was President Eisenhower who nonetheless gave a press conference in early April where he proclaimed the infamous "domino theory" about the possible spread of Communism from one country to another.
Red Cross helicopter flies to French positions at Dien Bien Phu
"You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly," he said. "So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."
Saturday 3 April 1954 has gone down in American history as "the day we didn't go to war". On that day Dulles met Congressional leaders who were adamant they would not support any military intervention unless Britain was also involved. Eisenhower sent a letter to the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warning of the consequences for the West if Dien Bien Phu fell. It was around this time, at a meeting in Paris, that Dulles supposedly made his astonishing offer to the French of tactical nuclear weapons.
In fact, Dulles was never authorised to make such an offer and there is no hard evidence that he did so. It seems possible that in the febrile atmosphere of those days the panic-stricken French may simply have misunderstood him. Or his words may have got lost in translation.
Map showing details of Dien Bien Phu
"He didn't really offer. He made a suggestion and asked a question. He uttered the two fatal words 'nuclear bomb'," Maurice Schumann, a former foreign minister, said before his death in 1998. "Bidault immediately reacted as if he didn't take this offer seriously."
According to Professor Fred Logevall of Cornell University, Dulles "at least talked in very general terms about the possibility, what did the French think about potentially using two or three tactical nuclear weapons against these enemy positions".
Bidault declined, he says, "because he knew… that if this killed a lot of Viet Minh troops then it would also basically destroy the garrison itself".
In the end, there was no American intervention of any kind, as the British refused to go along with it.

More from the Magazine

Artillery gun at Dien Ben Phu battleground
When France lost control of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos nearly 60 years ago, hundreds of people who had served the French colonial system - and were at risk of persecution - were rehoused in a disused army camp in south-west France. It was meant to be a temporary home, but some are still there.
The last weeks of the battle of Dien Bien Phu were atrociously gruelling. The ground turned to mud once the monsoon began, and men clung to craters and ditches in conditions reminiscent of the battle of Verdun in 1916. On 7 May 1954, after a 56-day siege, the French army surrendered. Overall on the French side there were 1,142 dead, 1,606 disappeared, 4,500 more or less badly wounded. Vietnamese casualties ran to 22,000.
In this year marked by two other major anniversaries - the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and the 70th anniversary of D-Day - we should not forget this other battle that took place 60 years ago. In the history of decolonisation it was the only time a professional European army was decisively defeated in a pitched battle. It marked the end of the French Empire in the Far East, and provided an inspiration to other anti-colonial fighters. It was no coincidence also that a few weeks later a violent rebellion broke out in French Algeria - the beginning of another bloody and traumatic war that was to last eight years. The French army held so desperately on to Algeria partly to redeem the honour it felt had been lost at Dien Bien Phu. So obsessed did the army become by this idea that in 1958 it backed a putsch against the government, which it believed was preparing what the generals condemned as a "diplomatic Dien Bien Phu". This putsch brought back to power Gen de Gaulle who set up the new presidential regime that exists in France today. So the ripples of Dien Bien Phu are still being felt.
Dien Bien Phu memorial to French soldiers who died in battle thereA memorial in Dien Bien Phu commemorates the French soldiers who died there
It was also in 1954 that France began working on its own independent nuclear deterrent.
For the Vietnamese, however, Dien Bien Phu, was only the first round. The Americans, who had refused to become directly involved in 1954, were gradually sucked into war - the second Vietnam War - during the 1960s.
Listen to The Siege of Dien Bien Phu written and presented by Julian Jackson on the BBC iPlayer

Link to this article:

NOTES from Bruce:
1. Check local Vietnamese websites (in English & Vietnamese) for more insights into the magnitude of the Vietnamese victory at Dien Bien Phu.  Plus some amazing, inspirational photos.
2. The U.S. government's involvement in war against the people of Viet Nam began much earlier ~ in 1945, in fact.  During World War 2, the U.S. and Vietnamese were allies against Japanese fascism. With the defeat of Japan, Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam's most popular leader, declared the independence of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. He invited the U.S government to continue friendly relations with his newly free and independent government. However, the U.S. government chose instead to actively support the return of the unwanted French colonialists. The U.S. and Britain shipped in thousands of French troops into Saigon. From then on, U.S. taxpayers were financing the return of the French, and providing more and more military hardware. As the French were on the way out, this inevitably led to more active and direct U.S. military intervention, which became the American War against Viet Nam. This horrendous war crime slaughtered millions of Vietnamese (and soldiers from various other countries who should never have been there), and ravaged their environment, with millions still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical warfare agents. But all these horrors can be traced back to that fateful U.S. decision to support French colonialism, instead of the popular cause of Vietnamese independence, way back in 1945. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

Western media continues to ignore the noble ethics of journalism to instead be propagandists for the warmongering U.S. State Department.


US Media Covers Up Mass Murder in Odessa

Yesterday in Odessa, Ukraine, more than 30 anti-Kiev protesters were burned alive, as a US-backed pro-Kiev mob set fire to the trade union building into which they ran to escape the pro-Kiev crowd. It was the largest loss of life in Ukraine since the US-backed coup in February, and it may well be a turning point in the east versus west struggle that ensued.

The pictures from the scene were ghastly (warning: graphic), as desperate protesters tried to claw their way out of the building as they were burned alive. Also ghastly were the photos of the young girls happily making the molotov cocktails that were thrown into the building

More ghastly still, was the US media coverage of the savage event. Even when 25 minutes video available clearly demonstrated what happened in Odessa, clearly demonstrated who was responsible for the incineration of unarmed protesters, the US media all hewed to the State Department line that pointedly refused to pin any blame on the pro-Kiev mob supported by Washington. Said the State Department release:
The events in Odesa that led to the deadly fire in the Trade Union Building dramatically underscore the need for an immediate de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine. The violence and efforts to destabilize the country must end.
Contrast this to US government's very different position when violence broke out in Kiev in February: even as evidence pointed to much violence committed by the protesters, the US nevertheless blamed the then-Yanukovich government exclusively.

Double standards.

And the US media was not far behind the State Department in its Odessa spin.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
Thirty of the victims died of smoke inhalation after a fire was set in the central trade union building, where pro-Russia separatists reportedly had taken up sniper positions to fire on pro-unity demonstrators.
LA Times spins it like burning more than 30 protesters alive was a purely defensive measure. But if they were all snipers, why did they not shoot their way out?

In lock-step with the State Department, the NY Daily News reported that:
...for reasons still unclear, a fire broke out in a trade union building and the death toll started to climb.
This even though their own article features a photo of a pro-Kiev protester tossing a firebomb into the building!

As to be expected, the New York Times followed the State Department line of avoiding any real reporting that might damage the US-backed regime in Kiev, preferring to present the act of mass murder as some sort of tragic accident: 
Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists
There are too many more examples of the US media's lock-step reporting on this event to cover here.

But even the virulently anti-Russian and pro-Kiev Kyiv Post could get the basic reporting correct:
A mob shouted "Glory to Ukraine" and "Death to enemies" as the building burned with people inside.
That makes it pretty clear who did the torching and who did the dying.

Continued the Kyiv Post:
Photographs circulating on Twitter and Facebook show people - some presumably in their teens - mixing explosive concoctions in discarded beer bottles before lobbing them into the building.
Why did the US media not report any of this? Because they did not want the American public to see any possibility other than the US government official line, which is that the post-coup government in Kiev and its supporters represent the legitimate and democratic will of the people and anyone who protests against that government or its supporters is a Russian agent and a terrorist.

The US mainstream media marches lock-step with the US government, even to the point of covering up a most vile mass murder. It is only alternative sources and networks like RT (and RPI) that dare to cross the State Department line. 

No wonder the US State Department has declared war on RT.

From Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

See also:
Justin Raimondo on 'democracy' and terror