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Spratly Islands – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jan 242016
 

The Spratly Islands (Chinese: ; pinyin: Nnsh Qndo, Malay: Kepulauan Spratly, Tagalog: Kapuluan ng Kalayaan,[8]Vietnamese: Qun o Trng Sa) are a disputed group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea.[9] The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam. Named after the 19th-century British whaling captain Richard Spratly who sighted Spratly Island in 1843, the islands contain approximately 4km2 (1.5sq mi) of land area spread over a vast area of more than 425,000km2 (164,000sq mi).

The Spratlys are one of the major archipelagos in the South China Sea that comprise more than 30,000 islands and reefs, and which complicate governance and economics in this part of Southeast Asia due to their location in strategic shipping lanes. The islands have no indigenous inhabitants, but offer rich fishing grounds and may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves.[10][11] and as such are important to the claimants in their attempts to establish international boundaries.

The area northeast of the Spratlys is known to mariners as Dangerous Ground and is characterized by its many low islands, sunken reefs, and atolls with coral often rising abruptly from ocean depths greater than 1,000 metres (3,300ft) – all of which makes the area dangerous for navigation.

In addition to various territorial claims, some of the features have civilian settlements, but of the approximately 45 islands, reefs, cays and other features that are occupied all contain structures that are occupied by military forces (from China (PRC), Taiwan (ROC), Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia). Additionally, Brunei has claimed (but does not occupy) an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys, which includes the Louisa Reef. These claims and occupations have led to escalating tensions between these countries over the status and “ownership” of the islands.

The Spratly Islands contain almost no significant arable land, have no indigenous inhabitants, and very few of the islands have a permanent drinkable water supply. Natural resources include fish and guano, as well as the possible potential of oil and natural gas reserves.[12]Economic activity has included commercial fishing, shipping, guano mining, and more recently, tourism.

The Spratlys are located near several primary shipping lanes.

The Spratly Islands consist of reefs, banks and shoals that consist of biogenic carbonate. These accumulations of biogenic carbonate lie upon the higher crests of major submarine ridges that are uplifted fault blocks known by geologists as horsts. These horsts are part of a series of parallel and en echelon, half-grabens and rotated fault-blocks. The long axes of the horsts, rotated fault blocks and half-grabens form well-defined linear trends that lie parallel to magnetic anomalies exhibited by the oceanic crust of the adjacent South China Sea. The horsts, rotated fault blocks, and the rock forming the bottoms of associated grabens consist of stretched and subsided continental crust that is composed of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous strata that include calc-alkalic extrusive igneous rocks, intermediate to acid intrusive igneous rocks, sandstones, siltstones, dark-green claystones, and metamorphic rocks that include biotite-muscovite-feldspar-quartz migmatites and garnet-mica schists.[13][14][15]

The dismemberment and subsidence of continental crust into horsts, rotated fault blocks and half-grabens that underlie the Spratly Islands and surrounding sea bottom occurred in 2 distinct periods. They occurred as the result of the tectonic stretching of continental crust along underlying deeply rooted detachment faults. During the Late Cretaceous and Early Oligocene, the earliest period of tectonic stretching of continental crust and formation of horsts, half-grabens, and rotated fault-blocks occurred in association the rifting and later sea-floor spreading that created the South China Sea. During the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene additional stretching and block faulting of continental crust occurred within the Spratly Islands and adjacent Dangerous Ground. During and after this period of tectonic activity, corals and other marine life colonised the crests of the horsts and other ridges that lay in shallow water. The remains of these organisms accumulated over time as biogenic carbonates that comprise the current day reefs, shoals and cays of the Spratly Islands. Starting with their formation in Late Cretaceous, fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments accumulated within the numerous submarine half-grabens that underlie sea bottom within the Dangerous Ground region.[13][14][15]

The geological surveys show localised areas within the Spratly Islands region are favourable for the accumulation of economic oil and gas reserves. They include thick sequences of Cenozoic sediments east of the Spratly Islands. Southeast and west of them, there also exist thick accumulations of sediments that possibly might contain economic oil and gas reserves lie closer to the Spratly Islands.[10][16]

In some cays in the Spratly Islands, the sand and pebble sediments form the beaches and spits around the island. Under the influence of the dominant wind direction, which changes seasonally, these sediments move around the island to change the shape and size of the island. For example, Spratly Island is larger during the northeast monsoon, (about 700 300 meters), and smaller during the southwest monsoon (approximately 650 320 meters).[17]

Some islands may contain fresh groundwater fed by rain. Groundwater levels fluctuate during the day with the rhythm of the tides.[18]

Phosphates from bird faeces (guano) are mainly concentrated in the beach rocks by the way of exchange-endosmosis. The principal minerals bearing phosphate are podolite, lewistonite and dehonite.[19]

Coral reefs are the predominant structures of these islands; the Spratly group contains over 600 coral reefs in total.[9] In April 2015 the New York Times reported that China were using “scores of dredgers” to convert Fiery Cross Reef and several other reefs into military facilities (runways, etc.).[20][21]

Little vegetation grows on these islands, which are subject to intense monsoons. Larger islands are capable of supporting tropical forest, scrub forest, coastal scrub and grasses. It is difficult to determine which species have been introduced or cultivated by humans. Taiping Island (Itu Aba) was reportedly covered with shrubs, coconut, and mangroves in 1938; pineapple was also cultivated there when it was profitable. Other accounts mention papaya, banana, palm, and even white peach trees growing on one island. A few islands that have been developed as small tourist resorts had soil and trees brought in and planted where there was none.[9]

A total of 2,927 marine species have been recorded in the Spratly Sea, including 776 benthic species, 382 species of hard coral, 524 species of marine fish, 262 species of algae and sea grass, 35 species of seabirds, 20 species of marine mammals and sea turtles, etc.[22]

Terrestrial vegetation in the islands includes 103 species of vascular plants of magnolia branches (Magnoliophyta) of 39 families and 79 genera.[22]

The islands that do have vegetation provide important habitats for many seabirds and sea turtles.[9]

Both the green turtle (Chelonia mydas, endangered) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata, critically endangered) formerly occurred in numbers sufficient to support commercial exploitation. These species reportedly continue to nest even on islands inhabited by military personnel (such as Pratas) to some extent, though it is believed that their numbers have declined.[9]

Seabirds use the islands for resting, breeding, and wintering sites. Species found here include: streaked shearwater (Calonectris leucomelas), brown booby (Sula leucogaster), red-footed booby (S. sula), great crested tern (Sterna bergii), and white tern (Gygis alba). Little information is available regarding the current status of the islands’ seabird populations, though it is likely that birds may divert nesting sites to smaller, less disturbed islands. Bird eggs cover the majority of Song Tu, a small island in the eastern Danger Zone.[9]

This ecoregion is still largely a mystery. Scientists have focused their research on the marine environment, while the ecology of the terrestrial environment remains relatively unknown.[9]

Political instability, tourism and the increasing industrialisation of neighbouring countries has led to serious disruption of native flora and fauna, over-exploitation of natural resources, and environmental pollution. Disruption of nesting areas by human activity and/or by introduced animals, such as dogs, has reduced the number of turtles nesting on the islands. Sea turtles are also slaughtered for food on a significant scale. The sea turtle is a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture and at times the military personnel are given orders to protect the turtles.[9]

Heavy commercial fishing in the region incurs other problems. Although it has been outlawed, fishing methods continue to include the use of bottom trawlers fitted with chain rollers. In addition, during a recent[timeframe?] routine patrols[by whom?], more than 200kg of Potassium cyanide solution was confiscated from fishermen who had been using it for fish poisoning. These activities have a devastating impact on local marine organisms and coral reefs.[9]

Some interest has been taken[by whom?] in regard to conservation of these[which?] island ecosystems. J.W. McManus[who?] has explored the possibilities of designating portions of the Spratly Islands as a marine park. One region of the Spratly Archipelago, named Truong Sa, was proposed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and the Environment (MOSTE) as a future protected area. The site, with an area of 160km2 (62sq mi), is currently managed by the Khanh Hoa Provincial People’s Committee of Vietnam.[9]

Military groups in the Spratlys have engaged in environmentally damaging activities such as shooting turtles and seabirds, raiding nests and fishing with explosives. The collection of rare medicinal plants, collecting of wood, and hunting for the wildlife trade are common threats to the biodiversity of the entire region, including these islands. Coral habitats are threatened by pollution, over-exploitation of fish and invertebrates, and the use of explosives and poisons as fishing techniques.[9]

Chinese texts of the 12th century record these islands being a part of Chinese territory and that they had earlier (206BC) been used as fishing grounds during the Han dynasty.[23][not in citation given] Further records show the islands as inhabited at various times in history by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen, and during the second world war by troops from French Indochina and Japan.[24][25][26] However, there were no large settlements on these islands until 1956, when Filipino adventurer Toms Cloma, Sr., decided to “claim” a part of Spratly islands as his own, naming it the “Free Territory of Freedomland”.[27]

Evidence of man’s presence in the region extends back nearly 50,000 years at Tabon Caves on Palawan. Therefore, it is difficult to say when man first came upon this island group. Within historical times, several groups may have passed through or occupied the islands. Between 600BCE to 3BCE there was an East to West migration by members of the seafairing Sa Hunh culture. This may have led them through the Spratly Islands on their way to Vietnam. These migrants were the forebears of the Cham people that founded the Old Champa empire that ruled what was known for centuries as the Champa Sea.[28][29]

In the Song Dynasty work Zhu fan zhi by Zhao Rugua, the name “Thousand Li Stretch of Sands” (Qianli Changsha , ) and the “Ten-Thousand Li of Stone Pools/Beds” (Wanli Shitang , or Wanli Shichuang ) were given, interpreted by some to refer to Paracel and Spratly respectively.[30]Wanli Shitang is also recorded in the History of Yuan to have been explored by the Chinese during the Yuan dynasty and may have been considered by them to have been within their national boundaries.[31][32][33] They are also referenced, sometimes with different names, in the Ming dynasty.[34] When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the Qing dynasty continued to include the territory in maps compiled in 1724,[35] 1755,[36] 1767,[37] 1810,[38] and 1817.[39]

A Vietnamese map from 1834 also combines the Spratly and Paracel Islands into one region known as “Vn L Trng Sa”[citation needed], a feature commonly incorporated into maps of the era () that is, a combination of half of the 2 aforementioned Chinese island names, “Wanli” and “Changsha”.[40] According to Hanoi, Vietnamese maps record Bi Ct Vng (Golden Sandbanks, referring to both the Spratly and Paracel Islands), which lay near the coast of the central Vietnam, as early as 1838.[41] In Ph Bin Tp Lc (The Frontier Chronicles) by scholar L Qu n, both Hong Sa and Trng Sa were defined as belonging to the Qung Ngi District. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. Vietnamese text written in the 17th century referenced government-sponsored economic activities during the L dynasty, 200years earlier. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.[41]

Despite the fact that China and Vietnam both made a claim to these territories simultaneously, at the time, neither side was aware that its neighbour had already charted and made claims to the same stretch of islands.[41]

The islands were sporadically visited throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries by mariners from different European powers (including Richard Spratly, after whom the island group derives its most recognisable English name).[42] However, these nations showed little interest in the islands.

In the 1950s, a group of individuals claimed sovereignty over the islands in the name of Morton F. Meads, supposedly an American descendant of a British naval captain who gave his name to Meads Island (Itu Aba) in the 1870s. In an affidavit made in 1971, the group claimed to represent the Kingdom of Humanity/Republic of Morac-Songhrati-Meads,[43] which they asserted was in turn the successor entity for a supposed Kingdom of Humanity established between the two world wars on Meads Island, allegedly by the son of the British captain. This claim to this would-be micronation fell dormant after 1972, when several members of the group drowned in a typhoon.[44][45][46][47]

In 1883, German boats surveyed the Spratly and the Paracel Islands but eventually withdrew the survey, after receiving protests from the Guangdong government representing the Qing dynasty. Many European maps before the 20th century do not even mention this region.[48]

The following are political divisions for the Spratly Islands claimed by various area nations (in alphabetical order):

In the 19th century, Europeans found that Chinese fishermen from Hainan annually sojourned on the Spratly islands for part of the year, while in 1877 it was the British who launched the first modern legal claims to the Spratlys.[51][52]

When the Spratlys and Paracels were being surveyed by Germany in 1883, China issued protests against them. The 1887 Chinese-Vietnamese Boundary convention signed between France and China after the Sino-French War said that China was the owner of the Spratly and Paracel islands.[53][54] China sent naval forces on inspection tours in 1902 and 1907 and placed flags and markers on the islands. The Qing dynasty’s successor state, the Republic of China, claimed the Spratly and Paracel islands under the jurisdiction of Hainan.[54]

In 1933, France asserted its claims to the Spratly and Paracel Islands[55] on behalf of its then-colony Vietnam.[56] It occupied a number of the Spratly Islands, including Taiping Island, built weather stations on two of the islands, and administered them as part of French Indochina. This occupation was protested by the Republic of China (ROC) government because France admitted finding Chinese fishermen there when French warships visited nine of the islands.[57] In 1935, the ROC government also announced a sovereignty claim on the Spratly Islands. Japan occupied some of the islands in 1939 during World War II, and it used the islands as a submarine base for the occupation of Southeast Asia. During the Japanese occupation, these islands were called Shinnan Shoto (), literally the New Southern Islands, and together with the Paracel Islands (), they were put under the governance of the Japanese colonial authority in Taiwan.

Japan occupied the Paracels and the Spratlys from February 1939 to August 1945.[58] Japan administered the Spratlys via Taiwan’s jurisdiction and the Paracels via Hainan’s jurisdiction.[51] Parts of the Paracels and Spratlys were occupied by Republic of China after the 1945 surrender of Japan,[59] since the Allied powers assigned the Republic of China to receive Japanese surrenders in that area,[54] however no successor was named to the islands.[59]

In November 1946, the ROC sent naval ships to take control of the islands after the surrender of Japan.[58] It had chosen the largest and perhaps the only inhabitable island, Taiping Island, as its base, and it renamed the island under the name of the naval vessel as Taiping. Also following the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II, the ROC re-claimed the entirety of the Spratly Islands (including Taiping Island) after accepting the Japanese surrender of the islands based on the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. The Republic of China then garrisoned Itu Aba (Taiping) island in 1946 and posted Chinese flags and markers on it along with Woody island in the Paracels. France tried, but failed, to make them leave Woody island.[51] The aim of the Republic of China was to block the French claims.[54][60] The Republic of China drew up the map showing the U-shaped claim on the entire South China Sea, showing the Spratly and Paracels in Chinese territory, in 1947.[54] Japan had renounced all claims to the islands in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty together with the Paracels, Pratas and other islands captured from the Chinese, and upon these declarations, the government of the Republic of China reasserted its claim to the islands. The KMT force of the ROC government withdrew from most of the Spratly and Paracel Islands after they retreated to Taiwan from the opposing Communist Party of China due to their losses in the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.[56] The ROC quietly withdrew troops from Taiping Island in 1950, but then reinstated them in 1956 in response to Toms Cloma’s sudden claim to the island as part of Freedomland.[61] As of 2013[update], Taiping Island is administered by the ROC.[62]

After pulling out its garrison in 1950 when the Republic of China evacuated to Taiwan, when the Filipino Tomas Cloma uprooted an ROC flag on Itu Aba laid claim to the Spratlys and, the Republic of China (now Taiwan) again regarrisoned Itu Aba on 1956.[63] In 1946, the Americans reminded the Philippines at its independence that the Spratlys was not Philippine territory, both to not anger Chiang Kai-shek in China and because the Spratlys were not part of the Philippines per the 1898 treaty Spain signed with America.[51] The Philippines then claimed the Spratlys in 1971 under President Marcos, after Taiwanese troops attacked and shot at a Philippine fishing boat on Itu Aba.[64]

Taiwan’s garrison from 19461950 and 1956-now on Itu Aba represents an “effective occupation” of the Spratlys.[64][65] China established a coastal defence system against Japanese pirates or smugglers.[66]

North Vietnam recognised China’s claims on the Paracels and Spratlys during the Vietnam War as it was being supported by China. Only after winning the war and conquering South Vietnam did North Vietnam retract its recognition and admitted it recognised them as part of China to receive aid from China in fighting the Americans.[67]

In 1988, the Vietnamese and Chinese navies engaged in a skirmish in the area of Johnson South Reef (also called Yongshu reef in China and Mabini reef in Philippines).[68]

Under President Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan stated that “legally, historically, geographically, or in reality”, all of the South China Sea and Spratly islands were Taiwan’s territory and under Taiwanese sovereignty, and denounced actions undertaken there by Malaysia and the Philippines, in a statement on 13 July 1999 released by the foreign ministry of Taiwan.[69] Taiwan and China’s claims “mirror” each other; during international talks involving the Spratly islands, China and Taiwan have cooperated with each other since both have the same claims.[64][70]

It was unclear whether France continued its claim to the islands after WWII, since none of the islands, other than Taiping Island, was habitable. The South Vietnamese government took over the Trng Sa administration after the defeat of the French at the end of the First Indochina War. In 1958, the PRC issued a declaration defining its territorial waters that encompassed the Spratly Islands. North Vietnam’s prime minister, Phm Vn ng, sent a formal note to Zhou Enlai, stating that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) respected the Chinese decision regarding the 12nmi (22km; 14mi) limit of territorial waters.[71] While accepting the 12-nmi principal with respect to territorial waters, the letter did not actually address the issue of defining actual territorial boundaries.

In 1999, a Philippine navy ship (Number 57 – BRP Sierra Madre) was purposely run aground near Second Thomas Shoal to enable establishment of an outpost. As of 2014[update] it had not been removed, and Filipino troops have been stationed aboard since the grounding.[72][73]

Taiwan and China are largely strategically aligned on the Spratly islands issue, since they both claim exactly the same area, so Taiwan’s control of Itu Aba (Taiping) island is viewed as an extension of China’s claim.[53] Taiwan and China both claim the entire island chain, while all the other claimaints only claim portions of them. China has proposed co-operation with Taiwan against all the other countries claiming the islands. Taiwanese lawmakers have demanded that Taiwan fortify Itu Aba (Taiping) island with weapons to defend against the Vietnamese, and both China and Taiwanese NGOs have pressured Taiwan to expand Taiwan’s military capabilities on the island, which played a role in Taiwan expanding the island’s runway in 2012.[74] China has urged Taiwan to co-operate and offered Taiwan a share in oil and gas resources while shutting out all the other rival claimaints. Taiwanese lawmakers have complained about repeated Vietnamese aggression and trespassing on Taiwan’s Itu Aba (Taiping), and Taiwan has started viewing Vietnam as an enemy over the Spratly Islands, not China.[75] Taiwan’s state run oil company CPC Corp’s board director Chiu Yi has called Vietnam as the “greatest threat” to Taiwan.[74] Taiwan’s airstrip on Taiping has irritated Vietnam.[76] China views Taiwan’s expansion of its military and airstrip on Taiping as benefiting China’s position against the other rival claimaints from southeast Asian countries.[65] China’s claims to the Spratlys benefit from legal weight because of Taiwan’s presence on Itu Aba, while America on the other hand has regularly ignored Taiwan’s claims in the South China Sea and does not include Taiwan in any talks on dispute resolution for the area.[77]

Taiwan performed live fire military exercises on Taiping island in September 2012; reports said that Vietnam was explicitly named by the Taiwanese military as the “imaginary enemy” in the drill. Vietnam protested against the exercises as violation of its territory and “voiced anger”, demanding that Taiwan stop the drill. Among the inspectors of the live fire drill were Taiwanese national legislators, adding to the tensions.[78]

On 23 May 2011, the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, warned visiting Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie of a possible arms race in the region if tensions worsened over disputes in the South China Sea. Aquino said he told Liang in their meeting that this could happen if there were more encounters in the disputed and potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands.[79]

In May 2011, Chinese patrol boats attacked 2 Vietnamese oil exploration ships near the Spratly Islands.[80] Also in May 2011, Chinese naval vessels opened fire on Vietnamese fishing vessels operating off East London Reef (Da Dong). The 3 Chinese military vessels were numbered 989, 27 and 28, and they showed up with a small group of Chinese fishing vessels. Another Vietnamese fishing vessel was fired on near Fiery Cross Reef (Chu Thap). The Chief Commander of Border Guards in Phu Yen Province, Vietnam reported that a total of 4 Vietnamese vessels were fired upon by Chinese naval vessels.[verification needed] These incidents involving Chinese forces sparked mass protests in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,[81] and in various Vietnamese communities in the West (namely in the US state of California and in Paris) over attacks on Vietnamese citizens and the intrusion into what Vietnam claimed was part of its territory.[82]

In June 2011, the Philippines began officially referring to the South China Sea as the “West Philippine Sea” and the Reed Bank as “Recto Bank”.[83][84]

In July 2012, the National Assembly of Vietnam passed a law demarcating Vietnamese sea borders to include the Spratly and Paracel Islands.[85][86]

In 2010, it was reported that the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad believed Malaysia could profit from China’s economic growth through co-operation with China,[87] and said that China “was not a threat to anyone and was not worried about aggression from China”, as well accusing the United States of provoking China and trying to turn China’s neighbours against China.[88] Malaysia displayed no concern over China conducting a military exercise at James Shoal in March 2013.[89] Malaysia also suggested that it might work with China with Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein saying that Malaysia had no problem with China patrolling the South China Sea, and telling ASEAN, America, and Japan that “Just because you have enemies, doesn’t mean your enemies are my enemies”.[90] However, until present Malaysia still maintained a balance relations with the countries involved in this dispute.[91] But since China has start enroaching its territorial waters,[92] Malaysia has become active in condemning China.[93][94]

The editorial of the Taiwanese news website “Want China Times” accused America for being behind the May 2014 flareup in the South China Sea, saying that Vietnam rammed a Chinese vessel on 2 May over an oil rig drilling platform and the Philippines detained 11 Chinese fishermens occurred because of Obama’s visit to the region and that they were incited by America “behind the scenes”. “Want China Times” claimed America ordered Vietnam on 7 May to complain about the drilling platform, and noted that a joint military exercise was happening at this time between the Philippines and America, and also noted that the American “New York Times” newspaper supported Vietnam.[95]

In a series of news stories on 16 April 2015, it was revealed, through photos taken by Airbus Group, that China had been building an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, one of the southern islands. The 10,000-foot-long (3,048m) runway covers a significant portion of the island, and is viewed as a possible strategic threat to other countries with claims to the islands, such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Various factions of the Muslim Moro people are waging a war for independence against the Philippines. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Nur Misuari declared its support for China against the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, calling both China and the Moro people as victims of Philippine colonialism, and noting China’s history of friendly relations with the Sultanate of Sulu in the region.[96] The MNLF also denounced America’s assistance to the Philippines in their colonization of the Moro people in addition to denouncing the Philippines claims to the islands disputed with China, and denouncing America for siding with the Philippines in the dispute, noting that in 1988 China “punished” Vietnam for attempting to set up a military presence on the disputed islands, and noting that the Moros and China maintained peaceful relations, while on the other hand the Moros had to resist other colonial powers, having to fight the Spanish, fight the Americans, and fight the Japanese, in addition to fighting the Philippines.[97]

While the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal with the Philippines, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) did not and renewed armed resistance against Philippine rule in Zamboanga; on September 15, 2013, in response to the MNLF’s fighting against the Philippine Army, the New York Times published an article crediting every Philippine government for having struggled to bring peace to the Muslims of Mindanao since 1946 when it became independent and claimed that it is the belief of the Muslims that they are being subjected to oppression and exploitation by the Christians that is the problem which is causing the conflict and the newspaper also claimed that the conflict stretched back to 1899 when Moro insurrectionists were quelled by the American army.[98] On January 26, 2014 the New York Times published another article claiming that “every Philippine government” has “struggled to bring peace to Mindanao” and claimed that reports of exploitation and oppression by the Filipino Christians originated from what Muslims “say” and the newspaper also praised President Benigno S. Aquino III’s “landmark peace deal” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).[99] The New York Times labelled Moro fighters as “Muslim-led groups” and as “violent”.[100] The New York Times blamed “Islamic extremist groups” for carrying out attacks in the Philippines.[101] The New York Times editorial board endorsed Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s planned peace deal and the passage of “Bangsamoro Basic Law”, blaming the “Muslim insurgency” for causing trouble to the “largely Catholic country”.[102] The New York Times claimed that “Islamic militants” were fighting the Philippine military.[103]

The New York Times claimed the peace deal between the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “seeks to bring prosperity to the restive south and weaken the appeal of the extremist groups”, and linked the winding down of an American military counterterrorism operation to increased American military cooperation with the Philippines against China.[104] The New York Times hailed Mr Aquino’s “peace agreement” as an “accomplishment” as it reported on Aquino raising the “alarm” on China in the South China Sea.[105] The New York Times editorial board published an article siding with the Philippines against China in the South China Sea dispute and supporting the Philippines actions against China.[106][107] The New York Times editorial board endorsed aggressive American military action against China in the South China Sea.[108][109]

American and Filipino forces launched a joint operation against the Moros in the Mamasapano clash, in which Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters manage to kill 44 Filipino police commandos and caused massive blow back for the botched raid, putting a decisive halt to American plans for its Asia military “pivot” in the Philippines.[110] Moros have reported that 4 caucasian-looking (American) soldiers were killed in the Mamasapano clash along with the 44 Filipinos.[111]

The Moro National Liberation Front published an open letter to the United States President Barack Hussein Obama and demanded to know why America is supporting Philippine colonialism against the Moro Muslim people and the Filipino “war of genocide” and atrocities against Moros, reminding Obama that the Moro people have resisted and fought against the atrocities of Filipino, Japanese, American, and Spanish invaders, and reminding Obama of past war crimes also committed by American troops against Moro women and children like the Moro Crater massacre at Bud Dajo.[112]

The Moro National Liberation Front accused the Philippines, Japan, America, and Spain of conspiring against the Moros and recounted their invasions, imperialism, and atrocities against the Moros and demanded that they end the current colonization against the Moro people, the MNLF recounted that the Spanish were greedy colonizers, that the Americans committed massacres of Moro children and women at Mount Bagsak and Bud Dajo, and that the Japanese “exhibited tyranny, cruelty and inhumanity at its lowest level”, and “had to suffer their worst defeat and highest death mortality at the hands of the Bangsamoro freedom fighters”, demanding an apology from Japan for crimes committed against the Moros.[113]

The Moro National Liberation Front questioned the humanity and morality of the Philippines, Japan, America, and Spain, noting that they have done nothing to end the colonialism and war inflicted upon the Moros and reminded them that they have resisted and fought against Japanese, American, and Spanish atrocities and war crimes while the Filipinos bent over, capitulated and submitted to the invaders, the MNLF brought up the massacre committed by American troops at Bud Dajo against Moro women and children and boasted that compared to the Japanese casualty rate in the Visayas and Luzon, the amount of Japanese imperialists slaughtered by the Moro freedom fighters was greater by the thousands and that there was no capitulation like the “Fall of Bataan” to the Japanese by the Moros while the Luzon Filipinos submitted.[114] The MNLF said that the Japanese, American, and Spanish cruelty has been continued by Filipino rule.[115]

Japanese scholar Taoka Shunji criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for trying to falsely portray China as a threat to Japan and that it was invading its neighbors like the Philippines, and pointed out that the Spratly islands were not part of the Philippines when the US acquired the Philippines from Spain in the Treaty of Paris in 1898, and the Japanese ruled Taiwan itself had annexed the Spratly islands in 1938 and the US ruled Philippines did not challenge the move and never asserted that it was their territory, he also pointed out that other countries did not need to do full land reclamation since they already control islands and that the reason China engaged in extensive land reclamation is because they needed it to build airfields since China only has control over reefs.[116]

Champa historically had a large presence in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese broke Champa’s power in an invasion of Champa in 1471, and then finally conquered the last remnants of the Cham people in an invasion in 1832. A Cham named Katip Suma who received Islamic education in Kelantan declared a Jihad against the Vietnamese, and fighting continued until the Vietnamese crushed the remnants of the resistance in 1835. The Cham organisation Front de Libration du Champa was part of the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races, which waged war against the Vietnamese for independence in the Vietnam War along with the Montagnard and Khmer Krom minorities. The last remaining FULRO insurgents surrendered to the United Nations in 1992. Vietnam has settled over a million ethnic Vietnamese on Montagnard lands in the Central Highlands. The Montagnard staged a massive protest against the Vietnamese in 2001, which led to the Vietnamese to forcefully crush the uprising and seal the entire area off to foreigners.

The Vietnamese government fears that evidence of Champa’s influence over the disputed area in the South China Sea would bring attention to human rights violations and killings of ethnic minorities in Vietnam such as in the 2001 and 2004 uprisings, and lead to the issue of Cham autonomy being brought into the dispute, since the Vietnamese conquered the Hindu and Muslim Cham people in a war in 1832, and the Vietnamese continue to destroy evidence of Cham culture and artefacts left behind, plundering or building on top of Cham temples, building farms over them, banning Cham religious practices, and omitting references to the destroyed Cham capital of Song Luy in the 1832 invasion in history books and tourist guides. The situation of Cham compared to ethnic Vietnamese is substandard, lacking water and electricity and living in houses made out of mud.[117]

The Cham in Vietnam are only recognised as a minority, and not as an indigenous people by the Vietnamese government despite being indigenous to the region. Both Hindu and Muslim Chams have experienced religious and ethnic persecution and restrictions on their faith under the current Vietnamese government, with the Vietnamese state confisticating Cham property and forbidding Cham from observing their religious beliefs. Hindu temples were turned into tourist sites against the wishes of the Cham Hindus. In 2010 and 2013 several incidents occurred in Thnh Tn and Phc Nhn villages where Cham were murdered by Vietnamese. In 2012, Vietnamese police in Chau Giang village stormed into a Cham Mosque, stole the electric generator, and also raped Cham girls.[118] Cham Muslims in the Mekong Delta have also been economically marginalised and pushed into poverty by Vietnamese policies, with ethnic Vietnamese Kinh settling on majority Cham land with state support, and religious practices of minorities have been targeted for elimination by the Vietnamese government.[119]

In 2005, a cellular phone base station was erected by the Philippines’ Smart Communications on Pag-asa Island.[122]

On 18 May 2011, China Mobile announced that its mobile phone coverage has expanded to the Spratly Islands. The extended coverage would allow soldiers stationed on the islands, fishermen, and merchant vessels within the area to use mobile services, and can also provide assistance during storms and sea rescues. The service network deployment over the islands took nearly one year.[123]

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Pacific Islands – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jan 222016
 

The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The “Pacific Islands” is a term broadly referring to the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the context, it may refer to countries and islands with common Austronesian origins, islands once or currently colonized, or Oceania.

In English, the umbrella term Pacific Islands may take on several meanings. Sometimes it refers to only those islands covered by the geopolitical concept of Oceania.[1][2] In some common uses, the term “Pacific Island” refers to the islands of the Pacific Ocean once colonized by the British, French, Dutch, United States, and Japanese, such as the Pitcairn Islands, Taiwan, and Borneo.[3] In other uses it may refer to islands with Austronesian heritage like Taiwan, Indonesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, Myanmar islands, which found their genesis in the Neolithic cultures of the island of Taiwan.[4] There are many other islands located within the boundaries of the Pacific Ocean that are not considered part of Oceania. These islands include the Galpagos Islands of Ecuador; the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, United States; Vancouver Island in Canada; the Russian islands of Sakhalin and Kuril Islands; the island nation of Taiwan and other islands of the Republic of China; the Philippines; islands in the South China Sea, which includes the disputed South China Sea Islands; most of the islands of Indonesia; and the island nation of Japan, which comprises the Japanese Archipelago.

This list includes all islands found in the geographic Pacific Ocean, with an area larger than 10,000 square kilometers.

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Nanotechnology – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jul 282015
 

Nanotechnology (“nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology[1][2] referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below the given size threshold. It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Until 2012, through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars, the European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars.[3]

Nanotechnology as defined by size is naturally very broad, including fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.[4] The associated research and applications are equally diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale.

Scientists currently debate the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials energy production, and consumer products. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials,[5] and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.

The concepts that seeded nanotechnology were first discussed in 1959 by renowned physicist Richard Feynman in his talk There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, in which he described the possibility of synthesis via direct manipulation of atoms. The term “nano-technology” was first used by Norio Taniguchi in 1974, though it was not widely known.

Inspired by Feynman’s concepts, K. Eric Drexler used the term “nanotechnology” in his 1986 book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, which proposed the idea of a nanoscale “assembler” which would be able to build a copy of itself and of other items of arbitrary complexity with atomic control. Also in 1986, Drexler co-founded The Foresight Institute (with which he is no longer affiliated) to help increase public awareness and understanding of nanotechnology concepts and implications.

Thus, emergence of nanotechnology as a field in the 1980s occurred through convergence of Drexler’s theoretical and public work, which developed and popularized a conceptual framework for nanotechnology, and high-visibility experimental advances that drew additional wide-scale attention to the prospects of atomic control of matter. In the 1980s, two major breakthroughs sparked the growth of nanotechnology in modern era.

First, the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 which provided unprecedented visualization of individual atoms and bonds, and was successfully used to manipulate individual atoms in 1989. The microscope’s developers Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986.[6][7] Binnig, Quate and Gerber also invented the analogous atomic force microscope that year.

Second, Fullerenes were discovered in 1985 by Harry Kroto, Richard Smalley, and Robert Curl, who together won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.[8][9] C60 was not initially described as nanotechnology; the term was used regarding subsequent work with related graphene tubes (called carbon nanotubes and sometimes called Bucky tubes) which suggested potential applications for nanoscale electronics and devices.

In the early 2000s, the field garnered increased scientific, political, and commercial attention that led to both controversy and progress. Controversies emerged regarding the definitions and potential implications of nanotechnologies, exemplified by the Royal Society’s report on nanotechnology.[10] Challenges were raised regarding the feasibility of applications envisioned by advocates of molecular nanotechnology, which culminated in a public debate between Drexler and Smalley in 2001 and 2003.[11]

Meanwhile, commercialization of products based on advancements in nanoscale technologies began emerging. These products are limited to bulk applications of nanomaterials and do not involve atomic control of matter. Some examples include the Silver Nano platform for using silver nanoparticles as an antibacterial agent, nanoparticle-based transparent sunscreens, and carbon nanotubes for stain-resistant textiles.[12][13]

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Bloodlines of the Illuminati: Fritz Springmeier …

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Jul 222015
 

The latest edition of Bloodlines of the Illuminati… Direct from the Distrubutor *************************** You’ve seen pieces of the puzzle, but still you wonder… Bloodlines of the Illuminati is a unique historical genealogical who’s-doing-it book, rich in detail, providing a devastating expos of the people and families who are THE movers and shakers of the United States and the entire world. You will recognize some of the names instantly. Many names have been purposely hidden from mainstream view. From international finance to war, presidents and dictators alike pay heed to these people. “Influence” doesn’t even come close to describing their power. They have plans for you. Who are they? Author, Fritz Springmeier provides a wealth of material and inside information based on eyewitnesses. His outstanding research provides facts that are not available elsewhere. When you finish reading this book, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and you’ll see the fascinating big picture. You will know who actually runs the New World Order conspiracy, and who is in the Illuminati. You may discover for yourself why Bloodlines of the Illuminati was a bestseller in Japan, a nation which thrives on detail. IF YOU ENJOYED THE PREVIOUS EDITION OF BLOODLINES, YOU’LL LOVE THE NEW EDITION EVEN MORE… completely revised, the new “Bloodlines of the Illuminati” has more info and better photos. The 3rd Edition’s large print size (7″ X 10″) makes for easier reading. * Hot new information exposing Wolf Head (a group similar to Skull & Bones). * New genealogy charts, one shows how 25 Presidents are related, another how Prince Charles is related to Count Dracula. * More information on all the bloodlines.

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The 10 Biggest Tax Havens in the World – TheRichest

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May 082015
 

In 2009, the governments of the 20 wealthiest countries in the world vowed that they will tighten the regulations that enabled rampant tax evasions in their own nation and territories. The major problem that these countries faced was the high level of secrecy when it comes to withholding the financial assets of clients from the authorities. However, two years later, despite the increase in such regulations, people were still left with a great number of countries to choose from that will allow them to evade their taxes through the use of offshore accounts. This was according to a report made by the Tax Justice Network.

The report, which the Tax Justice Network referred to as the Financial Secrecy Index, assessed 73 different jurisdictions around the world that allowed billions of foreign currency to be stored in offshore accounts. The money that was deposited into these accounts were also left untaxed. The report found that governments worldwide lose approximately $250 billion in revenue every year because of these offshore accounts.

This list is comprised of the 10 biggest tax havens in the world countries that allow the highest level of client financial secrecy, tax evasion, and offshore accounts.

Bahrain, situated near the Persian Gulfs western shores, is a small island-country. The archipelagos largest island is Bahrain Island. While there are plenty of financial institutions offering offshore banking services and bank accounts in the island, its client financial secrecy is the lowest of all the other nations included in this list. Bahrain gets tenth place because it has the lowest level of Financial Secrecy Index value based from the Tax Justice Networks report, which is at 660.3. It also has a Secrecy Score of 78.

Germany makes it easy for people to open offshore bank accounts. However, this has also resulted in the increasing number of individuals opening such accounts so they can evade their taxes. The good news is that the country is trying to control this problem through the implementation of stricter and much more stringent policies. In the report, Germany got a score of 669.8 for its Financial Secrecy Index value, and a Secrecy Score of 57.

Many of the offshore banks in Japan do not subject the deposits made by their clients to interest rate standards and regulations. Fortunately, with the offshore banking center that has been established in Tokyo, the countrys law enforcement authorities would at least be able to monitor and control any developments in these financial institutions.

Jersey is a British Crown Dependency that houses a great number of banks offering offshore accounts to foreign clients. Offshore banking and investments has been a part of the bailiwicks underground economy. In the Tax Justice Network report, Jersey got a Financial Secrecy Index value of 750.1 and a Secrecy Score of 78.

Singapore, an island city-state in Southeast Asia, is considered by many as one of their best choices for opening offshore bank accounts. Almost anyone can open such a bank account without experiencing any hassle. This is one of the major reasons why Singapore was graded with a Financial Secrecy Index value of 1,118 and a Secrecy Score of 71 by the Tax Justice Network.

The states of Nevada and Wyoming are two of the major contributing factors to the countrys increasing problems in terms of tax evasion. In Nevada, there are no capital gains, gift tax, personal income tax, and inheritance tax. In Wyoming, there are no corporate taxes, inventory taxes, unitary taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes, personal income taxes, franchise taxes, and inheritance taxes.

In the Peoples Republic of China, there are two Special Administrative Regions, with Hong Kong being one of them. It is located at the south coast of China and is surrounded by the South China Sea and the Pearl River Delta. Seven million people live in the region. Aside from being a popular tourist hot spot, Hong Kong is also a haven for people who do not want to pay their taxes and deposit large amounts of money in offshore accounts. Here, clients do not have to pay for sales taxes, capital gains, and payroll taxes. They also do not have to worry about personal tax being deducted from their money.

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New Bitcoin Foundation chief eyes crowdfunding

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Apr 142015
 

The newly appointed head of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group that promotes development of the digital currency, believes crowdfunding is one part of the solution for its troubled finances.

A one-time Morgan Stanley stockbroker, investment advisor Bruce Fenton was appointed executive director based on a vote of five ayes to one abstention by the groups board of directors, the foundation wrote on its blog. He replaces Patrick Murck, who was interim executive director.

The move follows an admission by the foundation that it faces large financial problems linked to the drop in the value of its bitcoin holdings. It rejected board member Olivier Janssens claim that it is effectively bankrupt.

Im confident that we can run a lean and effective foundation and run at a budget surplus by using our resources carefully, Fenton said via email, adding he has not had a chance to review the foundations assets in detail yet.

Id also like to see us use more decentralized tools like crowdfunding, Fenton said. Crowdfunding can be a creative way for members to support the projects they care about, he added.

He also stressed the need for feedback and engagement from corporate and individual members of the foundation.

Fenton, founder of investment firm Atlantic Financial in Massachusetts, worked at Morgan Stanley in the 1990s, specializing in emerging technologies. He is a member of the Bitcoin Association, another bitcoin promotion group, and has organized the Dubai Bitcoin Conference and advised bitcoin startups.

Fenton takes the helm of an organization marked by controversy. Among its founding members are Charlie Shrem, who pleaded guilty to transmitting money linked to the Silk Road online drugs site, and Mark Karpeles, who presided over the collapse of MtGox, once the worlds largest trading place for bitcoin. Board members have quit in frustration or spoken out against the foundation.

Tim Hornyak reports on IT, telecommunications, science, and technology in Japan for the IDG News Service. More by Tim Hornyak

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Six islands overrun with animals

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Apr 132015
 

Daniel Martins Digital Reporter

Monday, April 13, 2015, 11:32 – Bored with constantly being surrounded by humanity?

Maybe you need a getaway, but rather than heading off to the wilderness, why don’t you try these six islands overrun by animals?

For some, the cuteness will sooth your soul. For others, the constantly underfoot skittering or slithering horror will make you think your noisy office may not be so bad after all.

Rabbit Island: Okunoshima

Somewhere off the coast of Japan, theres an island where this happens:

Okunoshima is more commonly know as Usaga Jima Literally, Rabbit Island, for obvious reasons.

There are hundreds of them on the island, thanks to a benign environment with no natural predators (not even cats and dogs are allowed), and scenes of them mobbing anyone who might have a snack went viral in recent years.

It all sounds too good to be true. And, of course, it is.

Before its name became associated with cuddly long-ears, Okunoshima was more famous for something else: Chemical weapons. Between 1928 and 1945, an estimated 6,000 tonnes of poison gas were manufactured there. And they had to test them on something.

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Six islands overrun with animals

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China maps out islands plan

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Apr 112015
 

It is rare for China to give such detail about its plans for the artificial islands. The rapid reclamation taking place on seven reefs has alarmed other claimants and drawn U.S. criticism, including from Defence Secretary Ash Carter, who is visiting Japan and South Korea this week.

“The relevant construction is a matter that is entirely within the scope of China’s sovereignty. It is fair, reasonable, lawful, it does not affect and is not targeted against any country. It is beyond reproach,” Hua added.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

All but Brunei have fortified bases in the Spratlys, which lie roughly 1,300 km (800 miles) from the Chinese mainland but much closer to the Southeast Asian claimants.

Read MoreAsia Infrastructure Investment Bank gambit has US on edge

While China’s new islands will not overturn U.S. military superiority in the region, workers are building ports and fuel storage depots and possibly two airstrips that experts have said would allow Beijing to project power deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Asked about Hua’s comments, U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke called the land reclamation “destabilizing” and said it was “fueling greater anxiety within the region about China’s intentions amid concerns that they might militarize outposts on disputed land features in the South China Sea.”

“We very much hope that China would recalibrate in the interests of stability and good relations in the region,” he told reporters in Washington.

Western and Asian naval officials privately say that China could feel emboldened to try to limit air and sea navigation once the reclaimed islands are fully established.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea does not legally allow for reclaimed land to be used to demarcate 12-nautical-mile territorial zones, but some officials fear China will not feel limited by that document and will seek to keep foreign navies from passing close by.

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China maps out islands plan

China Defends Work on Spratly Islands

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Apr 112015
 

BEIJING

China on Thursday sketched out plans for the islands it is creating in the disputed South China Sea, saying they would be used for military defense as well as to provide civilian services that would benefit other countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that the reclamation and building work in the Spratly archipelago was needed partly because of the risk of typhoons in an area with a lot of shipping that is far from land.

“We are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue, as well as marine meteorological forecasting services, fishery services and other administrative services” for China and neighboring countries, Hua said.

The islands and reefs would also meet the demands for China’s defense, Hua said without elaborating.

It is rare for China to give such detail about its plans for the artificial islands. The rapid reclamation taking place on seven reefs has alarmed other claimants and drawn U.S. criticism, including from Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who is visiting Japan and South Korea this week.

“The relevant construction is a matter that is entirely within the scope of China’s sovereignty. It is fair, reasonable, lawful, it does not affect and is not targeted against any country. It is beyond reproach,” Hua added.

Overlapping claims

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

All but Brunei have fortified bases in the Spratlys, which lie roughly 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the Chinese mainland and are much closer to the Southeast Asian claimants.

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Sailors Find Opportunities at Yokosuka’s Single Sailor Liberty Center – Video

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Mar 272015
 



Sailors Find Opportunities at Yokosuka's Single Sailor Liberty Center
The Single Sailor Liberty Center in Yokosuka, Japan offers Sailors a chance to relax and de-stress after work.

By: U.S. Navy

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Sailors Find Opportunities at Yokosuka’s Single Sailor Liberty Center – Video

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Japan claims disputed islands with Chinese map from 1969

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Mar 192015
 

TOKYO, March 18 (UPI) — China’s foreign ministry has reproached the Japanese government for displaying a 1969 Chinese map of the Senkaku Islands that identifies the disputed territory by its Japanese name.

The Japan Times reported the Japanese foreign ministry’s website released the map on Monday to show how neighboring China created surveys “on the premise the Senkaku islands are part of Japanese territory.”

The map, Japanese foreign minister said, shows China’s claim to the disputed islands has “no foundation at all.”

Japan’s foreign ministry states on its website China and Taiwan claimed the islands after the U.N. issued a report that the area held potential oil and gas reserves.

China swiftly responded to the official Japanese statement during a press briefing in Beijing.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the map reflects Japan’s aggression and its colonial legacy in Taiwan. Prior to the Sino-Japanese War that lasted from 1894 to 1895, Hong said Western maps marked the islands as belonging to China.

Japan has control of the Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands, but China and Taiwan each claim the territory.

On March 2 Japan’s Kyodo News reported a Taiwan-based group of activists requested Japanese facilities on the islands be taken down.

They also requested the Japanese government to remove the Japanese flag on the disputed territory, claiming Japan’s moves violates a Taiwan-Japan fisheries pact that lets both countries to fish inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, that excludes 12 nautical miles of waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands.

Taiwan uses the name Tiaoyutai for the islands.

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Cyclone Pam and climate change: Are the Pacific Islands ready?

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Mar 152015
 

At least eight people have been killed after one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the Pacific Ocean tore through the islands of Vanuatu early Saturday, multiple news outlets reported.

Packing winds up to 270 kilometers (168 miles) per hour, Cyclone Pam blew down or destroyed homes and cut off power, water, and communication lines, especially on the archipelagos outer islands, The Associated Press reported.

As of Saturday, eight have been reported dead, but aid workers have said it could take weeks before the storms impact is fully evaluated.

“It felt like the world was going to end,” Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Childrens Fund, told Reuters from Vanuatu. It’s like a bomb has gone off in the center of the town.

Scientists have said its nearly impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change, according to The Associated Press. Still, the Category 5 cyclone the worst to hit the archipelago since Cyclone Uma left 5,000 people homeless and one man dead in 1987 has once more raised concerns about the readiness of Pacific island nations to respond to severe weather events exacerbated by rising temperatures and sea levels.

The Pacific region has been one of the areas most affected by changes in global temperatures in recent years. In 2013, countries in the Pacific Basin recorded the highest increases in sea levels in the world, according to a report by The Christian Science Monitor, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last September, the president of the Marshall Islands, a tiny archipelago near the equator, called on world leaders to act on climate change as the countrys atolls become increasingly unlivable due to rising seas, severe floods, sudden storms, and droughts, The Guardian reported.

The Pacific is fighting for its survival, President Christopher Loek said. Climate change has already arrived.”

Countries in and around the Pacific, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia, have also experienced the most tropical cyclone strikes since 1970, the same Monitor report found.

Of the five typhoons to affect the most number of people in the Philippines, four occurred within the last 10 years, according to Philippine news outlet Rappler. The worst was also the most recent: Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the archipelago in late 2013, affected more than 16 million people, including 6,000 dead. The estimated cost of damage was about $2 billion, Rappler reported.

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Cyclone Pam and climate change: Are the Pacific Islands ready? (+video)

 Islands  Comments Off on Cyclone Pam and climate change: Are the Pacific Islands ready? (+video)
Mar 152015
 

At least eight people have been killed after one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the Pacific Ocean tore through the islands of Vanuatu early Saturday, multiple news outlets reported.

Packing winds up to 270 kilometers (168 miles) per hour, Cyclone Pam blew down or destroyed homes and cut off power, water, and communication lines, especially on the archipelagos outer islands, The Associated Press reported.

As of Saturday, eight have been reported dead, but aid workers have said it could take weeks before the storms impact is fully evaluated.

“It felt like the world was going to end,” Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Childrens Fund, told Reuters from Vanuatu. It’s like a bomb has gone off in the center of the town.

Scientists have said its nearly impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change, according to The Associated Press. Still, the Category 5 cyclone the worst to hit the archipelago since Cyclone Uma left 5,000 people homeless and one man dead in 1987 has once more raised concerns about the readiness of Pacific island nations to respond to severe weather events exacerbated by rising temperatures and sea levels.

The Pacific region has been one of the areas most affected by changes in global temperatures in recent years. In 2013, countries in the Pacific Basin recorded the highest increases in sea levels in the world, according to a report by The Christian Science Monitor, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last September, the president of the Marshall Islands, a tiny archipelago near the equator, called on world leaders to act on climate change as the countrys atolls become increasingly unlivable due to rising seas, severe floods, sudden storms, and droughts, The Guardian reported.

The Pacific is fighting for its survival, President Christopher Loek said. Climate change has already arrived.”

Countries in and around the Pacific, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia, have also experienced the most tropical cyclone strikes since 1970, the same Monitor report found.

Of the five typhoons to affect the most number of people in the Philippines, four occurred within the last 10 years, according to Philippine news outlet Rappler. The worst was also the most recent: Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the archipelago in late 2013, affected more than 16 million people, including 6,000 dead. The estimated cost of damage was about $2 billion, Rappler reported.

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Cyclone Pam and climate change: Are the Pacific Islands ready? (+video)

Bitcoin hack report suggests inside job

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Bitcoin hack report suggests inside job
Mar 092015
 

According to the report, the bot, known as “Willy”, assigned itself dozens of accounts with apparently faked US dollar balances, allowing it to buy and withdraw the virtual currency at will.

The fact that the bot operated in Asian hours is one of several clues suggesting that the creator could have worked at Mt Gox, said Kim Nilsson, chief engineer at WizSec. At its peak, the holding company run by Mt Gox chief Mark Karpels employed some 30 people, some of them on short-term contracts.

More from the Financial Times: Buffett dons biker gear with German deal Pace of recovery in eurozone quickens Schuble sets stage for Athens showdown

“We think it is more plausible that it was an insider rather than an external hacker,” said Mr Nilsson.

The shuttering of the exchange once the world’s most popular venue for trading and storing bitcoins left thousands of creditors in limbo, and provided a stern test of faith in the infrastructure supporting the alternative currency movement. In the weeks following the collapse, during which Mr Karpels claimed to have recovered 200,000 of the 850,000 missing coins in an old format wallet, the price of bitcoin dropped about 40 per cent.

Mr Karpels has said he was unaware that any coins were missing until late in February, weeks after users began to report difficulties withdrawing funds.

Read MoreForget currency, bitcoin’s tech is the revolution

In an emailed comment, Mr Karpels said that the activity patterns uncovered by the WizSec report indicating regular gaps in trading between 2am and 5am, Japan time could “show the way to new theories”, such as two people operating the bot on shifts, or living in different time zones.

Since the collapse a succession of other, smaller bitcoin-related businesses have hit trouble, with problems ranging from Gox-like hacks to physical raids on bitcoin ATMs. On Thursday bitcoin was trading at $237, about 80 per cent off its peak of November 2013.

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Development boom for Tiwi Islands

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Mar 052015
 

Development is continuing at full pace on the Tiwi Islands where the government hopes a soon-to-be-completed port and new agricultural and tourism land leases will make the remote Aboriginal community an example for the whole Northern Territory.

On Thursday Chief Minister Adam Giles announced a new agreement had been signed with the Tiwis to lease up to 10,0000 hectares for pastoral or agricultural use, 20 hectares for tourism, industrial and aquacultural projects, and 10 hectares of township land.

“This is an inspirational deal, unheard of I think in Australia, but particularly in the NT where significant leadership has come from the local people … who have the foresight to pursue economic opportunities, who have the vision to look outside the square about the way things are done, but particularly have a focus on creating jobs,” Mr Giles told reporters.

No leases have yet been signed for the new ventures, which locals hope will include oyster and fish farming.

Traditional owners will need to consent, and affected communities will have to be consulted before anything can go ahead.

Local member Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu said he was keen to see locals begin developing their own businesses on the two islands, about 80km North of Darwin, with a population of about 3000.

“We want to move away from welfare … We want to encourage our young ones because they’re our future,” he said.

Mr Giles also toured the $50 million Port Melville, which is still under construction despite initial forecasts that it would start shipping woodchips to Japan early last year.

He said he expected that to happen by mid-year, and praised the foresight of locals and Singaporean port owner Ezion Holdings for considering the port for other uses, such as a marine supply base for the region’s offshore oil and gas projects.

“The port’s not going to be sustainable on woodchips alone,” he said.

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Development boom for Tiwi Islands

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Cruise in Russia’s Kuril Islands by Ponant – Video

 Islands  Comments Off on Cruise in Russia’s Kuril Islands by Ponant – Video
Feb 222015
 



Cruise in Russia's Kuril Islands by Ponant
Nicolas Dubreuil, expedition leader, presents the Kuril Islands cruise between Russia and Japan. Discover a part of our planet that is still unknown to most, a wild paradise composed of volcanic…

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Cruise in Russia’s Kuril Islands by Ponant – Video

SAR should prohibit Bitcoin transactions

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on SAR should prohibit Bitcoin transactions
Feb 162015
 

Updated: 2015-02-16 07:29 By Eddy Li(HK Edition)

Last year, when Hong Kong set up its first Bitcoin ATM and a Bitcoin retail store, I wrote a commentary in this paper, “Treat Bitcoin with caution”. This was to warn investors to exercise caution about investing in Bitcoin. Unfortunately, it didn’t prevent a recent fraudulent incident. Earlier this month, Legislative Council member Leung Yiu-chung said that about 30 concerned clients of MyCoin, a Hong Kong-based Bitcoin trading company, complained to him that the company had absconded with funds from up to 3,000 investors, stealing HK$3 billion in the process.

The most controversial feature of Bitcoin remains the question of whether or not it is actually a currency. Bitcoin does have three useful qualities of a currency, according to an Economist article published in January 2015: They are “hard to earn, limited in supply, and easy to verify”. While Bitcoin, to some extent, meets all these requirements – a store of value, a medium of exchange, and a unit of account, it is its volatility which becomes the most crucial factor in its acceptance. In this case, naturally, its price, or exchange rate, fluctuates based on how it is regarded. Thus if a country forbids Bitcoin transactions, the price drops dramatically. When another economy admits its legal status its price may skyrocket in a short time.

Consensus has yet to be reached as to whether Bitcoin should be a currency in different countries. As of 2014, this cryptocurrency was only illegal in Vietnam and Iceland. In December 2013, China’s central bank took its first steps in regulating Bitcoins by prohibiting financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions. Within six months of this, the People’s Bank of China stated that Bitcoins “are fundamentally not a currency but an investment target”, and simultaneously ordered financial institutions to close Bitcoin trading accounts. As for Japan, it was not until the Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy that the Japanese government decided to clarify its position on the digital currency. Tokyo said it did not consider Bitcoin a real currency. In other Asian countries, including South Korea, India, Thailand and Indonesia, attitudes toward Bitcoin are generally conservative: They firmly state that it is not a currency.

Nevertheless, the Western world seems to have different attitudes to Bitcoin. Germany and Canada have granted Bitcoin the legal status of a currency, while others have tended not to take a definite position. In the US, experts are working on drafting regulations to cover Bitcoin, but on one occasion the Federal Reserve suggested that people should take responsibility for their own risk when investing in this “convertible decentralized virtual currency”.

It is possible that Bitcoin will be an internationally accepted currency in future. But so far it is merely an online payment system generated from “mining” – a computing process. Without any central bank or governmental backing, its value is determined only by the agreement of its users. This makes Bitcoin different from conventional currencies regarding undulation. Since its first real-world transaction in 2010, when a user bought 2 pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins (valued at less than $0.01), it has peaked at $1250 with intermittent crashes and rebounds. Over the last year, the value of Bitcoin has dropped more than 50 percent.

Such instability has brought it to the attention of both investors and governments. Authorities in Hong Kong have repeatedly warned that Bitcoins are a high-risk investment. But judging from the recent case, such warnings are definitely not sufficient, especially when there are no existing laws regulating virtual currencies like Bitcoin. So the solution is regulation or prohibition.

Given that Bitcoin is an unprecedented financial concept, related regulation needs years to draft and refine. Governments and academics from different countries should work together to set up a generally accepted system of regulation. Until such time I suggest the Hong Kong government prohibits Bitcoin transactions through financial institutions – although individual investments should still be possible.

(HK Edition 02/16/2015 page10)

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SAR should prohibit Bitcoin transactions

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Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism