US Meddling Continues in Cambodia, But With Setbacks

August 15, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Two Cambodian employees of US government-funded "Radio Free Asia" (RFA) face espionage charges for continuing to work for the foreign information operation even after the Cambodian government ordered it closed.


Qatari state media, Al Jazeera, in their article, "Espionage trial of two former RFA journalists starts in Cambodia," would report:
Former Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were arrested in November 2017 after a late-night police raid on an apartment rented by the former. They were accused of supplying a foreign state with information, a charge that carries a prison sentence of between seven and 15 years. 

RFA, which is funded by the government of the United States, had closed its operations in Cambodia shortly before the arrests. The outlet was known for its critical coverage of the Cambodian government, including frequent reports on corruption and illegal logging.
Al Jazeera also admitted:
Both Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin admitted at Friday's hearing that they had continued sending videos and information to RFA after it had shut down, but they denied that this constituted espionage.
Human Rights Watch's (HRW) deputy Asia director Phil Robertson would make a statement published on the organisation's site claiming:
Chhin and Sothearin should never have had to face these bogus espionage charges, and all judicial restrictions on them should be lifted.
HRW's Robertson made these comments unironically after celebrating and making excuses for Facebook and Twitter's censorship of accounts and individuals critical of Western impropriety (including the dubious, often hypocritical work of HRW itself) worldwide.

Cambodian courts vowed to ignore the demands of foreign organisations like HRW, insisting instead they would use evidence and Cambodian law to reach a verdict, RFA's own article on the story reported.

US Meddling in Cambodia Was Extensive 

Amid continued hysteria and accusations of "Russian interference" levelled by the United States and its various functionaries against any and all opponents worldwide, the US itself has been involved in meddling in Cambodia's internal political affairs extensively.

Far from merely funding information operations like RFA, Voice of America and Cambodia Daily Cambodia has since shut down or co-opted, the US literally ran an entire political party with members operating out of Washington DC itself. It protected these proxies  from well-earned accusations and charges of sedition with fronts posing as "human rights" organisations also funded by the US government.

Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha openly admitted to Washington's role in propping up his party and its bid to seize power in Cambodia not through elections, but through the same sort of destructive colour revolutions that have swept through Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.


US Walks Away From Southeast Asia Summit Empty-Handed

August 13, 2019 New Eastern Outlook  

A recent meeting of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened in Bangkok, Thailand and attended by representatives from China, Russia and even the United States, provides us with a clear indicator of how power and influence are being shaped across wider Asia and even globally.


Headlines like the Associated Press', "Pompeo ends frustrating Bangkok visit," gives a good feel for how, at least for Washington, the meeting went and how the region responded to Washington's "plans" for it.

The article would note: 
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Thailand on Saturday with his hopes for resuming nuclear talks with North Korea dashed, while facing an escalating trade war with China and a potentially devastating breakdown in relations between key American allies Japan and South Korea.
Another article published just ahead of the meetings would better frame US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's (and Washington's) agenda. The LA Times', "Pompeo seeks to restore U.S. influence in Southeast Asia amid China’s rise," would report:
Against a backdrop of China’s rising economic and military power, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo arrived in the Thai capital of Bangkok this week with a difficult mission: Try to win back lost ground in Southeast Asia, a region once dominated by the U.S.
The article would continue:
Pompeo is also attempting to solidify another initiative of his tenure: creation of the so-called Indo-Pacific region, which portends to redraw boundaries to stretch from the U.S. West Coast to Japan, down through Southeast Asia to Australia and west across another ocean to India. It is replacing the familiar Asia-Pacific region and incorporates India (while sidelining Pakistan) to expand U.S. heft against China. 
China has not been shy about pouring tens of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects as part of its mammoth Belt and Road initiative, promising to boost transport systems and connectivity to help drive a sustained period of growth and stepping in where the U.S. often isn’t. 

Thanks in part to China’s investment, the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, has posted a combined economic-output growth of 50% in the last decade. 
The LA Times would then attempt to cite "backlash" across the region, but upon closer examination, things like Malaysia "cancelling" One Belt, One Road (OBOR) projects with China were more about negotiating better agreements rather than cancelling them.

The Diplomat in an article from April this year titled, "Malaysia: Revised China Deal Shows Costs Were Inflated," helps explain how the Chinese-Malaysian "row" was blown out of proportion by many in the Western media and how the project is once again moving forward.

Despite this renegotiating having long-since taken place, the LA Times and other media outlets are still trying to portray various countries in Southeast Asia as "opposed" to China or having cancelled deals that are still very much moving forward.

The LA Times also tries to cite disputes in the South China Sea, another area of conflict cultivated by Washington with even the nations it is supposedly "defending" dragging their feet on initiatives Washington had hoped would divide the region and isolate Beijing.


Western Propaganda: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't

August 7, 2019 New Eastern Outlook  

Nations running afoul of US and European hegemony often find themselves the target of concerted, long-term propaganda campaigns. Without creating a media front capable of confronting this propaganda, virtually nothing a targeted nation does can improve its image among the global public, because no matter what it does, it will be 'spun' by the US and European media to smear it.


A pertinent example can be found in Southeast Asia's Kingdom of Thailand which possesses the second largest economy in ASEAN and has become one of Beijing's most important partners in the region. Because of this, it has become a target for US and European political subversion in the hopes of installing a government that can reverse this trend.

To that end, Thailand's institutions have come under attack, including its military and constitutional monarchy.

Forward-Thinking Reform Spun as Elitist "Exemption" 

The current Thai dynasty has existed for nearly as long as the US has been a nation, and the institution itself has existed for over eight centuries. Its modern manifestation fosters national unity and is the caretaker of Thai tradition, culture and history. The constitutional monarchy also invests heavily in development projects across the country.

Thailand's monarchy is also an institution in constant change to keep up with the times. A recent revision to the monarchy's property holdings placed Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn under the same property tax laws as the rest of the nation.

However, because Thai tax laws are poorly understood by foreigners, an opportunity to spin a reform into a smear presented itself and UK-based media organisation Reuters took full advantage of it.

In their article, "Thai king exempted from tax on some land properties," Reuters claimed:
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn will be exempt from tax on some of his land property, according to a government announcement.

The Crown Property Bureau, which manages the multi-billion dollar holdings of the monarchy and controls huge swathes of land in Bangkok, was placed under the king’s direct control in 2017. Its previous tax exempt status was then removed. 

But some of the king’s lands and establishments will now be exempt from tax, according to the new legislation published in the Royal Gazette on Friday.
Reuters then finally admits there is one "exception;" land not used for "non-profit" purposes, or in other words, land used for commercial purposes will be taxed.

Never mentioned throughout the entirety of Reuters' article is the fact that this is not a special exemption at all.

There is no property tax leveled against anyone using their property for private purposes. Property taxes are only collected in Thailand if property is used for commercial purposes.

A quick search online for "property taxes in Thailand" reveals numerous Thai-based law firms clearly explaining Thai property taxes, like this one from Thailand Law Online. It explains (my emphasis):
There are no general property taxes (capital tax on property imposed by the government) in Thailand, but real properties put to commercial use (residential houses not 'owner occupied' and commercial buildings) must under the Building and Land Tax Act pay a 'rental' tax at a rate of 12,5 % of the annual rental value or the annual assessed rental value, whichever is higher.
Thus, the new law places the King of Thailand under the same rules as all other Thais, and is if anything a forward-thinking reform.

Reuters capitalised on its readership's ignorance and trust, intentionally spinning the reform depicting it as an elitist "exemption" to smear Thailand and its institutions as part of a wider agenda to undermine and overthrow Thailand's current political order and replace it with one more pliable for US and European special interests.


"Human Right Activists" Celebrate Facebook-Twitter Censorship

July 27, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - All Facebook and Twitter accounts associated with Bangkok-based geopolitical analyst Tony Cartalucci have been deleted. The extent to which both American-based tech companies went to target Cartalucci could be seen in a recent Reuters article reporting on it. 


Written by Thai Reuters correspondent Patpicha Tanakasempipat, the article titled, "Facebook removes fake accounts from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Honduras," referred to the author claiming: 
The accounts removed in Thailand used “fictitious personas” to promote narratives about Thai politics, U.S.-China relations, protests in Hong Kong, and criticism of democracy activists in Thailand, Gleicher said. 

“We were able to determine conclusively that some of the activities of this network was linked to an individual based in Thailand associated with New Eastern Outlook, a Russian government-funded journal based in Moscow,” Gleicher said.
The article cited “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and hailed the move as countering "deceptive political propaganda."

No mention was made of how writing anonymously is "inauthentic behavior" nor were any examples provided of what was deemed "deceptive political propaganda" and why.



Matthew Tostevin, a Reuters correspondent also based in Southeast Asia and whose Twitter profile unironically invokes the hashtag, "Journalism is Not a Crime" celebrated the systematic, coordinated censorship, claiming in a tweet:
“Tony Cartalucci” Facebook and Twitter accounts inaccessible after Facebook said it had erased accounts of a network linked to “an individual based in Thailand associated with New Eastern Outlook, a Russian government-funded journal”.
The term "associated with" is often used to imply impropriety without providing any actual evidence of it. Tostevin's defence of Facebook-Twitter censorship fails to explain how getting paid to write articles is wrong, especially considering Tostevin himself makes his living doing precisely that for London-based Reuters.


Cambodia Warns of Foreign Regime Change "At Any Cost"

July 10, 2019 New Eastern Outlook

US and European-driven regime change efforts persist even in Asia where socioeconomic progress and stability have been on the rise. So persistent are these efforts that regional leaders have openly warned about them recently.


Reuters in its July 4th article, "Cambodian PM says those seeking 'regime change' risk return to war," would claim:
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose government is accused of suppressing human rights, said on Thursday that foreigners were risking returning his country to war through what he called stirring up turmoil and seeking regime change.
The article also stated (my emphasis):
Cambodia had risen from poverty to becoming a lower middle income country, and it aimed to graduate to the upper middle income by 2030 and high income by 2050, he said. But some groups and institutions maintained “a single political agenda of regime change at any cost”, Hun Sen added. 
Reuters would continue by reiterating claims that the current Cambodian government is guilty of a variety of abuses including "trying to silence dissent" according to "U.N. experts" and the European Union.

What Reuters omits from its article is that virtually every aspect of this "dissent" is funded and directed by Washington.

Cambodian Dissent is Made in America 

Just as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen alluded to, many of the "dissidents silenced" are media platforms literally run by foreigners. This includes the US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia as well as the previously American-owned and operated Cambodia Daily newspaper.

There are also political entities like the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) whose members regularly operate out of Washington D.C. itself.


CNRP leader Kem Sokha has openly admitted to Washington's role in propping up his party and its bid to seize power in Cambodia not through elections, but through the same sort of destructive colour revolutions that have swept through Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.


US vs China: Smartphone Wars

July 7, 2019 New Eastern Outlook  

If Washington's goal was to pressure and isolate China by targeting smartphone giant Huawei, it seems to have accomplished the exact opposite. In the process, the US has only accomplished in exposing its own growing weakness and unreliability as a trade partner amid a much wider, misguided and mismanaged "trade war."


While we're only talking about smartphones and economic competition, however fierce, the outcome of this smartphone battle amid a much wider trade war will have an impact on global power and who wields it in the years to come.

Losing Ungracefully  

By May 2019, Huawei had firmly climbed to the number two spot in global smartphone sales at the expense of US-based Apple. By the first quarter of 2019 it had shipped 59.1 million phones compared to Apple, now third place, at between 36-43 million phones, IDC (International Data Corporation) reported.

IDC and many other articles based on its data would note that while Huawei and Apple have traded places in the past over who held second place among global smartphone sales, Huawei's ascension this time seemed much more permanent.

Those watching the trajectory and inner workings of both tech giants will have noticed Apple's decline as endemic internal management problems coupled with growing global competition tattered its reputation and consumer appeal.

Was it just a coincidence that just as first quarter sales data emerged, the US announced one of its more dramatic turns amid its wider trade war with China? The Trump administration would announce a ban on all American-made goods to Huawei including microchips made by Intel and Qualcomm as well as the Android operating system (OS) made by US tech giant Google.

Coupled with this move was a public relations blitz across the US media and their partners working within nations moving closer to China. In Thailand, for example, local media trained and influenced by US interests attempted to undermine consumer confidence in Huawei in the wake of US sanctions against the company.

This one-two punch was a partial success. Sales did slump and Huawei was faced with significant obstacles. But significant obstacles are not the same as insurmountable obstacles, and overcoming obstacles is often how true competitors strengthen themselves.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger 

For Huawei, a tech giant integral to China's wider economic and political success upon the global stage, it has all the resources and support it needs to weather the toughest of storms.

In the wake of US sanctions, and even in the lead up to them, Huawei has begun to source critical parts from non-US companies. It is also investing significantly in its own in-house alternatives to US manufactured microchips and even in an alternative OS to replace Android.

Digital Trends in its article "Huawei’s Android-alternative operating system: Everything you need to know," helps illustrate just how determined Huawei is to overcome these obstacles.

The fact that work on the OS supposedly began as early as 2018 indicates that Huawei executives are under no illusions regarding American goodwill. If America is to play nicely with Huawei and other Chinese companies, it will be because Huawei and other Chinese companies took steps leaving the US no other choice but to do so.


Why is The Financial Times Smearing Thailand?

July 2, 2019 New Eastern Outlook 

Southeast Asia has become a defacto battleground for the wider war waged between the United States and an emerging China.


The nation of Thailand, possessing the second largest economy in ASEAN and a pivotal partner for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has just emerged from turbulent elections in which US-backed "pro-democracy" parties were defeated both at the polls and in parliament leaving Thailand's military-linked political party in control.

As previously warned, the United States has no intention of simply accepting the defeat of its political proxies in Thailand. Instead, it has shifted toward undermining political and economic stability.

The bulk of this effort comes in the form of the Western media and associated "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs) funded by the US and Europe but operating inside of Thailand.

An example encapsulating these efforts comes to us from the Financial Times. Its article, "Thailand remains the sick man of south-east Asia," published by "FT Confidential Research" attempts to portray Thailand as especially ailing economically.

Yet the narrative and graphs constituting the article are clearly manipulated to merely give the impression of a lagging economy, intentionally taking many facts out of context and dishonestly conflating different trends with Thailand's ongoing political developments.

While we all most likely understand the ability of influential media platforms to manipulate statistics to portray virtually any reality they wish to sell the public, it is still worth looking at just how FT does this in regards to Thailand and to understand why.