US Decries Chinese High-Speed Rail in Laos

April 24, 2018 New Eastern Outlook  

China's plans to build high-speed rail connecting Kunming in its Yunnan province with the rest of Southeast Asia are already underway. In the landlocked nation of Laos, tunnels and bridges are already under construction.


The United States has, in general, condemned China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) sweeping infrastructure programme, with US and European policy circles accusing Beijing of what they call "debt trap diplomacy."

Quartz in an article titled, "Eight countries in danger of falling into China’s “debt trap”," would claim:
Beijing “encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth,” said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 6. “Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries,” he added.
The report continued, stating:
Some call this “debt-trap diplomacy“: Offer the honey of cheap infrastructure loans, with the sting of default coming if smaller economies can’t generate enough free cash to pay their interest down.
While nations should protect themselves from the dangers of being indebted to foreign interests, the US and supposedly international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are hardly innocent of wielding debt as a geopolitical weapon themselves.


Future of Asia: China's Economic Opportunities or America's Perpetual Conflict?

April 21, 2018 New Eastern Outlook 

The US recently announced possible plans to deploy thousands of addition US Marines to East Asia as part of the recently revealed 2018 National Security Strategy which designates China along with Russia as the US Department of Defence's "principal priorities."


The Business Insider in its article, "The US is considering sending heavily armed Marines to Asia to counter China," would state:
The possible MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] deployments could reassure Asian allies that the US is not a waning power in the region, something that has become a concern for partners in the Indo-Pacific.

However, if a nation needs to arrange a token redeployment to convince its allies it isn't a waning power, such gestures seem to only confirm such suspicions.

China is the New "Threat"  

Within the pages of the 2018 National Security Strategy, the US has justified its increasingly direct, adversarial posture towards China by claiming:
China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
The document continues:
China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.

The paper also makes mention of what it calls an "international order," a reoccurring theme throughout several decades of US policy papers. While this particular paper claims it is "free and open" and "rules-based," other papers have more candidly described it.


Prolific US policymaker and neoconservative pro-war commentator Robert Kagan would claim:
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. 
In other words, the "international order" is merely the world as the US sees fit. US policy in Asia, attempting to maintain hegemony in a region a literal ocean away from its own shores validates Kagan's interpretation of what "international order" actually means. It is neither "free and open" nor "rules-based" unless it is understood that the world is considered "free and open" for Washington to do with as it pleases, with "rules" used only to constrain the actions of others in order to prevent competition.


Vietnam Locks up US-funded Agitators

April 11, 2018 New Eastern Outlook  

Vietnam has tried and imprisoned several members of a US-funded network engaged in sedition across the country. The move follows  trials and prison terms handed out earlier this year for other US-funded operatives meddling in Vietnam's internal political affairs. 


The prison terms for agents of US-funded political meddling in Vietnam come as the US and its European allies continue pushing accusations of Russian meddling. However, unlike the US and Europe's accusations against Russia, agents of US-funded sedition in Vietnam are exposed by extensive evidence, much of which comes from the US government itself. 

The BBC in its April 6, 2018 article, "Nguyen Van Dai: Vietnam jails activist lawyer and five others," would claim:
Six prominent Vietnamese activists have received heavy prison sentences on charges of "attempting to overthrow" the country's communist government. 

Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years, while the other defendants were jailed for between seven and 12 years, relatives said on Thursday.
The article mentions Nguyen Van Dai and his fellow defendants' role in founding the so-called "Brotherhood for Democracy."

Deutsche Welle in its article, "Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai among six given jail terms," adds that:
Dai founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam in 2006 and was sentenced to five years in jail in 2007 for spreading propaganda against the government. While his term was reduced to four years on appeal, his lawyer's license was revoked. 

After his release in 2011, Dai co-founded the Brotherhood for Democracy network in 2013. It included other, formerly jailed dissidents advocating via social media for human rights throughout Vietnam.
DW would also report (our emphasis):
They were all accused of "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's government," according to the indictment issued by the Supreme People's Procuracy in Hanoi last December. The charges included carrying out human rights training, calling for multi-party democracy and receiving funding from foreign groups.

The BBC, DW and other US and European media organisations went through extensive efforts to avoid mentioning US training, funding and other forms of support provided to Nguyen Van Dai and other recently arrested and jailed "activists." The defendants' various website also fail to directly and openly disclose their funding.

However, admissions have been inadvertently made.


Exposing and Stopping the Danger of US "Soft Power"

March 21, 2018 New Eastern Outlook  

US soft power is included in US policy papers and promoted by US politicians and diplomats on a regular basis. It is also included as the admitted purpose of US, UK and European international programmes like Chevening and Fulbright scholarships.


Foreign Affairs magazine, published by big-business-funded US policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, would reveal in a review of Joseph Nye's book, "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics," that (my emphasis):
...the term "soft power" -- the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion -- is now widely invoked in foreign policy debates.
The United States can dominate others, but it has also excelled in projecting soft power, with the help of its companies, foundations, universities, churches, and other institutions of civil society; U.S. culture, ideals, and values have been extraordinarily important in helping Washington attract partners and supporters.
And in reality, US domination and its soft power work together to create what is modern day empire and the foundation of US global hegemony.

The United States' many organisations, from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to its Young Leaders Initiatives targeting the Americas (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative/YLAI), Africa (Young African Leaders Initiative/YALI) and Southeast Asia (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative/YSELAI), all seek to indoctrinate and co-opt the populations of targeted nations to serve the interests of Wall Street and Washington rather than their own.

While the US does this often under the guise of promoting "democracy," it is clearly engaged in precisely the opposite. While democracy is generally understood as a process of self-determination, through US soft power, the process is co-opted and abused to allow Wall Street and Washington to determine the policies and direction a targeted nation takes rather than its own people.


Fake News Storm Clouds Gather Over Southeast Asia

March 10, 2018 New Eastern Outlook 

From Cambodia to Thailand American and European media companies have launched a campaign of disinformation aimed at reversing Washington's waning influence in the region vis-à-vis not only Beijing, but the growing strength of nations the US and Europe once saw as mere geopolitical pawns.

Cambodia Expels US-Run Opposition Party and Media 

In Cambodia, articles depicting the government as having trampled free speech and democracy are in direct response to Phnom Penh's decision to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headed by Kem Sokha who now resides in jail. The media storm also follows the Cambodian government's decision to shut down US government funded propaganda networks posing as local, independent news organisations.


This includes Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, both funded and directed out of Washington D.C., not anything resembling independent, local political interests in Cambodia itself.

A good example of this disinformation campaign comes from Voice of America Khmer itself in an article titled, "U.S. Cutting Aid to Cambodia for Recent Democratic Setbacks." The article claims:
In its annual World Report, the rights group said the government, controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party for more than three decades, disbanded the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and arrested its leader on questionable treason charges. The dissolution came after a ruling the CNRP was involved in an attempt to overthrow Hun Sen's regime. 
However, what VOA calls "questionable treason charges" are never explored further in the article. The charges stem from CNRP leader Kem Sokha himself being caught on video openly admitting to conspiring with the US government to seize power in Cambodia.


Confirmed US Meddling in Thailand's Upcoming Elections

February 21, 2018 New Eastern Outlook

As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.


This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:
Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections.

Yet despite this straightforward necessity to delay elections, the United States and its European partners have repeatedly demanded rushed elections. Additionally, the US and its European partners are funding myriad opposition fronts ranging from media platforms to street protests to place pressure on the current Thai government to rush elections while it is believed Shinawatra and PTP still have a chance of winning.


New Year, New Turmoil as US Targets Thailand

January 27, 2018 New Eastern Outlook

Washington's Asia-Pacific strategy has gone from maintaining primacy over the region for decades to increasingly desperate attempts to salvage its now waning influence.


This is in part due to China's rise as an economic, military and political regional power as well as the increasing self-reliance of smaller but still pivotal Asian nations. This includes the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand.  

In Washington' Shadow 

The height of contemporary US influence over Thailand was in 2001 when Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister. His administration eagerly catered to US interests at Thailand's own expense, including sending Thai troops to participate in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, hosting the US Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition programme on Thai soil, attempts to sign a US-Thai free trade agreement without approval of Thailand's parliament and the privatisation of Thailand's natural resources.

He also indulged in a wide spectrum of human rights abuses including a 2003 90 day "war on drugs" that left nearly 3,000 innocent people extrajudicially executed in the streets, a 2004 crackdown on protesters in Thailand's restive deep south that left over 80 dead in a single day, the assassination or disappearance of his political opponents and a concerted campaign of fear and intimidation waged against the Thai media.

Image: Thaksin Shinawatra, since fleeing the country after a criminal conviction, has led protests and election campaigns remotely by telephone and video ever since.

By 2006, Shinawatra had overreached in his ambitions. Between increasingly bold attempts to consolidate his power and the abuse of that power, the Thai military was finally prompted to oust him from office in a swift and bloodless coup.

In the aftermath, he would be convicted for corruption and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. Rather than face jail, he fled Thailand and has attempted to run his political party remotely as a fugitive since.