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Jun 15

New Asian alliance

Here’s something we didn’t get to hear about: in Playing the new Great Game in Asia and beyond, Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies in New Delhi, says,

A nifty new enterprise to discuss security dangers in the Asia-Pacific and evolve a coordinated approach – the Quadrilateral Initiative - has kicked off with an unpublicized first meeting. U.S., Japanese, Indian and Australian officials, at the rank of assistant secretary of state, quietly met recently on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) gathering in Manila…

…Today, major powers don’t wish to make a similar mistake over China’s rapid rise. Given the new fluidity, all important players, including China, are maneuvering for strategic advantage through new equations and initiatives. Just as China, for the first time since the Ming Dynasty, is pursuing security interests and seeking allies far from its shores, other powers are working to build new equations and partnerships….

The “quad” is just one of several initiatives currently being developed in the Asia-Pacific. Yet its preliminary first meeting was not made known for fear of raising China’s hackles…

…just because Washington, New Delhi, Canberra and Tokyo are coming together to build a four-way arrangement based on shared values and interests doesn’t mean that they intend to jointly countervail China. Such a mechanism, at best, can give the four countries extra leverage with Beijing as part of a common desire to ensure that the fast-rising Chinese power does not slide into arrogance. The fact is that for each quad member, a stable, mutually beneficial relationship with Beijing is critical to national interest.

Relevant articles on China: China’s House Cleaning is Just Skin Deep and Karl Marx is back, and punting on Chinese stocks, which presents a cautionary note on the booming Chinese stock market:

What’s so amazing about the surge in the benchmark CSI 300 Index is that everyone knows it’s a bubble and regardless, fresh money flows into shares. China’s companies may lack transparency, but its investors sure don’t. Quite transparently, they’re rolling the dice in the world’s hottest casino.

Just as a 9.2-percent plunge on February 27 was seen as a buying opportunity, Monday’s 7.7-percent drop merely brought new demand into the market. It’s a bubble, and legions of Chinese workers opening investment accounts don’t care…

…There can be little doubt China’s government, armed with $1.2 trillion of currency reserves, will step in to stabilize the market if it really crashes. Hong Kong did it in the late 1990s with few lasting side effects. And Japan rarely shies away from financial socialism when the Nikkei 225 Stock Average plunges.

Expect similar steps in China. For now, new investors hoping to strike it rich are propping up stocks like some huge, multimillion-person pyramid scheme. Such manias work out for those who get in early. It’s those who join late that often experience big losses. And make no mistake – this will end badly for many.

Now how do you think the Philippines is prepared (or not) to take this emerging bloc into consideration? Specially with our government’s cozying up to China?

Two articles in Foreign Affairs: A New Deal for Globalization and How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.

Here at home: Filipinos are more optimistic about their quality of life. Even as hope springs eternal, Exports rise 8.1% in first 4 mos. to $16.3B but Export growth slowed to 5% in April-NSO. However, Philippine jobless rate as of April 7.4% vs 8.2% a yr-ago (and I suppose no one cares how employment’s defined). And by the way: Moody’s sez, RP debt ratios still too high.

Trillanes proclaimed; he says he will inquire into political murders. Blogger Willie Galang is unimpressed. Trillanes should perhaps take a look at how Indonesian Shootings Could Force Military Reform.

A meeting of the President’s Kampi was supposed to take place in the Palace today. Agenda? Supposedly oath-taking by new members. Probably more, behind the scenes. Meanwhile, cabinet intramurals go public: Claudio, Puno et al. on way out a cabinet deep throat says. Meanwhile, confusion reigns among cabinet members as to whether they’re supposed to resign or not -some fear even courtesy resignations might make the market jittery.

From the point of view of Amando Doronila, a cabinet revamp could be an encouraging sign:

…the President has, without having to say it, heeded the unmistakable mandate resoundingly expressed by the election results for the Senate, more than the results for the House of Representatives and local posts. The mandate is that: It’s time for change, not only of the entire Cabinet, but more so of policies, involving national security, human rights abuses and financial and economic matters — the key areas on which the administration was pilloried during the last election.

The total revamp signals a rare dawning of humility, of bowing to the sovereign will by an administration whose stock in trade during the past six years has been arrogance and pushing to the limits the arbitrary use of power. It also tacitly recognized that the midterm elections were a referendum on the Arroyo administration.

He says the whole thing could turn the tables on the opposition:

Such sensitivity to pubic opinion and electoral mandate is surely bound to be appreciated by the public. It can be interpreted as an honest effort at political reconciliation and opens the shutters for a fresh blast of the winds of policy revision.

The revamp is a political masterstroke in timing. It didn’t wait for the proclamation by the Commission on Elections on the final election results. It thus stole the thunder from the proclamation. It handed the President the opportunity to regain the initiative and the key to convert an electoral disaster into an advantage. It came at a time when the economy, acting independently of political uncertainty and turmoil, was showing signs of an economic turnaround.

The Inquirer editorial says it all depends on who ends up in or out. This news item has more significance than meets the eye: Palace lawyer revives call for PCGG abolition.

In the blogosphere, Uniffors reminds us why it’s a good thing there’s now a canonical age for retirement for prelates (the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila reaches his this year).

Philippine Commentary looks at the Estrada trial and the former president’s fall from power, and asks: what matters more, to be right, or to be fair?

Village Idiot Savant tries to come to grips with Rizal.

Ang Kape ni Lattex looks into an emerging dynamic in call centers: Filipinas getting all flirty with their foreign bosses.

And because it’s the weekend: watch Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the Tony Awards!

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103 comments

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  1. cvj

    UPn Student, since you yourself are an OFW (or equivalent), i take your observations in the spirit of self-criticism.

  2. Bencard

    devils, re your “piggy city” yarn, sorry but i have no patience for such nonesense, i’m a grown up man and i can’t tolerate crude satires (kuno). besides, i don’t know what, or who, in hell are you talking about.

  3. jonphil

    devilsadvc8 :

    “manolo must’ve been such a seer by forseeing this as Gloria et al’s end. roast queen anyone?”

    Where & WHEN?

    At least, Nostradamus specified a time line than merely lickin’/hypin’ someone’s glASS.

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