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  William Vocke    Special to The China Post
China, more strikingly than most nations, presents contrasting images to the world. Both are highlighted in recent news. The nation's rapidly expanding strategic military capabilities are ominous. Maritime disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and other nations punctuate such concern.
After three years of delay, the military trial of U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning for stealing and supplying to WikiLeaks masses of classified documents has finally begun. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once boasted his mission was to “crushing bastards,” and that he enjoyed the work.
Current maritime conflicts echo earlier wars, launched over history to control global commerce and territory, while underscoring the durable importance of traditional trade routes. Argentina, Britain, Brunei, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and other nations are involved in recent disputes. Less directly, the United States is also engaged.
The brutal continuing civil war in Syria now includes allegations that there has been use of poison gas by the Assad regime. Gas employed in war presents an especially horrifying specter, which in turn risks raising the stakes for both sides.
Pakistan's National Assembly elections on May 11 provided a significant victory to Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-N. Despite violence, turnout was approximately 60 percent. A peaceful power transition to this opposition party means progress from the nation's history of military coups.
The visit of President Park Geun-hye of South Korea to the White House on May 7 underscores the remarkable success and influence of her nation. Her election last December added one more name to the world's expanding roster of women leaders of nations.
The first challenge is corruption,” Ambassador Bernard Bajolet, representative of France to Afghanistan, stated as he completes this assignment and prepares to return to Paris for another post. Diplomats are generally paid to be discreet, polished and smooth — in short, diplomatic.
In pursuing current events as in playing cards, evaluating the wider atmosphere is as important as studying the specific hand one has been dealt.
North Korea's propaganda reference to the “venomous swish” of the skirt of South Korean President Park Geun-hye is loaded with symbolism, mostly unintended.
“A real and clear danger,” is how United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on April 3 described North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se have held a joint press conference in Washington to emphasize military and security partnership.
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