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  William Vocke    Special to The China Post
There is no doubt that the Sewol ferry disaster was one of the hottest issues in the June 4 local elections. As the campaigns heated up in the final days of campaigning, however, the usual smear tactics and other typical ills of electioneering reared their ugly head.
A passing phase or a dangerous and permanent strategic challenge to Asian stability for years to come? That, in a nutshell, is the debate about China's current behavior in the South China Sea, which appears almost deliberately designed to provoke most of the region's nations.
Last autumn, half a year after assuming office as China's president, Xi Jinping invoked the ancient Silk Road of the Han dynasty 2,000 years ago and called for the forging of contemporary trading routes. In Kazakhstan, he urged the creation of a modern-day “Silk Road Economic Belt,” stretching from China into Europe. The following month, in Indonesia, he called for the building of a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century.”
In the end, the loss of life and damage could have been much, much higher. But make no mistake about it, the storming of the Karachi airport on Sunday night by militants claimed by the outlawed TTP is a devastating psychological blow. Once again, the terrorists have demonstrated their reach and skill.
China disdainfully brushed aside on Friday Philippine government reports of new Chinese land reclamation on reefs in the South China Sea.
Unlike our previous infamous coups, the May 22 fait accompli has been a blessing in disguise as it has torn down literally all possible pretences related to Thai-U.S. relations, the region's oldest partnership. It also laid bare the fragility and vulnerability of the friendship. Views that went viral online or in newspaper headlines revealed what the Thais — the elite and common folks — thought about their supposed all-weather friend.
The rise of the Crimea conflict and territorial disputes in the South China Sea suddenly raise the specter that warfare may no longer be a thing of the past. After all, politics is cultural mixing without violence and war is cultural mixing with violence.
If anybody visits the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Masada in Israel, they will be awed by the story of its fall after a long siege laid by a Roman Legion in A.D. 73. All 960 Jews besieged in their mountain top fortress committed mass suicide, as did hundreds of Japanese women and children who jumped off Saipan's “Banzai Cliff” to death in the sea below before the eyes of awestricken U.S. leathernecks in 1944.
The telecom hills are alive with the sounds of mergers, with two at crescendo. In February, Comcast agreed to purchase Time Warner for US$45 billion. AT&T last month announced its purchase of DirecTV, which if confirmed is valued at approximately US$48.5 billion. Other possible deals provide background music, including a Sprint-T-Mobile merger.
Hundreds of journalists have met Somaly Mam, a Cambodian who has waged an unceasing campaign against the trafficking of young girls for commercial sex. I got to know her back in October 2011.
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