Monday, September 19, 2016

The Acme of Skill

Ashley Townsend on how to block Chinese encroachment in the South China Sea without forcing them into a corner:

Given that China has yet to begin reclamation work on Scarborough Shoal, or to deploy military assets to its existing outposts, concerned nations like the US and Australia could issue deterrent threats in advance for greater effect. 
Australia, for instance, could commit to launching freedom of navigation operations – either alone or with the US – if China proceeded with any of these initiatives. Another possibility could be to outline a plan to chaperone Southeast Asian coastguards or fishing boats in the event that China returned to more overtly coercive tactics in disputed waters. 
Such threats should be communicated privately, so as to reduce the audience costs that Beijing would face domestically for conceding ground in the South China Sea.

Sher Alam Shinwari describes the impending blowback from Pakistan's expulsion of Afghan refugees:
(Civil society and rights activists) say that sudden repatriation of Afghan refugee would only fill Afghans with bitter memories despite the fact that Pakistan (provided them with aid). 
Experts believe that forced repatriation of Afghan refugees will backfire in deep socio-economic impacts on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. They are of the opinion that in early 80s after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the mass exodus from the neighbouring country into Pakistan created many social, political and economic problems for local people and the government.

Now out of power, Myanmar's military-backed USDP party is fracturing. Seth Aung Myint:
The dispute came to a head last August. As party chairman, Shwe Mann had control of the selection of election candidates. A USDP news conference in Nay Pyi Taw on August 12 was told that Thein Sein would not be among the party’s candidates. The response came within hours. During a midnight meeting at USDP headquarters in the capital, Shwe Mann was ousted as party chairman in a putsch that saw his factional supporters also removed from leading positions in the party. 
Despite Thein Sein and his supporters regaining control of the party, they were well aware that most members of its central executive and central committees were factional supporters of Shwe Mann. A minor reshuffle at last month’s party conference, at which Thein Sein unexpectedly relinquished the chairmanship, would not have resolved the factional rift. The reshuffle was aimed at providing the final solution to the factional conflict.

Finally, Maher Sattar on how Thailand's impending turnabout on drug policy will stand out in the region:
General Paiboon Koomchaya, Thailand's justice minister, has becoming increasingly vocal in his view that the country's drug policy "has been wrong the whole time", and has been calling for drug abuse to be treated as a health issue, instead of a crime. 
To get a sense of how unusual this is, compare this with nearby Philippines, where most estimates of the death toll from Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs have now passed 3,000. 
At least 1,500 people have been killed in the Philippines by the police themselves - the rest by vigilantes inspired by Duterte's hard-talking, no-quarter stance on drugs.

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