North Korea’s patrician reformer, Chang Song-thaek, has been sacked, making the country more inward-looking and unpredictable. Its ally China has been openly pitting itself against Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines and by proxy the United States. It’s an odd and dangerous line-up for rebalancing the Asia-Pacific.
For the past few years, I’ve had a seat at the far corner of a large table in the production of a low-budget British romantic film Day of the Flowers. Having witnessed the exasperation, complexities, dogged stoicism, persistence and hair-tearing challenges of the film industry, it is so, so good to read the reviews after its release this weekend that I have to share them.
Engaging and lively. Eva Birthistle shines – Observer
Sparky performances – The Independent
Birthistle is ….gritty, complex Evening Standard
Surprising and heartfelt…. touching and original depictions of female complexity. Little White Lies
Colourful and wryly humorous — Radio Times
Closer to Mamma Mia than Marx – Guardian
The real romance here is between the camera and the beautiful streets of Cuba – Total Film
The movie looks fantastic….drenched in sunlight and with a fabulous Cuban soundtrack – Female First
The star has to be Carlos Acosta…it would be good to see more of him on the big screen. – The Film Review,
Engaging performances, a terrific sound track—View London
Cuba really does look gorgeous…Wakefield’s a lot of fun to watch. – Contact Music
Fast moving and punchy…no time to get bored – Britflicks
An original idea, cleverly executed. Cine Vue
An infectious soundtrack and stunning performances by Acosta and Simpson – The Upcoming
A charmer of a drama from John Roberts – Scottish Herald
Word here in East Asia is that an old Chinese war game – the slow cooking of frogs — is being played out as China edges more and more into the East and South China seas. If you put a frog in boiling hot water, he will lash out and fight you and try to survive. But if you cook him slowly in warm water, he will enjoy the comfortable environment and won’t even realise he’s being cooked. Then, when you eat him, he will taste much better.
Two days after showing off its stealth drone to the world, China has announced an air defence zone over a contested area of the East China Sea including the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands disputed between Japan and China. Any aircraft entering the zone must obey Beijing’s rules or face ‘emergency defensive measures.” Aircraft must report a flight plan, “maintain two-way radio communications”, and “respond in a timely and accurate manner” to identification inquiries. The map below shows the large area that brushes against the territorial waters of Japan and South Korea both of which have defence agreements with the United States. China is adopting a salami-slicing policy over the East and South China Seas – a little bit here, a little bit there — with the aim over the decades of taking control. But the threat to fire on aircraft and focusiing on Japan, unpredictably ups the stakes. The ‘hotlines’ between China and Beijing are no where near the sophistication of those used by the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, yet this has now become a Cold War scenario.
When Democracy Kills: What’s So Good About The Vote came out in 2009, I lost two long-time friends who hinged their view on 9/11 and refused the debate. It was difficult topic to discuss anywhere in the West. Now, with the latest militia killings in Libya and Egypt’s military reversing electoral choice, people can’t get enough of of it. It is dangerously naive to strip away dictatorship and expect peace. Democracy represents hope and fairness. It is not a system of government.
When covering a cyclone in Bangladesh in 1991 (100,000 dead), an exasperated businessman asked why do storms destroy buildings in Bangladesh and not in Florida? Why do tens of thousands die here and not there? It turned out that aid money to build a network of cyclone shelters got syphoned off as did funds for early warning systems and roads. A week on, it’s time to ask the same in the Philippines.
What is going on in the mind of China? As the Philippines screams for help, it offers a paltry US$100,000. Yet its ambition is to be the Asia-Pacific power with control over the South China Sea. — a key lesson on how not to win hearts and minds.
Mark Urban on BBC Newsnight ….”nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.” http://bbc.in/1aFiHjX
Dragon Strike on free promotion and this is who ended up with on the Amazon free list — 1) Marx, 2) Engels, 3) Hawksley….
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says its’ being asked to adopt a more assertive leadership role in Asia to counter the growing power of China, saying there were “concerns that China was trying to change the status quo by force, rather than by the rule of law”. Relations between China and Japan have been strained over recent years. China has given a warning that it would be ‘an act of war’ if Japan shot down an unmanned drone that entered it’s air space.