The West's Losing Battle for Hong Kong

June 24, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Another pivotal battle is being fought over Hong Kong between Beijing and political forces backed by the special administrative region's former British colonial masters.


At the heart of the battle is a proposed law that will allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.

The BBC in its article, "Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law," would claim:
Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong's freedoms.
By "critics," the BBC is referring to US and British-backed opposition, with the article specifically linking recent protests against the proposed law to the US-funded "Umbrella Movement" demonstrations in 2014.

The BBC would also remind readers of the conditions the British imposed on China as a condition of returning Hong Kong:
Under a policy known as "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs" for 50 years.
The BBC would also quote the last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, as if to dispel any doubts over how the fault lines of this most recent political controversy formed, and the interests really driving opposition to the recently proposed law.

Patten would claim the proposed law was, "an assault on Hong Kong's values, stability and security."

Hong Kong's "values, stability and security" in this context reflects Western desires to maintain the region as a foothold not only for its interests in Asia-Pacific, but within China itself. The slow, incremental erosion of Western influence in Hong Kong and elsewhere across Asia-Pacific appears to be ending what has been centuries of European and then American primacy over the region.

The West's Losing Battle for Hong Kong 

Colonised by the British Empire in the 1800s, Hong Kong served for over a century as an Anglo, then Anglo-American outpost in Asia-Pacific. Since its handover in 1997, Beijing has incrementally reasserted control over the territory.

More recently, as China rises economically and militarily, Hong Kong has served as an indicator of waning Anglo-American domination over China and its peripheries.

Beijing's strategy has been to avoid direct political confrontations with Hong Kong's dwindling US-funded opposition parties and to instead patiently develop surrounding territory, inundating Hong Kong with mainlanders who bring with them culture and politics aligned with Beijing and economic influence that is slowly displacing Western-leaning leftovers from British colonisation.

Beijing's completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the opening of a Hong Kong-mainland high-speed rail link, along with the subsequent political and media backlash from the US and UK are recent examples of major setbacks for Washington and London in this ongoing battle for influence and the West's ungraceful retreat amid it.

The extradition law, if passed, will set a precedence further eroding British demands imposed during the 1997 handover and will lead to an accelerated political and economic integration of Hong Kong.

Beijing is set to maintain many of Hong Kong's unique economic and political characteristics, as it has done with other regions across the mainland. But it is clear that it will do so on its own terms, as China's own interests require. It is also clear that digging out Anglo-American influence from Hong Kong, root and stem, drives China's side of this ongoing political struggle.

Despite the see-sawing nature of this struggle, unless global economic factors change drastically, China's continued rise along with the continued erosion of Washington's and London's unipolar international order all but ensures the inevitable and complete marginalisation of Western-backed political and economic forces based in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's gradual integration into Beijing's wider plans for China as a whole is a microcosm of what to expect in regards to other holdouts of Anglo-American influence, including those forces in Taiwan determined to continue using the island as a point of leverage for Washington against Beijing.

The degree of patience and fairness exhibited by or absent from Beijing's approach to Hong Kong will serve as an example either fostering cooperation across the rest of Asia, or aiding Western efforts to fuel paranoia and division across the region and around the world in a bid to contain China's further rise.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

US NED-Funded Meddling Exposed in The Philippines

June 22, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - With little else to offer the nations of Southeast Asia, the US has opted instead to wield the familiar and well-honed weapon of political subversion to peel potential partners away from Beijing in Washington's continued bid to rescue its waning primacy in Asia-Pacific.


The most recent manifestation of this can be seen in the Philippines where Manila has accused media front Rappler, founded by long-time CNN bureau chief Maria Ressa, and others of representing foreign interests and conspiring with foreign intelligence agencies in direct violation of the nation's constitution.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its defense of Rappler would claim:
First were the politically motivated state charges that funding provided to the news website Rappler by a U.S. philanthropic foundation represented a violation of constitutional provisions barring foreign control or ownership of Philippine media. 

Then came government allegations in April that journalists from independent media groups, including Rappler, the independent media organization VERA Files, and the non-profit Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, were involved in a conspiracy to discredit and oust President Rodrigo Duterte's elected government. All four outlets issued statements denying the allegation. 

Now, a pro-government media campaign claims that the same independent news outlets and the Philippine press freedom group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility are in the pay of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a potential criminal offense under local law.
The CPJ notes that all of the accused groups are openly and admittedly funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The CPJ admits (my emphasis):
All four outlets receive substantial grants from the NED. 

Funded largely by Congress, NED was founded in the early 1980s as a way for the U.S. to openly promote democracy worldwide by providing annual grants to non-governmental groups, according to its website.

The CPJ categorically fails to challenge what are the NED's own assertions that it is merely "promoting democracy worldwide."

NED: The Public Face of (Often Violent) US Regime Change 

The NED's board of directors includes individuals openly involved in US-backed regime change including in Iraq, Ukraine and ongoing US regime change efforts in Venezuela.

Board members including Francis Fukuyama and Elliott Abrams openly advocated the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 in which the government in Baghdad was toppled and its senior leadership murdered based entirely on now verified lies regarding supposed "weapons of mass destruction."

Elliott Abrams is listed on the NED's website as "On Leave," having been appointed as a US special envoy for Venezuela amid ongoing efforts to overthrow the government there.

The Guardian in an article titled, "US diplomat convicted over Iran-Contra appointed special envoy for Venezuela: Elliott Abrams, who was linked to failed coup against Chávez, to join Pompeo to urge security council to recognize Guaidó as head," would report:
Elliott Abrams was appointed US special envoy for Venezuela on Friday, as Donald Trump’s administration and European leaders on Saturday further increase the pressure on the socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, to step aside from leading the country he has taken into a deepening crisis. 

Abrams will accompany the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to a meeting of the UN security council in New York on Saturday, during which Pompeo will urge members to join the US in declaring Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate head of state.
The  Guardian also notes:
Abrams is widely remembered in Central America, but particularly from his time in the Reagan administration, when he tried to whitewash a massacre of a thousand men, women and children by US-funded death squads in El Salvador, when he was assistant secretary of state for human rights.
Other NED directors include Victoria Nuland who played a key role in leading US regime change efforts in Ukraine in 2014.

Reuters in its article, "Leaked audio reveals embarrassing U.S. exchange on Ukraine, EU," would admit:
A conversation between a State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine that was posted on YouTube revealed an embarrassing exchange on U.S. strategy for a political transition in that country, including a crude American swipe at the European Union. 
The article also admitted:
The audio clip, which was posted on Tuesday but gained wide circulation on Thursday, appears to show the official, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, weighing in on the make-up of the next Ukrainian government.
The convergence of senior US representatives openly and repeatedly involved in (often violent) regime change most certainly involving the CIA among myriad other US organisations within the halls of the NED is no coincidence.

The NED exists to promote regime change worldwide, merely under the guise of "promoting democracy worldwide."

The CPJ Defends US-funded Subversion Under Guise of "Press Freedom" 

The CPJ failed categorically to inform readers of facts surrounding the true nature of NED and its activities in its defence of Rappler.

This however should come as no surprise. The CPJ itself is yet another shell organisation likewise funded by US corporate foundations for the purpose of promoting US interests. The CPJ does this by protecting fronts like Rappler under the guise of "press freedom" from the repercussions of engaging in US government-funded subversion.


New Thai Government and America's Asia "Pivot"

June 18, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - After much uncertainty and a turbulent election, Thailand now has a new government led by its newly elected prime minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha. This bodes well for Thailand's stability and development as well as its growing ties with its ASEAN neighbours as well as with China.


For the US and its attempts to reassert "primacy" over Asia while encircling and containing the rise of China, the defeat of its "pro-democracy" proxies it is a nightmare.

The Western media, their media partners in Thailand and a small army of US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have decried the new government as a "dictatorship disguised as democracy."

Articles like, "Thailand Junta Leader Named Prime Minister After Contentious Vote," published by the New York Times, set the tone of the West's backlash against the newly formed government, citing unqualified claims like, "an election marred by charges of manipulation" or depicting the opposition as being "pro-democracy."

Absent from NYT articles and others across the Western media is any mention of who PM Prayuth Chan-o-Cha was really running against or why there was a coup in 2014 to begin with. This omission is deliberate, because its inclusion by the media would provide crucial context both justifying the coup and exposing the "pro-democracy" opposition as anything but.

Putting Things in Context 

PM Prayuth led a 2014 coup, ousting the regime of Yingluck Shinawatra, which in turn served merely as a front for convicted criminal, fugitive and US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra.

From 2001-2006, Shinawatra had loyally served US interests as Thai prime minister. He privatised Thailand's energy concerns which were promptly bought up by US and European oil corporations, committed Thai troops to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, invited the US Central Intelligence Agency to use Thai territory for its extraordinary rendition programme and even attempted to pass a US-Thai free trade agreement without parliamentary approval.

Additionally, Shinawatra carried out a brutal "war on drugs" which left over 2,800 innocent people dead in just 90 days and crippled free speech by suing, intimidating or outright killing critics, making him the worst human rights offender in Thailand's history. He also carried out sweeping abuses of power, including changing the nation's laws in order to sell his satellite concern, Shin Corp, to Singapore investors tax free.


For this and Shinawatra's attempts to illegally consolidate power by eliminating his rivals which include Thailand's military, courts and constitutional monarchy, it is clear why he himself was ousted in a coup in 2006 and his sister ousted in a similar coup in 2014.

Between 2006-2011 Shinawatra twice attempted to seize power by force, once in 2009 and again in 2010. The latter attempt included 300-500 heavily armed militants resulting in nearly 100 deaths and the destruction of several sections of Bangkok's downtown districts.

He has been convicted of corruption and sentenced to now 4 years in prison with multiple arrest warrants issued against him.

Despite being a fugitive, from 2011-2014 he openly ran his sister's government remotely from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

In recent elections, Shinawatra openly headed his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) along with several other "hedge parties" fielded in case any one of them was disbanded. In fact one, Thai Raksa Chart, was disbanded. Another, Future Forward, had its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit nominated as PM by Shinawatra's Pheu Thai itself.

The fact a fugitive is to this day running these parties remotely or its obvious implications, is entirely omitted across the Western media.


US-backed Agitators Go "Missing" in Asia - Why?

June 16, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The Western media along with multiple US and European funded "rights" groups have sounded the alarm over what they claim is a wave of assassinations and physical attacks on "activists."


The particular target of these claims is Thailand.

Articles like the Sydney Morning Herald's "'They sent an assassination squad': Thai exiles speak of life in fear," allege:
The attacks on Thai dissidents and pro-democracy activists are becoming increasingly violent and are being felt across ASEAN countries. And for political exiles who are critical of the monarchy –many of whom are wanted for lese-majeste or royal defamation – the attacks can be deadly.
 The article makes mention of those "deadly attacks," claiming:
On New Year's Eve, two bodies washed up on the banks of the Mekong River on the Thai-Laos border. They were gutted and stuffed with concrete to weigh them down, and were later identified as belonging to colleagues of Surachai Danwattananusorn, who has spent decades opposing the monarchy and military regimes. Surachai himself has been missing since December 12.
One problem with the Sydney Morning Herald's article is its omission of the fact that Surachai himself is a convicted murderer and belongs to a movement that readily uses violence. Another problem is that there is no evidence of who is behind these attacks or why.

What remains is the West's now all-too-familiar accusations of "human rights abuse" aimed at coercing yet another targeted nation. 

"Missing Activists" Support Violence, Sedition 

The Union for Civil Liberty, funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in a 1986 report would admit Surachai's role in various acts of politically-motivated violence including murder and arson.

The report admits:
Surachai led [an] angry mob of 30,000 to protect against the authorities; negligence of the flood victims in the province. The protest ended in the burning of the governor's residence. Surachai and 12 other people were detained but later released following the public pressure. 

Threatened with arrest and death, he took refuge in the junge areas under the control of the CPT [Communist Party of Thailand]. 

Surachai was reportedly involved in the stopping of the train by CPT forces. This resulted in the disappearance of 1.2 million baht (US$ 46,154) and the death of a policeman. He later fled the scene. 
Surachai, for his role in the murder was arrested, found guilty in a court of law and sentenced to death.

He was later pardoned by Thailand's king. The violence Surachai was involved in is now omitted completely from Western media coverage of him and others in his movement today, including the above cited Sydney Morning Herald article.

Now 77 years old, he turned from "communism" to supporting US proxy, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. His advanced age and exodus from Thailand rendered him useless. Surachai by remaining "alive" leaves him a spent force with a checkered past and serving only as dead weight for the movement. Being "killed" transforms this dead weight into a "martyr."

Other supposed "activists" who have fled abroad are either directly involved in or support Thailand's opposition headed by billionaire ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies. This includes his street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as "red shirts," who have carried out armed violence and terrorism since Shinawatra's removal from office in 2006.


In one episode in 2010, Shinawatra's red shirts would field between 300-500 heavily armed militants on the streets of Bangkok leading to violence that claimed nearly 100 lives and left entire sections of Bangkok destroyed by arson attacks.

Their penchant for violence isn't directed solely at Thailand's police, soldiers and civilians or their political enemies. It is often turned against themselves either through infighting, or through attempts to escalate political tensions by blaming the violence on Thailand's military or government.

Thus, these "missing activists" could just of likely have fallen victim to their own circle of violent agitators, specifically to provoke the political pressure now being placed on Thailand's government by Western media outlets and "rights" organisations.

Where is the Evidence? 

The other problem with the Sydney Morning Herald's article is that there is no evidence. In fact, the article literally says, "there is no evidence..."


Convenient "Tanker Attacks" as US Seeks War with Iran

June 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO)
...it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it.  
- Brookings Institution, "Which Path to Persia?" 2009  
For the second time since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, Western reports of "suspected attacks" on oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz have attempted to implicate Iran.



The London Guardian in an article titled, "Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman," would claim:
Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.
The article also claimed:
Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year. 

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.
The Guardian would admit that "investigations" into the previous alleged attacks in May carried out by the UAE found "sophisticated mines" were used, but fell short of implicating Iran as a culprit.

The article would note US National Security Advisor John Bolton would - without evidence - claim that Iran "was almost certainly involved."

All Too Convenient 

This news of "attacked" oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz blamed by the US on Iran - comes all too conveniently on the heels of additional steps taken by Washington to pressure Iran's economy and further undermine the Iranian government.

The US just recently ended waivers for nations buying Iranian oil. Nations including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India will now face US sanctions if they continue importing Iranian oil.

Coincidentally, one of ships "attacked" this week was carrying "Japan-related cargo," the Guardian would report.

Also convenient was the US' recent designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) just ahead of this series of provocations attributed to Iran.

AP in a May 2019 article titled, "President Trump Warns Iran Over 'Sabotaged' Oil Tankers in Gulf," would claim:
Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.
Two ships allegedly were Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian. The article also claimed:
A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.
And that:
The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran. 
This more recent incident will likely be further exploited by the US to continue building up its military forces in the region, applying pressure on Iran, and moving the entire globe closer toward war with Iran.

The US has already arrayed its forces across the Middle East to aid in ongoing proxy wars against Iran and its allies as well as prepare for conventional war with Tehran itself.

All of this amounts to a renewed push toward a more direct conflict between the United States and Iran after years of proxy war in Syria Washington-backed forces have decisively lost.

It is also a continuation of long-standing US foreign policy regarding Iran put into motion over a decade ago and carried out by each respective presidency since.

Washington's Long-Standing Plans 

Continued sanctions and the elimination of waivers are part of Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the "Iran Nuclear Deal." The deal was signed in 2015 with the US withdrawing in 2018.