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Geopolitics: How the real world works.

WE live in a time where immediate news is followed by instant analysis, followed by more news, then analysis in a cycle of 'wash, rinse, repeat' that seems to never end. There are two problems with this.

The first is that the speed at which the information hits us does not allow for any sort of in depth look at the topic. Last week-while only two local news outlets picked up on it-the Canadian Senate passed a motion criticizing China for its aggressive and expansive behavior in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Local social media immediately and aggressively commented that Canada was challenging China more so than the Philippines. That may or may not be true. But there is a deeper reality.

The motion itself means little because it has no legal effect on the Canadian government and is nonbinding. Further, that motion has been sitting in the Canadian Senate for two years and had not been acted upon.

The motion itself was sponsored by Canadian Sen. Thanh Hai Ngo who, during the 1970s, held a relatively high office in the South Vietnamese government as political bureau chief at the Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, and representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. He was also an officer in the South Vietnam military. It is more than likely he still has contacts within the Vietnamese government.

As an interesting coincidence-or not-the resolution was announced almost simultaneously with Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman, saying that China has seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty by installing military jamming equipment on outposts at the Spratly Islands.

Further, the leader of the opposition to the resolution is another senator -all of whom are appointed, not elected-Yuen Pau Woo, originally from Malaysia. Woo in the private sector was president of HQ Vancouver and of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Both are focused in bringing Asian investment to Western Canada primarily from-you guessed it-China.

China, of course, has gone ballistic at the Senate resolution, which also comes at the same time that Canada is opening trade negotiation with China and needs whatever leverage it can find. Things are never what they appear to be.

The second problem with 'speed of the news' is that it keeps our memories short term.

There are those that are commentating that the breakthrough in North/South Korean relations is all because of the Winter Olympics that saw joint NoKor/SoKor participation. Except, North Korea had rejected the idea many times when first proposed before June 2017. The agreement to join was only made on January 9, 2018, exactly one month before the Olympics started. Also of interesting coincidence is that less than a week prior to that announcement, US President Donald J. Trump said about Kim Jong Un: 'Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works!'

That was also after Trump tightened-with China's acceptance if not approval-economic sanction on North Korea and put the 'rogue' nation back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in November 2017.

Geopolitics is like magic show. The magician raises his right arm high into the air and waves his hand so you will not notice the rabbit hidden in his left coat pocket. The average person believes it is all true. The press and media are often like the magician's assistants, who may be pretty to look at but is really there to make the magic show better so more tickets are sold.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Apr 29, 2018
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