AN: Tension in the China Seas: Asia’s Cold War?

China says most of the East and South China Sea belongs to them. ASEAN members and Japan take exception with that territorial claim. Is Asia heading towards a new Cold War? It’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

In the Asia-Pacific region, one of the situations many find troubling is that surrounding the territorial battles regarding the East and South China Seas. Ever since China unveiled its nine-dash line, which it says offers historical evidence that the area is inherently there’s, we’ve seen several high profile events with neighboring nations.

China and Vietnam this summer squared off in the South China Sea when China moved an oil rig into Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Vietnamese fishing and Coast Guard vessels were sunk or damaged, and citizens rioted in the streets, damaging Chinese factories. The United States and Japan both have had their aircraft buzzed by Chinese fighters while on patrol.

During the United States’ recent Valiant Shield 2014 exercise in the region, host Steve Miller spoke with RAND Corporation political Analyst Scott Harold and asked him if he thought the area was entering a new “Cold War” in the area and if he thought we might have to face a crucial event, before all parties stepped back to ease tensions.

It was also recently reported in the Mainichi newspaper citing “Japanese government sources” that China and Japan might be planning to meet and negotiate a solution to competing claims over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The sources claim Prime Minister Abe would reassert to President Xi during their meeting that the Senkakus are an inherent part of Japanese territory. However, Abe would then acknowledge that China has a case as well, and finally propose settling the issue through mutual dialogue over time.

If true, it would go a long way to help resolve some tension in the area, but for now, there’s been confirmation of any high level meetings.

What do you see in your crystal ball for the South and East China Seas?

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TAB: Occupy Central Continues, Bodies Recovered From Japanese Volcano, PhiBlex Begins

Today's Asia Brief includes updates on Occupy Central's protest in Hong Kong, rescue efforts on Japan's Mt. Ontake, and start of PhiBlex.

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, September 30, 2014, and this is The Asia Brief.

Tens of thousands of Occupy Central protesters continue to cripple Hong Kong, digging in deeper and fortifying their conviction to obtain the right to freely choose their own officials without interference from Beijing. Hong Kong officials pulled back deployed riot police on Monday, handing those assembled a victory of sorts and boosting morale. A protest on this scale is unprecedented in Hong Kong and neither side can afford to back down.

The bodies of five more hikers were found under the ash on the slopes of Mt. Ontake in Japan, bringing the death toll to 36. More than 200 soldiers and firefighters, including units with gas detection equipment, were part of the search mission near the peak, but they had to pull back because of toxic gas.

The Philippines and the United States have launched an annual military exercise in the South China Sea. The Philippine Bilateral Exercises, or “Phi-blex is comprised of about 5000 troops from both nations.

Thank you for joining me today. Follow the Asia News Weekly Twitter and Facebook feeds for more news throughout the day.

The Asia Brief is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



Asia News

Photo Credit: Jeff Widener, AP

Find out what’s happening in the Asia-Pacific region with Asia News Weekly. Here are the stories featured on the June 6th edition:

•    Remembering Tiananmen Square and Code Talkers (00:30)
•    The China Sea (2:47)
•    Thai Elections? (5:57)
•    Japan-North Korea deal (9:14)
•    South Korean sentenced in North Korea (13:03)
•    Unrest in Indonesia (15:24)
•    Protests in Macau (17:39)

You can find all the sources here.

Don’t for get that you can also listen to the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and TuneIn. If you know of someone who’s interested in Asia, please share the podcast with them.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

May 16, 2014 – Asia News Weekly

asia news

The May 16th edition of the Asia News Weekly Podcast discusses the following stories:

•    Thailand Update (0:30)
•    China Sea dispute updates (3:42)
•    Sewol Ferry (6:47)
•    North Korea Nuke Test (9:46)
•    US To fly Drones to monitor DPRK and China (12:37)
•    Japan’s Collective Self-Defense (14:26)
•    Korea to Pilot Telemedicine (17:14)

Links to all the stories can be found at While there be sure to share your thoughts by leaving them on the podcast page, Facebook, or by tweeting them to @AsiaNewsWeekly. You can reach the show by e-mailing

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Portland’s Japanese Garden

If you’re in the US, there are no shortages of destinations and attractions to see. Our recent stopover in Portland, Oregon was no exception. We chose Portland because our friends from Korea moved back to their hometown and to pop in with the 3 Non Joggers. While exploring our surroundings, we discovered our Guesthouse was a short distance away from the Portland Japanese Garden, rumored to be the best Japanese style garden outside of Japan. With a boast like that, we had to make a stop.

: portland-japanese-garden-qiranger


Located adjacent to the Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden began as an initiative between the city and Sapporo, Japan in 1963. Four years later, the garden opened and now sees more than 225,000 visitors annually. Takuma Tono oversaw the garden’s initial development and served as the original director. Now, nearly 50 years later, its ninth director oversees the Portland Japanese Garden. It is this team that manages the 5.5 acre property and provides numerous artistic and cultural events throughout the year.

Japanese Garden(s)

When looking at the website or a map, you’ll see the area listed as “The Japanese Garden.” It’s a bit of a misnomer, since the grounds actually contain five different types of Japanese style gardens. They consist of the Strolling Pond, Tea, Natural, Sand & Stone, and Flat Gardens. These gardens embody what the designers consider to be essential elements for Japanese Gardens: stone, representing bones; water, the giver of life; plants, the “tapestry of the four seasons.” Pagodas, lanterns, and bridges dot the landscape drawing visitors into the relaxing atmosphere.


When visiting the Japanese Garden, plan on spending a few hours at least. While it’s possible to sprint through the entire complex in less than hour, the garden is best to take one’s time to truly take in the exquisite beauty. Koi swim blissfully in the ponds and provide a focal point for children and those captivated by their swift lines. The teahouse (in the Tea Garden) was brought over from Japan, piece by piece, and on May 5th, a special program for children takes place, where they can participate and learn the intricacies of this ancient ritual. The Heavenly Falls, a large waterfall in the between the Tea and Natural Gardens, provides a picturesque backdrop for those wanting to see water’s raw power. If meditation is your cup of tea, several benches near the Sand & Stone and Natural Gardens allow for peaceful internal reflection.



Address: 611 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR 97205

Phone: (503) 223-1321


Admission Fees:

  • $9.50 Adult
  • $7.75 Senior (62+)
  • $7.75 College Student (w/ID)
  • $6.75 Youth (6-17)
  • Children 5 and under free


By Mass Transit

On weekdays only, year-round, the Garden is served by TriMet bus #63 which connects to the MAX stations at the Oregon Zoo and JELD-WEN Field. The #63 does not run on weekends.

During summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, frequent TriMet shuttle service connects the Garden and the MAX Light Rail station at the Oregon Zoo. The shuttle service runs on weekends only the remainder of May, September and October.

For those who don’t mind a walk—every day, the frequent-service buses #15-NW 23rd and #20-Burnside both stop at NW 23rd & Burnside, which is about 1 mile away uphill through Washington Park.

By Car

From I-405 (downtown Portland) follow signs for Highway 26 West. From Highway 26 West, take the Oregon Zoo & Forestry Center exit. Bear right after the exit and follow signs for the Forestry Center. Continue up the hill past the Forestry Center and make a right turn onto Kingston Drive (there will be a wooden sign for the Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden just before the turn). Follow Kingston Drive about two miles through Washington Park. At the stop sign, make a left turn onto Kingston Avenue and go two blocks. You will see our parking lot on your left.



Riding the Historic White Pass and Yukon Route

Probably one of the greatest things about cruising is getting off the ship and exploring your surroundings. When I’ve traveled to the Caribbean and previously to Alaska, seeing the sights and hearing the tales through local tour operators. I’ve always had great luck and a great deal of fun. When visiting Skagway, AK on our recent Royal Caribbean cruise, my family opted to take a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.

white pass - skagway - alaska - qiranger

The White Pass and Yukon Route began construction in 1898 and was to be the northernmost set of tracks ever built. The goal was to lay 110 miles of track, connecting Skagway, AK (USA) and Whitehorse, YT (Canada). Construction completed on July 29, 1900 and on the route’s very first journey, carried some $500,000 in gold. On our visit, we had two choices for trains: The Old 73 and a GE Diesel. The Diesel-Electric engines date back to the 1950s and 60s and are the workhorses of the White Pass fleet, carrying the majority of the passengers on the scenic railway; however, we wanted something more special, and opted to head up the mountain in a restored Baldwin Mikado 282, originally build in 1947.

White Pass

I have ridden several trains in my day, and commute to just about every location in Korea by KTX; however, there is a special place in my heart for “hogs.” An affectionate name given to steam locomotives because of the massive amounts of wood, coal, and water they consume. Their characteristic chugging paired with the clickity-clack of the cars excites just about every little boy I know… even when they’re in their 40s.

white pass - skagway - alaska - qiranger

We pulled up to the depot and were shown to our passenger car. Thankfully, my family and a few other guests were allowed to ride in the last “caboose” car, which would allow for some un obstructed views from the rear of the train. After a hearty, “All aboard!” from the conductor, I settled into my refurbished seat inside an interior recreated to give that turn of the century feel. Every car was equipped with a wood-burning stove for warmth in cooler months and huge windows giving amazing views while the train pulls them up the 3.9% grade.

We started chugging through town and a guide came on the loud-speaker in our car. He introduced himself and told all the passengers that he’d be sharing stories and points of interests along the way. That was great, for even with the White Pass and Yukon Route magazine in my hands, I thirsted to know more about this ride. In addition, in our car rode Blake Jung. He was working the summer for WP&YR and was to be our personal guide.

white pass - skagway - alaska - qiranger

Blake had been up on the route several times and added to what we heard by providing extra insights and stories about what we saw. He also made it a point to let us know when great scenic views were coming, so we could flock to the car’s porch and snap pictures outside. That’s right – outside. While on many trains, passengers must ride indoors, the White Pass allows passengers (at least on the steam trains) out on the porches between cars when possible (this is outside the city and in the open air). I quickly found myself glued to the windows and darting around watching nature pass by. The scenic views never stopped. We saw countless waterfalls, rivers, and majestic peaks. It was breathtaking. Once we reached Fraser, BC, it was time to head back to Skagway and break out the bubbly in celebration of completing the historic journey.

white pass - skagway - alaska - qiranger

If you love trains, nature, and adventure, then this is a trip you must take. Getting off the ship is always special, but taking a ride on Old 73 is memorable and provides nourishment for the soul.

Phones and the ADA

I’ve written a few times about how phones in Asia are considerably more advanced than those in the US. But my question is this:

Given the ADA and the fact that hearing impaired individuals can use video calls to sign, is it likely the US Government will require all US carriers to provide such a service on all phones?

What are your thoughts?

Hate Crimes

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can miss the mark so badly that it makes me wonder if they have a brain that works.

When President Barack Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, he also authorized the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Now this largely went under the radar, but has the effect of adding extra penalties to violent crimes when they are motivated by gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities.

Star Parker calls the law a “weakening and damaging our country is not something to be proud of.” Parker continues by saying, “It should be clear that hate crime law has nothing to do with improving our law but rather creating favored political classes. It is something that should be hateful to everyone who cares about a free society, and particularly hateful to those, such as blacks, who have been victimized by politicization of law.”

Hate crimes are premeditated or conducted out of intentions to be overly cruel to an individual. In many cases, the victim did nothing but be born and has been attacked for being a certain race, religion, or sexual orientation. Such crimes should not be tolerated in an evolved society and those who perpetrate them should be dealt with sternly. What I find ironic in Parker’s editorial was the justification cited:

Is it not a sign of our own pathology that we now have codified that it is worse to murder a homosexual than someone who has committed adultery, even with your husband or wife, or who has slandered or robbed? Isn’t the point murder?

No, the point is the intention and the methodology of the crime. This is why when one does face murder charges, the circumstances are factored into case. Is it pre-meditated? Was it an act of “passion?” Was it accidental? Hate is just another factor to the equation to be considered. It is simply one more tool for the legal system to utilize when sentencing.

Pulling a Microsoft



I’d really like to know what Apple Computers is pulling. I mean, there are stupid things and then there are ridiculous things. This certainly falls into the latter.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me give you the run down: Apple is suing Woolworth’s in Australia over trademark infringement. Their claim is that the new stylized W logo looks too close to an apple and may confuse consumers and damage the Apple brand.


Yes, the new Woolies logo is definitely an apple (and why not – they are a SUPERMARKET CHAIN???), but who in their right mind would EVER connect the two?

First, the logs look nothing like one another. NOTHING!

Second, they operate in different sectors – one is a technology powerhouse and the other is a SUPERMARKET! This amounts to nothing more than pure greed on the Apple front.

In fact, this reminds me of the time Microsoft tried to trademark the word windows. Yeah… they tried that. It was ill-conceived and amounted to some serious backlash. If Apple doesn’t back down, this will be a PR nightmare for them, not only in Australia, but around the world.

What are your thoughts?