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Military Conflict in the South China Sea Remains an Unlikely Outcome – Justice Antonio T. Carpio

Tensions and territorial disputes in the South China Sea are unlikely to result in warfare because of the Philippines’ mutual defence treaty with the United States, said former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio. 

“The Chinese know that they cannot afford to go to war with the Philippines,” Justice Carpio told FCC President Keith Richburg during a Zoom discussion on Monday night. “The last thing China would want is to give the US a legal excuse to intervene in the South China Sea dispute.”

Justice Carpio, who helped the Philippines win its landmark ruling at the Hague in July 2016, said that China’s strategy rests on intimidating other nations. He described the country’s mindset as “China will win the South China Sea without firing a single shot.”

He sharply criticised President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments regarding the South China Sea dispute during his final State of the Nation Address hours earlier. Duterte had reiterated his passive approach to the territorial conflict, asking “Do you want war against China?”

“We laugh at that because nobody’s talking of war in the South China Sea dispute,” Justice Carpio said. “That’s the reason we went to the Hague, because war is not an option.”

He said Duterte’s comments were misleading, and that the president has “become the spokesperson of China” by arguing that enforcing the ruling will lead to a military conflict. 

Duterte is currently finishing out his final term, and presidential elections are due in 2022, but Justice Carpio said he did not believe that the South China Sea issue or relations with China would be major issues for most Filipino voters.

Watch the full discussion here:

Moving to “Type D” — Bringing Back Live Events

Moving to “Type D” — Bringing Back Live Events
Dear Fellow Members,
I’m pleased to be able to report to you that the Club is running smoothly since we moved to the government’s “Type C” category on July 1. The success is because of all of you and the broad cooperation we have received. And I’m also happy to report that all of our staff have completed the vaccine program. You will have noticed that the Club has been full and buzzing of late.
As the next step, we are planning next week to move forward to “Type D” category, which means bringing back live events like our regular Club luncheon speakers, live music in Bert’s, our popular film nights, and of course banqueting at full capacity — all to bring back more of the atmosphere and buzz that has made the Club such a magnet for us all.
Starting from Monday August 2, we will go to “Type D” category upstairs on the first floor and downstairs in Bert’s. With this move, we will be able to operate those venues at 100% capacity and with 12 people seated together at a table.
Please note: those venues will continue to operate under “Type C” when there are no private functions or Club events, but will temporarily shift to “Type D” during events. To operate those facilities under “Type D”, some further steps are needed from all of us planning to attend events.
What is “Type D” operation?
Mandatory use of “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app
At least two-thirds of the total number of participants must have received the first vaccine jab and can show proof (through a QR code or on paper).
Capacity up to 100%
Maximum 12 persons per table
Please be aware that use of the “LeaveHomeSafe” app is a government requirement, and anyone not using it faces a $5000 fine. There is no exception for not having a smartphone. The only exception is for visitors under the age of 16, and those 65 or older, who will be allowed fill out a form. Individuals – that is, members and their guests – bear responsibility for using the app. In case of an inspection and a fine being issued, the Club is not responsible.
I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and willingness to adapt to these varying restrictions and regulations. And I will of course be in touch if anything changes as we monitor the situation and follow the government’s announcements.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you around the Main Bar.
Keith Richburg
27 July 2021

“In order to have a democracy, you must share a common set of facts” – Marty Baron

The proliferation of online disinformation sites purporting to be legitimate news has created an incredibly difficult and hostile environment for journalism, said Marty Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post, in a discussion moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg. 

“Consumption of media is now more polarised than it probably ever has been, and that’s not a great result for us,” Baron said. “Because in order to have a democracy, you have to share a common set of facts.” 

He said that increased education around media literacy and journalists being more transparent about their reporting were both necessary steps to combat the unchecked spread of disinformation. 

Asked if President Trump had been successful in sowing distrust against the media, Baron said yes but acknowledged that Trump’s cries of ‘fake news’ had not been the sole cause. 

“Approval and trust in the media was declining well before that, but he accelerated and reinforced it,” Baron said. “Sadly, he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, disturbingly so, and we’re going to be dealing with that for decades to come.” 

During the discussion, Baron was asked about Post reporter Felicia Sonmez’s suspension and ban from covering sexual assault stories, with viewer Wayne Ma submitting the question, “Do you regret those decisions, what was the original thinking behind them and what has the Post done to ensure such incidents don’t happen again?” 

Baron said he did not want to comment on the case specifically but added “I don’t have any regrets.” As he was talking to the FCC, Sonmez filed a lawsuit in Washington D.C. against the Washington Post and several individuals including Baron.

Watch the full discussion below:

“The China we have now is not necessarily the China that had to be” – Professor Hans van de Ven

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, Professor Hans van de Ven acknowledged the party’s success in a Zoom talk hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, but he also said that its history over the past century was never written in stone. 

“The Chinese we have now is not necessarily the China that had to be,” said van de Ven. “It could have gone many different ways at very different points in time: the party could have ceased to exist, [or] different reform factions might have taken over.”

Professor van de Ven is a co-editor of the new book, The Chinese Communist Party: A Century in Ten Lives, which approaches the history of the CCP in an unusual way. Rather than focusing on major historical figures such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, each chapter of the book tells the history of a different person, some of whom are not even Chinese, from a different decade. He said he and his fellow editor took this approach because they felt it would make the history more accessible to a broader audience. 

“China is becoming an ever-bigger part of debates in the U.S. and in Europe, and the lack of knowledge about China is such that if you write a general history with a lot of place names and dates and history, people are not going to follow it and won’t be interested,” said van de Ven. 

He said the book highlights two paths the party could have taken but didn’t: “a liberal form of communism, a more human form of communism” and a “cosmopolitan, international tradition.”

He also said there is a widespread and mistaken belief that “the CCP is simply one military authoritarian clique and that’s all you need to know about it.” 

“No, it’s not, it’s much more interesting than that,” said van de Ven. 

He said that the CCP’s endurance stemmed from an ability to reinvent itself after various crises and disasters, and also “because it is such a disciplined organization.” He added that Xi Jinping is the key driver of party discipline.

“The party has penetrated all nooks and crannies of Chinese society so that what it does, what it wants to do and what it tells its party members to do just generally happens,” said van de Ven.

In spite of its long history, van de Ven said that the CCP is not yet politically stable and houses inherent tensions, thanks in part to its origins as a revolutionary party designed to overthrow governments.

“It was never designed as an instrument for stable rule,” said Van de Ven.

Watch the full discussion below:

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