World View: U.S. and China Threaten Each Other on South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
  • Syrian regime pleads with Russia for economic aid
  • Russia sending three naval vessels and 360 marines to Syria
  • U.S. and China issue belligerent statements on South China Sea
  • Seven Minutes of Terror on Sunday Evening

Syrian regime pleads with Russia for economic aid

A boy plays on the gun of a destroyed Syrian army tank partially covered in the rubble of the destroyed Azaz mosques north of Aleppo (CNN)
A boy plays on the gun of a destroyed Syrian army tank partially covered in the rubble of the destroyed Azaz mosques north of Aleppo (CNN)

Senior Syrian officials are in Moscow pleading for financial loans and supplies of oil products. When asked by reporters, Syrian Finance Minister Mohammad al-Julaylati refused to disclose the sum of the loan Syria is seeking:

"We have asked Russia for a hard currency loan to allow us overcome the current problems, and they promised to consider our request. We need some additional resources. Countries in such situations usually ask for foreign loans."

Syria hopes to receive the loan money within weeks. AP

Russia sending three naval vessels and 360 marines to Syria

On Friday, Russian news agencies quoted a top military source as saying that Russia was sending three naval vessels and up to 360 marines to Syria. The reports claimed that the vessels, which are already in the Mediterranean, will arrive in Tartus this week or early next week with supplies for the Russian base. Analysts are trying to "read the tea leaves" to figure out what's going on. One possibility is that Russia is sending in troops to intervene militarily on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Another possibility is that Russia is supply weapons to the regime. Another possibility is that al-Assad is stepping down, and Russia is evacuating him and his family to Moscow. Another possibility is that the ships are just there are as a precaution, ready to support the al-Assad regime in case of military action by Turkey. Jerusalem Post

U.S. and China issue belligerent statements on South China Sea

Tensions between China and its neighbors, especially Vietnam and Philippines, have been rising substantially in the last few months, as the China has been increasingly using its military power to enforce its planned annexation of the entire South China Sea region, including areas that have historically been sovereign territory of other countries. Last week, China permanently established a military base in its newly established Sansha City in the midst of the South China Sea.

On Saturday, the tension between the U.S. and China took another spike upward, as both countries issued belligerent statements regarding the South China Sea. The statement from the U.S. State Dept. said the following:

"As a Pacific nation and resident power, the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We do not take a position on competing territorial claims over land features and have no territorial ambitions in the South China Sea; however, we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without the use of force. We are concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea and are monitoring the situation closely. Recent developments include an uptick in confrontational rhetoric, disagreements over resource exploitation, coercive economic actions, and the incidents around the Scarborough Reef, including the use of barriers to deny access. In particular, China's upgrading of the administrative level of Sansha City and establishment of a new military garrison there covering disputed areas of the South China Sea run counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region."

There was an immediate response from China's Foreign Ministry:

"On August 3, the US Department of State issued a so-called press statement on the South China Sea. The statement showed total disregard of facts, confounded right and wrong, and sent a seriously wrong message. It is not conducive to efforts by the parties concerned to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific region at large. The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction of and firm opposition to it.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters. This is supported by clear historical facts. Moreover, China set up the office governing the Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha Islands under the Province of Guangdong in 1959 to exercise administrative jurisdiction over the islands and reefs of the Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha Islands and adjacent waters. The recent establishment of the Sansha City is a necessary adjustment made by China to the existing local administrative structure and is well within China's sovereign rights. ...

Now that the global economy is weak and turbulence still persists in some countries and regions, the Asia-Pacific has emerged as a relatively stable and most dynamic region underpinning world economic recovery. The United States needs to follow the trend of the times and respect the shared aspiration and consensus of countries in the region for peace, stability and development. It should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and act in a way that contributes to stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and not otherwise."

Nationalism and fury have been growing throughout the region, especially in China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. U.S. State Department and China's Foreign Ministry

Seven Minutes of Terror on Sunday Evening

Curiosity Rover (NASA)
Curiosity Rover (NASA)

On Sunday evening, NASA's rover Curiosity is will land on Mars, with actual touchdown scheduled for 10:17 PM Pacific Time. The landing will require a complex sequence of steps of more than Rube Goldberg complexity, involving a huge supersonic parachute and a "sky crane" that gently lowers Curiosity to the Mars surface in what's being called "Seven Minutes of Terror." Watch the YouTube video now, and then watch NASA TV online starting at 8:30 pm PT / 11:30 PM ET. YouTube and CNET and Futurity and NASA TV

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