Thursday, November 27, 2008

Caption: President George W. Bush offers remarks to world leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, prior to the start of dinner marking the opening of the Summit on Financial Markets and World Economy. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
America hegemony is ending soon!

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China.

THE recent financial crises which started in the United States that had ripple effect throughout the world depict Washington’s declining hegemony in the world.

But the question of whether USA’s hegemony ending is subject to debate, but evidence reveals that USA’s hegemony was declining since the end of Second World War.

What is experienced in America recently that triggered a devastating financial crisis in this century reveals incompetency within USA when it comes to policy formulation to safeguard its financial environment.

Termed as “subprime mortgage crises” in USA, is an ongoing financial crises triggered by a significant decline in housing prices and related to mortgage payment delinquencies and foreclosure in USA.

This caused a ripple effect across the financial markets and global banking systems, as investments related to housing prices declined significantly in value, placing the health of key financial institutions and government-sponsored enterprises at risk.

Several lessons are learnt from this experience. First, America’s “domestic politics” can have global consequences.

The financial crisis started within USA, revealing political and financial incompetency within America.

Negligence or ignorance has caused within USA the “subprime mortgage crises”, that infested the Wall Street and eventually made the “normal streets” suffer.

Second, USA must learn from this experience that any issues of global significance require collective approach.

In other words, institutionalists would argue that multilateralism is required in such a situation when Washington knows very well its limitations.

Recent international events have depicted USA’s unilateral approach in situations like the Iraq war, neglecting the role the international forums such as United Nations, the United Nations Security Council and the collective view of other countries.

In Iraq, USA got stuck for ever. Former President Bush never made it, now leaving a huge task on the incumbent, Barack Obama.

Obama promised America and the world that he would withdraw the USA troops as soon as he gets elected. But the opposite happens.

The issue is this. If America had listened to the United Nations Nuclear Weapons inspection team that Sadam Hussan had no weapons of mass destruction then USA would not loose more of its troops, and the vulnerable children, women and the old would not suffer in Iraq as it is today.

Significantly, USA would save its “reputation”.

Now, Bush calls for a collective effort in this financial crisis as soon as hundreds of Americans lost their job, the normal people’s salary values have decreased dramatically, and the world financial headquarter was threatened.

Let me draw an interesting line between this financial crisis and the 1997 Asian Financial Crises.

When the Asian Financial Crises almost crippled the region, Americans, British, and other Westerners bashed and lectured the Asian countries telling them, “this was the end of Asia Rise”.

To Americans and Westerners, the so called rising Tigers and Dragon have suffocated and will take decades for them to get well or not at all. They blamed the Asian leaders for incompetency and corruption that allegedly caused the Asian Financial Crises.

World Bank and IMF controlled and manipulated by USA even took long to release the required fund to bail out the Asian economies. Their stringent conditionality’s could not be met by the crippled Asian countries at the time.

Given that situation, IMF and World Bank would have had some sense of wisdom prevailing to slacken the conditionality’s, at least for that moment to resuscitate the suffocating Dragon and Lions.

For Gods sake, the Asian leaders consumed all the criticism, tighten up their belts and slowly worked towards fixing their economy.

Japan took the leadership, supported by China to establish an Asian version of IMF or World Bank to help the regional economies incase similar experience knocks on their door in the future, after learning from IMF and World Banks snail approach.

America, which always wants to be the hegemony, went against the idea and it was abandoned.

What America should learn from Asian experiences is this. Asia Pacific region is so diverse. It has various religions from Muslim to Hinduism, Taoism to Confucius, and many more.

The region has a very diverse ethnicity, thousand tribes and languages, varying level of development, economy, and governance system.

But what remains so outstanding till today for America to learn is that the leaders of the region have managed and are managing this diversity since the financial crises till today.

Today, the region has grown so fast to a peak that is of unprecedented in the human history. China now is a leading economy, and a major trading partner of many countries in the region and world.

Many regional and international issues can not be solved without China’s leadership.

South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others have progressed tremendously in economic terms, despite the financial crises they faced, coupled with the diversity of the region.

If the Asia Pacific leaders have to be praised and applauded then one should look no further then the type of leadership they portray to adopt the region into the global world system that has resulted in the peaceful region, where no major wars have been fought, like in the case of the first and second world wars, both started in Europe.

Today, America is having its share of cake. But Asian leaders are not like their colleagues, who jump the gun starting to bash and lecture telling them that American empire is declining or ending.

From Beijing to Tokyo, Hanoi to New Delhi, Seoul to Jakarta, all know that liberal approach to any issues that affect humanity is of paramount importance in this century.

Chinese President Hu Jintao had a private telephone conversation with George Bush guaranteeing that China will make all efforts to help solve the financial crises.

Other developing and emerging economies followed suit with the recent G-20 Meeting. But should the emerging and developing economies clean the “rubbish” created by America?

Bush even appealed to the international community for a collective effort to minimize the devastating financial crises.

At last, Washington realizes that she can not operate unilaterally, but in today’s multi-polar world system, cooperation is required when interdependence is prevalent.

Academia Robert Koehane propagates a theory arguing that cooperation can exist amongst states without hegemony.

He further argues that when there is intense interdependence amongst states, cooperation is inevitable, and in this situation, the world system does not need hegemony to keep the pendulum swinging.

So, did we always think that the international system operates in the situation as it is today because of Pax-Americana? Robert things otherwise.

Robert believes that there are existing international organizations like the UN, which was created during the USA’s reign, and this institution can be used by states for common benefits as long as existing norms and values or the spirit of the organization is upheld.

China, which is tagged as a developing country with a rapid economic growth spells out in its foreign policy that it opposes hegemony, and believes that countries, despite their economic strength and size can play equally in the playing field.

That’s why Beijing today encourages multilateralism and institutionalism instead of unilateralism which is commonly prevalent in America.

China believes that any issues of common interest must be argued and agreed upon by all countries using the existing forums, instead of a “one man show”.

Given the current financial crises which started in America, can we conclude that America’s hegemony is either declining or ending?

Of course it has declined after the Second World War. There are several cases to demonstrate. One is the time when USA attempted to dominate Middle East oil field in the 1960s.

It has become more difficult by the late 1960s and early 1970s for the United States to intervene in the Middle East than when it had been during the 1950s.

Arab nationalism, the increasing sophistication of indigenous Middle Eastern armies, and the rise of Soviet political influence and ability to project military power in the area all made a difference.

The erosion of American hegemony accounts quite well for the sharp changes in international petroleum regimes over the past twenty years.

As American oil production capacity declined, so did its ability to implement the strategy of hegemonic – cooperation, supplying its allies with oil when necessary – that is followed so successfully during the 1950s.

Some can argue today that America is still the powerful country in the world given its modern military capability.

However, the attempt to penetrate the Torabora caves in Afghanistan to locate the long lasting Osama bin Laden was not successful, testing the capability of modern weaponry.

The Iraq war is still going on. In the Vietnam War, America had a devastating defeat. In the Korean War, the UN force played a pivotal role, not American soldiers alone.

America today can boast of its hegemony because of its modern military and “soft power”, but signs show that America’s hegemony is both declining and will eventually end.

If there is any way forward, then countries should not look further then China’s role, where humanity can live peacefully and co-exist with their environment harmoniously.

In order for this to happen, countries must respect each others sovereignty, respect the norms and values of existing international and regional forums, multilateralism and institutionalism must be upheld, interdependence and cooperation should be of importance in the global system, and hegemony should be discarded in the 21st century.

The world has changed so fast in the last three decades, for a better or worse.

But what remains true today is that America’s hegemony is declining and will eventually end, paving way for a new world order.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is my late mama Muk at our Yapalgu village in Alkena, Lower Kagul, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). I got a call today Saturday 22 Nov, 2008 at 17:10 Beijing time from PNG that mums body is put to rest today at Yapalgu village. My mum passed away on Thursday 20th Nov. 2008 at Kudjip Hospital (5:30pm PNG time) in WHP in the presence of brothers Len and Mark. "MY ONLY MUM, REST IN PEACE. Pic by Sharon

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Caption: Mom in the middle with William and wife Helen at Porgera. The background is Mt. Piam. Pic by Sharon Kari
Rest in PEACE, dear mum

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

THE twenty November 2008 is the date I will remember for the rest of my life. The specific time is 5:30pm.

I was in my hotel room in Changchun, China when my brother called from Kudjip, Western Highlands Province and conveyed a very devastating and sad news.

I picked up the phone and answered. “Mathew, its Len here. Are you okay?” he asked me. And that question came at the time when our mum was in critical condition at Kudjip Hospital and I knew he was going to tell me a sad story.

“Mathew, mum just passed away. I was standing beside her bed with Mark. I held one hand, Mark held the other…she called your name (Mathew), Nita, Mark, mine (Len) and took a last deep breath and closed her eyes.”

“I just covered her with the blanket and am out to inform you,” Len is my big brother, Mark and Nita are my small brothers.

To wish mum a speedy recovery, I wrote a letter for her to be conveyed through my column. But now that she has left me and my brothers, I would like to share the letter with you.

God bless you as you read my letter and sure it will bless you as you also love your mom.

DEAREST mom. This is your son writing with love after knowing that you are very sick.

I hope that this letter will reach you as I am so touched and saddened by the news.

Mom, its snowing here and the environment is so beautiful. And it’s cold as well. I am doing fine. My health is okay. I have been to church in the city lately and have peace in my heart.

As you know, I am in Changchun, China, for studies. A country far away. But I know in my heart right now, you love me so much, as I do for you.

Mom, the saddest thing I can remember is that I have missed you for almost eight years. I have not seen your gleaming face nor heard your sweet motherly voice ever since.

I visited you briefly during my Christmas holidays between 1996 and 1998. In 1999, I visited you briefly after my study in Fiji. From 2000 to 2002, I was in Port Moresby.

I left for Japan in the beginning of 2002 and returned in 2005. Upon my return to PNG, mum, I am so sorry that I did not find anytime to visit you in our beautiful Yapalgu village.

Mom, it is not an excuse. I feel so guilty to say this! During my brief work in Port Moresby, I knew for sure to visit you because I missed you so much, as you did to me.

But the hours turned into days, days into months until September 2007 when I had to leave for China.

Mom, when writing this letter, my heart is paining for you and tears of sadness drips down my chicks because I am sure the natural connection between our hearts is so strong.

Ma, I will be here till July next year and hope to see you again. Though I did not see you, I heard your voice on Thursday 17th July 2008 from Pogera.

Because of our love for each other, you cried on the phone, which broke my heart. Mom, though you told me that you were seriously ill, I was confident and replied that you did not sound that sick.

I told you to be strong because nothing will happen till I come home and see you. You assured me that you will still wait for me until the time our God brings us together.

You were taken to see doctors in Lae and sister Delma Tapako in Lae helped you a lot during your stay there. I was so touched by her generosity up till today.

People assure me that you will recover soon until I come home. And within my heart, I am sure that you will get well soon.

My Christian brothers Gene D. Iyovo and Jeffers T. Heptol in China are praying for you and always tell me that, “Gods’ ways of doing things can make you get out from your sick bed.”

Mum, brother Len came home to see you and is close to you now. Brother Nita, Mark and sister Lois are already at home with you.

Ma, I am the only one missing (tears). I am so sorry! If it wasn’t for the plane costs then I promise you that I will be there amongst my brothers and sisters, taking care of you right now.

Changchun city is eight hours by train to Beijing. Then I have to catch plane to either Brisbane or Sydney in Australia that takes another six hours. From Australia to Port Moresby would take approximately three or so hours. Then from Port Moresby to Mt Hagen will take 45 minutes.

Mummy, distance does not matter with me, when I know that you are in pain and need to see me there amongst my brothers and sisters. But the cost involves is so huge that I can not afford as a student.

This is the reason I am not there now. But mum, can you please do me a BIG favor? (tears). When you see Len, Nita, Mark and Lois, please remember that I am also there with you. My prayers and heart is with you right now, mummy.

Our extended family members are beside you, I am sure because they love you.

Mummy, I know, you did sweetest things for me when I was a little child. You breast fed me when I was a baby. You cuddled me towards your heart when I felt cold. You held my hand to school when I first attended my primary school.

On my way back home so hungry, I saw from the far distance and when seeing the smoke swirling above the roof of our house, I knew, there was a mum, preparing dinner.

When there was no food in the house, you did every thing to make sure I did not sleep hungry.

Come Sundays, you attired me with the best cloth and made sure I attended the Sunday school classes. Mummy, I love you because of all you have done.

When dad was teaching at primary schools before the Independence of PNG, we all climbed the mountains, crossed the rivers and walked the rough terrains for dad to educate today’s leaders.

Remember, you helped dad a lot those days to teach men and women who are now developing PNG in various ways.

When there was rain, you sheltered us. When there was sun, you shaded us. When we were hungry, you fed us. Come the night when the stars shine and birds were sleeping, you made sure we went to bed.

But you stayed up till late doing the dishes, cleaning the house and the last to go to bed.

When the dawn emerged, you were always the first to wake up and prepared our breakfast and get us ready for the day.

During those days, I saw you crying sometimes and I asked you why? You told me, “Mathew, you do not understand, because I am a woman.”

I told you that I never understand. But you hugged me and said that I will never. But today, mummy, I know that you cry for reasons.

If at that time I called God and ask why you cried, God would tell me that “When I made your mum, she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to comfort. I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from you.”

“I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.”“I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.”

Mum, if I have never said thank you for bringing me into the world I’d like to do that now. I will pray for you from my heart while you are in your sick bed. I will stand with my brothers and sisters to support you one day when God gathers us together.

Mummy, remember that there is no special person to me in this world then you. Mum, you are the best (tears)!

I pray fervently and hope your day is sunshine and flowers with happy thoughts to fill the house. There’s never been a minute I wasn’t glad you were my Mom.

Mom, distance keeps us apart but our LOVE for each other binds us together. God shall comfort and bless you and I wish you a speedy recovery.

Your beloved son!

When writing this letter in my room on the beautiful snowy Monday, Nov 17, 2008, Jeffers T. Heptol, a PNG student in China and a powerful man of God came online.

Last weekend, I did a commentary on his church activities in China. When hearing of my mother’s illness, he wasted no time to pray with me. Below is Jeffers prayer for my mom.

“Lord in Jesus Name, my brother Mathew and I come before your throne...Lord we pray for Mathew's mom back at home in PNG. Lord, we do not know how she is feeling in her body but you know Lord.

We pray that you will see her with your loving and merciful eye and touch her with your fresh hand and heal her for your own glory.

Father, in Jesus Name, we pray for total healing from the crown of her head to the soul of her feet. Lord, we uphold her entire life before your throne.
If the sickness is external or internal, we know that Lord Jesus you are a great will heal her right now Lord. We are thankful Jesus…we stand with her, comfort her and feel the pains that she is going through.

Lord, we are reminded that by your strife’s, we are healed and we speak this assurance over Mathew’s mom. She is healed by your strife’s and she is set free from any sickness and diseases. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Below is a letter by former colleague with The National newspaper, Peku Pilimbo after reading my letter to mum.

Tue 12/09/08 3:26 PM
Early Merry Christmas to you,

I was touched by the letter from China to your sick mother. I was touched by it as I had similar experiences in coffee plantations in the Western Highlands Province.
Now I speak different languages from Simbu through Western Highlands and Southern Highlands. I was privileged to have a women called mother.

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing something like what you did that appeared in the Sunday Chronicle of Nov 23, 2008. There could have been others touched like it did me and am proud that I know you.

I have been unemployed for sometime and just started with Law and Justice Sector Secretariat as the Media assistant and have access to email facilities so am writing to congratulate you for a wonderful story.

I hope and pray that your mother gets well and you return from your studies. I too have not seen my mother for sometime now and hope and pray that I will see her sometimes soon. The last I heard was that she had no food and wanted me to send a bag of rice to her.

Thank you once again for writing a story that moved me, maybe others as well. Keep up the good work and see you when you return.

Peku Pilimbo
Media Assistant
PNG Law & Justice Sector Secretariat
Ph: 675 323 3144
Mobile: 675 637 0423

Monday, November 17, 2008

Me and Manhzoo from Pakistan during my exhibition on Papua New Guinea at Jilin University, China on 15th Nov, 2008. Manzhoo is a PhD student in International Relations. I am playing guiter singing a traditional song.

Me and Pakistani friends during the exhibition. I am holding a Tolai basket.

Me and a Pakistani friend

There we are, rock it!. I am singing a traditional song with my guiter with a Pakistani friend at the back for a picture. The background is the PNG flag with the Beijing Olympic flag. I chose the Olympic flag instead of China's flag because Beijing Olympic was successful despite natural disasters faced by China. The Olympic had also made China to be responsible in both regional and international issues where Papua New Guinea stands to benefit. I did the exhibition and God knows, I do not want to boast but mine was the unique and the best. I posed with many people for pictures. As long as I love my country, I will do anything to promote how unique Papua New Guinea is. Yes, one can take me out of Papua New Guinea but they can not take Papua New Guinea out from me.

New Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare enjoying a chat after the official swearing-in ceremony at Government House in Port Moresby yesterday. ・ Nationalpic by EKAR KEAPU
Read Story
I (Mathew Yakai) had the chance to work with Sir Injia from July 3rd 2006 - June 1st, 2007 as his honors Associate. I was impressed with his work ethics and wisdom he uses wwhen handing down decisions of controversal natures. During my term with him, I was so impressed to discover that most of his decisions were not appealed in the higher courts because he makes sure all the legal loopholes are properly filled. Lawyers whose cases came before His Honor admitted that. From Tsak valley in Enga province, he is the right man for the job. I am confident he will get the judicial administration on track. God bless him

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Caption: International students and workers attend church conference in China. Jeffers stands at the far left with a glass in his head. Pic courtesy by Jeffers.

Papua New Guinean: President of Christain students in China

By Mathew Yakai, Changchun, China

ON AUGUST 19 2008, I did a commentary based on my first church experience in Changchun, China and how awesome an experience.

In any foreign land or new places one visits, any moment is an history in ones life. That’s what I have shared.

But it’s not only me experiencing the wonderful moment of fellowship in God. There are hundreds, even thousand foreigners who treat China as their second home.

In the group of these foreigners, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Pacific islands students in China also enjoy fellowship.

One such Pacific Islanders is Jeffers Teargun Heptol from PNG. Jeffers comes from Papayuku Village in Laiagam Dist, Enga Province.

The proud son of Teargun tribe. He told me that his tribe loves peace. He was born there, just like another village boy, raised and attended Papayuku Primary School in 1988.

“Its a place where many of our great leaders like Paul Torato were trained,” he proudly admitted.

I agree because I have worked and known great educated Engans who look after important offices in PNG till today.

But Jeffers is no ordinary students in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship. He is a committed Christian and President of the Northern Region Christian Students in China.

Being a President coordinating activities for Christian students in China who come from different cultural and ethnic background is not easy for him but with Gods wisdom, he manages well.

This is beside the fact that he is doing his masters in Electronics, Power Systems and Automation at Northeastern University, one of those tough courses he can go through in Chinese language.

“Well, as PNG is taping into mining and gas projects like LNG, I know that I will be a valuable asset to contribute meaningfully to the economy of PNG. Now in this 21st century, the economies of the countries are depending on Technology.”

“I would like to be the Technologist to help my country in this Technology field. I am also learning IT and other related courses,” admits one of proud PNG sons.

Leaving home, his family, tribe and country, Jeffers believes that God is always around to take care of him. Given his special designation as President of the Northern Region Christian Students in China, I asked him to share his experience with you.

I hope his experience in China, a great nation with the fastest economic growth will be of blessings to you. Below he goes;

How I started

To start with, I had no idea about church existence in China before I came. For the first four weeks of my stay in Shenyang, I had my own worship services in my room.

It was exciting and joyous to conduct a fellowship by myself alone. I woke up every Sunday morning and got dressed not to go elsewhere.

Sometimes, I would prepare the communion just for myself. After reading a scripture from the Bible, I would explain it to myself in detail.

There were some Christian classmates in my class too. One time, I asked if they could come to my room and have fellowship together.

One Central African girl called Sandrine started attending an International Church in the city as soon as she arrived.

She knew some of her friends who were in Shenyang before and they introduced the church to her.

While I was asking them, she assured that we would be in the church next Sunday. Sandrine could only speak French so she could hardly communicate with us for the first four weeks that I have been conducting the worship service in my room.

International Church

One Sunday, Sandrine took four of us to a church. The church is called Shenyang International Christians Fellowship (

The worship service starts at 3.30pm in the afternoon until 5pm. I was so joyous to worship God with the people of God.

It was amazing. I couldn’t believe that foreigners could come in the center of a big 6th floor building to worship God.

God opened my eyes to see how great He is to establish a church in the heart of the city for the worshippers to worship Him.

There were about 70 to 100 foreigners attended the church. Now the number has increased to 200 foreigners.

As I began to attend the church regularly, the elders saw my desire and passion to serve God. They selected me to be in the leadership of the church which I am still serving even today.

Chinese Church

The fastest growing church in the world is the Chinese church. Thousands of people come to know the Lord each day. Thanks to the government for the policy for the freedom of religion.

In Shenyang city alone, there are about 15 to 20 churches. One of the churches is the same place where foreigners’ are.

Chinese conduct their worship service from 1.00pm to 2.30pm. The church would be packed to capacity. I have attended many times and it was exciting to know people worshiping God.

The government’s rule is that foreigners are allowed to attend Chinese church while Chinese are not allowed in the foreigners’ worship.

Churches in other cities

It is indeed amazing to see churches are established everywhere in China.

We have International Christian churches in Beijing, Nanjing (, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Dalian to name a few.

Most of these cities have two to three foreign churches where all the foreigner passport holders are allowed to attend.

Students Ministry

Most of these foreign churches are made up of foreign students studying in China. Every year the students’ numbers is increasing.

Majority of these are from Africa and second to them is Pacific Islanders and other Asian countries.

Every year, we have two conference; summer and winter. Because of the student population, the northern region (includes Beijing, Shenyang, Tianjin, Dalian, Jinan) has its own conference and it also applies to southern region.

Southern part includes Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hanzhou to name a few. These conferences are funded by the city churches mentioned above.

Both north and south regions have their own executives to run at the regional level. There is only one central committee that overseas both regional executive functions.

By the grace of God, I was appointed as the President of the Northern Regional Executive. I oversee the student fellowships in some of the universities in the north.

One landmark event was that, we invited Evangelist Joseph Kingal from PNG as a guest speaker in 2007 summer conference in Shenyang.


All of us are not called to become pastors, evangelists, apostles nor preachers. But all of us are called into the Great Commission.

You have a role to play to build His Kingdom collectively. Wherever you are, be the light and the salt.

God is opening the doors into this land, and when God opens it, who is the man that dares to close it?

We must be counted in this hour. Where there seems no way, God will make a way.

Showers of blessings upon PNG. Jeffers Teargun Heptol, President of the Northern Region Christian Students, PR China.

Donald Singh's testimony. He’s from Fiji Island and studies in China.

I went to this BICF with Albert. Upon reaching the door, we were supposed to show our passports. I didn't carry mine so showed my BLCU student ID and got in.

As I looked around inside the Church from where I was seated, I saw various races, dressed in various ways.

This was unlike back at home where we have to "dress up" for Church and cannot go without plain white or very formal looking attire.

Well, I was not so impressed until the service began. The music team led very well, like the team from my Church back in Sigatoka in Fiji (Rose of Sharon AOG).

There was much power in the words of the preachers. They were preaching about real time issues. It was a real Church, which I had not expected.
I go there often now and want to become an instrumental part of God's presence here in China. I have started to attend the Chinese service as well now!

Writer’s background note

According to Council on Foreign Relations, religious observance in China is on the rise.

A survey published in a state-run newspaper, 31.4 percent of Chinese adults are religious, a figure that is three times the initial government estimate.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is officially atheist, but it has been growing more tolerant of religious activity for the past twenty years.
China's constitution explicitly allows "freedom of religious belief," and in 2005, the State Council passed new guidelines broadening legal rights for state-sanctioned groups.
In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognized these efforts and removed China from the State Department's list of top human rights violators
Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution says that Chinese citizens "enjoy freedom of religious belief."
It bans discrimination based on religion, and it forbids state organs, public organizations, or individuals from compelling citizens to believe in—or not to believe in—any particular faith.
In 2005, the State Council passed new Regulation on Religious Affairs, which allow religious organizations to possess property, publish literature, train and approve clergy, and collect donations as long as they have registered with the state.
According to Chinese criminal law, officials who deny citizens of their right to religious belief can be sentenced up to two years in prison.But religious freedom is still not universal in China.
The state only recognizes five official religions—Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism—and considers the practice of any other faith illegal.
Religious organizations are required to register with one of five state-sanctioned patriotic religious associations, each of which is supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
Religious groups that fail to affiliate with one of the five official religions are denied legal protection under Chinese law.Well, its better to start somewhere then never at all.
During the recent Olympic Games, the Olympic Committee distributed bibles to international visitors and designated venues for worship, a clear indication of China’s respect for religion.
After 30 years of economic reform and opening up, China has also progressed in religious freedom.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Caption: Obama is the new US president elected

Will USA still "re-engage" in Oceania?

By Mathew Yakai, Changchun, China

UNITED State’s “re-engagement” policy announced by the replaced U.S president, George W. Bush declaring “2007 the year of the pacific” did not generate substantial theoretical debate in the Pacific on potential rivalry amongst the regional powers.

This poses several questions. the policy makers are either ignorant of the issue given their respective limited historical knowledge on power politics amongst nation states or they are optimistic that Pacific’s sovereignty will be respected though multinational companies and individuals can directly influence any countries.

Previously, this column was skeptical of Washington’s “2007 year of the pacific”, part of U.S.A.’s “re-engagement” policy after leaving the region following the collapse of former USSR.

Given that US now have a new president soon, one must ask whether the “re-engagement” policy will be carried on, and in what capacity, or if it would be abandoned then on what grounds.

According to Congressional Research Service report for American Congress published July 6, 2007, China made its way into the region with its embassies or missions established in most of the 14 island states after U.S. closed down most of her embassies, withdrew USAID, and suspended its renowned Fulbright Scholarship after the Cold War.

The report, which was the outcome of the Pacific Islands leaders in Washington prompted USA to “re-engage” on issues such as expanding U.S. public diplomacy efforts and foreign aid activities, strengthening U.S.-Pacific trade and preferential trade, address global warming and other environmental concerns in the region and enhancing educational and cultural exchanges.

According to the report, some analysts argue that addressing these issues would not only help promote political stability and economic development but also enhances U.S. security interests and counter possible adverse effects of China’s growing influence in the region.

Whether these analysts are correct or not, the important issue for Pacific island leaders is that, the role of Obama in “re-engaging” in the region must not “contain” China’s intention to share its wealth and economic growth, not only in the region but other third world countries which were once abandoned by U.S. and other colonial powers.

Stewart Patrick, a research fellow at the Centre for Global Development in Washington observes that the gravest dangers to U.S. and the world security are no longer military threats from great powers but rather transnational threats emanating from the worlds poorly governed countries.

He alleges that poorly performing developing countries are linked to humanitarian catastrophes, mass migration, environmental degradation, regional instability, energy insecurity, global pandemics, international crime, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and transnational terrorism.

Leading thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama have said that, “since the end of Cold War, weak and failing states have arguably become the single most important problem for international order.”

Official Washington agrees. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declares that nations incapable of exercising “responsible sovereignty” have a “spillover effect” in the form of terrorism, weapons proliferation and other dangers.

This new preoccupation with weak states is not limited to the U.S. In the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit has advocated a government-wide approach to stabilizing fragile countries. Canada and Australia are following suit.

Australian Think Tanks have labeled Papua New Guinea (PNG) as heading towards the “brink of collapse” that attracted immediate attention from Canberra while in Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand led mission are stationed to normalize the 2006 riot allegedly targeting Chinese communities.

U.S., U.K, Australia, New Zealand (N.Z.) and Japan are traditional powers in the pacific with respective dominance. France included. And they are strong allies till today fighting common enemies from humanity to environment, even ideology.

But their ratings in the world do not seem appealing. Carol Bellamy and Adam Weinberg of World Learning discovered that U.S.’s image in the world has diminished, including its allies.

According to them, a June 2007 study by the Pew Foundation documented negative perception of the U.S. in just above every part of the globe.

Over the last five years, the percentage of people with a favorable image of the U.S. decreased by 11% in Japan, 18 % in Argentina, 30% in Germany and 32% in Indonesia. Even in U.K, the number of people with favorable U.S. views is a meager 51%.

The cause of these changes and the debt of the feelings are complex and open to debate. What is clear, however, is the need to deal with the perception problem, thus, reputation matters.

However, Wu Xinbo, a professor at the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in China see U.S. with full of contradiction.

Wu see the 20th century passed with Great America’s Way, but as the world move into the 21st century, the magic of globalization and the information age has rendered U.S. influence omnipresent on the earth.

He argues that the U.S. primary role in the world affairs is understood, but for many observers, it is full of contradictions.

“The U.S. pledges to stand for human rights and democracy but these promises are coupled with certain degree of hypocrisy. The U.S. claims to promote peace and stability but often intrudes into the internal affairs of others by abusing its supreme military power or waving the stick of sanctions.” Wu commented.

The U.S. cherishes a high degree of self-pride but often neglects to show respect to others, and consideration for the national feelings of others. Washington tends to seek absolute security for itself but is inclined to dismiss the legitimate security concerns of other countries.

U.S. preaches about environmental pollution and sea rise but is the greater polluter of planet earth, and never rectified the Kyoto Protocol.

So should the pacific region question the reasons behind U.S.’s “re-engagement” in the region, if Obama carry on? This is because in the pacific, there are no threats directed to U.S. as it alleged with Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran.

Pacific has always been peaceful with all administrations of governments functioning well with public servants still being paid their salary on time.

Fiji’s Bainimarama and his coup led government have proven to function well though there have been threats from Canberra, Washington, and Wellington.

Given these, this commentary concludes that U.S.’s main reasons for ‘re-engaging” in the region is because of China’s already presence with the notion of “China threat”.

If “Containment” is the policy U.S. will attempt, then it is caused not by the “China threat” theory but simply because U.S. is yet to understand the 5000 years old Middle Kingdom.

In fact, understanding China has never been that simple.

China has made huge progress over the past three decades towards turning itself into a modern country.

Although China’s rise has never come close to the level of global power of the U.S. or that of Great Britain during the 19th century, its rapidly growing economy, political and cultural engagement and influence around the world today is as understandable as it is remarkable.

China has emerged as an engine of global economic growth, with US$1.8 trillion in foreign currency reserves in May 2008 and plans to apply hundreds of billions of dollars of this to international investment in coming years through wealth fund.

It drives needs for all kinds of commodities, from oil and aluminum to cement and copper, that has driven up world price.

China is the world’s largest trader in terms of volume with GDP rising to US$3.24 trillion in 2007 and GDP growth in 2007 reaching just under 12%.

It has risen rapidly to become the largest trading partner of many nations particularly in Asia.

China has also become an important and active player in critical global security issues ranging from North Korea, Iran and Sudan to global warming, HIV/Aids, and energy security.

Its officials and scholars have become more open to discussing China’s evolving perspectives and on going internal debates about a full range of international issues.

In the process, Beijing has displayed increasing self-confidence and assertiveness in publicity promoting its interest and principles.

Perhaps most important, the worlds perception of China’s power and importance internationally today, and ever-growing influence year by year, has evolved measurable.

It is now commonly stated that no major international challenge can be effectively be met without China’s assistance.

In short, China’s “rise” has become sooner then expected and is here to stay in the region.

Thus, USA’s “re-engagement” policy, if the new president will still implement then China must be a developmental partner, not a rivalry in the pacific, once U.S.A’s water back.

The Pacific Islanders can benefit from both China and U.S.A. if islanders play their island politics safely for common benefit.