Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘South China Sea’

3rd October 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the dynamics of Sino-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) relations has been a topic of discussion. In order to provide further insight into these matters it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Bernama at Bernama.com.my:

KUALA LUMPUR, October 3 (Bernama-AsiaNet) — The economic relation between China and the ASEAN is very close despite the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The establishment of the China and ASEAN Free Trade Area creates the world’s largest free trade area that comprises developed countries and has 1.9 billion consumers, a GDP of nearly US$6 trillion and foreign trade totaling US$4.5 trillion…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

It would seem that many feel as though there will likely be further economic benefits derived from further economic cooperation between China and the countries which comprise ASEAN. In the context of specific countries, such as Thailand, this benefit may be further magnified by bilateral relations with the US. Thailand maintains a strong economic relationship with the United States as enshrined by the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. Bearing this in mind, the dynamics of Asian economics is subtle and multifaceted. That stated, there are many indications that the economies of Asia will continue to economically thrive in the future.

In news pertaining to travel matters in the United States it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been recently analyzed for what appears to have been an invasive pat down of a woman who had been afflicted with breast cancer. In order to provide further information regarding this situation it is necessary to quote directly from a posting by Lori Dorn via Boing Boing on the website Gizmodo.com:

Lori Dorn, the wife of Laughing Squid’s Scott Beale, recently submitted to a backscatter scan at JFK airport. The TSA pulled her aside for a breast patdown, even though she stated she had breast implants in place after her bilateral mastectomy. Of course, that didn’t stop them. They didn’t even let her take out the Device Identification Card that would could have explained where the implants came from and their medical purpose. No. Instead they humiliated her in public…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the aforementioned hyperlinks to read more from this interesting article.

In this blogger’s mind, there is no question that security should be a concern for travelers both in the US and abroad. However, usage of the term “security” as an umbrella term to allow for the humiliation of a breast cancer survivor seems rather draconian especially in light of the fact that the woman in question apparently had a Device Identification Card for just such occasions seems perplexing, to say the least. Hopefully measures will be taken to provide some sort of protection for travelers with disabilities so as to address safety concerns while simultaneously preventing humiliation while traveling.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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8th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has celebrated its 44th birthday. In order to provide further information on this story it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Channel News Asia, ChannelNewsAsia.com:

SINGAPORE: Singapore will mark the 44th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with a flag-raising ceremony at the Indonesian Embassy on 8 August. Indonesia is the current Chairman of ASEAN. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this year’s celebrations are particularly significant. It said this will be the first time that the ASEAN flag will be flown at all ASEAN member states’ diplomatic and consular missions in ASEAN countries and ASEAN’s dialogue partners and ASEAN Member States’ Missions where UN headquarters and offices are located…

Readers are asked to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this insightful article.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that there have been significant discussions within ASEAN regarding issues such as a unified ASEAN visa, the exchange of University credits in an intra-ASEAN context, and a framework for dealing with issues pertaining to the South China Sea. As of yet, there has not been a full resolution regarding these issues, but the dialogue continues with many hopeful that ASEAN will be able to provide a strong platform for regional and global trade as well as business.

In news which is likely of more pertinence to those in Southeast Asia, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there is further optimism regarding the Thai real estate markets. To quote directly from the official website of The Nation, NationMultimedia.com:

The property market will benefit from political stability and the government’s policy of boosting demand in the first-home market in the second half of this year, according to property experts. A survey of leading property firms by The Nation, seeking outlooks for the property market in the second half of 2011, found most believing that following the election, home-buyers will return to the market because of renewed confidence in political stability…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this article.

Many foreign nationals in Thailand contemplate a Thailand property purchase either in the form of a Condo in Thailand or a house. In the case of a house in Thailand, it may be possible to enjoy the benefits of a Thai home notwithstanding restrictions placed upon foreign ownership of Thai land. In fact, through use of instruments such as Thai leases or Thai usufructs it may be possible to secure virtually total control over a home in Thailand. Some opt to secure their interest in a Thai house by bifurcating the title to the house from the title to the property (sometimes referred to as a Chanote). In any case, there may be ways in which a foreign national can enjoy the benefits of real estate in Thailand.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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1st August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the current Attorney General of the sovereign State of New York is challenging the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) on the grounds that it violates the 5th and 10th Amendments of the United States Constitution. In order to provide insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from an article posted to the website Patch.com:

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed court papers charging that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional on a number of fronts, including an “unprecedented intrusion” on the right of states to regulate marriage. DOMA, passed in 1996, has been under heightened scrutiny since the Obama administration announced in February that it would no longer uphold the part of the law that bars the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages…In a brief filed in the case Windsor v United States of America, Schneiderman argued that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment by failing to provide equal rights to all Americans and the Tenth Amendment by impeding the right of states to regulate marriage.

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full.

Frequent readers may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler has rather recently introduced legislation colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) which attempts to rectify the current legal discrimination faced by those who have entered into a same sex marriage. The RFMA would provide federal “certainty” to validly licensed State sanctioned same sex marriages which would presumably allow federal protection for marital benefits regardless of the geographic location of a same sex married couple. Meanwhile, those same sex bi-national couples who are currently separated from their loved ones due to the discrimination which currently prohibits same sex couples (even those validly married in a State jurisdiction) from receiving visa benefits for their foreign spouse in the same manner as those who seek a K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa. Representative Nadler has also introduced legislation to specifically rectify discrimination in an immigration context in the form of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). It has long been this blogger’s opinion that inter-jurisdictional issues pertaining to same sex marriage will ultimately be resolved in the US Courts, but a final resolution has yet to present itself.

In matters related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it was recently noted that diplomatic progress has been made with respect to negotiations pertaining to the South China Sea. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Japan Times, JapanTimes.co.jp:

KANEOHE, Hawaii — Last week a sense of optimism wafted out of the Bali meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN and China agreed on “guidelines” for implementing their previously agreed 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Some players including China hailed this as a breakthrough. Others agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “It was an important first step but only a first step” and that ASEAN and China should move quickly — even urgently — toward an actual code of conduct…ASEAN made a major compromise by agreeing to drop a clause that would mandate that it form an ASEAN position before dealing with China on South China Sea issues. This gesture was important to convince China that the other claimants (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam) are not using ASEAN to “gang up” on it. China also deserves considerable credit. It had long resisted the draft guidelines and made a major compromise by agreeing to them…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting posting in full.

As the tensions in the South China Sea seem to be subsiding there seem to be many who hope that a lasting framework can be implemented in order to deal with the myriad issues that are raised by the complexity of this multi-jurisdictional dispute. The issue of maritime freedom of navigation is an important and salient one for those nations which maintain sea power. Therefore, balancing the interests of all such parties in any agreement can be difficult and the drafting of such an agreement could be time consuming as well.  Hopefully, any possible future agreement will operate to the benefit of all concerned.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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30th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that representatives from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to meet in September. Further, the Philippine DFA has apparently commented upon these developments. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website ABS-CBNNews.com:

MANILA, Philippines – A team of maritime legal experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is scheduled to meet in Manila in September to begin talks on maritime territorial issues, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday. This is part of the preventive diplomacy approach wherein ASEAN experts will determine disputed from non-disputed waters, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said. “The experts will give a concept paper to determine the zone of peace and cooperation and let them discuss it, assess and hopefully support it. We will present it to the ASEAN and hopefully China will hear it,” he added…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

There are many who have speculated that the ASEAN region could one day see a single visa system similar to the Schengen system utilized in certain countries of Europe. However, this development remains to be seen. Meanwhile, discussions regarding the tensions which have recently arisen with respect to the South China Sea area have sort of been “tabled” until the upcoming meeting in Manila. Hopefully, this situation evolves into something that is beneficial for all of the ASEAN countries and the Greater Asian region as a whole.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a venerated publication has noted recent shifts in American attitude regarding same sex marriage. To quote directly from the official website of The Economist magazine, Economist.com

[W]hen National Journal polled political “insiders” this month, it found a majority of Democratic politicos, lobbyists and strategists in favour of making gay marriage legal. No less telling, a majority of their Republican counterparts, while continuing to oppose gay marriage, thought their party should just ignore the issue. That might make electoral sense. Since it is the young who are most relaxed about gay marriage, standing in its path might cost the Republicans dear in the future. The notion of denying gays the spousal rights available to others makes little sense to a generation that sees marriage at least as much as a union of soul-mates as a formal structure for child-rearing…That may be why Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who ran for the presidency in 2008 and may yet do so again, has warned fellow Republicans to “get the heck out of people’s bedrooms”…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this insightful article by Lexington.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noted that the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) noted above was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler. Representative Nadler is also the sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which, if enacted, would remedy the current discrimination faced by same sex bi-national couples who cannot receive visa benefits such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts notwithstanding that they may have a valid State licensed same sex marriage.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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23rd July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the heads of the American and Chinese foreign services commented upon those two countries’ ability to peacefully resolve disputes pertaining to the rather vexatious issue of the South China Sea. In order to provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the China Daily website, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

BEIJING – China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have the ability and wisdom to settle the South China Sea disputes, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday. Yang, speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum to be held on Saturday on the Indonesian island of Bali, said the Chinese side is committed to maintaining freedom of navigation and security in the area. Clinton said the United States understands that the South China Sea issue is complex and the US side takes no position on the issue. She added that Washington supports measures conducive to the settlement of the disputes, and has no intention of getting involved or making it a problem in China-US relations…China and ASEAN countries recently reached agreement on the guidelines of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which lays a foundation for cooperation in the area and demonstrates that China and ASEAN countries can solve the disputes on their own, Yang said…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more details from this interesting article.

It is certainly heartening to hear news about the maintenance of principles such as those espoused above, hopefully such discussions will result in benefits for not only the United States and China; but all concerned as well. Frequent readers of this blog may have taken note of the fact that there have been many discussions centering upon matters arising in the context of the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). Such discussions would seem to have revolved around topics such as the aforementioned South China Sea dispute, a possible single ASEAN visa scheme, as well as issues related to trade in the increasingly economically vibrant region.

In somewhat related news it would appear as though a former Vietnamese Air Force Commander has passed away. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The New York Times, NYTimes.com:

Nguyen Cao Ky, the flamboyant former South Vietnamese Air Force commander who served for two years as his country’s wartime leader, then fled to the United States when Saigon fell to the Communists, died Saturday at the age of 80. Mr. Ky died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was being treated for a respiratory infection, a nephew, Peter Phan, told The Associated Press. After serving in both the Communist and French colonial armies, he rose through the ranks of South Vietnam’s fledgling air force, then led Vietnam as prime minister from 1965 to 1967 before serving as vice president under his bitter rival, Nguyen Van Thieu…He re-emerged in the news in 2004 when he became the highest-ranking former South Vietnamese official to return to Vietnam, at the invitation of the Communist government. In government, he relished a bad-boy reputation, striking a vivid figure in his purple scarf, thin mustache and cigarette and appearing on occasion with his glamorous wife, both wearing matching black flight suits…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more about what would appear to have been an interesting personality. Although it has been some time since the conclusion of the conflict in Vietnam, an understanding of the history of said conflict can provide a great deal of historical context and contemporaneous insight about the current situation in both Vietnam as well as Greater Southeast Asia.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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22nd July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Secretary of State has recently been noted for her positive comments regarding a draft agreement between China and certain Southeast Asian Nations pertaining to the South China Sea. In order to provide further information it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Associated Press, AP.org:

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s is praising a preliminary agreement between China and Southeast Asian Nations to peacefully resolve competing territorial claims in the strategic South China Sea. At a meeting with China’s foreign minister on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian regional security forum in Bali, Indonesia on Friday, Clinton commended the two sides for reaching the deal, which aims to prevent conflict over several disputed islands and potential oil and gas resources. The U.S. has said peaceful resolution to the claims is an American national security interest…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

Readers may recall that recent discussions within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have revolved around issues pertaining to disputes in the South China Sea. It would appear as though American officials have taken note of recent positive developments. It should be noted that there have also been discussions centering upon the idea of an ASEAN Visa Area similar to the Schengen Visa Program. That stated, there has yet to be any type of finalized agreement related to that issue.

Meanwhile, it would appear as though multiple mainstream and alternative media outlets have been discussing issues related to the struggle for LGBT Equality to best bring home this point it it necessary to quote directly from the website of The Atlantic, TheAtlantic.com:

The portentously named “Respect for Marriage Act” is a short, sweet bill that would repeal the equally portentously named “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA, passed in 1996 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. Sponsored and championed at the time by a Georgia Republican congressman named Bob Barr, DOMA wrote into federal law two key concepts: first, for federal purposes, the word “marriage” would mean only a legal union between one man and one woman; and second, no state had to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex that had been performed in any other state or jurisdiction. The “Respect for Marriage Act”, or the DOMA repeal bill, would let the feds return to their traditional practice of recognizing any state’s valid marriages — which would include same-sex marriages made in the six states (and district of Columbia) that currently perform them.

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in detail.

This was, in this blogger’s opinion, a very insightful article, but this blogger’s question would be: since when do the “feds” get to deviate from their so-called “traditional practice” of recognizing validly legalized and/or solemnized marriages occurring in purely intra-State jurisdiction? For this is the fundamental question pertaining to the issue of Section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts‘s right to marry individual’s within said jurisdiction would appear to be virtually “allodial” compared to the (somewhat spurious) claim that said marriages can effectively be abrogated via federal “non-recognition”.

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19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the naval chiefs of the nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam in upcoming days. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

HANOI – The 5th ASEAN Naval Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM-5) will be held in Vietnam on July 26-29, with participation of naval commanders from nine ASEAN member countries and the Lao defense attache in Vietnam. According to Vietnam News Agency on Tuesday, it is the first time Vietnam hosts such defense cooperation event, during which delegates will share views and discuss cooperative measures to respond to security challenges in the region, among other issues…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

This news comes upon the heels of news that the American President is scheduled to attend an upcoming ASEAN meeting. Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders are apparently in continued discussion regarding a communique pertaining to the South China Sea. Finally, it would appear as though there may be further discussion regarding an ASEAN visa which would operate in a similar manner to the Schengen Visa. How all of these developments will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but they are certainly of interest for those in the region.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality this blogger recently came upon an interesting posting discussing the current legal position of the LGBT community in light of continued enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from a posting by Peter J Reilly on the official website of Forbes, Forbes.com:

One of my earliest and most popular (pre-Forbes) posts was on the case of Rhiannon G. O’Donnabhain, who wanted to deduct the cost of gender reassignment surgery as a medical expense.  The IRS argued that the procedure was “cosmetic surgery” and not deductible.  Ms. O’Donnabhain prevailed.  Then came Gill V OPM.  As I noted in my inaugural Forbes post, marital status impact over 1,000 “benefits, rights and privileges” in the United States Code.  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holds that a couple is not married for any federal purpose unless they are of the opposite gender and that the word spouse means a person of the opposite gender.  In Gill v OPM a district court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA had no rational basis.  There were several plaintiffs in Gill, all legally married in Massachusetts, arguing for a variety of benefits including that of filing a joint return…

Those interested in such issues are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting posting in detail.

Section 3 of DOMA also has significant ramifications in an American immigration context as even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a State which legalizes such unions cannot use said marriage as a basis to petition for spouse visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa). Concurrently, as such unions are not recognized by the United States federal government a petition for a same sex K-1 visa would also not be permissible so long as DOMA remains in place.  Bearing that in mind the reader should note that legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the Reuniting Families Act in order to provide some sort of remedy for the current discrimination being borne by same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as whole. As of the time of this writing none of the above legislation has seen passage although with an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing set to discuss DOMA there is hope that this discrimination will not continue indefinitely.

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15th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the upcoming ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia will discuss the notion of something akin to an ASEAN Schengen-like visa. In order to provide further insight into these matters it is probably best to quote directly from the official website of the Thai News Agency MCOT, MCOT.net:

Jakarta, July 14 (ANTARA) – Indonesia is to bring up the issue of instituting a joint ASEAN visa system at an ASEAN ministerial meeting (AMM) next July 16-23, a minister said. “The idea to adopt a joint ASEAN visa system for visitors from outside the ASEAN region will be discussed during a ministerial meeting in Bali. The concept of a joint visa system will resemble the Schengen visa system adhered to by some European countries,” Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said here Thursday… Earlier, the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) comprised of member tourism organization from the 10-member nations of ASEAN, is busy lobbying their respective governments to adopt a policy of a single visa valid for all ten countries as a critical step of turning ASEAN into a single tourism destination…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to delve further into the details of these currently unfolding events.

Readers may recall that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is composed of the ten members nations Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam which are becoming increasingly vibrant in the overall spectrum of the global economy. Furthermore, there is an increasing amount of trade transpiring throughout Asia. Much of this trade occurs between ASEAN jurisdictions or between ASEAN countries and jurisdictions such as the United States of America, the so-called BRICS Nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), or the Greater Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, it is not an overestimate to surmise that the ramifications of the creation of some type of pan-ASEAN visa or similar travel document would, at the least, be a step toward possible further streamlining of tourism and trade in the ASEAN region.

This news comes at a relatively contemporaneous moment with that of news that discussions in Bali may also revolve around recent discussions pertaining to the South China Sea. In order to provide further insight into these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of The Mainichi Daily News, Mainichi.jp:

JAKARTA (Kyodo) — The 44th meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations in Bali next week is expected to bring the regional grouping and China closer step to finalizing of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, according to a draft of joint communique of the meeting seen Wednesday. The draft obtained by Kyodo News shows ASEAN and China, one of the group’s dialogue partners, have begun discussion on the Code of Conduct “by building upon the momentum of the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations” which falls this year…In the same draft, both sides are also expected to repeat the calls on all parties to respect the freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as provided for by the principles of international law…

The reader is again asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this insightful article.

With this news coming upon the heels of a recent trip by the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff to China and the announcement that United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the upcoming meeting in Bali it is not a difficult inference to make the conclusion that discussions at the upcoming meeting could result in substantial economic, political, and legal benefits for all concerned.

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10th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the American Armed Forces has apparently traveled to China for talks with leaders in that nation. In order to provide some insight into these developments it is best to quote directly from the official Voice of America website, VOANews.com:

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, began a four-day visit to China Sunday for talks with top leaders and high-ranking military officials…Mullen said he will discuss stalled nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, the Taiwan issue, U.S.-China relations, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and other matters. The admiral is in China at the invitation of Army Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

It would appear as though American personnel and Chinese officials are undertaking efforts to discuss sensitive and significant issues which pertain to China, the United States, and possibly the Greater Asia-Pacific region. The ramifications of such discussions could have an impact not only upon US and Chinese policy, but also upon the policies adopted by the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, which includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam), the so-called BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), or APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) members. Hopefully the meetings noted above will result in benefits for all concerned.

In matters pertaining to ASEAN it would appear as though that organization will be holding discussions with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in order to share ideas regarding a framework for cooperation. To provide detailed information to the reader it is best to quote directly from the Oman Daily Observer website OmanObserver.om:

SALALAH — The Sultanate will host today deliberations of the first meeting of the working team of economic and trade co-operation between the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Asean states at the level of experts and specialists. The two-day meeting, which will be held here, will discuss a framework agreement for the economic, commercial and investment co-operation, steps to start free trade negotiations between the two sides after the completion of studies and means of exploring investment opportunities on each other’s sides in the fields of construction, services and infrastructure…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read about this situation further.

Anytime trade negotiations commence it should be noted that well-drafted trade agreements can have a dramatic and positive impact upon the economies in the jurisdictions which engage in such frameworks. That stated, a well drafted free trade agreement takes time to craft and often comes about only after a relatively protracted period of negotiation. Therefore, those interested in seeing positive developments which further sustainable trade are likely to wait while an acceptable agreement is forged. In a previous posting on this blog it was noted that an American Senator recently proposed a US-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in order to facilitate further trade between the United States of America and the collection of nations which compose the membership of ASEAN. Hopefully all of these proposals culminate in beneficial trade circumstances in the future.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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9th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Bankruptcy Courts may soon be hearing cases involving bankruptcy petitions for couples who have entered into a same sex marriage. In order to provide further insight it is prudent to quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

The U.S. Justice Department has dropped its opposition to joint bankruptcy petitions filed by same-sex married couples in a victory for supporters of gay marriage. The policy change is the latest setback for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has come under increasing pressure since the Obama administration said in February that it would no longer defend its constitutionality. Until now, the Justice Department had routinely intervened to stop joint bankruptcy cases filed by same-sex couples. The Department’s position had been that the bankruptcy code only allows joint filings by opposite-sex spouses as defined under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In an unexpected turnabout, the department on Wednesday filed a request to withdraw its appeal in one such case. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler confirmed the policy change in an e-mail to Reuters on Thursday. “The Department of Justice has informed bankruptcy courts that it will no longer seek dismissal of bankruptcy petitions filed jointly by same-sex debtors who are married under state law,” she wrote…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting article by Terry Baynes which was edited by Cynthia Johnston.

Although the main thrust of this blog is not centered upon the discussion of federal bankruptcy issues, this change in policy to recognize those same sex couples married under State law is certainly a victory for advocates of LGBT Equality. Concurrently, it is also a victory for proponents of States’ Rights, a doctrine which holds many of the prerogatives and laws of the States in high regard relative to those of the federal government of the United States of America. Meanwhile, advocates for full LGBT Equality must continue to wait for full legal recognition of equal rights until such time as the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is either repealed, replaced with legislation similar to the Respect for Marriage Act, or amended in such a way that true equality under the law is granted for the individuals involved while the prerogatives of the sovereign American States are respected. Something perhaps akin to the doctrine of “certainty” enshrined in the provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act noted above.

In an American immigration context, it should be noted that members of the LGBT community cannot be granted the same visa benefits in the same manner as other communities since same sex bi-national couples are not able to obtain travel documents such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa in the same way as their different-sex counterparts. Therefore until such time as DOMA is repealed this situation is unlikely to change. In the event that legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Reuniting Families Act, or the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is enacted by the Congress and signed into law by the President then a same sex bi-national couple may be able to petition for US immigration benefits for their spouse or fiance. As of the time of this writing, such a scenario is not yet feasible.

In news related to China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) it recently came to this blogger’s attention that tensions appear to be subsiding with respect to the various issues surrounding the South China Sea. This assessment is made based upon apparent announcements from the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario.  To provide more information it is necessary to quote directly from the website of Business World Online, BWorldOnline.com:

BEIJING –FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Albert F. del Rosario on Friday said he and ranking Chinese officials agreed to settle the territorial dispute in the South China Sea through guidelines agreed upon by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) almost a decade ago.Mr. Del Rosario, who talked to foreign journalists at the St. Regis Hotel near the Philippine embassy, said “yes” when asked if his two-day visit was a success, adding that both side have renewed their commitment to bring stability in the area amid recent tensions. “The two sides reaffirmed their commitments to respect and abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and the ASEAN member countries in 2002,” Mr. del Rosario said, referring to his meeting with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. “Both ministers agreed to further strengthen the bonds and friendship and cooperation between the two countries and to fully implement the Joint Action Plan,” he added. “Both ministers exchanged views on the maritime disputes and agreed not to let the maritime disputes affect the broader picture of friendship and cooperation between the two countries,” Mr. del Rosario further said…The South China Sea, which hosts the oil-rich Spratly Islands, has been claimed in part or wholly by Brunei Darrusalam, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. In a conference in Manila late this week, foreign policy experts called for a binding agreement among Spratly claimants to resolve conflicting positions…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this insightful article by Darwin T. Wee.

As can be gathered from the excerpt noted above, there have been many geopolitical facets to the South China Sea dispute, but one notable aspect of this developing situation is that the parties have a seemingly genuine desire to deal with the matter reasonably and and peacefully. Hopefully this attitude will continue and these issues can be resolved to the benefit of all concerned.

At the time of this writing, China continues to show signs of increasing economic and political strength. These developments come amidst news that Malaysia has maintained trade discussions with various African and Islamic nations while simultaneously playing a role within ASEAN. At the same time, circumstances in the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have lead many to believe that all of these jurisdiction will show further economic flourish in the future. Vietnam and Taiwan are dealing with rather new issues as they find themselves confronting the rest of the world on somewhat different terms compared to times past. These developments have both positive and negative ramifications for these jurisdictions, but the overall economic and political forecasts for all of these places appears bright.

As the aforementioned dispute appears to be moving toward a resolution it is hoped that further disputes can be handled using some sort of framework which provides efficiency in adjudicating issues while simultaneously operating on terms which all parties concerned can agree upon.

For information related to same sex marriage and the intersection between State and federal law please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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