In this dangerous era, the Panda Bear is here to record one of the darkest pages in mankind’s history. Make no mistake, dear readers: the unfolding conflict in North Korea could very well mean the end of us all. When President Kennedy defused the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, he was rightly credited for saving the world from a new devastating World War. It seems that such leadership is long gone today.
There were hopes for the contrary, however, with a Peace Summit being called this morning by the UN Secretary General, Felix Johnston-Brunn. In that summit, world powers decided on de-escalation of the conflict and denuclearization – or so we thought. For as soon as the talking shop decided to suspend its meeting, world leaders went right back to waging war on each other, with both China and the US escalating the conflict in North Korea by sending in both their air force and ground troops, with massive military and civilian losses (not to mention general devastation) as a result. The US then proceeded to blame their military intervention as an order of rogue officials installed by President Trump, who had himself signed the order of invasion right upon his deposition by his Cabinet this morning, and maliciously passed on the order to his military leaders in the region. As soon as the American cabinet was able to regain control of its army, it subsequently decided to start withdrawing its troops, thus (temporarily) avoiding immediate nuclear armageddon. But with many of its retreating troops still stuck in North Korean territory, this may turn into a military and strategic disaster for the United States.
However, not being content with this extremely close call, China further raised the ire of the international community by invading Vietnam and delivering a formal declaration of war to the American Embassy in Beijing. Perhaps motivated by all other world leaders’ opportunistic seizure of territory, Australia and the Philippines have apparently decided to cut out a piece of the world map and take it for themselves, as they are now blockading Indonesia.
In the experienced eye of this Panda Bear reporter, it is only a matter of time before world powers directly face off against each other – and then, there will be no telling who will emerge victorious, and how. Clearly, any nations really wishing to go down this path of self-interested theft of territory and wealth must ask themselves what spoils will remain for them to take if this mounting conflict really does devolve into total, global-scale nuclear war.
Well folks, it’s been nice knowing you.
The Southeast Asian Times can confirm that the United States Air Force has started indiscriminately bombing the whole territory of North Korea, with great loss of civilian lives but also ‘yuge’ losses to Chinese and North Korean troops in the country. The US Air Force has already admitted that the anti-aircraft preparedness in North Korea has turned out to be greater than it originally anticipated, mainly due to Chinese reinforcements having brought in a great amount of anti-aircraft equipment.
And to add insult to injury, the US has also sent ground troops out of its South Korean bases, which have started to cross the Demilitarized Zone and are now flowing into North Korea, encountering fierce resistance on the way in. As there is sure to be a military reaction from the People’s Republic of China to this invasion, we all have much to fear that this situation will escalate even further – the use of nuclear weapons can now no longer be categorically excluded.
Thanks to leaked photographs from Russian spy satellites, the Times can now exclusively report that the US is mobilizing its air force bases in the Pacific. Indeed, it would seem that the American Cabinet has put its air force assets on high alert, with imminent military action in mind. Additionally, the Pentagon and the White House have gone to DEFCON 1, which would indicate an impending military strike. This is highly unlikely news at a time when world leaders are meeting in Vienna to de-escalate mounting tension and conflict on the Korean peninsula, but there is sure to be a strong diplomatic and perhaps military response to this breaking news.
After the botched construction of a Chinese oil rig, oil is still spilling into the sea close to the Spratly Islands. As confirmed by a neutral, international investigation, the catastrophic failure of the oil rig was due to severe lackings in the construction of the installation by Sinopec & ExxonMobil. Despite the fact that the oil is still spilling at spillage rates unseen since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, none of the involved actors are taking responsibility. On the contrary: the state-controlled Chinese news agency Xinhua blamed the environmental disaster on sabotage by Vietnamese agents, an allegation for which it provided zero evidence. This has caused a severe deterioration in diplomatic relations between the two countries, which has prompted international observers to openly fear a large-scale armed escalation of this dispute.
Great success Down Under: a military task force sent by the Australian Army and authorized by the Filipino government to help in the fight against the NPA in the Southern Philippines has captured the Chinese NPA Liaison Officer. This could lead to a major breakthrough in the investigation into links between the Chinese government and the Communist terror NPA, especially since China has claimed that previous ties that were uncovered were developed solely under the authority of a handful of rogue Chinese government officials, a story that is hard to believe to say the least, especially knowing the very structured hierarchy of the Chinese government.
It is also being reported by Australian media that the Liaison Officer in question was able to warn his family of his impending arrest before Australian soldiers were actually able to take him into custody. This prompted the man’s family to leave China for Australia and request political asylum there, for fear of Chinese government reprisals against them in case the culprit decided to cooperate with police or army investigators. This, of course, means that Australia has acquired a great amount of leverage against China in this developing story, especially if it turned out that the NPA liaison officer had more to say about his activities within the terrorist organization than the official Chinese government story would have suggested.
There is serious trouble ahead for North Korea’s new (interim?) Supreme Leader, Kim Yo-Jong, as rumours of dissent in her army have gradually intensified, and morphed into armed conflict with loyalist and rebel factions opening fire on each other. This escalation has prompted Kim Yo-Jong to decide to hermetically seal the borders with China, and to triple troop deployment on the border of the DMZ with South Korea. Additionally, measures were taken to expel all foreigners from North Korean territory: this included any diplomatic officials and all adventurous tourists present on North Korean soil. However, the convoy which was planned to escort them out of the country ran into a rebel faction of the North Korean army. This resulted in a heavy firefight, with many of the foreign nationals getting caught in the ensuing crossfire and being killed as a result, according to the embattled North Korean government, who tried to pin this slaughter on rebel factions of its army. According to a press release issued by Kim Yo-Jong’s Cabinet, the foreign victims included nationals from all over the continent, as North Korea has recently become more and more popular among thrillseekers from all over Asia and even from some Western countries. The current body count is as follows: 4 Australians, 12 Japanese, 21 Russians, 22 Chinese, 6 Filipinos and 5 Americans, all dead.
This serious development requires the immediate attention of the international community, and needs to be handled with extreme care especially by China and South Korea.
As if there were not enough turmoil in the region already, a major environmental disaster is now unfolding in the South China Sea. Just as the Times reported earlier that a major oil deposit had been found off the Spratly Islands (http://tics-conference.org/southeast-asian-times-breaking-massive-oil-reserve-found-off-spratly-islands), and major stakeholders in the region rushed naval vessels to the area in order to prospect the find and start to exploit it, China sought rapprochement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in order to build a first temporary oil well and drilling rig to conduct further analysis of the oil reserves as well as to start initial commercial extraction, events turned sour at an alarming pace.
First, after having initially given encouraging signs towards a potential partnership, Vietnam rebuffed the Chinese advances, stating it preferred working within a multilateral framework such as ASEAN rather than in a purely bilateral relationship with China. This forced China to build the temporary rig on its own, without the expertise or support of Vietnamese engineers, who have more experience with building oil rigs in the choppy seas off the Spratly Islands. In practice, the Chinese government appealed to their state-owned oil company Sinopec, who built the initial rig in cooperation with ExxonMobil, under an agreement signed between both companies back when Rex Tillerson, now the American Secretary of State, was CEO of Exxon.
This temporary rig initially yielded great results, with forecasts of major profits to the Chinese economy, causing great and understandable jealousy among the other stakeholders in the region. However, the drilling rig soon catastrophically malfunctioned, causing an explosion at the base of the oil well, close to the ocean floor. This has caused the massive reserves of oil sitting underneath this well to start spilling at an alarmingly high rate, threatening fragile ecosystems in that region of the South China Sea. International environment observers in the area are now looking at national governments in the region to find a solution to this disaster, and above all to find one quick.
In the end, several questions remain: who was responsible for this disaster? Could the Chinese have built a faulty oil rig, due to their lack of expertise after the withdrawal of their Vietnamese would-be partners? Was the public-private partnership between the Chinese Sinopec & the American ExxonMobil more focused on getting the rig up and running quickly, rather than safely? Or is there more at play, like (eco-)terrorist involvement, or sabotage by one of the rival stakeholders in the South China Sea? And above all, what can be done to respond to this catastrophe now, before the entire ecosystem of the region is ruined? Will China, the US and the other stakeholders standing around the well take their moral environmental responsibility, or run from it? We look forward to hearing from the environmental ministries of regional stakeholders on the matter…
From a source directly embedded within the US Intelligence community, the Times has unearthed the following confirmed information: the United States’ own Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is convinced that China is in fact a direct funder and supporter of Communist Terrorism. In a report obtained by Southeast Asian Times reporters, the CIA confirms that China was directly involved in yesterday’s terrorist attack in General Santos City, southern Philippines, which caused the deaths of dozens of innocent civilians and of two South Korean officials. As the Times reported yesterday, responsibility for the attack was claimed by a communist terrorist group which calls itself “the New People’s Army” or NPA.
And it is this group which is being directly supported by the Chinese government: indeed, the attacks were committed with Chinese weapons, and paid for with funds directly provided by the Chinese government, but channeled through numerous front companies. And to add insult to injury, the authors of yesterday’s terrorist attack were directly trained in guerrilla/terrorist combat techniques by the Chinese army, in China, after which these combatants were smuggled back into the Philippines on cargo ships. The only indication of motive mentioned in the CIA report seems to point to China & the NPA’s common communist ideology.
As this news breaks, international observers are holding their breath for the political and diplomatic repercussions of this bombshell.
Today, the Times can report on one of the most embarrassing failures in economic strategy by stakeholders in the South China Sea conflict. As it reported earlier, major new oil reserves have been found off the Spratly Islands, just there for the taking by any claimants of territory or influence in that part of the South China Sea (http://tics-conference.org/southeast-asian-times-breaking-massive-oil-reserve-found-off-spratly-islands). So far, and even though there has been ample time for national governments with a stake in the issue to act, only China seems to be taking seriously what could be the single largest source of income to fall into its laps since the time of the Imperial Dynasties. Indeed, the Times has heard confirmed reports that China has sent several naval vessels to explore the oil deposit in question. There has been no reaction at all, not even a verbal condemnation, by the other stakeholders in the region, such as the United States or the Philippines. This, even though China’s claims on the oil reserves is no more legitimate than, say, the Philippines’. Additionally, our investigative reporters have heard rumours relayed by well-placed sources that China is seeking a partnership with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the construction of an oil well on top of this deposit as well as its actual exploitation, which potentially would make this Sino-Vietnamese joint venture a powerhouse destabilizing the economic balance in the whole of Asia.
Without a doubt, regional powers will have to respond adequately to this developing situation if they want to prevent China from decisively capitalizing on the lead it has already built up on this possible oil jackpot.