Friday, January 28, 2022

Minsk Protocol | Jan. 28, 2022


The Minsk Protocol is an agreement which sought to end war in the Donbas region of Ukraine. It was written in 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),[1][2][3] with mediation by the leaders of France and Germany in the so-called Normandy Format.

After extensive talks in MinskBelarus, the agreement was signed by representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group and, without recognition of any status, by the then heads of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.

​The agreement, which followed multiple previous attempts to stop the fighting in the Donbas, aimed to implement an immediate ceasefire. It failed to stop fighting in Donbas,[4] and was thus followed with a new package of measures, called Minsk II, which was signed on 12 February 2015.[5] This too failed to stop the fighting, but the Normandy Format parties agreed that it remains the basis for any future resolution to the conflict.

The new package, commonly referred to as "Minsk II", was criticised for being "highly complicated" and "extremely fragile", and for being very similar to the failed Minsk Protocol.[5][34][35] The New York Times reported that the plan had "included some tripwires", such as not demarcating control over the city of Debaltseve, which was the site of the most fierce fighting at the time of the plan's drafting.[5][36] Following the Minsk talks, Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande, and President Poroshenko attended a European Union (EU) summit in Brussels.[37] At the summit, the Minsk participants briefed EU leaders about the talks. During the briefing, they said that President Putin had tried to delay the implementation of a ceasefire by ten days, so as to force Ukrainian troops in Debaltseve to surrender their positions. For his part, President Putin said that the Debaltseve defenders were encircled, and that the separatists expected them "to lay down their arms and cease resistance".[37] Kommersant reporter Andrey Kolesnikov wrote that implementation of the ceasefire in Debaltseve hinged upon whether or not Ukrainian forces were truly encircled, "Above all, does it exist or not? Vladimir Putin insisted that it [the encirclement] exists and that if a cease-fire agreement is reached, it will be odd if it isn't violated: Those in the kettle will certainly try to get out of there; those who have boiled that kettle will try to collect the foam".[38]   quoted from Wikipedia

乌边境全线备战 美增兵“预备调遣” 乌东进入战争前夜?20220126 |《今日关注》CCTV中文国际
Jan 27, 2022

China backs Putin as top diplomat warns US that Russia's security demands 'must be taken seriously' amid fears of war in Ukraine​

Jan. 27 - China has thrown its back behind Russia over Ukraine, warning the US that Putin's security demands must be 'taken seriously'. 

Foreign minister Wang Yi told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he should abandon his 'Cold War mentality' and engage in negotiations during a call today.

'All parties should abandon the Cold War mentality and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation,' Wang said.
'Russia's reasonable security concerns should be taken seriously and resolved.'

In a nod to Moscow's concerns about the expansion of the NATO alliance in Europe Wang added that 'regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs'.

The exact contents of Blinken's letter to Putin are not being made public, but Blinken said it contains 'serious' offers to de-escalate tensions.

These are said to include controls on nuclear arms and limits on military exercises, according to the New York Times.

After speaking with Blinken, Wang added that 'regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs'.

Wang also urged the US to 'stop interfering' in the Winter Olympics, which are set to take place next month in Beijing.     more from  MailOnline

US lawmakers praise Taiwan at Lai meeting

Feb. 28 - A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has praised Taiwan for its determination to uphold democracy, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) said on Tuesday during a stopover in Los Angeles en route to Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro’s inauguration.

Several lawmakers at an online meeting with 17 members of the US Congress earlier that day praised Taiwan for sticking to democracy, Lai told the Taiwanese community in Los Angeles via a videoconference.

They hailed the nation for not bowing to pressure from China, despite Beijing sending warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and conducting disinformation campaigns, Lai said.   more form Taipei Times

Upstream Operations

...The fact that Taiwan’s onshore oil and gas reserves could be depleted within 10 years from now drives CPC’s continued engagement in overseas exploration and production as well as M&A activities. CPC has also reset its overseas exploration strategy in line with both the government’s New Southbound Policy and with trends in the international energy industry – which means being active in joint-ventures and/or acquisitions pertaining to oil and natural gas producing assets in places such as Southeast Asia and the United States and then developing them for commercial production. Exploration for conventional oil and gas is currently focused on America (including California, Paraguay and the Gulf of Mexico), Southeast Asia, Australia and offshore West Africa; for unconventional resources, the focus is on acquiring shale oil and gas assets in the United States, building up relevant technical capabilities and gradually increasing cooperation on unconventional resources with other countries. In all of the aforementioned activities, CPC is working vigorously to deploy its available resources to best advantage, on core overseas target areas that hold out the possibility of discovering oil and gas resources with commercial production value and that will materially raise the degree of self-sufficiency....     quoted from CPC Corporation, Taiwan

Live: World's largest semi-submersible oil and gas production platform sets off for South China Sea
Streamed live on Jan 17, 2021
China's self-built semi-submersible oil and gas production platform is ready to leave its construction site in east China's Shandong Province and head to the Lingshui 17-2 gas field in the South China Sea – the biggest gas field in China. The platform is the world's first semi-submersible oil and gas production platform and weighs over 100,000 tonnes. Join CGTN's reporter Cao Bing for more.
CPC drilled 3 wells in Taichung to help relieve drought
Apr 19, 2021
With no relief in sight for the ongoing drought, the nation''s oil refiner CPC Corporation has stepped in to drill for water in Taichung. CPC brought out its heavy-duty drilling rig to a spot near Liyutan water purification plant. According to CPC''s drilling engineering team, the principle for drilling a water well is similar to that for drilling an oil well. In Taiwan, oil wells have to be drilled to a depth of 2,000 to 3,000 meters. Water wells, on the other hand, require a depth of just 350 meters, which can be easily reached by CPC''s drilling rig. The three wells that were drilled are expected to produce 15,000 tons of water a day, providing a new water source for more than 60,000 people.

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Paracels | Jan. 21, 2022


US Navy warship challenges Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea

Jan. 21 - ..The USS Benfold sailed around the Paracel Islands, known as the Xisha Islands in China, in what the Navy calls a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), Lt. Mark Langford, spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, said in the statement...

...The islands are also claimed by Vietnam and self-ruled Taiwan but in Chinese hands for more than 46 years. The islands have been fortified with People's Liberation Army (PLA) military installations.

The US Navy statement said the Benfold also challenged the claims of Vietnam and Taiwan.

"All three claimants require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel engages in 'innocent passage' through the territorial sea. Under international law ... the ships of all states -- including their warships -- enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea. The unilateral imposition of any authorization or advance-notification requirement for innocent passage is unlawful," the US Navy statement said.

Asserting freedom of navigation rights involves sailing within the 12-mile territorial limit from a nation's coastline recognized by international law...     more from BBC news

The name Paracel is of Portuguese origin, and appears on 16th-century Portuguese maps. The archipelago is approximately equidistant from the coastlines of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Vietnam; and approximately one-third of the way from central Vietnam to the northern Philippines.[5] The archipelago includes Dragon Hole, the deepest underwater sinkhole in the world.[6][7] Turtles and seabirds are native to the islands, which have a hot and humid climate, abundant rainfall and frequent typhoonsThe archipelago is surrounded by productive fishing grounds and a seabed with potential, but as yet unexplored, oil and gas reserves.     quoted from Wikipedia

Architecture, development and geological control of the Xisha carbonate platforms, northwestern South China Sea

Newly acquired seismic data allow improved understanding of the architecture and evolution of isolated carbonate platforms on the continental slope of the northern South China Sea. The Xisha carbonate platforms initiated on a basement high, the Xisha Uplift, in the early Miocene and have remained active to the present. Their distribution is limited to pre-existing localized, fault-bounded blocks within the Xisha Uplift so individual platforms were small in size at the beginning of the Miocene. However, during the middle Miocene, the platform carbonate factories flourished across an extensive area with 55,900 km2. The platforms began to backstep in response to a relative sea-level rise in the late Miocene. Platform-edge reefs, patch reefs, pinnacle reefs, atoll reefs and horseshoe reefs, all developed on various platforms. The distribution of platform carbonates shrank significantly during Pliocene-Quaternary time to isolated carbonate platforms, represented today by Xuande Atoll and Yongle Atoll. Tectonics and eustasy were the two main controls on platform development. Tectonics controlled both the initial topography for reef growth and the distribution of platforms, including those that survived the drowning event associated with the late Miocene rapid relative sea-level rise. Eustasy controlled high-frequency carbonate sequence development.

Friday, January 14, 2022

The South China Sea Basin | Jan. 14, 2022

 Why Biden Wants Taiwan/拜登支持台灣的理由

South China Sea Energy Exploration and Development

The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that the South China Sea holds about 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of oil in proved and probable reserves, most of which lie along the margins of the South China Sea rather than under disputed islets and reefs. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 estimated that there could be another 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 12 billion barrels of oil undiscovered in the South China Sea. Beijing’s estimates for hydrocarbon resources under the sea are considerably higher but still modest in relation to China’s overall demand—the country’s oil consumption in 2018 is expected to top 12.8 million barrels per day...     more

US 'sends carrier strike group' to South China Sea

​It comes as the US ramps up pressure on Beijing, laying out its most detailed case yet against 'unlawful' territorial claims

Jan. 14 - The United States has reportedly deployed carrier strike groups for drills in the contested South China Sea as it ramps up its opposition to Beijing’s maritime claims in the region.
The USS Carl Vinson and USS Essex, a Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock - along with their escort vessels - entered the southern waters of the sea on Tuesday, said Beijing-based think tank, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative.

According to the South China Morning Post, the US Navy is expected to conduct joint drills in the strategic international waterways, whose islands, atolls and reefs are subject to territorial disputes between China and several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines and Vietnam.

The exercises have so far not been confirmed by the United States Navy...

...The South China Sea is rich with oil and gas deposits and is crucial for international shipping. Beijing’s increasing swagger in the region has prompted alarm and a growth in “freedom of navigation” operations by the US and its allies....     quoted from The Telegraph

The South China Sea Enigma
Rasoul Sorkhabi, Ph.D.

The South China Sea, a marginal sea between Asia (the largest continent) and the Pacific (the largest ocean) covers an area of 3.5 million square kilometres and is surrounded by sedimentary basins, some of which have produced petroleum for decades. The oceanic and the stretched continental crusts underlying the South China Sea have experienced a complex tectonic history in Cenozoic times, which geologists are only beginning to unravel.

This article appeared in Vol. 10, No. 1 - 2013

The South China Sea Basin is one of the largest marginal basins in Asia. South China Sea is located to the east of Vietnam, west of Philippines and the Luzon Strait, and north of Borneo. Tectonically, it is surrounded by the Indochina Block on the west, Philippines Sea plate on the east, Yangtze Block to the north. A subduction boundary exists between the Philippines Sea Plate and the Asian Plate. The formation of the South China Sea Basin was closely related with the collision between the Indian Plate and Eurasian Plates. The collision thickened the continental crust and changed the elevation of the topography from the Himalayan orogenic zone to the South China Sea, especially around the Tibetan Plateau. The location of the South China Sea makes it a product of several tectonic events. All the plates around the South China Sea Basin underwent clockwise rotation, subduction and experienced an extrusion process from the early Cenozoic to the Late Miocene.

The geological history can be classified into five tectonic evolutionary stages. (1) rift system development (2) sea floor spreading, (3) subsidence of the South China Sea, (4) closure of the South China Sea Basin and (5) uplift of Taiwan.    quoted from Wikipedia

Thursday, January 6, 2022

AUKUS | Jan. 7, 2022


乌克兰欲拉北约下“险棋” 俄军将强化大量装备准备抗敌?20220105 |《今日关注》CCTV中文国际
Jan 6, 2022
Why President Biden Will End Up Giving Putin What He Wants In Ukraine

Nobody in NATO wants Ukraine to join.

Although strengthening ties with the West is the centerpiece of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s foreign policy, his corrupt and backward country would bring nothing of value to the Atlantic Alliance. Its military is dreadfully underfunded—Kyiv spent less than a billion dollars on weapons last year—and its geopolitical circumstances render it nearly indefensible.

As NATO expanded after the Soviet collapse, the handful of Western members who provide 90% of its funding acquired mutual defense commitments to a dozen Eastern European countries lacking the wherewithal to defend themselves. In the process, it also absorbed a raft of political frictions among new members that make the overall alliance less cohesive. The last thing London and Paris and Washington want today is to add another weak “partner” to their overstretched alliance.     quoted from Forbes

AUKUS (/ˈɔːkəs/AW-kəs), also styled as Aukus, is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region.[1][2] Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.[3]

​Why AUKUS is good to keep China at bay in Indo-Pacific

Jan. 7 - ...With the advent of Australian nuclear submarines, the Chinese missile sites on the east coast will be threatened by the sub-surface attack platforms which can stay under water for months together in the South China Sea or the Indo-Pacific. The fact is that the AUKUS is a game-changer for the Indo-Pacific as even the latest AIP diesel submarines must surface, in effect betraying their positions, in weeks for charging their batteries. Thus, from a strategic perspective, the Australian nuclear attack submarines with conventional ballistic missiles as deterrents will allow US aircraft carriers to operate between the Chinese coast and the first island chain and also enforce laws of the seas and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. As China is threatening Taiwan on a daily basis by breaching its air defence identification zone, it is for the US to speed up the SSN production for Australia as time is running out for Taipei and the security of the Indo-Pacific.     quoted from Hindustan Time

Biden signs annual defense bill suggesting Taiwan RIMPAC invite

Washington, Dec. 27 (CNA) United States President Joe Biden signed an annual defense bill into law Monday with provisions aimed at improving Taiwan's asymmetric capabilities and enhancing defense and security cooperation, including possibly inviting Taiwan to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes US$770 billion in funding for the Defense Department. The bill includes provisions related to Taiwan from section 1246 to 1249, according to the text of the bill released.

The bill asks Washington to continue supporting the "development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."

This extends to conducting practical training and military exercises with Taiwan, with 2022's RIMPAC exercise mentioned specifically.

RIMPAC, hosted every two years by the U.S. Pacific Fleet near Hawaii, is the world's largest international maritime military exercise. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the exercise before.

In addition, the bill calls on the U.S. secretary of defense to perform an annual assessment of matters related to Taiwan, including intelligence matters, Taiwan's asymmetric defensive capabilities, and how defensive shortcomings or vulnerabilities of Taiwan could be mitigated through cooperation.

The bill also recommends that the secretary of defense provide the congressional defense committees with a briefing before Feb. 15, 2022, on the feasibility and advisability of enhanced cooperation between the National Guard and Taiwan.

In response, Taiwan's representative office in the U.S. expressed gratitude to the Biden Administration and the Congress "for their staunch support in ensuring peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific region."

The NDAA is the name for each of a series of U.S. federal laws specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. The first NDAA was passed in 1961.

The authorization bill is the jurisdiction of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. It determines the agencies responsible for defense, establishes recommended funding levels, and sets the policies under which money will be spent.     source from Focus Taiwan

Mar 2, 2012
CPC Corporation (Chinese台灣中油pinyinTáiwān ZhōngyóuPe̍h-ōe-jīTâi-oân Tiong-iûlit. 'Taiwan Chinese Petroleum') is a state-owned petroleumnatural gas, and gasoline company in Taiwan and is the core of the Taiwanese petrochemicals industry.

台灣中油股份有限公司英語譯名:CPC Corporation, Taiwan,縮寫為CPC),通稱台灣中油中油,是臺灣規模最大的石化能源公司,其事業版圖橫跨石油天然氣的探採、煉製產品行銷等完整供應鏈。2020年美國雜誌財富世界500大企業評比第409名[5]


Coal mining on a large scale started in the Japanese era. There are several rich coal seams buried in the mountains of northern Taiwan. Most mines are long tunnels with various smaller tunnels branching off, rather than the open pit style. Some went many kilometers under the mountains. Almost all the mines closed down in the 1980's and 90's, though a couple clung on until the early 2000's. There is still a lot of coal but it's not worth extracting anymore. For a while, many retained their machinery and tracks, but as the price of scrap metal rose a lot of the more accessible mines were stripped and the tunnels were sealed up. Most are located in the Keelung River Valley, Pingxi area, and the Northeast coastal mountains. There are also a number of small mines around south Taipei. 

​While many have been sealed there are some which were impractical to seal, or too remote for anyone to bother. Most of these lie forgotten in deep forests. A minority of others are unexpectedly close to busy public areas. For some of the forest mines visiting has felt like stumbling across an ancient ruin. The following few posts are the results of the first few trips. With a couple of mines I'm going to leave off the exact locations and names, as they have machinery and artifacts in them that could be easily damaged. I will however leave enough clues for those who are interested...     more 

Mar 2, 2012

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Mischief Reef |Mar. 25

  WH keeping public in dark on what Biden demanded of China’s Xi over arming Putin​ Mar. 18 - The White House was tight-lipped Friday about ...