As the United States increases its provocative actions in the South China Sea, Beijing has repeatedly urged for calm. Following a controversial surveillance flight over the weekend, Beijing has reiterated these pleas, cautioning that any kind of accident in the region could be the spark in an already volatile tinderbox.
On Saturday, the new commander of the US Pacific Fleet boarded a seven-hour surveillance flight over the South China Sea. Observing the capacities of the P-8A Poseidon, the Pentagon’s most advanced spy plane, Adm. Scott Swift said he was confident in the Navy’s ability to respond to any regional threat.
"Where there are disputed claims, we don’t take a position," Swift said, according to USA Today. "But we will continue to exercise the rights of the United States and any nation to conduct operations in international waters."
The problem is that many of Washington’s operations occur, deliberately, over Chinese territory in the Spratly archipelago to monitor Beijing’s construction of artificial islands. Other US activity in the South China Sea – including a number of joint military exercises with regional allies – amounts to little more than provocative saber-rattling.
While Beijing has never tried to hinder peaceful passage through international waters or airspace, it has released a statement expressing its opposition to US reconnaissance, largely in the interest of peace.
"For a long time, US military ships and aircraft have carried out frequent, widespread, and up-close surveillance of China, seriously harming bilateral mutual trust and China’s security interests, which could easily cause an accident at sea or in the air," reads a statement from the Ministry of National Defense, according to the People’s Daily.
The ministry stressed that stability in the Asia-Pacific region is in the best interests of all parties, and urged the US not to stoke unrest.
This echoes a similar statement made by the Chinese government in May, after it detected a US P-8 surveillance plane flying in its airspace. That aircraft was told to turn back by the Chinese Navy, and Beijing described the flight as "irresponsible and dangerous."
Speaking to China Daily, Fan Jishe, a US studies researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the surveillance flights are more about asserting US dominance in the region, and less to do with legitimate intelligence gathering.
Along with Swift’s recent visit to the Philippines, these moves are a way for Washington to encourage its Pacific allies to act aggressively against a perceived Chinese influence.
With nearly $5 trillion in trade passing through its waters each year, the South China Sea is a fiercely contested waterway. While China claims most of the sea, there are overlapping claims by Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand.
A second sting video has been released showing a Planned Parenthood official haggling over the price of aborted baby tissue and body parts. During the gruesome conversation, Medical Directors’ Council President, Dr. Mary Gatter, even ‘jokes’ that she wishes to buy a Lamborghini with the profits.
The footage, released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, sees Gatter literally haggling over payments for intact fetal specimens.
Gatter also promises to talk a surgeon and see how he feels about “using a less crunchy technique to get more whole specimens.”
Gatter is seen asking a CMP member posing as a “buyer” what amount they usually pay for aborted tissue.
“We’re not in it for the money,” Dr. Gatter says. “We don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue and stuff like that. On the other hand, there are costs associated with the use of our space and all that kind of stuff. So what were you thinking about?”
Eventually Gatter suggests that $75 per specimen is a fair price. The CMP actor replies, “Oh. That’s way too low.”
“The money is not the important thing for me,” but it has to be enough so it’s worthwhile, she says.
“It’s been years since I’ve talked about compensation, so let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up,” Gatter says, adding “I want a Lamborghini,” while cackling with laughter.
“Planned Parenthood’s only denial is that they make money off of baby parts, but that is a desperate lie that becomes more and more untenable as CMP reveals Planned Parenthood’s business operations and statements that prove otherwise,” said CMP’s Project Lead David Daleiden in a statement.
Planned Parenthood were aware that the video was going to be released this time, and had already set about damage control by providing scripts to their corporate media mouthpieces.
MSNBC was reporting for hours before the footage was released that a new “racially-charged” video is coming.
Using exactly the same talking points as Planned Parenthood did in a senior counsel statement to a congressional request, MSNBC reported:
Planned Parenthood, under fire for a heavily-edited video suggesting the organization violated federal law in facilitating the donation of fetal tissue, says it believes future videos may make racially-charged claims. The health provider and advocacy group also says the anti-abortion group posing as a medical research procurement company may have had access to the inside of its clinics, jeopardizing “our patients’ privacy and dignity.”
Twitter responded by calling out MSNBC for repeating Planned parenthood’s script as “news”.
It remains to be seen how MSNBC will spin the Lamborghini comments.
In a desperate attempt at damage control, Planned Parenthood is also claiming that CMP obtained the footage “illegally” as part of a decades-old illegal smear campaign.
“From all that is known today, it appears that the only people who have broken laws are the extremists who have been hounding women and Planned Parenthood doctors for years,” said Roger Evans, the organization’s senior counsel, in a meeting with House Republicans on Monday.
Evans also accused CMP head David Daleiden of “attacks” on Planned Parenthood and of using “a false California driver’s license in gaining access to Planned Parenthood facilities.”
Planned Parenthood claims that obtaining fetal tissue from abortions is vital for conducting medical and scientific research. However, Pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson noted this week that the claim is “spurious.”
“There’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue,” Carson said on Fox News Channel’s The Kelly File. “[I]t’s been over-promised what the benefits of fetal research would be. And very much under-delivered.”