Posts Tagged ‘China’

South China Sea: Philippines and Vietnam Agree to Implement Code of Conduct — The position of both countries on the handling of the dispute was “convergent” and that “there is no conflict.”

September 30, 2016

HANOI – Officials of the Philippines and Vietnam have agreed to fast-track the finalization and implementation of a code of conduct (COC) to ease tensions in the South China Sea.


Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said claims to the disputed territories was one of the topics of discussion in President Duterte’s talks with Vietnamese leaders during his two-day official visit here.

Both the Philippines and Vietnam claim parts of the South China Sea, which is being claimed in its entirety by China.

Yasay said the position of both countries on the handling of the dispute was “convergent” and that “there is no conflict.”


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Monument of National Heroes and Martyrs in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. AP

Yasay said the position of both countries on the handling of the dispute was “convergent” and that “there is no conflict.”

“We’ve agreed like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines and Vietnam are members, to respect the rule of law, international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas,” Yasay said.

“Together we agreed to fully implement the Declaration of Conduct that was signed by all Asean members in 2002, and to proceed on a fast track with the coming out of a COC,” he said.

Yasay made the statement in a press briefing on Thursday after Mr. Duterte’s meeting with top Vietnamese leaders.

During his conversation with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Mr. Duterte explained the necessity for the Philippines to have bilateral talks with China on the territorial dispute.

For its part, Vietnam pushed for both multilateral and bilateral talks to resolve the dispute.

Brunei and Malaysia also lay claim to territories in the South China Sea.

“Bilateral engagements with China are necessary because the arbitration tribunal’s decision has no enforcement capability or mechanisms on its own,” Yasay said.

He was referring to the decision of an international tribunal favoring the Philippines over China in its claim over territories in the South China Sea.

Yasay noted that “the enforcement and implementation of the arbitral tribunal’s decision will have to be pursued and made by the claimants themselves through their own agreements.”

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, a member of Mr. Duterte’s official delegation, said Vietnam agreed that the dispute should be resolved through the principles of Asean.

“And we should have multilateral and bilaterals through the Asean,” Cayetano said.

Yasay said Vietnam could use the arbitral tribunal’s decision to support its legal claim to the South China Sea should that nation file a case against China.

“Vietnam has not filed against China before the arbitral tribunal, but if they so decide they can certainly use the arbitral tribunal’s decision as a precedent in their supporting their legal claims and strengthen their legal claims,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yasay said Mr. Duterte will bring up the arbitral tribunal’s ruling at “one point in time” when bilateral talks with China begin.

“Maybe this time is not right for it, but at one point in time, when we begin bilateral talks with China, in so far as coming out with a solution for the peaceful settlement of this dispute in the South China Sea, it must be within the context of the arbitral decision,” he said.

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Top U.S. Military Leaders Told Not To Comment on China’s Activities in The South China and East China Seas, Chinese Media Reports Say — “President Obama Has Decided To Ignore International Law in The South China Sea,” U.S. Source Says

September 29, 2016

US military chiefs have been barred from publicly using phrase ‘great power competition’ to refer to challenges posed by PLA

By Laura Zhou and Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

Friday, September 30, 2016, 12:24 a.m.

The White House appears to want to stabilise ties with Beijing in the final months of the Obama ­administration, Chinese analysts said on Thursday, after a weekend report that Pentagon chiefs had been barred from publicly using “great power competition” in reference to military challenges from China.

The analysts said the US National Security Council’s reported gag order was another sign that Washington intended to ease its tension with Beijing over disputes in the South China Sea.

Citing four sources familiar with a classified directive, the US’ Navy Times, a weekly publication for US naval personnel and their families, reported on Sunday that the NSC ordered Pentagon leaders to strike out the phrase “great power competition” and find something less inflammatory.

The news outlet quoted White House officials as saying the term inaccurately framed the US and China as on a collision course.

China-US relations seem to have been hijacked by the South China Sea issues

But other experts warned that China’s assertiveness in the South and East China seas, including its ship building, artificial islands and expansive claims in the disputed waters, were hostile to US interests, the report said.

 Chinese officers and soldiers wave to a Russian fleet during joints drills with Russia off south China’s Guangdong province, September 19. Photo: Xinhua

The Pentagon did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Su Hao, an international relations professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said the rhetoric of US Defence Secretary Ash Carter and other US military leaders often gave the impression that “the US and China are in rivalry and opposition”.

“China-US relations seem to have been hijacked by the South China Sea issues, or by the military, which does not fairly describe the comprehensiveness of the bilateral ties,” Su said.

“If US President Barack Obama leaves Sino-US relations in chaos [to his successor], that would not be desirable,” Su said. “The White House must carefully consider how to stabilise relations.”

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the NSC directive indicated the White House might be worried that the Pentagon’s dramatic take on Chinese military challenges could backfire on US ties with China.

A Sino-US relations expert with a Chinese official think tank said Beijing and Washington had, in a way, reached an agreement that neither would take a steps to trigger direct conflict over the South China Sea.

Neither side wants to escalate tension, preferring talks between civilian officials

For example, he said, the US withdrew its aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, to Hawaii on July 5, one week before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea.

“China also made some compromises … and it is unlikely it will build an artificial island in the Scarborough Shoal, or set up an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea,” he said. “Neither side wants to escalate tension, preferring talks between civilian officials, or a diplomatic way, to solve the problems.”


A senior U.S. government official in a position to know the details told Peace and Freedom that, “President Obama has decided to ignore international law in the South China Sea.”


Xi Jinping and Barack Obama at the White House, Sept. 25, 2015. We at Peace and Freedom believe that President Xi and President Obama may have made a deal on the South China Sea in secret — so as to avoid a confrontation with the U.S. Congress. We expect the U.S. to slowly but steadily withdraw from Asia if this scenario is allowed to play out.


Gag order issued on South China Sea? Pentagon and top admiral say no way.

President Obama, joined by, from second to left, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command; Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command; Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Vice President Biden, speaks during a meeting with combatant commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on April 5. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

By Dan Lamothe
The Washington Post
April 7, 2016

The Obama administration and a four-star admiral have denied that the White House issued a “gag order” on senior U.S. military officials discussing the disputed South China Sea, a politically charged region that is dogging the administration in its last months in office.

The denials came after the independent Navy Times reported Wednesday that national security adviser Susan Rice decided to “muzzle” Adm. Harry Harris, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, and other senior military officials as the Obama administration prepared to host a nuclear summit in Washington last week that included China’s president, Xi Jinping. Rice’s request was designed to give President Obama room to maneuver politically as he met with the Chinese president, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous officials.

But Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Harris have “been able to provide frank and informed counsel to the president and the National Security Council on a host of issues related to the Asia-Pacific area of responsibility.”

[China testing Obama as it expands its influence in Southeast Asia]

“We are confident that counsel has been considered and valued,” Cook said. The Defense Department “fully supports the current maritime strategy in the Pacific and is working to execute that strategy to the best of their ability. We continue to coordinate our communications within the framework of the interagency process in a way that advances that strategy.”

Cook added: “To be clear, there never has been a ‘gag order,’ as described by anonymous officials in the article.”

Harris said in a statement released to The Washington Post that “any assertion that there is a disconnect between U.S. Pacific Command and the White House is simply not true.” He declined to discuss what he has recommended, saying his private counsel to President Obama and Carter during classified deliberations “wouldn’t be worth much if it weren’t private.

“Maintaining that trust is why senior military admirals and generals won’t discuss our counsel in public,” Harris said. “During recent congressional testimony and press engagements in Washington just a few weeks ago, I was very public and candid about my concerns regarding many issues in the Indo-Asia-Pacific to include the fact that China’s militarization of the South China Sea is problematic. So any suggestion that ‘the White House has sought to tamp down’ on my talking about my concerns is patently wrong.”

Harris said that he is satisfied that his concerns and recommendations are “solicited, listened to and considered.”
The president has accepted many of Harris’s recommendations, including resuming freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea a few months ago to demonstrate waterways in that region will be patrolled by the Navy, said one defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the subject.

The issue exposes a couple of nerves for the Obama administration as it closes out its final year in the White House. For one, the previous three Pentagon chiefs have all voiced frustrations with perceived administration micromanagement after leaving office. Those former defense secretaries — Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel — made those points again in an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday.

The Obama administration also has faced questions this year about how it will handle tensions in the South China Sea, in light of China continuing to add weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, in the region despite protests from U.S. partners such as Taiwan and the Philippines.

Harris and other senior military officials — including Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have increasingly raised concerns about China’s operations in the South China Sea for months. During congressional testimony in February, Harris said “you have to believe in a flat Earth” to think China’s goal is not to militarize the area and achieve “hegemony in East Asia.”

China has specifically developed capabilities that counter U.S. strengths, including missiles that would help protect against U.S. aircraft, Dunford told the House Appropriations Committee in late February. Beijing’s “rapid military modernization is quickly closing the gap with U.S. military capabilities and is eroding the joint force’s competitive military advantages,” the general said.

The issue is likely to get even more exposure in coming days, as Carter visits the Philippines as part of a trip to Asia. The United States recently signed an agreement that will allow it to regularly use five Philippine bases. The deal led Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying to comment: “The U.S. has talked about militarization in the South China Sea. But can it explain whether its own increased military deployment in the region is equivalent to militarization?”


While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton began what was called the “U.S. pivot to Asia.” In this photo, Hillary Clinton talks with then Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. on September 5, 2012. Today Hillary Clinton is running to become the next President of the United States and China’s former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has been promoted to the number three leadership within the Chinese Communist Party. China seems to be in control of most of the South China Sea and is pressuring all U.S. allies from Japan to Australia to Singapore to ally themselves with China or face consequences. In 2012, Hillary Clinton was a big advocate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). After Donald Trump said the TPP was not a good deal for American workers, Hillary Clinton became against the TPP.


Pakistan accuses India of “unprovoked and naked aggression”after attack — India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamist militants who target India

September 29, 2016

India’s army says it has carried out strikes on terrorist bases across the country’s de facto border with Pakistan.

An Indian army soldier stands guard near the site of a gun battle between Indian army soldiers and rebels inside an army brigade headquarters near the border with Pakistan, known as the Line of Control (LoC), in Uri on September 18, 2016.

Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated in recent months. AFP photo

The Wall Street Journal
Updated Sept. 29, 2016 11:53 a.m. ET

NEW DELHI—India’s army said Thursday it had carried out overnight “surgical strikes” on what it described as terrorist bases across the country’s de facto border with Pakistan, a move likely to heighten already soaring tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

In a news conference, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, India’s director general of military operations, said “significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement condemning what he called “unprovoked and naked aggression” by India, whose actions he said resulted in the deaths of two Pakistani soldiers.


Indian military and government officials said Indian forces had crossed the line of control that separates the Indian- and Pakistani-governed parts of Kashmir to hit militant camps. Both countries claim the disputed region in full.

Pakistan’s military denied there had been any intrusion from India, saying Indian troops had fired from their side of the frontier. Pakistan’s army said it responded “strongly and befittingly.”

The strikes followed a militant assault on an Indian army installation earlier in September that killed 18 soldiers. India blamed Pakistan for that attack, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said wouldn’t go “unpunished.”

This file photograph taken on December 4, 2003, shows Indian soldiers as they patrol along a barbed-wire fence near Baras Post on the Line of Control (LoC) between Pakistan and India some 174 kms north west of Srinagar.

Image copyright AFP

“Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that so

Sporadic cross-border firing isn’t unusual between the estranged neighbors, but raids by the countries’ armed forces are rare. A senior Indian official said this was the first time India had publicly acknowledged carrying out such a strike. Both India and Pakistan are believed to have covertly undertaken similar operations in the past.

Girding for possible retaliation, Indian authorities ordered the evacuation of villages along the frontier with Pakistan. Gen. Singh said the military was “prepared for any contingency that may arise.”

India and Pakistan have fought multiple wars since independence from Britain in 1947, three of them over Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamist militants who target India, something Islamabad denies. Pakistani terrorists killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008.
The most recent conflict involving security forces of the two sides was in 1999, when troops clashed in the mountains of Kashmir.

Mr. Modi has pledged a more muscular approach to dealing with terror and other security threats. Last year, Indian special forces carried out strikes in neighboring Myanmar against militants it blamed for attacks on Indian security personnel in the country’s northeast.
“This is unprecedented. It is a message to Pakistan that the paradigms of the past are no longer valid,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal. Still, he said, he thought New Delhi had stopped short of actions that would provoke escalation from Pakistan.

Relations between the two have been strained for months as unrest has gripped the Indian-governed part of Kashmir. Islamabad has criticized India’s use of force against antigovernment demonstrators. India accuses Pakistan of stoking the protests and the violence.

The senior Indian official accused Pakistan of trying to increase militant forays into India to capitalize on the turmoil in Kashmir and further destabilize the region. Islamabad denies it has any connection to militancy in Kashmir.

Since the militant attack on the Indian army base on Sept. 18, India has stepped up diplomatic pressure to isolate Pakistan. New Delhi and three other South Asian countries said this week that they would boycott a regional summit set to be held in Islamabad in November.

Smoke rose from an Indian Army base which was attacked in Uri, west of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, on Sept. 18. Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the terror attack that killed 18 soldiers.

Smoke rose from an Indian Army base which was attacked in Uri, west of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, on Sept. 18. Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the terror attack that killed 18 soldiers.
Smoke rose from an Indian Army base which was attacked in Uri, west of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, on Sept. 18. Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the terror attack that killed 18 soldiers. PHOTO:EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

On Wednesday, the White House said the U.S. national-security adviser, Susan Rice, “strongly condemned” the militant attack, which it said highlighted “the danger that cross-border terrorism poses to the region.”

According to senior Indian officials, Indian forces crossed the line of control and hit temporary terrorist camps about a mile inside Pakistani-held territory. A military officer familiar with the operations said the forces pushed as far as 3 miles before withdrawing back across the line of control. Similar operations were conducted in 2013 after an Indian soldier was beheaded and another mutilated in border clashes, the officer said. Those raids weren’t disclosed to the public.

Pakistan’s military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said India’s assertions of a “surgical strike” were a “fabrication.” He said, “Nothing like that happened on the ground.”

Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, also played down the event, which he described as “small weapons fire” across the line of control.

Another Pakistani security official said the confrontation involved “post-to-post fire exchange” along the line of control with some small-scale movement of Indian troops toward Pakistani posts.

India’s Gen. Singh said the military action followed “specific and credible information” that terrorists were waiting to infiltrate into India and carry out attacks in Kashmir and Indian cities. Gen. Singh said the Indian army had foiled 20 infiltration attempts by terrorists this year.

Attacks in India by Pakistani militants have brought India and Pakistan close to war before, including the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, blamed by Delhi on the Pakistani jihadist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the 2008 multiday assault on Mumbai, which India says was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba.

India has blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack on the military base earlier in September, as well as an assault on an air base close to the Pakistani border at the start of the year. Despite assurances from Islamabad that it would act against terrorists, Jaish-e-Mohammad, which has denied involvement, has continued to operate openly from its base in central Pakistan.

Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which the United Nations considers a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, continues to give lectures and sermons—for instance, addressing followers at the festival of Eid earlier in September.

On Thursday, in the Indian state of Punjab, officials urged villagers to move away from border areas, making announcements over loudspeakers, said Mohan Singh, a police constable in the Punjabi city of Amritsar. Schools and shops were ordered closed on Thursday afternoon.

“We are telling people that the place might not be safe for them soon,” he said.

—Qasim Nauman and Saeed Shah in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Rajesh Roy and Vibhuti Agarwal in New Delhi contributed to this article.

Write to Niharika Mandhana at



Kashmir dispute: Two Pakistani soldiers killed after clashes with India

India Strikes Out At Pakistan — Two Pakistani Soldiers Killed

September 29, 2016
  •  India and Pakistan have gone to war FOUR times – 1947, 1965, 1971, 1999
  •  Tensions are rising again over control of Kashmir, which is mainly Muslim
  •  Eighteen Indian soldiers were killed by ‘terrorists’ earlier this month
  •  Now two Pakistani soldiers have died after ‘cross-border fire’ from India 

Pakistan today blamed ‘cross-border fire’ from India for the death of two of its soldiers in the disputed region of Kashmir as fears grow that the two old enemies may go to war again.

India and Pakistan have gone to war four times since they gained independence from Britain in 1947 and diplomats are concerned the situation in Kashmir may be the trigger for another conflict.

India said it had conducted ‘surgical strikes’ along the disputed border with Pakistan – known as the Line Of Control – in a bid to thwart attacks by those it claims are ‘terrorists’.

The Indian army's director general of military operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh (pictured) told the media today it had targeted 'terrorist launchpads' in Kashmir

Pakistan and India often trade fire in Kashmir, which is split between the two countries and claimed by both in its entirety.

Both countries have troops stationed on the strategic Siachen Glacier, which is so cold that soldiers are regularly warned not to fall asleep while on duty for fear of freezing to death.

Earlier this month 18 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Kashmiri rebels, who New Delhi suggests are supported by Pakistan.

Earlier this month Kashmiri 'terrorists' attacked this Indian Army base at Uri, killing 18 soldiers

Earlier this month Kashmiri ‘terrorists’ attacked this Indian Army base at Uri, killing 18 soldiers

India said the attack on the Uri army base was carried out by a Pakistan-based group called Jaish-e-Mohammed.

More than 80 people have been killed in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir since July, many of them civilians shot by the army.

India and Pakistan are both now believed to possess nuclear weapons, which makes the current tensions even more alarming.

Indian soldiers on the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir

Pakistan soldiers, tied to each other for safety in hostile weather conditions, carry their weapons as they cross the Siachen Glacier

Indian soldiers (left) and Pakistani troops (right) are both stationed on the Siachen Glacier, at the eastern end of the disputed border in Kashmir

Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, India’s director-general of military operations, said today it had carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on Wednesday night.

Pakistan’s military said two of its soldiers had been killed by ‘cross-border fire’ and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned India’s ‘naked aggression’.

Lt Gen Singh said: ‘Some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launchpads along the Line of Control.’

He said they had ‘very specific and credible’ intelligence about ‘terrorist launchpads’ near the villages of Bhimber, Kel and Lipa.

India has a large military presence in Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority. Many Kashmiris want to be independent or part of Pakistan 

India has a large military presence in Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority. Many Kashmiris want to be independent or part of Pakistan

Lt Gen Singh said: ‘Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them.

‘The operations aimed at neutralising the terrorists have since ceased.’

He said the operation was designed to stop those who planned ‘to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir and various other metros in our country’.

Lt Gen Singh said: ‘The operations were basically focused to ensure that these terrorists do not succeed in their design of infiltration and carrying out destruction and endangering the lives of citizens of our country.’

India's Prime Minister Narenda Modi (left) and Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (right) are seen meeting in 2014 but since then tensions have grown markedly

India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi (left) and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (right) are seen meeting in 2014 but since then tensions have grown markedly

But Pakistan reacted angrily. A statement by the military read: ‘There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India.

‘As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops.

‘The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists’ bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects.

‘This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross-border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth.’

Kashmiri demonstrators hurl stones at an Indian police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar last month

Kashmiri demonstrators hurl stones at an Indian police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar last month

On Tuesday India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced he would not attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Islamabad in November, a major snub to Pakistan.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since they gained independence in 1947.

The Indian-controlled part has a Muslim majority and there are a number of armed separatist groups who are fighting to break free from New Delhi.

China said this week it hoped ‘Pakistan and India will strengthen channels for dialogue, appropriately handle any differences, improve bilateral relations and together protect the region’s piece and stability’ but it is widely believed to be backing Pakistan.

India recently threatened to cut off water to Pakistan from rivers it controls but it is thought to have backed off after China warned it would respond by reducing the flow of water from Himalayan rivers which end up in India.

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Philippines Businessmen To Accompany Duterte To China

September 29, 2016


September 29, 2016

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam September 28, 2016. REUTERS, Kham

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China from Oct. 19-21 accompanied by a business delegation, business and diplomatic sources said on Thursday, signaling his intent to set sovereignty squabbles aside and forge a stronger commercial relationship with Beijing.

The decision to invite business leaders suggests Duterte is following through with his vow to make peace with China and heal wounds that have festered since Manila lodged a legal challenge to Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea.

Several sources with direct knowledge of the plan said about two dozen Filipino businessmen would join Duterte when he goes to Beijing. Business groups had been invited to submit names of individuals to join the delegation.

According to one diplomatic source, Duterte would meet both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. It was not immediately clear who the business delegation would meet in China and what would be discussed.

The trip also shows Duterte intends to re-fashion a foreign policy for years aligned with the United States and its allies. He has spoken only vaguely of his strategy, but has singled out Russia and China as would-be commercial partners.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (left) arrives at a restaurant for lunch in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sept 29, 2016. PHOTO by REUTERS

Duterte said on Wednesday joint marine drills with the United States would be the last.

Philippine officials said they were awaiting clarification but Duterte’s comments signal he is willing to test the limits of Manila’s historic alliance with Washington, which has provided important defense support for the Philippines and helped the United States further its Asia rebalance strategy in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

The Philippines president’s foreign policy pronouncements have been baffling at times. Despite his outreach towards China, he has accused Beijing of bullying Filipino fishermen and being dishonest about its activities in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

China lost to the Philippines in an international arbitration ruling in July. Beijing refuses to recognize the case.

Moves to reach out to China looked to have hit a snag on Tuesday when sources close Fidel Ramos, Duterte’s special envoy tasked with rebuilding tattered ties with Beijing, said a trip planned for this week had suddenly been canceled.

In a short statement to Reuters on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry said the door was always open to Ramos.

“Mr. Ramos is an old friend of China. China welcomes him to visit at any time,” it said.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales, Manolo Serapio Jr and Manuel Mogato in MANILA and Benjamin Lim and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

China: Man’s killing spree left 19 people dead — Heavily armed officers in fatigues swarm in to restore order

September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016

Yang Qingpei held after bodies, including of three children, found at different locations in remote Yunnan village

Police in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, where Yang Qingpei was arrested.
Police in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, where Yang Qingpei was arrested. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Chinese police have arrested a  including three children, who were found dead in different locations in a remote south-western village.

Mass killings are rare in China and the incident dominated discussion on social media platforms. It was not immediately clear how the victims were killed, or what the motive was.

Yang Qingpei, born in 1989, was arrested in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province and about 124 miles (200km) from the site of the murders in Yema, Yunnan police said.

The victims were members of six families, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The bodies were found on Thursday at different locations in the village, according to a state-backed news website,, which said the suspect had given authorities some details.

The public security bureau in the nearby city of Qujing told Reuters it was investigating.



© AFP/File | Police stand outside a court in Kunming, the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province where a man was arrested over the killing of 19 villagers

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Chinese police on Thursday arrested a suspect in a killing spree that left 19 people dead in a village in the southwestern province of Yunnan, authorities said.

Local police detained the man named Yang Qingpei, born in 1989 and from the same village, in the provincial capital Kunming, a statement released on an official social media account of Yunnan police showed.

The killings occurred in remote Yema village some 200 km south in a mountainous area.

The official Xinhua News agency reported earlier that the villagers were found dead at their homes on Thursday morning.

A list with the victims’ names circulating online showed they included 11 males and eight females, with the youngest a three-year-old girl and the oldest 72.

Four names were minors under 18, the list showed.

Yunnan officers have verified the list and the news release, Beijing News reported, adding that the police have said there was no link to terrorism.

The Ministry of Public Security sent a working group to oversee the case and manage local authorities in the investigation, reports said.

Video footage circulating online reportedly from the village showed swarms of police and heavily armed officers in fatigues walking the streets and a young man in jeans handcuffed on the ground.


Man arrested over slaying of 19 neighbours in south China

By Li Jing

South China Morning Post

Victims came from at least six families who lived near each other in village in Yunnan province, police and government say

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 11:14 p.m.

A man was arrested on Thursday in southwestern China on suspicion of killing 19 people, including four minors, mainland media have reported.

The suspect, 27, lived in the same village as the victims, outside Qujing city, about 200km from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, according to police.


 A photo taken from social media appears to show paramilitary police vehicles being deployed to the crime scene. Photo: SCMP Pictures

An earlier government report which circulated online in the afternoon stated 16 people from six families were killed.

But the figure was revised to 19 by the provincial bureau of public security. It said 11 of the victims were male and eight were women. The youngest was three years old, and the eldest was 72, The Beijing News reported.

 A photo taken from social media appears to show authorities carrying out the investigation. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Police have ruled out the possibility that the suspect was a terrorist but were still investigating the motive, according to the newspaper.

Local police in Huize county, which oversees the village, received a report that two elders were found dead at their home about 7.39am on Thursday and launched the investigation.

They quickly discovered many of neighbours had also been killed.

In Beijing, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement in late afternoon that it has dispatched a task force to Yunnan.

China Says Japan Is Not Welcome in the South China Sea — Japan is “playing with fire” — Voice of U.S. “Not Heard” — Has The Foreign Policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry Failed?

September 29, 2016

Deutsche Bank now the biggest worry in the financial world — Could Deutsche Bank crisis could take Angela Merkel down?

September 29, 2016

Deutsche Bank is Germany’s biggest lender


What’s going on with the banking industry?

Since the credit crunch in 2008, banks have been struggling to adapt to their new environment. Low interest rates coupled with meagre yields in the financial markets mean banks can generate fewer profits from the deposits they collect, the loans they dole out, and the market services they provide.

While government schemes such as Funding for Lending have propped up some of the banks’ operations, they have dampened activity in other areas, for example by subduing market volatility with vast quantitative easing programmes.

Even insiders admit that the sector is still going through a rough patch. Tidjane Thiam, who took over as boss of Credit Suisse in 2015, described big European banks as “not really investable” this week.

Many European organisations are giving up on “universal banking” and have rowed back their investment banking activities, although their efforts to reshape themselves have yet to produce any real improvement in returns.

index valueEurostoxx bank indexJan ’16Jul ’16Oct ’15Apr ’16Oct ‘166080100120140160

Why are German banks causing such worry?

After several years of fretting about Spanish, Italian and French banks as the eurozone economy staggered onwards, the financial markets became nervous about the health of the German powerhouse Deutsche Bank and its smaller competitors at the start of this year.

Deutsche posted its first full-year loss since 2008 in January due to a variety of problems in the investment bank, sending its shares careering lower and pushing its new bonds into a tailspin.

The crash in its €4.6bn tranche of contingent-convertible bonds,known as cocos, was particularly alarming because they are designed to wipe out investors in a crisis, therefore avoiding a state bailout – but so far no bank has put this safety valve to the test.

Deutsche Bank has not even come close to converting its bonds yet, but the firm has come back into sharp focus because of a $14bn fine proposed by the US Department of Justice last week for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities in the heady days before the financial crisis.

Shares in Deutsche have lost more than half their value so far this year. The IMF hasn’t helped matters, saying in June that the bank is the greatest contributor to systemic risk in the world’s biggest lenders.

Commerzbank is also preying on investors’ minds, after reporting another round of job cuts that will see one in five positions axed.

price €Deutsche Bank’s sharesJan ’16Jul ’16Oct ’15Apr ’16Oct ‘161015202530

What is Deutsche Bank doing to address its problems?

John Cryan, the Briton who became chief executive last summer, hasset out a five-year restructuring plan that will cut about 15,000 of Deutsche’s 101,000-strong workforce. The bank’s dividend has been suspended for two years, and Cryan expects to close dozens of overseas sites from Argentina to New Zealand. It sold Abbey Life, its old portfolio of British life insurance products, for €1bn earlier this week.

Deutsche Bank boss John Cryan
Deutsche Bank boss John Cryan

The bank has insisted that its immediate problem, the $14bn fine from the States, can be paid without resorting to a state rescue – and in any case, as Cryan told Bild this week, the bank can probably follow the example of several US banks and negotiate the penalty down to a more manageable figure.

Some analysts, such as Kian Abouhossein at JP Morgan, think even a $4bn settlement “would put questions around [its] capital position”.

price €Deutsche Bank’s coco bondsIssued at €100Jan ’16Jul ’16Oct ’15Apr ’16Oct ‘16859095100105110115

Will the German government bail out Deutsche Bank?

Not right now. The finance ministry, not wanting to alarm anyone, has fiercely denied that it is preparing any contingency plan if Deutsche cannot cope with the US fine. Cryan has said that capital needs are “currently not an issue”.

Angela Merkel
Will Angela Merkel be forced to act?

But it would be absurd to think that the German government has not put any thought into the flagging fortunes of the country’s biggest bank. Not least because there are strict rules in place in Europe that prevent state aid in most circumstances, which might need to be circumvented at some point.

What else can the bank do to turn around its fortunes?

Rumours surfaced over the summer of a possible merger between Deutsche and Commerzbank, its next biggest competitor, and more recently the idea of another multibillion-euro rights issue has been floated. Again, these reports have been played down by the bank.

Deutsche also has the option to “switch off” regular coupon payments on its coco bonds, providing a small amount of breathing space. Credit analysts led by Miguel Hernandez at BNP Paribas have said that a fine of more than $6bn could lead to coupon deferrals, according to Bloomberg.

Analysts at Autonomous have also suggested that the bank could save €2.8bn by not paying staff bonuses. 

number of full-time employeesDeutsche Bank’s employeesincludes 2010 acquisition of Postbank200620082010201220140k25k50k75k100k125k

What does this mean for British finance?

Deutsche Bank employs about 8,000 people in the UK, so at a basic level it means more job cuts in its offices in London, Birmingham and Bournemouth.

The slump in Deutsche’s shares risks dampening appetite for banking stocks across the board, leaving RBS even further adrift of its hopes that its shares will reach 73.5p – the level at which the UK government could sell off its stake for a profit.

If Deutsche decided to scale back its investment banking arm, this could be beneficial to rival outfits in the City – although the resulting gloom about the eurozone’s biggest economy would probably take the shine off the extra work.

indexFTSE 350 Banks indexJan ’16Jul ’16Oct ’15Apr ’16Oct ‘162750300032503500375040004250

Is this another Lehman Brothers?

Steady on, that kind of reckless talk could bring down the bank. Deutsche still has numerous tools at its disposal, painful though they may be, to shore up its capital levels using the financial markets. But they only succeed if investors have enough faith in the future of the organisation to support them.

Since Lehmans went bust in September 2008, international authorities have tried to create new structures that allow banks to fail while leaving the rest of the financial system relatively unharmed.

This is why Deutsche has coco bonds that it can write off in times of trouble, and why any German state rescue would be based on the new strict rules on bailouts, which have already this year prevented a rescuefor Italy’s Monte dei Pasci.

Hans Michelbach, a conservative politician in Bavaria, said it was “unimaginable” that the government would carry out a 2008-style bailout.

But the fact that people are prepared to put Deutsche in the same sentence as Lehman, even if it’s to deny their similarities, has inflamed concerns.

Philippines Not ‘Breaking Away’ from U.S. Despite Duterte Remarks, Says Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay (Don’t Believe What The Country’s President is Saying….)

September 29, 2016

By Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05:32 PM September 29th, 2016

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay speaks with the media outside a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Yasay is in Vietnam accompanying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s two-day visit to the country. (Kham/Pool Photo via AP)

HANOI, Vietnam—Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the presidential pronouncement to end military drills with the United States does not mean the Philippines is breaking away from its American ally.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Yasay stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration does not mean cancellation of any agreement or treaty with the U.S.
“It only means that when the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) in the future will make that recommendation, he will most likely, on the basis of what he said now, not allow joint military exercises,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Duterte told Filipino professionals here that he is ending the country’s joint war games with the US, with which the Philippines has a 65-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

Yasay initially claimed that he did not hear the President make the pronouncement, but he admitted that he may have been “too sleepy” because of jetlag.

“You should not take this as … breaking away from our close friendship with the U.S. or breaking away from our commitments and treaty arrangement with the US,” he pointed out.

The MDB evaluates and recommends on an annual basis the need to undertake joint military drills with the US in accordance with the MDT.

Yasay said the MDB recommended to then President Benigno Aquino III that joint drills be held in 2017.

“In my understanding that will take place because that has already been decided upon,” he said. RAM/rga

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (R) reviews the guard of honour with his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam September 29, 2016.REUTERS/Kham

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) shakes hands with China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, at the Heroes Cemetery in Taguig, south of Manila, in August. Photo: EPA

 (On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China “nine dash line claim” in the South China Sea was not valid. The court was also highly critical of China’s environmental destruction in the South China Sea.) (See Below)

China dredger Tian Jing Hao. Dozens of dredges like this have been and are being used in China’s environmental rape of the South China Sea and island building.

Reef debris after destruction by a Chinese super dredge

 (This    article has links to several  others related to environmental issues in the South China Sea).

A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A green sea turtle.(Reuters)

Philippine President Duterte to visit China on October 20

September 29, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II while on board Philippine Airlines bound for Vietnam on Sept. 28, 2016. Also in the photo (partly hidden) are Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. PPD/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Beijing on October 20 and 21, in what reliable diplomatic sources say is a move to reboot the country’s relations with China amid territorial issues in the South China Sea.

Duterte had earlier announced he is visiting China and Russia but did not give the exact dates.

A meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to set the direction for the revival of warm relations between the two countries, which ebbed following the arrest of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough Shoal off Zambales in April 2012.

The Philippine filing of a suit to nullify China’s nine-dash line territorial claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague further strained relations between the two countries. The Philippines won the case which China snubbed.

Duterte has appointed former President Fidel Ramos as special ambassador to China on the South China conflict.

During the visit, Duterte is expected to seek China’s cooperation in his fight against illegal drugs, a war that has alarmed the international community for its brutality.  He has always said the drug lords running the drug syndicates in the Philippines are based in China.

Duterte also said he will be turning to China for trade and economic assistance, and infrastructure development as he vowed to lead the country away from the United States after President Barack Obama underscored the importance of respect for human rights and due process.

Duterte will bring a business delegation that will pitch Mindanao as an investment destination.

A source said Duterte’s itinerary includes a visit to the Great Wall.