Posts Tagged ‘China’

Why Indonesia should take a leading role in ASEAN

March 28, 2015

By Pattharapong Rattanasevee, Burapha University

ASEAN would benefit from stronger leadership. But Indonesia, the country best placed to take up that role, appears unwilling.

Indonesia could be the leader that ASEAN needs, but it intentionally refrains from asserting its influence over the association.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo listens during the 2nd ASEAN-United States Summit, part of the 25th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Related Summits at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 13 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

This is due to Indonesia’s internal weaknesses, ASEAN’s norms of non-interference and equality among members, and the remaining antagonism among ASEAN member countries. This situation leaves a power vacuum within the association and intensifies the academic debate about leadership in integrating regions.

There are three possible and intertwining explanations of leadership in ASEAN.

Sectorial leadership refers to leadership exercised through areas or sectors of competence, or depending on which country is in a better position to take the lead at the time. Indonesia’s foreign-policy orientation is frequently concerned with political and security issues. For example, it greatly influenced ASEAN positions on the Cambodian conflict and the South China Sea dispute. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore like to push economic issues. These countries played a vital role in moving onto the path of economic integration. All were notable proponents of the ASEAN Free Trade Area. The Philippines is often more concerned with social and cultural issues, demonstrated by its initiation of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

Cooperative leadership is formed among a group of countries that share a common vision and wish to play a strategic role in the region. This is based on the notion that no single ASEAN country can fulfil the leading role, so it should be built on the basis of two or three countries that are able to forge solid cooperation among their leaders and consolidate their domestic politics. This form of leadership is perhaps similar to the case of the European Union where Germany and France appear as a coalition leader.

Periodical leadership assumes that leadership is attached to individuality or charisma. This notion is heavily centred on some notable leaders of ASEAN, such as Indonesia’s President Suharto, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.

The sectorial explanation of leadership may be prevalent because Indonesia still lacks competence, for example in socio-economic areas. The cooperative model may have emerged because ASEAN is actually a collection of weak and vulnerable countries domestically. The periodical leadership is also visible because ASEAN is arguably an elitist organisation and very much attached to leader’s charisma. But, without a doubt, ASEAN requires the presence of undisputed leadership for which Indonesia seems to be the only candidate.

ASEAN requires a clear and dominant leader that can serve as an institutional focal point and regional paymaster to facilitate and drive regional projects. Most multi-lateral or regional organisations include a country with more power relative to its other members. In every international bargain with competing national interests, there is an influence of structural powers (derived from material and resource capacity such as the size of land, population and economy). Even the European Union, which has much more solid and effective institutions to drive decision-making, is heavily influenced by French and German leadership. Regional integration is a scene of competing national interests and the position of leadership is normally taken by the governments of large, prosperous and powerful member states.

As the world’s fourth largest state in terms of population and the region’s largest country, which comprises about 40 per cent of ASEAN’s total population, Indonesia is the elephant in the room. Indonesia initiated and proposed the foundation of ASEAN as a means to end regional conflict. As a consequence of a painful experience of colonisation, Indonesia was the country that continued to stress non-alignment, with the hope of removing the exercise of external powers from the region. While the coercive action towards East Timor and the severe financial crisis in the late 1990s spelled the decline of Indonesia’s position in ASEAN, its recent democratic consolidation is bolstering its reputation in regional affairs.

The invisibility of leadership in ASEAN is a result of Indonesia trying to ensure regional unity. Without the low-posture politics of Indonesia, the association would not be able to create multilateralism and a neutral context in which smaller states could feel more comfortable when dealing with bigger countries. But, considering the remaining antagonism among members and its considerable institutional weaknesses, this raises the importance of leadership in ASEAN.

ASEAN’s future cannot rely wholly upon Indonesia’s structural leadership. It has to be invested with some sort of soft power that could help amplify international images and credibility, as well as tone down antagonism and resistance within the organisation. Indonesia should seek to play a more active leading role and exercise more of its power over the association.

In the foreseeable future, ASEAN will continue to be shaped by the politics of Indonesia. The recent political developments in Indonesia will provide a vital ingredient in building up confidence and credibility, as well as enhancing the pursuit of leadership in ASEAN.

Pattharapong Rattanasevee is a lecturer at Burapha University, Chonburi, Thailand.

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/03/28/why-indonesia-should-take-a-leading-role-in-asean/

Philippines, Vietnam Establish Hotline To Fight Illegal Fishing and Poaching

March 28, 2015

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MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) – The Philippines and Vietnam have strengthened efforts in addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through establishment of a “hotline,” a senior government official said today.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAF) national director Asis Perez said that the creation of a hotline between the two countries can be used for immediate coordination on fisheries surveillance activities against IUU fishing and emergency response to distressed Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen in the high seas.

“Vietnam like the Philippines is a major fishing nation and our bilateral cooperation in the field of fisheries is dictated by our common goals to manage the resources, improve the fishery industry ‘s condition and ensure our fishers’ welfare and safety when they go astray in the offshore fishing areas,” he said.

Perez said the idea was hatched during the 4th Joint Committee Meeting under the Philippine-Vietnam Bilateral Cooperation in the Field in Hanoi City October last year.

Chinese fishermen

Also the Philippine government and the stakeholders have agreed to participate in the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the amended Fisheries Code.

The amended  Republic Act (RA) 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, takes effect this week despite opposition it gathered during its passage, Perez said.

Last year, European Union warned the Philippines, along with Papua New Guinea, of possible sanction if it continues to fail to address IUU fishing.

Chinese maritime patrol officers stop and search a fishermen in international waters — a violation of international law.

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In this April 13, 2013 photo released by the Philippine Coast Guard, an officer of the Philippine Coast Guard holds a frozen pangolin or scaly anteater on board a Chinese vessel that ran into the Tubbataha coral reef, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, in the southwestern Philippines. Authorities discovered more than 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of meat from the protected species inside the Chinese vessel F/N Min Long Yu. (AP Photo/ Philippine Coast Guard)

With tension going up in the South China Sea, Vietnam and the Philippines have made an alliance. Here, Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh is greeted by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario in Manila during Deputy PM Minh’s visit to the Philippines on January 29-30, 2015. Photo by Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs

Fishermen from Vietnam and the Philippines have long complained of rough and unlawful treatment from the Chinese fishermen….

Nguyen Chi Thanh, the owner and captain of fishing boat QNg96093, is seen on his vessel after it was attacked by Chinese forces on January 7, 2015.
Tuoi Tre

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Photo: Captain Pham Quang Thanh on the fishing boat that was fired at by a Chinese naval boat off Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands of Vietnam on March 20, 2013.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The agreement by the Philippines and Vietnam on a hotline will help to make the area a little bit less dangerous — but until China complies  with international law, conflicts will likely continue.

Hong Kong’s press freedom deteriorating

March 28, 2015

HONG KONG–Hong Kong’s press freedom is deteriorating, according to the results of a survey released Friday. 

The survey, jointly conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Public Opinion Programme of Hong Kong University, shows that the public and journalists believe that press freedom deteriorated in 2014.

The Hong Kong Press Freedom Index declined 0.6 points to 48.8 for the general public and a more significant 3.1 points to 38.9 for journalists.

The index is scored from zero to 100, with 100 the highest rating for press freedom.

HKJA chairperson Sham Yee-lan described the result as worrying.

The HKJA said that some journalist respondents pointed out that they face difficulty obtaining information they need for their reporting.

They also complained that “government manipulation of the media in reporting news has become very common.”

Includes video:

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/china-taiwan-relations/2015/03/28/432242/Freedom-of.htm

Kevin Lau Chun-to in January 2014, after his dismissal as editor of the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

Kevin Lau Chun-to in January 2014, after his dismissal as editor of the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.C redit Associated Press

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper tycoon Jimmy Lai talks to the media after leaving the Wanchai police station on January 21, 2015. Jimmy Lai produces the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong and has been frequently harassed by the government and police. AFP photo

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Yemen’s President Calls Shiite Rebels in Yemen ‘Stooges of Iran’ — Obama, Kerry Continue Iran Nuclear Negotiations

March 28, 2015

By HAMZA HENDAWI and AHMED AL-HAJ

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Yemen’s embattled president on Saturday called Shiite rebels who forced him to flee the country “stooges of Iran,” directly blaming the Islamic Republic for the chaos there and demanding airstrikes against rebel positions continue until they surrender.

Other leaders, including the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, obliquely referenced Iran earlier at the opening session of an Arab summit held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. They blamed Shiite, non-Arab Iran for meddling in the affairs of Arab nations, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi saying, without mentioning Iran by name, that it was “spreading its ailment in the body.”

Yemeni President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi directly challenged Iran in his remarks. He also called for his supporters to rise up in peaceful protest against the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis. He said the airstrikes staged by Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Houthis must not stop before they surrender and return medium and heavy weapons they looted from army depots across much of the country.

Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement. Officials there had no immediate comment on Hadi’s remarks.

Hadi fled Yemen earlier this week, making his way to Saudi Arabia after leaving the southern coastal city of Aden in the face of a push into southern Yemen by the Houthis and their allies, including forces loyal to ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Also addressing the summit, Saudi Arabia’s monarch, King Salman, said the military campaign in Yemen would not stop before security and stability are restored in Yemen.

El-Sissi also endorsed a resolution adopted by Arab foreign ministers on Thursday for the creation of an Arab military force, saying the Arab world was currently facing unprecedented threats.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Press Agency reported Saturday that its navy had evacuated 86 diplomats and others from Aden on Wednesday. It did not identify the nationalities of all those it evacuated in the operation, though it said diplomats from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar were on hand Saturday when those evacuated arrived at a Jiddah naval base.

Pakistan also announced Saturday it had two planes standing by to evacuate its citizens.

Dozens of foreign diplomats, including United Nations staff, still were awaiting evacuation Saturday by air in Sanaa, airport officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

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Al-Haj reported from Sanaa, Yemen.

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Iran Nuclear Talks Could Push Past Deadline

By Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman
The wall Street Journal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland—With Iran nuclear talks nearing a critical deadline Tuesday, diplomats raised doubts that a meaningful deal could be reached in time even as the White House faces political hurdles in Washington to extend negotiations.

Gaps between the two sides include how quickly Western nations would lift punitive sanctions against Iran, and what types of nuclear research Tehran would be allowed to continue, diplomats said. Negotiators also are grappling over access by international inspectors to Iran’s military sites, where evidence has suggested the possibility of past experiments on weapons technology.

Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with members of his delegation in Lausanne on Friday.  
Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with members of his delegation in Lausanne on Friday. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Press Pool

The differences between Iran and international powers are so wide that any agreement reached by Tuesday would likely be vague and wouldn’t necessarily be written down in a formal text, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned Friday.

Speaking in Washington, he said negotiators might need more time, holding out the possibility of extending talks.

“We envisage being able to deliver a narrative, whether that is written down or not I don’t think is the crucial issue,” Mr. Hammond said. “This will be effectively a political statement or perhaps political statements…to make it clear that we have now got this boulder over the hill and we are into the detailed work to produce an agreement.”

U.S. and European officials said it is unclear if such a political statement will be enough to keep critics of the deal on Capitol Hill at bay.

Senior U.S. officials also have privately warned that White House might not have the political support in Washington to extend the negotiations—without at least a broad political agreement announced with Tehran by Tuesday.

U.S. lawmakers this week pushed forward legislation that seeks to impose new sanctions on Tehran if no deal is reached by month-end, a move Iran has warned could kill the talks.

In addition to the sanctions legislation, U.S. lawmakers are seeking to pass a bill that would give them the power to approve, amend, or kill any agreement reached with Iran. Many U.S. senators, including Democrats, have warned the deal won’t go far enough in guaranteeing Iran won’t be able to acquire nuclear weapons.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told CNN on Friday: “I do think we are going to pass a piece of legislation that gives Congress that ability to weigh in on behalf of the American people.”

Senior U.S. officials exhorted Iran on Friday to make the tough political decisions in the coming days they say are required to reach an agreement after 18 months of nuclear diplomacy with the U.S.

“Yesterday’s and today’s talks have been tough and very serious,” a senior State Department official said late Friday in Lausanne. “We’re at that point in the negotiations where we really need to see decisions being made. We will test whether that is truly possible over the next several days.”

Mr. Hammond is scheduled to arrive in Lausanne on Sunday. The foreign ministers of France, China, Russia, Germany and the European Union are expected over the weekend.

There are “six areas of discussion, some of them we are close enough that we can be sure we’ll reach an agreement,” Mr. Hammond told reporters in Washington. “There are still some other areas where we are significantly apart; It’s going to require a significant move by the Iranians.”

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, have held two days of marathon negotiation in Lausanne to try to forge an agreement that would limit Tehran’s nuclear program in an exchange for a lifting of Western sanctions.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani directly intervened in the nuclear diplomacy this past week, writing to the White House and the other five powers involved in the negotiations. He also spoke directly on Thursday with French President François Hollande and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.

Diplomats involved in the negotiations said that while significant progress has been made, serious gaps exist.

Iranian negotiators are also still resisting U.S. and European demands for regular access to Tehran’s military sites as part of a deal, diplomats here said.

The absence of such access could expose a serious flaw in the West’s attempts to guard against Iran moving closer to developing atomic weapons capability during the lifetime of the nuclear agreement.

Western officials have said they want to place constraints on Iran’s nuclear program for at least a decade. They’re also seeking to ensure Iran would need at least a year to accumulate enough fissile material to produce at least one nuclear weapon for at least a decade.

Western countries at the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have long sought greater access to Iran’s military sites due to evidence they secretly conducted tests there of technologies used to build nuclear weapons.

The IAEA said in November 2011 report that information from member states indicated Iran constructed a large explosives containment vessel at sprawling military site south of Tehran called Parchin to experiment with high explosives that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and claims the IAEA’s report is based on fraudulent information provided by Israel and other Western countries.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the six powers negotiating with Iran are working on a revised proposal which would see Tehran deal with some of the core outstanding questions about its alleged weaponization work early in an agreement. But concerns remain that if Iran’s military sites are kept largely out of bounds during the duration of a nuclear deal, Iran would be able in the future to exploit the loophole to carry out covert nuclear activities.

“People are saying the key is access which is correct. We need to give access to inspectors, to the IAEA,” said one European diplomat involved in the talks.

For the U.S., and its partners, the intensity of the monitoring arrangements under a deal are a critical test. They have already ceded a number of important concessions to Iran over the past 18 months—from allowing Tehran to continue enriching uranium to keeping open a plutonium-producing reactor and an underground nuclear facilities.

U.S. officials have mapped out an ambitious monitoring regime that goes far beyond the scale of similar verification agreements the IAEA has with more than 100 other countries.

Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com and Laurence Norman at laurence.norman@wsj.com

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Russia ‘to join China-led development bank’

March 28, 2015

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Construction of a Disney amusement park in Shanghai, pictured on February 2, 2015. AFP photo

MOSCOW (AFP) – 

Russia is to sign up to the Chinese-led development bank AIIB, first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov said Saturday at an international forum in China, cited by Russian news agencies.

“I’d like to inform you that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the decision that Russia will participate in the capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB),” Shuvalov said at China’s Boao Forum, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.

The Beijing-backed AIIB, unveiled in October, is a multinational lender that the United States perceives as a threat to the Washington-led World Bank.

It has proved highly successful with countries that are US allies, however, with Britain, Germany, France, Italy and this week South Korea all saying they intend to join the $50 billion (46 billion euro) bank.

Russia has sought to align itself more closely with China in recent years and these efforts have intensified amid a freeze in relations with the Western powers, which have imposed harsh economic sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict.

“We are glad to have the opportunity to build up cooperation in the format of China and the Eurasian Economic Union,” Shuvalov said, referring to a free trade union championed by Putin made up of Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus, which came into force in January.

“We in Russia are sure that joint work in developing Eurasian partnership and the Silk Route economic belt will create further opportunities for the development of the countries of the Eurasian Union and China,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this month that “practical cooperation between China and Russia is based on mutual need” and has “enormous internal impetus and room for expansion.”

China is hungry for Russia’s vast hydrocarbon resources, while Western sanctions have made seeking stable markets an urgent need for Putin, whose economy has been hit hard by the fall in prices for oil, a major source of revenue.

Both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, where they have in the past jointly used their veto power against Western-backed moves such as in the civil war in Syria.

Hong Kong press freedom index falls amid attacks on journalists, Beijing influence, self-censorship

March 28, 2015

Journalists Association cites attacks on reporters for decline in annual index

By Jeffie lam
South China Morning Post

Press freedom in Hong Kong continued to deteriorate last year in the face of self-censorship and high-profile cases of violence, a poll of journalists and members of the public showed.

While more than half of the members of the public surveyed for the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index felt that last year saw a step back for press freedom, journalists were even more gloomy. Some 90 per cent said press freedom had suffered, with 48 per cent pointing to a “substantial setback”.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association, which runs the annual index, said the results reflected a growing number of physical attacks on journalists, including during the Occupy protests and a February knife attack on former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to.

Overall, the Press Freedom Index stood at 48.8 points out of 100 for the general public, down 0.6 points year on year. For journalists, the decline was sharper, down 3.1 points on the 2013 figure to 38.9.

The index drew on two polls conducted in January. The University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme surveyed 1,035 members of the public, while the HKJA interviewed 537 journalists.

All were asked 10 questions about the working environment for journalists, and were asked to give answers on a scale of 0 to 10.

For journalists, self-censorship was perceived as the biggest problem. They gave a rating of seven when asked how common self-censorship was. The public gave a score of 5.6.

The public perceived pressure from management and media owners as the biggest problem, with a rating of 6.1. Journalists gave a rating of 6.9 on the same question.

On the question of whether personal threats were common when reporting, journalists gave a score of 5.5 points, up 0.7 points. The public score was 5.2.

Some 90 per cent of the journalists said they had the impression that there were more “attacks by law enforcers” on their colleagues last year than in 2013. Some 87 per cent said people participating in events organised by pro-establishment groups had become more violent towards journalists.

RTHK reporter Mak Ka-wai injured by Anti-Occupy Central protesters in Mong Kok last year. Photo: RTHK

HKJA chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said the group recorded at least 30 cases of journalists being attacked last year, and that the use of violence was one of the main factors behind the declining press freedom score.

“I have been in the industry for 30 years and have never seen a year with so many reporters being attacked,” she said, adding that the HKJA would raise its concerns with police.

The poll also found other areas of concern. Journalists gave a score of just 2.6 when asked how open government officials were in responding to queries.

Sham said the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would deliver important policies in ways that did not offer an opportunity for questions.

Noting that reporters complained of increasing difficulty in accessing information held by the government and public bodies, Sham called for freedom of information legislation. She said such laws had been enacted in countries covering 77 per cent of the world’s population.

Beijing wants to control South China Sea, Manila Says

March 28, 2015

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Francisco Acedillo, a lawmaker and a former air force pilot, shows a slide of China’s reclamation work in the Spratly as he called for a creative strategy to deal with the maritime territorial dispute during a Foreign Correspondent of the Philippines (FOCAP) meeting in Manila, March 25, 2015

The Philippines accused China yesterday of seeking to take control of nearly the entire South China Sea with an expansionist agenda dominated by “massive reclamation” works.

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Foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said China’s efforts were aimed at undermining a United Nations tribunal that is due to rule early next year on a Philippine challenge to its claims to the disputed waters.


Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. Photo by Noel Celis for AFP

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“China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to actualise its nine-dash line claim and to control nearly the entire South China Sea before… the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine submission,” del Rosario told reporters.

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China insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the resource-rich sea, even areas approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, based on an old Chinese map with nine dashes outlining its territory.

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But the nine dashes are in some places more than 1,000km from the nearest major Chinese landmass and well within the exclusive economic zones of its neighbours.
The dispute — with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claiming parts of the sea — has for decades been a source of deep regional tension and occasional military conflict.

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Tensions have escalated sharply in recent years as China has moved to increase its presence and assert its authority in the waters.

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Del Rosario said those activities were continuing to pick up pace, pointing to what he described as Chinese ships ramming Filipino fishing boats at a shoal close to the Philippine coast in January.

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“China also made and continues to make incursions in the West Philippine Sea and undertake massive reclamation activities in the disputed areas,” he said, referring to the Philippine-claimed waters by its local name.

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Del Rosario said the reclamation works were taking place on all seven reefs that China occupies in the Spratly Islands, one of the biggest archipelagos in the sea between the Philippines, southern Vietnam and Malaysia.

Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Recent photographs of the reefs and islands in the South China Sea show extensive Chinese construction. Ownership of the islands is a matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague, The Netherlands

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“The alterations of these features are plainly intended to change the character, status and maritime entitlements of the said features, which prejudice the arbitration and undermine the work of the arbitral tribunal to hear and objectively decide the case,” he said in a speech to the foreign journalists’ association in Manila.

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China is a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, a treaty that is meant to govern nations’ maritime actions.

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But China has refused to participate in the case filed by the Philippines. The tribunal’s ruling will not be legally enforceable and China is widely expected to ignore any verdict against it.

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The Philippines said yesterday it would resume repair and reconstruction works in the disputed South China Sea after halting activities last year over concerns about the effect on an arbitration complaint filed against China.

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Malaysia and Vietnam have also been making improvements to their facilities.

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“We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” foreign minister Albert del Rosario told diplomats, military officers and foreign correspondents on Thursday.

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He said the works, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea because they would not alter the status quo in the disputed area. The 2002 code was signed by China and 10 Southeast Asian states in Phnom Penh.

http://www.gulf-times.com/asean-philippines/188/details/432496/beijing-wants-to-control-south-china-sea:-manila

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Related:

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  (South China Morning Post)

 (Contains several links to related articles)

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Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Warships from China are frequently seen near the disputed islands.

(Contains links to several related articles)

Reclamation: China has already turned a worthless piece of coral into an island big enough for an airstrip at Fiery Cross reef in the South China Sea

China’s East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Screenshot of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese vessel in May 2014

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

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Hillary Clinton deleted all email from personal server

March 28, 2015

(CNN) Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state, the Republican lawmaker who subpoenaed the emails said late Friday.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York March 10, 2015. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, said Clinton’s lawyer informed him of the news.

“Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server,” Gowdy said in a statement

Family issues add to Hong Kong leader’s public relations problems

March 28, 2015

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Leung Chai-yan, daughter of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, poses on the red carpet during the 2015 amfAR Hong Kong gala at Shaw Studios in Hong Kong on March 14. (Anthony Wallace / AFP/Getty Images)

By Tiffany Ap
The Los Angeles Times

It was almost like a scene out of a Disney movie, a princess-crying-in-a-castle shot. In this case, though, it was none other than the daughter of top Hong Kong official Leung Chun-ying, who was seen weeping on the balcony of a grand old colonial building in Hong Kong

For the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of 7.3 million, the episode one morning last week was akin to Sasha Obama sobbing on a White House portico — as an ambulance, paramedics and a horde of journalists waited outside the gates.

Even throughout the long series of pro-democracy protests last fall, when massive crowds took to the streets, China’s central government in Beijing staunchly backed Leung. However, recurring personal controversies swirling around his second child, Leung Chai-yan, 23, have added to the chief executive’s public relations problems.

Leung Chai-yan’s lavish lifestyle — she often refers to herself as “Princess Chai-yan” — seems directly at odds with the national austerity campaign initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Moreover, her erratic public outbursts have become increasingly frequent and serious, compounding the unresolved negative public sentiment toward her father left over from the protests.

The chief executive’s approval rating sank to 39.6% in a University of Hong Kong poll this month, barely above his all-time low of 38.9% at the height of the protests in October.

Leung Chai-yan, a law student at the London School of Economics, wrote on Facebook in October, at the height of the protests, that Hong Kong taxpayers funded her expensive shopping sprees. That followed a June incident in which Leung and his wife flew to London to see their daughter after she posted photos of her cut and bleeding wrists.

Trouble surfaced again at an AIDS fundraiser during an Art Basel fair held in Hong Kong this month in which dozens of foreign celebrities and art world VIPs descended on the city. Swaying down the red carpet, her eyes drooping, some photographers yelled out, “Can you walk?”

The tabloids feasted on the spectacle at an event attended by Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and Robin Thicke. But even more fodder followed when Leung Chai-yan posted a flurry of erratic social media messages alleging verbal and physical abuse by her mother.

One, rife with profanities, claimed that her mother had accused her of “getting into bed with people,” and “being a prostitute” and alleged that her mother had also pushed and slapped her.

After the balcony episode, emergency services confirmed that they had dispatched paramedics to the Leungs’ residence but left without taking anyone to the hospital. Leung Chai-yan posted (and then deleted) an item saying she was being pressured to say she had changed her mind about wanting an ambulance.

In a news conference later, the chief executive denied that his daughter was held against her will or that anyone had been injured. He said his daughter was receiving treatment for emotional health issues.

The public airing of dirty laundry compounds problems for Leung, still facing public anger over the pace of democratic reforms and concern that livelihoods are being marginalized in favor of big businesses catering to mainland Chinese tourists.

Multiple protests against so-called “parallel traders” — mainland Chinese visitors who cross the border several times a day to buy goods in Hong Kong and resell them on mainland — have also kept Leung in the hot seat.

Last week, a leading opposition politician, Alan Leong, challenged Leung to a televised debate on political reform.

Tellingly, public sentiment seems to have turned in favor of Leung Chai-yan. Although she stirred immense ire with her comments about enjoying taxpayer-funded shopping sprees, support for her seems to have grown steadily as she rebels against her father.

After the balcony incident, a small crowd gathered outside the chief executive’s mansion, Government House, holding signs asking for the police to investigate whether Leung Chai-yan had been abused. “Save Chai-yan! We are all Leung Chai-yan,” read the placards.

Since then, it appears that Leung Chai-yan has left home, posting on Instagram to her more than 22,000 followers that she was on the move.

“Hate to admit I’m actually terrified inside. Running away. Skipping town,” the post read. “Yes- irresponsible I know. This is crazy. Going somewhere alone I’ve never been before with just a small suitcase and a pair of flip-flops.#ByeHome #RunningAway #NoIdeaWhatImDoing#WhereIsLifeHeading.”

Ap is a special correspondent.

Related:

Leung Chai-yan, 23, posted photos and messages on Instagram suggesting she had left home.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s eldest daughter said she had “officially” left home this morning, a day after claiming online that she’d had a violent row with her mother and that she had been “held against her will” at home.

Ambulances arrived at the Government House yesterday morning, where the Hong Kong leader and his family lives, hours after Chai-yan began posting a series of Facebook posts detailing the dispute and her plans to leave home “forever”.

The incident prompted Leung Chun-ying to hold a press conference that afternoon, in which he denied there was domestic violence in their home. He also said that his 23-year-old daughter had been dealing with health and emotional issues for a few years, and he asked the public to give her space to recover.

 

Philippines Resumes South China Sea Construction As China Continues Reclamation

March 28, 2015

By Michelle FlorCruz
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The Philippines has announced it will resume construction activity in the hotly disputed South China Sea waters after taking a several-months hiatus because of concerns that it could have an effect on a complaint that it filed against China to international courts.

Last October, Manila called on all governments with vested interest in the area to call off work, but were largely ignored. Now, Manila says they are ready to join China and other countries who have continued to tinker with facilities in the disputed region. “We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said on Thursday according to Reuters. He said this will include making repairs to an airstrip, which would not jeopardize their claims to the area or disrupt regional stability.

REGIONAL SUMMIT. Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario attends the Plenary Session of the 47th Association of South East Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on August 8, 2014. Photo by Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario attends the Plenary Session of the 47th Association of South East Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on August 8, 2014. Photo by Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

While the Philippines was taking a hiatus in making their own facility developments in the region, China has forged an impressive undertaking of reclamation. China, which lays claim to nearly all of the South China Sea region, continues to flex military dominance in the area with its newly constructed man-made island among the Spratly Islands. A report by IHS Jane’s revealed the astounding speed in which China’s military dredged the reefs to build the island, which is reportedly home to an airstrip, boosting the country’s surveillance capabilities in the area.

Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Recent photographs of the reefs and islands in the South China Sea show extensive Chinese construction. Ownership of the islands is a matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague, The Netherlands

Taiwanese, Malaysian and Vietnamese governments have all expressed concern over China’s rapid expansion in the region as the result of the country’s maritime “nine-dash line” border claims, which is not recognized by the United Nations Law of the Sea or Southeast Asian neighbors. Still, the Philippines continues to be the most vocal in their countering claims to the resource-rich waters, which also are significant economic zones. Manila went as far as filing an arbitration case with The Hague’s International Court of Justice, of which China has rejected participation in.

http://www.ibtimes.com/philippines-resumes-south-china-sea-construction-china-continues-reclamation-1861266

Related:

 

Related:

  (South China Morning Post)

 (Contains several links to related articles)

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Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Warships from China are frequently seen near the disputed islands.

(Contains links to several related articles)

Reclamation: China has already turned a worthless piece of coral into an island big enough for an airstrip at Fiery Cross reef in the South China Sea

China’s East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Screenshot of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese vessel in May 2014

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

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