Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

China upset as Japanese minister visits self-ruled Taiwan — Most senior Japanese gov’t official in 45 years visits Taiwan — “Nothing China hates more than anybody talking to Taiwan…”

March 27, 2017

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Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama

Most senior Japanese official in 45 years pays visit to Taiwan

Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama visited Taiwan on Saturday, becoming the most senior government official to visit the island since the two sides severed diplomatic ties in 1972.

Although Akama is in Taiwan to attend a two-day event promoting Japanese culture and tourism, some expressed concern that his visit is likely to upset China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting unification, by force if necessary.

Welcoming Akama to Taiwan, Chiou I-jen, president of the Association of East Asian Relations, Taiwan’s semi-official agency for handling relations with Japan, said at the opening ceremony for the event that “it was not easy” for Akama to make the trip and that he had to “go through many difficulties.”

“Both Taiwan and Japan face many difficulties,” Chiou said. “But because we both face the same difficulties, it only shows how closely connected we are.”

Later, when asked about the difficulties he meant, he replied: “Isn’t that a rhetorical question?” Asked whether he could mention the obvious answer, he gave his trademark smile and said, “I will not tell.”

Through a translator, Akama avoided similar questions but acknowledged that Japanese officials sometimes encounter difficulties if they have to travel abroad.

When asked whether he received any pressure from China before making the trip, Akama said, “There was no big problem” but added it was rather difficult that he had to “factor in many international situations before making the final decision,” without elaborating.

Akama also urged the Taiwanese media to promote Japanese tourism and food.

He said he hopes his visit will help the Taiwanese public better understand that many food products from the region hit hardest by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have passed strict examinations and are safe to consume.

Taiwan and Japan continue to enjoy a close relationship despite the lack of official ties. Since severing diplomatic relations in 1972, the two sides have signed more than 60 trade deals, including a landmark fisheries agreement inked in April 2013 to mollify Taipei after Japan effectively nationalized the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed as Tiaoyutai by Taiwan and Diaoyu by China.

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Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China

Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May last year, her administration has expressed hope of bringing bilateral relations to a higher level.

In January, Japan’s de facto diplomatic establishment, the Interchange Association, changed its name to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association. It was not surprising that the move angered Beijing, which urged Japan to uphold the “One China” principle, refrain from creating new disturbances in China-Japan ties and from sending a wrong message to Taiwan and the international community.

To reciprocate Japan’s goodwill, Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee revealed earlier this month that Taiwan will change the name of the ministry-linked Association of East Asian Relations.

The ministry has also been negotiating with Tokyo on changing the name of Taiwan’s representative office in Japan, Lee said.



Mon Mar 27, 2017 | 4:20am EDT

China said on Monday it has complained to Japan after a Japanese minister visited self-ruled Taiwan over the weekend, warning this could hurt relations between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Deputy Minister Jiro Akama went to Taiwan to attend a tourism promotion event in his official capacity, leaving Japan last Friday and returning the following day.

Japanese media said Akama was the highest-level government official to officially visit Taiwan since Japan broke diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1972 and established them with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the visit clearly ran contrary to Japan’s promises to only have non-governmental and local level exchanges with Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province.

“China is resolutely opposed to this and has already made solemn representations to Japan,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

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Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry

Japan has said it respects its promises on the Taiwan but actually it has been provocative, she added.

“This has caused serious disturbance to the improvement of Sino-Japanese ties.”

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwan is a core interest of China’s that can’t be challenged and Japan should recognize the seriousness of it, stop being “two-faced” and not go any further down the wrong path, Hua said.

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed Akama arriving at Taipei airport, telling reporters there will be no change in Japan-China or Japan-Taiwan ties.

China expressed dissatisfaction in December after Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan said it would change its name to include the word Taiwan.

Japan, like most countries in the world, maintains only informal relations with Taiwan while it has diplomatic, if uneasy, ties with Beijing.

Beijing has repeatedly urged Japan to show greater repentance for World War Two atrocities and the two sides have a festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

However, Japan’s 1895-1945 rule in Taiwan is seen by some as having been good for the island’s development, unlike perceptions of Japan in other parts of Asia, particularly in China and Korea, which are often deeply negative.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Ami Miyazaki in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Major nations responsible for keeping world peace: China vice premier says, “China’s door to the world is open, and it will only be opened wider.”

March 25, 2017


Sat Mar 25, 2017 | 6:20am EDT

The world’s major nations are responsible for maintaining global peace, and all countries should remain committed to a road of stable and peaceful development, China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Saturday.

His comments followed media reports this week that North Korea was in the final stages of preparing for another nuclear test. Earlier this month, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles in response to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which it regards as preparation to war.

“Large countries have the responsibility to maintain global peace, should increase strategic dialogue, increase mutual trust, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns,” Zhang said at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia in southern China’s Hainan province.

He did not identify the large countries.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of 2016. Washington has been pressing Beijing to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. China has called for a dual-track approach, urging North Korea to suspend its tests and the United States and South Korea to halt military drills, so that both sides can return to talks.

Beijing has also been angered by the U.S. deployment of the THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, missile defense system in South Korea, which it says will both harm China’s own security and do nothing to ease tensions.

“All parties should stick to dialogue to settle disputes and problems in a peaceful manner,” Zhang said, without specifying what disputes and problems.

Zhang’s comments also came ahead of a milestone meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in the United States next month.

During a recent visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Xi said China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties.

Trump has previously threatened a 45 percent tariff on China’s exports and frequently said on the campaign trail that he would label China a currency manipulator. Trump has not followed through on either move yet.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has also complained about China’s excess industrial capacity, unfair subsidies for state-owned enterprises and a lack of access for foreign firms to major sectors of the Chinese economy.

“China remains committed to the strategy of opening up,” Zhang said. “China’s door to the world is open, and it will only be opened wider.”

(Reporting by Elias Glenn; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel and Christian Schmollinger)

Beijing Defends Its Right to Guard South China Sea With Arms

March 24, 2017

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says deployment of military gear helps to protect maritime trade routes

Malcolm Turnbull in China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Australia for a five-day visit, March 23, 2017. Reuters photo

March 24, 2017 1:44 a.m. ET

CANBERRA, Australia—Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made an unusually elaborate defense of Beijing’s deployment of military gear on artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying the disputed facilities were partly intended to protect maritime trade and air routes.

Mr. Li, who was asked to speak about the hot-button issue on a visit to Australia to promote trade links, said that it was China that would be hit hardest by conflict in a region home to trillions of dollars worth of seaborne trade.

“China’s facilities on Chinese islands and reefs are primarily for civilian purposes,” Mr. Li said in a press conference at Australia’s Parliament. “And even if there is a certain amount of defense equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, because without such freedom or without stability in the South China Sea, the Chinese side would be the first to bear the brunt of it.”

His comments were a rare amplification by a top Chinese leader on Beijing’s South China Sea policies following a pledge in 2015 by China’s President Xi Jinping not to militarize the islands . The U.S. and some Asian countries that have territorial disputes with China in the sea are concerned about the construction of extensive facilities including ports, hangars and military-capable runways.

Last year, after a U.S. think tank released satellite images appearing to show China had installed antiaircraft weapons and other arms on all seven islands it has built in the in the Spratly archipelago, China’s Defense Ministry said the emplacements were for “appropriate and legal” self-defense.

Both the U.S. and China say their main goal in the South China Sea is to maintain security, freedom of navigation in the vital global trade route. Where they disagree is over China’s expansive maritime claims over most of the sea and who should be the guarantor of such principles.

The U.S. has carried out several so-called freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, sending warships close to Chinese-built atolls in patrols that have raised tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Mr. Li said China “never had any intention” to engage in militarization when it began building islands in waters claimed in whole or part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. But he said China’s presence guaranteed that more than 100,000 ships passed through the sea and the pirate-plagued Malacca Strait last year without being attacked.

“We hope that the market and the business communities will continue to have strong faith in the South China Sea, in these sea-lanes with safe passage to pursue more free trade,” he said.

An estimated $5 trillion worth of goods pass through South China Sea maritime trade routes each year, en route to China, South Korea, Japan and other Asia-Pacific destinations.

During his confirmation hearings, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington may need to block China from some South China Sea islands, what expert said could trigger a dangerous military escalation. But Mr. Tillerson struck a conciliatory tone after meeting President Xi Jinping last week, promising “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signed deals with Mr. Li on Friday to expand Australia’s $6 billion-a-year beef export industry with China, while streamlining the 2015 China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The beef deal sought to capitalize on a temporary halt to China’s imports of beef from Brazil after a furor there over meatpacking safety.

Mr. Li’s five-day visit to Australia is the first by a Chinese premier in more than a decade and comes weeks ahead of a visit by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence aimed at improving alliance ties. As well as signing trade agreements, Mr. Li will also attend a weekend game of Australian Rules, the country’s quirky homegrown football code which Canberra hopes will take off in China.

Mr. Li has also sought while in the country to contrast China’s trade stability with the U.S. under Mr. Trump, warning against protectionism and Washington’s decision to reject a Pacific trade pact favored by Australia.

Mr. Turnbull said his country didn’t need to choose between security alliance ties with the U.S. and China, as the country’s biggest trade partner, worth about $114 billion last year, around a quarter of Australia’s total.

“We have a staunch, strong ally in Washington and a very good friend in Beijing,” Mr. Turnbull said. “It’s a multipolar world. The idea that Australia has to choose between Australia and the United States is not correct.

Jeremy Page in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to Rob Taylor at

North Korea Expected To Conduct Nuclear Weapon Test “In The Next Few Days”

March 23, 2017

Fox News

North Korea is in the final stages of preparing for another nuclear test, which could come in the next few days, U.S. officials with knowledge of the most recent intelligence from the region told Fox News.

“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said one official.

U.S. defense officials have seen evidence that North Korea has completed digging new tunnels around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but it still has to move more equipment into the area for a possible test, the official added.  The Pentagon is keeping a close eye on these looming developments.


North Korea’s nuclear preparations prompted the U.S. military in recent days to move a surveillance aircraft used to test the air following nuclear explosions to the region.  The U.S. Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix arrived in Japan and will be used to patrol the area off the Korean peninsula in the coming days, according to a separate official.

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U.S. Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Beijing last weekend to press the case about what to do about North Korea’s erratic leader and his drive to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

North Korea first conducted a nuclear test in 2006.  Last year, it carried out two additional tests.

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China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 19, 2017. ReutersThomas Peter

Secretary Tillerson declared the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience” was over when dealing with North Korea and called the past 20 years of negotiating with the communist regime by past administrations a failure.

The U.S. military is not the only nation concerned about North Korea’s pending nuke test.

Recent satellite imagery reveals Russia has moved one of its Antonov An-30R reconnaissance aircraft with air sample pods from its base outside of St. Petersburg. The Russian aircraft is used to take air samples to detect possible nuclear, biological and other chemical agents.


U.S. officials have seen evidence that North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator, Kim Jong-un, checked into a new residence near the test site of a failed missile launch Wednesday near the port city of Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast, according to one official.  Wonsan is located six hours south of the nuclear test site.

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Kim Jong-un

The Pentagon is increasingly concerned about North Korea’s ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and eventually place it on a ballistic missile. Each missile brings North Korea closer to achieving that goal, according to defense analysts.

In his New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un said his nation has “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Earlier this month North Korea launched four ballistic missiles, which landed 190 miles from Japan, an indication North Korea was simulating a more sophisticated attack to overwhelm anti-ballistic missile systems in Japan.

Roughly 80,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea and Japan.

Last month, North Korea conducted its first ballistic missile test of the Trump administration while the president hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenGriffinFNC.

Includes video:

Op-Ed: If we’re going to rule out negotiations with North Korea, we have to be ready for war — Chinese air traffic controllers eager to chase away U.S. military aircraft

March 23, 2017

By Robert L. Gallucci
The Los Angeles Times

March 23, 2017

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Robert L. Gallucci

During a visit to Seoul last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew some reddish lines around North Korea.

“Twenty years of talking has brought us to the point we are today,” Tillerson said at a news conference. “Talk is not going to change the situation.” If North Korea threatens South Korean or American forces or elevates the level of its weapons program, Tillerson warned, preemptive military action is “on the table.”

Tillerson’s comments did not come entirely out of left field. For months, Washington has been abuzz over the possibility that North Korea may successfully test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to an American city. In a New Year’s address, North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un indicated such a test could come sooner than we think.

But Tillerson’s warning did signal that the Trump administration is taking U.S. policy toward North Korea in a new direction — that we may be serious about abandoning engagement and willing to pursue containment through military action.

If North Korea is newly capable of striking an American city with a nuclear-armed missile, however, it would not be the first time that the U.S. was defenseless against an adversary’s weapons.

Americans lived for years with Soviet and Chinese missiles pointing in our direction. We had no way to defend against Soviet missiles in the 1950s, nor Chinese missiles in the 1960s. We were worried in 1960 when Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet leader, pounded his shoe against a table during a session of the United Nations General Assembly. For many reasons, Mao worried us even more.

Analysts can read Tillerson’s comments in different ways. If he meant to indicate that the U.S. would undertake a military strike on North Korea to prevent the testing and development of an ICBM — a “left of launch” program, as the Pentagon would call it — such an act could not properly be called preemption, because it would not be responding to an imminent attack. Rather, we would be taking preventive action and risking a preventive war with the goal of cutting off the emergence of a future threat. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, for instance, was a preventive war, not an act of preemption. Ethics, law and prudence are on the side of preemption but not on preventive strikes.

If, on the other hand, the U.S. intelligence community were to conclude that North Korea was about to launch a missile at Los Angeles, Seoul or Tokyo, we should fully expect Trump to order a preemptive strike to take out the missile before it is launched. If this is the only line Tillerson meant to draw, he should have saved the ink and not made news with the threat.

In either scenario, we can expect that attacking North Korea, even with an intended “surgical strike,” will bring retaliation, most likely against South Korean and American forces and civilians on the Korean peninsula — there are a lot of both within range of North Korean missiles and artillery — and possibly a second Korean War. The U.S. and its allies should be ready for this. At the moment, neither we nor our allies are prepared for war.

With so much at stake, Tillerson should disclose what exactly is new about the North Korean threat that makes deterrence suddenly unreliable. Certainly it is not the quality or quantity of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. At the height of the Cold War, the number of Soviet weapons — counting tactical and strategic weapons deployed in silos, on submarines and aboard bombers —reached 30,000 or so. The North Koreans have less than 20. It is possible that U.S. officials lack confidence in the rationality of Kim Jong Un. If this is the case, the American people should be informed that this is why we are risking another Korean War.

Some argue that an alternative to military action is the adoption of tougher sanctions together with more pressure on China to allow them to work. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such an approach, there is little reason to think it will be effective in stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. So the real alternative to war is a negotiated settlement that addresses the threat. There is a lot of work yet to be done in order to set the table for productive negotiations. More than 20 years ago, we struck a deal with the North that froze plutonium production for almost a decade before the deal collapsed: They cheated and we caught them. That was still a deal worth making, and the next one will have to be better. For starters, we should require that North Korea improve the human rights of its citizens as a condition of normalizing relations with the U.S.

The United States has no real capability to shoot down ICBMs, but we never have. We have been defenseless against this threat for six decades. For all those years, we have relied on deterrence and the promise of devastating retaliation. The logic is that the capability of our conventional and nuclear weapons deters our enemies and provides for the nation’s security. If the U.S. is going to abandon this logic now, it should be done with great care, and with the full understanding that we are risking war.

Robert L. Gallucci is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University. He served in the State Department as chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, and as an ambassador-at-large and special envoy dealing with threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.


China threatens American B-1 bomber flying off South Korea: Stand off as Beijing claims US aircraft violated its ‘defense zone’

  • China has accused the US plane of operating in its airspace without permission 
  • Pliots of a Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to controllers 
  • Chinese Air Traffic officials radioed the bomber flying 70 miles from Jeju Island 
  • The US bomber was in the controversial Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone
  • American and Japanese officials do not recognize the airspace China claism 

Chinese military officials have accused US bombers of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea.

Pilots of the US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to Chinese air traffic controllers during a flight about 70 nautical miles southwest of South Korea’s Jeju Island.

American officials told CNN the pilots told the Chinese controllers they were conducting ‘routine operations in international airspace and did not deviate from their flight path’.

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

The network revealed the tense moment was the result of the bombers had actually entered the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone – a controversial area of sky over the East China Sea.

The airspace also covers islands claimed by Japan, and it is not officially recognized by the US.

‘Pacific Air Forces … did not recognize the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone when it was announced in November of 2013, and does not recognize it today,’ US Pacific Air Forces spokesman Major Phil Ventura told CNN.

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

‘The ADIZ has not changed our operations.’

Chinese authorities demand airplanes flying over or through the airspace must first notify officials.

US Air Force sources said B-1 bomber was carrying out training operations with Japanese and South Korean jets in recent days.

On March 21, the American bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s.

Growing Conflict in Asia Sparks Japan’s Military Expansion

March 23, 2017


BY ON 3/22/17 AT 1:07 PM

US Defence Secretary sees no need for US military action in South China Sea

Japan unveiled its second helicopter carrier, the Kaga, Wednesday, sending a message of military strength to China amid growing conflict over the South China Sea and other strategic waterways in Asia. The new vessel is the latest sign of Japan’s ongoing military expansion as it seeks greater international influence.

Roughly 500 people attended the unveiling ceremony at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. The vessel was parked next to Japan’s other helicopter carrier, the Izumo, Reuters reported Wednesday. 

Japan wasn’t shy about its motivation. Vice Minister of Defense Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony Tokyo was deeply concerned about China’s construction of islands and military bases in the South China Sea waterway, which is claimed by multiple Asian nations.

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Japan’s Izumo now has a sister ship named Kaga

“China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases, and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” he said.

Roughly $5 trillion in global trade passes through the South China Sea each year. Both Japan and the U.S. have urged Beijing to honor open travel in the waterway. Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim the South China Sea, which is known for its fishing and oil and gas deposits. Japan, meanwhile, is engaged in its own territorial dispute with China over the neighboring East China Sea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has increasingly called for Japan to seek a bigger international role in global military conflicts in recent years and urged lawmakers to reconsider Japan’s pacifist constitution that forbids using force in international disputes. His remarks have alarmed China and many Japanese voters who enjoy the country’s post-World War II pacifism.

“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing last week.

Japan plans to send its Izumo helicopter carrier through Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka starting in May before joint naval exercises with India and the U.S. in the Indian Ocean in July.

China’s and Japan’s economies are the world’s second- and third-largest.


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Singapore prime minister visits Vietnam to strengthen trade — Vietnam asks for South Korean help in South China Sea

March 23, 2017


March 23, 2017 at 18:20 JST


Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, speaks during a joint press briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on March 23. (AP Photo)

HANOI–Vietnam and Singapore have signed several business agreements as the island state seeks to boost investment and trade with the communist country during a visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Among the six memorandums of understanding that were signed Thursday and witnessed by Lee and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, two were for industrial parks to be developed by Singapore’s Sembcorp in central Vietnam.

“I’m very glad to be back to Vietnam after more than three years in order to take our relationship another step forward,” Lee told reporters at a joint press briefing with Phuc.

Lee told reporters that he hoped Singapore, one of Vietnam’s top investors and trading partners, would increase its investments in the country.

“With more intensive business links and with more tourism between both sides, travel between Vietnam and Singapore has increased substantially,” Lee said.

Phuc said the two leaders were committed to enhancing the partnership between Vietnam and Singapore in all fields.

Lee said the two discussed regional and security issues and in particular the South China Sea, where he said issues should be resolved “in accordance with the international law including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea … and also on the freedom of navigation on the important artery of global commerce in the South China Sea.”

Vietnam and China along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim parts of or all of the South China Sea.

Vietnam is the vocal opponent of China’s expansion in the South China Sea.


Vietnam seeks South Korean support in South China Sea

HANOI: Vietnam’s Prime Minister sought support for the nation’s stance in the South China Sea when he met South Korea’s foreign minister in Hanoi on Monday.

Vietnam is the country most openly at odds with China over the waterway since the Philippines pulled back from confrontation under President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The Prime Minister proposed that South Korea continue its support over the position of Vietnam and Southeast Asia on the South China Sea issue and to help the country improve its law enforcement at the sea”, the government said in a statement on its website after the meeting between Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

The statement did not say whether South Korea backed Vietnam’s position on the South China Sea.

Yun did affirm his country’s willingness to promote ties despite instability in South Korea after the ousting of President Park Geun-hye over a graft scandal.

South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest foreign investor thanks to companies like Samsung.

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South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se is welcomed by Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

South Korea and China are currently in dispute over deployment of the U.S. anti-missile defence system. South Korea on Monday has complained to the World Trade Organization about Chinese retaliation against its companies over the deployment.

Last week, Vietnam demanded China stop sending cruise ships to the area in response to one of Beijing’s latest moves to bolster its claims to the strategic waterway.

China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the route, through which about US$5 trillion of trade passes each year.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Julia Glover)

China and Australia Discuss Trade, Economic Gain, South China Sea

March 23, 2017


© AFP/File | China is Australia’s largest trade partner and its economic importance has grown in the Donald Trump era

CANBERRA (AFP) – Australia urged China Thursday to press ahead with economic reforms as Premier Li Keqiang began a trade-focused visit amid growing fears of a US slide towards protectionism.

China is Australia’s largest trade partner and its economic importance has grown in the Donald Trump era after the US president ripped into Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a decorum-breaking phone call, fraying relations.

Turnbull said he hoped China and Australia could sign new bilateral agreements at a time of “increasingly loud voices calling for a retreat from the project of global economic liberalisation into protectionism”.

Li’s trip comes as the United States challenges longstanding global principles surrounding free trade, refusing to renew past anti-protectionist pledges.

“My government remains committed to championing trade liberalisation,” said Turnbull in a column for the Australian Financial Review, adding that he welcomed President Xi Jinping’s recent robust defence of open markets.

“It is critical, not only to China but also to the Australian and global economies, that China moves ahead with its substantial reform agenda.”

Li’s visit is the most senior by a Chinese leader to Australia since Xi in November 2014 when he shook hands on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in 2015.

As well as bilateral trade, Turnbull and Li are expected to discuss the progress of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership proposal that also includes Southeast Asian countries, India and Japan, but excludes the US.

While trade is set to dominate, tensions in the strategic South China Sea, which has vital global shipping routes and what is believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits, will also be discussed.

China claims virtually all of the area despite partial counter-claims from several other nations. Canberra has been vocal in insisting that all shipping has a right to pass through what it regards as international waters.

“Once again Premier Li and I will discuss the importance of ensuring that all regional disagreements, including those in the South China Sea, are resolved by negotiation and in accordance with international law,” said Turnbull.


South China Sea: Philippines closely monitoring Chinese activities in Scarborough Shoal — Who owns the sea?

March 22, 2017
By: – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 01:31 PM March 22, 2017
Photo: An aircrewman monitors his sytems aboard a maritime patrol aircraft over the South China Sea
Video at the link:
PH closely monitoring Chinese activities in Scarborough Shoal

BANGKOK – The Philippines is closely watching activities in the South China Sea, particularly the Scarborough Shoal amid reports of China’s plan to build its first permanent structure in the disputed territory.

“The Philippine government is maintaining a regular close watch over Scarborough Shoal,” Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo told reporters here in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Concerns were raised after the reported plan of China to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal, off the coast of Zambales province.

Manalo said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already sought clarification from China regarding the building of an environmental station in Scarborough.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs already issued or requested China for clarification on this reported plan. As I said it is only a reported plan so we’re seeking clarification with China but let me also say that in the meantime, the Philippine government is maintaining a regular close watch over Scarborough Shoal,” he said.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has said that the Philippine government should file a “strong Protest” against China’s building activity, which could lead to militarization in the disputed waters. Carpio urged Duterte to send the Philippine Navy to patrol in the Scarborough Shoal and invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty if China attacks the Philippines navy.

READ: Carpio tells Duterte: Defend PH shoal

Asked to comment on this, Manalo said the government has not filed any protest for now as it has to wait for China’s clarification.

“Ang masasabi ko lang ngayon (What I can say now) is that we have already approached China to seek clarification on this reported plan. And we have to wait for China’s reply,” he said.

Amid China’s intensified assertion of its maritime claims in the disputed waters, Manalo said Filipino fishermen were still free to go the area.

READ: China plan bad news for Filipino fishermen

“Well, there’s been no change. They can go there freely and that’s why we also have, as I said keeping it under close watch to see how things are going,” he said.

The foreign affairs official said his office has not received new reports of harassment on Filipino fishermen from Chinese vessels.

“We haven’t received any reports, I think. Kasi ang nagpupunta sa amin ‘yung reports ng mga (Because what we receive are reports from the) Coast Guard and security agencies. They have not given us any reports,” he said.

In a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon, President Rodrigo Duterte and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha have agreed to push for the completion of the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea this year as the Philippines hosts the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in November.  

“Both sides emphasized the need for the full and effective implementation of the declaration of conduct of parties in the South China Sea and expressed determination to complete the framework of the Code of Conduct in 2017,” Duterte said in a joint statement with Prayut after their bilateral meeting at the Government House here.

READ: Duterte, Thai PM push for sea code completion

The President said maintaining peace and stability in the region, including the addressing the dispute on the South China Sea was high on their agenda.

“We both also stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region, including the South China Sea,” he said. “We recognized both that respect for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is in the interest of all countries within or outside the region.”

Thailand is not a claimant in any part of the South China Sea but Prayut, in his statement, said that international laws must be observed to resolve maritime issues in the disputed territories.

Besides China and the Philippines, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea.

In July 2016, the United Nations (UN) arbitral tribunal favored the Philippines’ diplomatic protest against China, saying there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its nine-dash line. China has refused to recognize the ruling, calling it “a mere piece of paper.”

Duterte, in his public speeches has repeatedly said he won’t insist the ruling now, saying he was still rebuilding the Philippines’ strained relationship with China. But the President promised to raise the issue within his term. IDL

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 (Contains links to several previous articles on the South China Sea)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Japanese Navy Boosts Overseas Force Projection Capability With Second Big Helicopter Carrier

March 22, 2017

YOKOHAMA — Japan’s second big helicopter carrier, the Kaga, entered service on Wednesday, giving the nation’s military greater ability to deploy beyond its shores as it pushes back against China’s growing influence in Asia.

Accompanied by a military band, Maritime Self Defence Force commanders took possession of the 248 meter (813.65 ft) long vessel at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo, where it was docked next to its sister ship the Izumo.

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Japan: New escort ship Kaga goes into service — Photo taken on March 22, 2017, from a Kyodo News helicopter shows the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s newly-commissioned helicopter-based escort ship Kaga (front), at anchor in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Another escort vessel Izumo is seen on the center. (Kyodo)

“China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” Vice Minister of Defence Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony attend by about 500 people

Japan’s two biggest warships since World War Two are potent symbols of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to give the military a bigger international role. They are designated as helicopter destroyers to keep within the bounds of a war-renouncing constitution that forbids possession of offensive weapons.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water


In its biggest show of naval power in foreign waters in more than 70 years, Japan plans to dispatch the Izumo in May on a three-month tour through the South China Sea, sources with knowledge of the plan told Reuters earlier.

China claims almost all the disputed waters through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year. Beijing’s growing military presence there has fueled concern in Tokyo and Washington.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits. Japan has no claims there, but is locked in an territorial dispute with China over a group of islets in the neighboring East China Sea.

The addition of the Kaga means Japan will be able to mount overseas operations more often in the future. It will be based in Kure western Japan, which was home to Japan’s most famous World War Two battleship, the Yamato. The Izumo operates from Yokosuka near Tokyo, which is also where of the U.S. Seventh Fleet’s carrier, the Ronald Reagan is based.

The Japanese ships can operate up to nine helicopters each from their decks. They resemble the amphibious assault carriers used by U.S. Marines, but lack their well deck for launching landing craft and other vessels.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly)