Posts Tagged ‘Ri Yong Ho’

Philippine News Agency Criticized For Using Xinhua Article On South China Sea Dispute

August 9, 2017
Originally by Chinese news wire agency Xinhua, the story – titled “Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue” – was released on the PNA website on Sunday. File

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine News Agency (PNA) is in hot water anew after it released an article that appears to side with China on the South China Sea issue.

Originally by Chinese news wire agency Xinhua, the story – titled “Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue” – was released on the PNA website on Sunday.

It focused on China’s supposed commitment to improving the situation in the South China Sea, at one point calling the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippine case “ill-founded.”

The commentary noted that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to “directly resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes through peaceful means.”

“More than one year after an ill-founded award at a South China Sea arbitration unilaterally delivered by an ad hoc tribunal in The Hague, the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and improved thanks to the wisdom and sincerity of China and the parties concerned,” the article read, referring to the ruling that voided Beijing’s claims over the whole of the South China Sea by affirming the Philippines’ maritime entitlements.

“China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in compliance with international law, but it should by no means be used as an excuse by certain countries outside the region to stir up trouble,” it added.

President Duterte has expressed willingness to temporarily set aside the ruling to improve the Philippines’ ties with China. But he promised to bring up the tribunal’s decision before Chinese leaders within his term.

PNA has since taken down the article, although it is still available through the Google web cache (https://goo.gl/KpXAmT).

Netizens immediately criticized PNA for releasing the story, questioning the state-funded agency for supposedly being a mouthpiece of China.

“What’s this? This must be a mistake! PNA becoming a mouthpiece of China? PNA criticizing in effect tribunal ruling in favor of PH?!” former Cabinet official and Parañaque representative Roilo Golez said on Twitter.

“Is PNA funded by China now? It looks like it is now,” another added.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said he has asked PNAofficials to explain why they should not face administrative charges for posting the Xinhua commentary.

“We have already sent a (memorandum) to PNA to explain in writing why they should not be held liable for any administrative charges,” Andanar said in a statement.

“We will take appropriate action against liable PNA officials and/or staff, if they are found to commit negligence in carrying out their duties and responsibilities,” he added.

http://www.philstar.com:8080/headlines/2017/08/10/1727360/pna-hit-posting-pro-china-article-sea-row

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

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Hurrah for Vietnam, the country with cojones

August 9, 2017

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and suit

VIETNAM PROVIDED THE ONLY REAL DRAMA at the ASEAN conference. Here, Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (at left in blue) is the only one brave enough to challenge China at the ASEAN conference in the Philippines, August 5, 2017. At right, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano tries to write language that Vietnam can agree to. POOL photo

Hurrah for Vietnam, the country with cojones. You can understand why the Vietnamese have defeated every powerful country that invaded or attacked a land that produced courageous patriots like Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap. In their victories, the Vietnamese didn’t even have any help from the United Nations or any UN-supported court.

These days Vietnam is taking on its giant neighbor, practically all by itself in a sea of compliant Chinese satellites in Southeast Asia. Given the history of Vietnam, it’s doubtful that it will be deterred by the lack of support for its maritime territorial cause from its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations led by the current holder of the revolving chair, the Philippines.

Perhaps if Vietnam also filed a case against China before the UN-backed Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague, international support may be mustered for the implementation of the PAC ruling last year that invalidated Beijing’s claim over nearly all of the South China Sea.

The Philippines, the clear winner in last year’s landmark ruling, should have taken the lead role in rallying international support for compliance with the PAC ruling. Beijing, after all, can be reasonable and has implemented reforms in the past to comply with global rules. Any nation that wants respect on the world stage cannot thumb its nose at international rules, especially those it has itself ratified, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Instead the Philippines, under the current leadership, has decided to set aside the ruling as a way of poking critics in the eye – notably those condemning its human rights record such as the UN, the European Commission and the US (under the Obama administration).

President Duterte then announced a pivot to US rival China. So far, by his own admission, he’s finding it difficult to get even his own loyal military forces to go along with his pivot and turn their backs on treaty ally the United States.

This is especially difficult when the troops see the Chinese rapidly constructing artificial islands all over the South China Sea – including areas specifically awarded by the arbitral court to the Philippines such as Panganiban or Mischief Reef off Palawan. Now the islands are being equipped for military purposes. You have to be blind or high on banned substances not to see this happening.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is tasked with external defense, which includes protecting Philippine maritime territory. The Chinese island-building and militarization pose problems for the AFP that the commander-in-chief cannot ignore.

Duterte has often expressed regret at having to send AFP members to possible death in Marawi and other conflict zones in Mindanao. Government troops like this President because they can sense that he genuinely grasps the gravity of asking soldiers to be ready to die for their country.

But the President should put his ears closer to the ground at AFP and defense department headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo. There he can hear grumblings about his seeming failure to grasp the threat that soldiers may have to confront one day in the South China Sea – specifically, in the area awarded to the country under UNCLOS as exclusive economic zones, which we call the West Philippine Sea.

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This does not mean that warmer ties with the world’s second largest economy aren’t welcome. President Duterte deserves credit for this.

China is among the oldest friends of the Philippines; the two countries are linked not just by historical, cultural and economic bonds but also blood ties. I am just one of millions of Filipinos with ancestral roots in southern China.

For friendship to endure, however, it must be anchored on mutual respect. There is no respect in encroaching on your neighbor’s territory, which any map will show is way beyond your part of the planet. You don’t even need the UNCLOS for this; good neighbors know where to set reasonable boundaries.

Even President Duterte is aware of the importance of international rules, at least when it comes to trade.

Duterte has emphasized that he is not junking the PAC ruling, but merely waiting for the right time to bring it up with Beijing. For now, he prefers to focus on mending fences first with China and expanding cooperation in many other areas such as fighting the drug menace and terrorism as well as improving public works infrastructure.

It’s a sound approach for dealing with the “face”-sensitive, nationalistic Chinese after the arbitral court ruling.

But the President will have to present to the nation soon some positive consequence of his government’s rapprochement with Beijing. The AFP is waiting for it; Filipinos are waiting for it.

The one time that he raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart, he was threatened with war. Sure, the threat was softened by handshakes and grins and the diplomatese of formal meetings between the leader of a host country and a guest. But the message was unequivocal: if Duterte pushed through with Philippine exploration for minerals in waters declared as part of its economic zone by a UN-backed court, it would mean war with China.

How did we react to the threat? With bowing and scraping before the masters of the South China Sea.

ASEAN, especially under its current chair, has been largely useless against the masters. Its ministers issued an unsurprising, non-binding statement calling for self-restraint and “non-militarization” in the South China Sea – already a fait accompli.

China was the clear winner at the ASEAN gathering in Manila.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/08/09/1726892/satellites

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Recap of ASEAN Discussions in the Philippines

August 8, 2017
 
Foreign Ministers, from left, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha, Japan’s Taro Kono, Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, China’s Wang Yi and Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan walk after a family photo before the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting, part of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines hosted a series of meetings of foreign ministers from Southeast Asia and the region, with the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea topping their agenda.

Here are the key developments and events surrounding the ASEAN summitry in Manila:

 

The stronger-than-expected communique

In a surprise move, ASEAN ministers issued a strong statement indirectly criticizing Beijing’s island-building and military-fortification activities in the South China Sea, defying Chinese stance on the issue.

In the bloc’s joint communique issued Sunday evening, the region’s top diplomats said that “land reclamations and activities in the area” have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine the peace and stability of the region.

The statement also made a vague reference to a UN arbitral ruling last year that invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims over the area.

The ministers also underscored the importance of “non-militarization and self-restraint” in the region to avoid further complicating and escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

The sea code outline

Although Southeast Asian nations and China agreed to adopt on Sunday a framework they could use to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea, critics said that the outline’s failure to make the pact legally binding and to have a resolution mechanism made its effectiveness questionable.

The outline also provides a wide latitude to the negotiating parties which could result in disputes.

The Philippines and Vietnam still prefer the pact coming out of the framework to be legally enforceable, something Beijing would not assent to.

Critics say that China’s sudden interest in the talks for the code was just a ploy to elongate negotiation as it consolidates its activities in the South China Sea where it has built man-made islands and installed military facilities.

It also comes as the intentions of the US in the region become uncertain under the administration of US President Donald Trump. This, analysts say, weakens the negotiating muscle of the region.

The Chinese agenda for South China Sea talks

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he answers questions from reporters after attending the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines, on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. AP/Aaron Favila

China said on Sunday that talks on a code of conduct in the South China Sea may start within the year if “outside parties” would not cause a major disruption.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said that the start of the negotiations on the pact that would aim to prevent clashes in the disputed waters may be announced by the leaders of China and the ten member-states of ASEAN in their summit in the Philippines in November if their conditions were met.

Apparently referring to the US, Wang said that one of the conditions for the start of the talks would be non-interference by “outside parties.”

The strong words of US, Australia, Japan on the South China Sea

The foreign ministers of the US, Japan and Australia on Monday called for a halt on land reclamation and military activities in the South China Sea.

Secretary of State Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan’s chief diplomat Taro Kono also called on the parties to the dispute to comply with the United Nations arbitral ruling last year that invalidated most of China’s expansive claims in the area.

They also voiced their concerns over the maritime dispute where $3.37 trillion worth of trade passes through each year.

They said in a joint statement: “The ministers voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions.”

Freedom of navigation and overflight, and internationally lawful uses of the seas should also be respected, according to the three top envoys.

Their statement on the issue was stronger than the stand of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, many of whom rely heavily on China for trade and investments.

ASEAN’s strong rebuke of North Korea

The Southeast Asia’s top diplomats slammed North Korea over its launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and told Pyongyang to observe its obligations arising from United Nations resolution.

The foreign ministers of the 10 member-states of ASEAN said that the North’s tests of missiles capable of reaching mainland United States were a threat to the peace and stability in the region and the world.

The isolated country should also comply with its obligations in “relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” the ministers said in the final draft of their joint communique.

The bloc also expressed its support for the peaceful denuclearization of the two Koreas, which technically remain at war with each other, and initiatives that would improve the relationship between Seoul and Pyongyang aimed at establishing peace on the peninsula.

The ‘no’ from North Korea

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, arrives for the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and its 50th Grand Celebration Tuesday Aug. 8, 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center in suburban Pasay City, Philippines. Finding his seat in foreground is Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. AP/Bullit Marquez

The North Korean foreign minister on Monday rejected putting their nuclear and missiles program on the negotiating table after the United Nations Security Council agreed on a sweeping set of sanctions on Pyongyang.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said that his country would not use its nuclear weapons on any country “except the US.” He said that this would change only if another country joined the Americans in an action against Pyongyang.

He added that the North was ready to give Washington “a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force.” He also said that the responsibility over the tensions on the Korean Peninsula lies with Washington.

ALSO READ: North Korea to ASEAN: Distinguish danger of nuclear issue vs ‘America First’ policy

The human rights-less meeting between Duterte, Tillerson

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, left, chats with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the former’s courtesy call at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. AP/Bullit Marquez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday dismissed media questions about his government’s human rights record and the American concern over this.

Instead, Duterte and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson focused on the alliance between the two countries and the North Korean missile and nuclear arms program. Tillerson is the most senior Trump administration official to date who has met with Duterte.

“Human rights, son of a bitch,” Duterte said. “Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, don’t go there.”

The Philippine president said that he shouldn’t be questioned about human rights considering the serious challenges he was facing.

The commitment against terror

The ministers of the members of ASEAN renewed their commitment to fight terrorism and prevent the so-called Islamic State from establishing a foothold in the region.

“In line with this, we reaffirmed our commitment to fight ISIS and other violent extremist groups to effectively curb their spread, as well as preventing them from gaining a foothold in the region,” the communiqué of the group read, referring to IS by its variant.

The top diplomats of the region also reiterated the need for a comprehensive, just and sustainable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in West Asia (Middle East). — Video by Efigenio Toledo IV

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/08/1726110/all-eyes-manila-what-happened-asean-meetings

North Korea Refuses To Negotiate, Threatens US With “Severe Nuclear Lesson”

August 7, 2017

From Zero Hedge

For all the hope that this weekend’s UN breakthrough, in which the Security Council voted unanimously 15-0 to impose $1 billion in sanctions on North Korea exports, that saw both China and Russia side with the US, would lead to a resolution of the North Korean crisis, it appears that the rogue regime refuses to even contemplate a negotiation or a cooling of tensions and on Monday, North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. if provoked militarily and said it would “under no circumstances” negotiate on its nuclear and missile weapons programs.

In a written statement handed to reporters on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Manila, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the regime had developed nuclear weapons as a legitimate option for self-defense “in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the U.S.”  He said the U.S. had sought United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang in an effort to disguise a conflict with the regime as an international issue. The world was “becoming gradually aware of the danger” of President Donald Trump’s ”America First” policy of prioritizing U.S. interests in international affairs, Ri added.

This was North Korea’s first official response to the fresh sanctions voted through by the UN security council.

As Reuters elaboratesNorth Korea is ready to give the United States a “severe lesson” with its strategic nuclear force if it takes military action against it, and will not put its nuclear program or its missiles on the negotiating table, it said in a statement to a regional meeting on Monday.

In a transcript of a statement by Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, which was distributed to media in Manila, Pyongyang called new U.N. sanctions “fabricated” and warned there would be “strong follow-up measures” and acts of justice. It said the resolution showed the United Nations had abused its authority.

As quoted by Bloomberg, North Korea asked Asean and participants in regional forum in Manila to “take impartial and practical stand and attitude” on its nuclear weapons, which it says it has no intention of using against any other country except U.S. and those that will join America.

“We take great pride and self-conceit in the fact that we can contribute to decisively reducing the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and in the Asia Pacific by possessing a strong nuclear deterrence,” Yong Ho says in statement at Asean Regional Forum, a copy of which was distributed to reporters in Manila

North Korea expects forum and Asean “will distinguish the essence of the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula and the danger of the ‘America First’ policy” as foreign ministers showing great deal of interest in situation in Korean peninsula. The foreign minister also accused Japan, South Korean authorities of “kowtowing blindly to U.S.”

He said that North Korea seeks to convince UN to withdraw sanctions and to persuade U.S. to drop its hostile policy:

“Had it not been the hostile policy enforced by the U.S. for more than 70 years against North Korea since the first day if its founding and had the policy not been intensified with an undisguised nuclear blackmail and threat, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula would not have come into being from the beginning.

North Korea also said its intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July proved that the entire United States was in its firing range, and those missiles were a legitimate means of self-defense.

On Sunday night Donald Trump tweeted that he had “Just completed call with President Moon of South Korea. Very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions.”

Just completed call with President Moon of South Korea. Very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions.

While Trump, who is on “working vacation” for the next two weeks, is up early, tweeting up another firestorm this morning, he has yet to respond to the latest rebuttal from North Korea.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-07/north-korea-refuses-negotiate-threatens-us-severe-nuclear-lesson

North Korea Says ‘Under No Circumstances’ Will It Negotiate Over Nuclear Weapons — Has no intention of using nuclear weapons against any country “except the U.S.”

August 7, 2017

Pyongyang threatened it will use its nuclear weapons against U.S. if provoked militarily

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Updated Aug. 7, 2017 8:07 a.m. ET

MANILA—North Korea on Monday threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. if provoked militarily and said it would “under no circumstances” negotiate on its nuclear and missile weapons programs.

In a written statement handed to reporters on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Manila, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the regime had developed nuclear weapons as a legitimate option for self-defense “in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the U.S.”  He said the U.S. had sought United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang in an effort to disguise a conflict with the regime as an international issue.

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The Associated Press
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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on the diplomatic crisis over North Korea (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

North Korean’s top diplomat says “under no circumstances” will it put its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles on the negotiating table.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also says that his country has no intention of using nuclear weapons against any country “except the U.S.” He says the only way that would change is if another country joined in an American action against North Korea.

Ri had been scheduled to hold a news conference in Manila, Philippines, where Asian diplomats are gathered for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Instead, Ri’s spokesman handed reporters a copy of a speech that Ri had given at the meeting.

Ri says in the speech that responsibility for the Korean Peninsula crisis lies solely with Washington. He says the North is “ready to teach the U.S. a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force.”

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3:20 p.m.

Armed with extraordinary new U.N. sanctions, nations are racing to ensure that North Korea’s biggest trading partners actually carry them out, an elusive task that has undercut past attempts to strong-arm Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump is demanding full and speedy implementation of the new penalties. But his top diplomat is also laying out a narrow path for the North to return to negotiations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says if the North stops testing missiles for an “extended period,” the U.S. might deem North Korea ready to talk. But he says it won’t be a matter of a mere 30-day pause leading to the U.S. being willing to talk.

Tillerson says, “We’ll know it when we see it.”

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N. Korea Vows ‘Thousands-Fold’ Revenge on U.S. Over Sanctions

KCNA

North Korea has threatened “righteous” revenge against the U.S., following new United Nations sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests. In a statement circulated by state-run media, North Korea said the economic sanctions passed over the weekend constitute a “violent violation of our sovereignty” and a “heinous plot to isolate and stifle” the reclusive regime.

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The new sanctions could considerably slash the country’s $3 billion in export revenue. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the measures “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled” against Pyongyang.

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North Korea vows to retaliate against US over sanctions

August 7, 2017

BBC News

South Korean soldiers stand guard before North Korea's Panmon Hall (rear C) and the military demarcation line separating North and South Korea, at Panmunjom, on 6 August
Tensions between North and South have intensified as Pyongyang continues its missile tests. AFP

North Korea has vowed to retaliate and make “the US pay a price” for drafting fresh UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons programme.

The sanctions, which were unanimously passed by the UN on Saturday, were a “violent violation of our sovereignty,” the official KCNA news agency said.

Separately, South Korea says the North has rejected an offer to restart talks, dismissing it as insincere.

The sanctions will aim to reduce North Korea’s export revenues by a third.

The unanimous UN Security Council decision followed repeated missile tests by the North which have escalated tensions on the peninsula.

In its first major response on Monday, North Korea insisted that it would continue to develop its controversial nuclear weapons programme.

The state-run KCNA news agency said Pyongyang would “not put our self-defensive nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table” while it faces threats from the US.

It threatened to make the US “pay the price for its crime…thousands of times,” referring to America’s role in drafting the UN sanctions resolution.

‘Insincere offer’

The remarks come after reports emerged that the North and South Korean foreign ministers had met briefly on Sunday evening on the sidelines of a regional forum in the Philippine capital, Manila.

South Korean media reported that its foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, had shaken hands with her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in a brief and unarranged meeting at an official dinner event held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) .

A South Korea official told the BBC that Mr Ri had dismissed his counterpart’s offer of talks as “insincere”.

North Korea’s second intercontinental missile launched last month was “seen from Japan”

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Ms Kang as saying that Mr Ri’s rejection of the talks proposal appeared to be connected with the new sanctions.

“I told him that [the two offers for talks] are an urgent matter that should be carried out immediately with any political agenda put aside and asked him to proactively react,” she was quoted as saying.

The foreign minister of China, which is Pyongyang’s closest ally, told journalists on Monday: “My feeling is that the North did not entirely reject the positive proposals raised by the South.” Wang Yi added that China also supported the South’s initiatives.

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What are the new sanctions?

North Korean labourers work beside the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Sinuiju on February 8, 2013 which is close to the Chinese city of Dandong. Piles of coal are seen.
Image copyright  AFP
  • Importing coal, seafood, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore from North Korea is banned
  • Countries cannot receive new North Korean workers
  • No new joint ventures with North Korean entities or individuals
  • No new investment in existing joint ventures
  • More individuals targeted with travel bans and assets freezes
  • Member states to report to Security Council within 90 days on how they have implemented resolution
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also at the Asean forum, where he spoke about North Korea.

Noting Russia and China’s participation in the unanimous vote, he told journalists it was clear there was now “no daylight among the international community” on their desire for North Korea to stop its tests.

Russia and China have previously differed with others on how to handle Pyongyang, but in recent months have joined calls for North Korea to stop its missile tests while also urging the US and South Korea to halt military drills.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump spoke to his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in over the phone about relations on the Korean peninsula.

They agreed that North Korea “poses a grave and growing direct threat” and the two leaders were committed to fully implementing the latest round of UN sanctions, the White House said in a statement.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40846959

New North Korea Sanctions Are in a Race With Pyongyang’s Missile Development

August 7, 2017

U.N. Security Council action aims to close loopholes, but many Asian nations have ties to Pyongyang

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi supported a tough stance on Pyongyang’s arsenal

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Updated Aug. 6, 2017 9:42 p.m. ET

MANILA—The United Nations Security Council passed the toughest-ever economic sanctions against North Korea over the weekend. Now comes the hard part: making them stick, and fast.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met here Sunday with counterparts from China, Russia, and a host of Asian countries as he sought to build momentum to isolate North Korea. He described the sanctions as “a good outcome.”

 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who met Sunday in Manila with his North Korean counterpart, said Beijing has urged Pyongyang “to stop the missile tests and even nuclear research which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the international community.”

There is one major obstacle, however: Time is running out. The most recent missile launched by the regime at the end of July would be able to fly more than 6,400 miles, according to one analysis, putting Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago within range. Some experts believe North Korea could develop a nuclear missile capable of handling atmospheric re-entry as early as next year.

“The problem with sanctions alone is that we don’t have that kind of time,” said Leon Sigal, director of the New York-based Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project, pointing to lags between when sanctions are implemented and enforced and when the economic effects are felt. “They’re very close to an ICBM.”

The Security Council has passed eight rounds of sanctions since 2006, when North Korea performed its first nuclear test. The sanctions hurt the secretive regime economically but failed to deter Pyongyang from working to become a nuclear power.

The latest sanctions, passed unanimously with the support of China, North Korea’s biggest economic partner, are meant to close loopholes around the world that have allowed the rogue regime to cultivate trade, financing and labor ties to support its nuclear programs.

China in a statement Sunday called the sanctions necessary. Beijing accounts for 90% of the North Korean regime’s trade, according to various estimates.

In the meeting with China on Sunday, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, restated Pyongyang’s position on nuclear policy, said Mr. Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, without elaborating. North Korea has previously refused to disarm, arguing that its nuclear capability is a deterrent to protect it from foreign aggression.

North Korean officials were unavailable for comment. Mr. Ri will have a chance to speak Monday to the 27 members of the Asean Regional Forum gathered in Manila for the security meetings.

R.C. Hammond, Tillerson’s communications adviser, told reporters that the Chinese meeting made clear to the North Koreans “what they need to do to demonstrate to the world they understand and would like to discuss a new role for North Korea in the global community.”

The new sanctions ban trade in coal with North Korea and bar countries from employing North Korean laborers and entering into joint ventures with Pyongyang. U.S. officials say the sanctions could cut a third, or $1 billion, from North Korea’s foreign revenue.

“I think the efforts to isolate [North Korea] are already working, even with the previous sanctions in place. The problem is that they have not brought the ‘desired effect’ — which should be progress in the denuclearization,” said Oh Joon, a professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and a former South Korean ambassador to the U.N.

The U.S. faces resistance in Asia, where countries have business ties with North Korea dating back decades and experts say that many companies and individuals profit from hard-to-detect financing of trade. The biggest challenge is China, experts say, which hasn’t fully enforced past sanctions, chiefly because it is concerned that if the Pyongyang regime collapses a conflict could draw U.S. troops near the Chinese border or send droves of North Korean refugees across its border.

China has said in the past it complies fully with U.N. sanctions on North Korea but opposes U.S. unilateral sanctions.

China’s trade with North Korea rose 10.5% in the first half of this year as part of its normal economic relationship not covered by sanctions, Chinese trade data show.

“Beijing’s reluctance to implement U.N. sanctions is further enabling Pyongyang to sprint down the weapons path,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul. “China knows it can squeeze the North enough without the collapse that it fears, but Beijing chooses not to because of its own strategic interests.”

U.S. presidents have implored China to crack down on North Korea. Former President Barack Obama called on China to put pressure on the regime to abandon its nuclear missile program, while President Donald Trump has accused China of not doing enough.

On Sunday, Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for the State Department Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in Manila that the U.S. would focus on China’s implementation to keep measures from “slipping back,” as she said they had in the past.

Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. faces other diplomatic challenges reining in Pyongyang, in part because policing sanctions is expensive.

“Very rigorously enforcing sanctions has significant costs for the enforcer, and Southeast Asian countries are not generally willing to bear those costs,” said Justin Hastings, professor of international relations at the University of Sydney.

In addition, some nations say they prefer to engage diplomatically with North Korea rather than isolate the regime as the U.S. has argued for.

A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday that “now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea, so that they will take concrete actions toward denuclearization.”

Others took a different tack. “I think it’s better that people talk,” Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday. “The less we talk, the more grave the situation can become.”

Several countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, host North Korean embassies and some ties will be hard to unravel. Thailand was North Korea’s third-largest import partner in 2015.

Malaysia has historically close ties to North Korea and until early this year was one of only a handful of nations to allow North Koreans to travel visa-free. That relationship deteriorated in February after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was killed in a Kuala Lumpur airport in an operation that South Korean officials believe was orchestrated by Pyongyang. North Korea has denied any connection with the killing.

–Jonathan Cheng in Hong Kong, Patrick McDowell in Jakarta and Eva Dou in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to Jake Maxwell Watts at jake.watts@wsj.com and Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/enforcing-new-north-korea-sanctions-poses-challenge-1502050649

China scores diplomatic coup in sea row — China pushes for new six-party talks on N. Korea — “It’s a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China”

August 6, 2017

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MANILA (AFP) – 

China on Sunday scored a diplomatic coup in its campaign to weaken regional resistance against its sweeping claims to the South China Sea when Southeast Asian nations issued a diluted statement on the dispute and agreed to Beijing’s terms on talks.

After two days of tense meetings on the dispute in the Philippine capital, foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint communique that diplomats involved said was carefully worded to avoid angering China.

The release of the statement came shortly after the ministers met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and agreed on a framework for conducting negotiations on the decades-long row that included key clauses advocated by China.

“This is an important outcome of our joint effort,” Wang told reporters as he celebrated the agreement.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Its sweeping claims overlap with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

China has dramatically expanded its presence in the contested areas in recent years by building giant artificial islands that could be used as military bases, raising concerns it will eventually establish de facto control over the waters.

In what two diplomats involved said was another victory for Beijing on Sunday, ASEAN members declined to say in their joint statement that the hoped-for code of conduct with China be “legally binding”.

Vietnam, the most determined critic of China on the issue, had insisted during two days of negotiations that ASEAN insist the code be legally binding, arguing otherwise it would be meaningless.

The ASEAN ministers failed to release the joint statement as expected after meeting on Saturday because of their differences on the sea issue, with Vietnam pushing for tougher language and Cambodia lobbying hard for China.

“Vietnam is adamant, and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests,” one diplomat told AFP on Sunday as negotiations extended into overtime.

– Consensus struggle –

Tensions over the sea have long vexed ASEAN, which operates on a consensus basis but has had to balance the interests of rival claimants and those more aligned to China.

Critics of China have accused it of trying to divide ASEAN with strong-armed tactics and chequebook diplomacy, enticing smaller countries in the bloc such as Cambodia and Laos to support it.

The Philippines, under previous president Benigno Aquino, had been one of the most vocal critics of China and filed a case before a UN-backed tribunal.

The tribunal last year ruled China’s sweeping claims to the sea had no legal basis.

But China, despite being a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, ignored the ruling.

The Philippines, under new President Rodrigo Duterte, decided to play down the verdict in favour of pursuing warmer ties with Beijing. This in turn led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China.

“It’s clear that China’s pressure on individual ASEAN governments has paid off,” Bill Hayton, a South China Sea expert and associate fellow with the Asia Programme at Chatham House in London, told AFP.

Hayton and other analysts said the agreement on a framework for talks on Sunday came 15 years after a similar document was signed committing the parties to begin negotiations

The 2002 document was more strongly worded against China.

China used those 15 years to cement its claims, while continuing to get ASEAN to issue ever-weaker statements of opposition, according to the analysts.

“It would appear China has never lost in terms of seeing the language of ASEAN forum statements being toned down,” Ei Sun Oh, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told AFP.

Philippine academic and security analyst Richard Heydarian expressed stronger sentiments as he summarised Monday’s developments: “Overall it’s a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China”.

by Ayee Macaraig, Martin Abbugao
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China pushes for new six-party talks as N. Korea

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© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, AFP | UN Security Council members vote on a resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea at UN headquarters in New York on August 5.

Video by Elizabeth WALSH

Text by Khatya CHHOR 

Latest update : 2017-08-06

A day after the UN imposed strict new sanctions on North Korea, China’s foreign minister called Sunday for the resumption of six-party talks to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and warned that the crisis was entering a “critical” new phase.

In a 15-0 vote on Saturday, the UN Security Council imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea that could slash its exports by as much as $1 billion a year – a third of its export revenue – in response to two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests Pyongyang carried out last month. The July tests heightened fears that North Korean missiles were now capable of hitting the continental United States.

“After the UN resolution is passed, the situation on the peninsula will enter a very critical phase,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang, quoted by China’s CGTN state broadcaster. “We urge all parties to judge and act with responsibility in order to prevent the tensions from escalating.”

The UN resolution imposes a total ban on exports of coal, iron, lead, iron and lead ore as well as seafood. It also prohibits new investment in, or the establishment of, joint ventures with North Korean companies. Nine North Korean officials and four entities were added to the UN’s blacklist while foreign permits for North Korean workers have been suspended.

Wang warned Pyongyang that it should make “smart” decisions going forward, while counselling Washington and Seoul not to respond with “provocative” actions.

Speaking to reporters after talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Hong-Yo on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Manila, Wang said he had urged Pyongyang to stop testing “the international community’s goodwill” with its ICBM launches and nuclear tests.

Wang noted that the new UN resolution also calls for a return to negotiations, saying diplomatic measures were needed to prevent the stand-off from escalating further.

Earlier on Sunday, Wang said that all sides should work toward restarting long-stalled six-party nuclear talks between China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.

“The aim is to bring the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table and seek a solution through negotiations until the denuclearisation of the peninsula and the stability of the peninsula are achieved,” he said.

North Korea pulled out of the six-party talks in 2009 after the UN Security Council condemned it for launching a long-range rocket.

A deputy spokeman for the Japanese foreign ministry on Sunday welcomed the UN sanctions but added that more “effective pressure” was needed in dealing with Pyongyang and that it was not yet time to restart talks.

“Now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea so that they will take concrete actions towards de-nuclearisation,” Toshihide Ando told a press conference in Manila.

US pressure on Beijing

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged China to take a more aggressive role in reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. As North Korea’s largest trading partner, China is uniquely positioned to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the Security Council vote.

The US led resolution passed by the SC on N. Korea will be a loss of 1/3 of their exports = over $1 billion in hard currency 

But she warned that the international community “should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem – not even close”.

“The threat of an outlaw nuclearised North Korean dictatorship remains … [and] is rapidly growing more dangerous,” Haley said.

China urges US concessions

In an interview with the MSNBC news channel on Saturday, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster was asked if the United States was gearing up for a pre-emptive “first strike” against North Korea.

Trump “has been very clear” that “he will not tolerate” Pyongyang being able to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon, McMaster said, and that entails keeping all options – including a “preventive war” – on the table.

But he acknowledged that any military solution would mean “a very costly war, in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people”.

McMaster said the US seeks instead to do “everything we can” to pressure Kim and his entourage into concluding that “it is in their interest to denuclearise”.

In his statements on Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang reiterated Beijing’s proposal for what it calls a “double suspension” – a halt to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for an end to the joint US-South Korean military exercises that alarm Pyongyang.

“This is currently the most realistic and plausible initiative, and it is the most reasonable and friendly solution,” Wang said.

But speaking to MSNBC, McMaster said Beijing’s plan to offer a freeze on joint training in return for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme was no longer viable.

“They are at a threshold capability now. ‘Freeze for freeze’ doesn’t work anymore,” he said, adding: “The goal is denuclearisation of the peninsula.”

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Ri Yong Ho, Wang Yi

North Korea Shrugs Off Sanctions Despite China’s Push to End Missile Tests — Has China Bested the Trump Administration?

August 6, 2017

U.S. lauds China for supporting latest U.N. sanctions, but Pyongyang has no plans to change

The bespectacled North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Manila on Sunday.
The bespectacled North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Manila on Sunday. PHOTO: BULLIT MARQUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

MANILA—The U.S. praised China for backing new economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council against Pyongyang over the regime’s weapons program, but North Korea indicated to its most important economic partner that there would be no change in policy.

“The fact that the Chinese were helpful and instrumental in setting up this really sweeping set of international sanctions shows they realize that this is a huge problem they need to take on, that it’s a threat to them and their region,” Susan Thornton, the U.S. State Department’s acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told journalists on the sidelines of regional security meetings in the Philippines on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is attending the forum bringing together 27 nations, including China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea, described the sanctions as “a good outcome” as he works to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program.

The Security Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution that would slash about $1 billion from North Korea’s annual foreign revenue. Ms. Thornton called the sanctions the strongest against the regime in a generation. China and Russia, two permanent council members who had previously resisted fresh sanctions against Pyongyang, said the rogue nation’s recent provocations were unacceptable.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday met his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in Manila and urged Pyongyang to halt its missile tests and other actions that violate Security Council resolutions, according to the People’s Daily Online, an official Chinese state media website.

“The China side pressed the North Korea side to deal calmly with the new UN Security Council resolution regarding North Korea, and to stop the missile tests, and even nuclear research, which violate UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the international community,” the People’s Daily Online said.

The North Korean minister restated Pyongyang’s policy on the nuclear weapons issue, but indicated a “willingness to maintain communications with the China side on this point,” according to Chinese state media. North Korea says it needs such weapons and maintains the right to build them to defend itself from the U.S.

The nine-page U.N. resolution steps up trade restrictions with Pyongyang by aiming to cut off a third of its $3 billion annual export revenue. It bans North Korea from trading coal, iron, lead, iron and lead ore, and seafood, and prohibits countries from hiring North Korean laborers and from entering or investing into new joint ventures with Pyongyang.

The resolution came after a months-long drive by the U.S. to pressure nations to isolate the North Korean regime in response to an unprecedented pace of missile testing in its ambitions to become a nuclear power. Last month, North Korea fired two missiles that appeared capable of reaching the continental U.S. and Europe. Diplomats said this raised the stakes and elevated North Korea’s military and nuclear threat from regional to global.

Before meeting with the North Korean minister in Manila, Mr. Wang said the sanctions were a necessary reaction to the launches, but urged countries to resume the negotiations known as the six-party talks, stalled since 2008. The talks included China, the U.S., South Korea, North Korea, Japan and Russia.

Mr. Wang repeated China’s call for a “dual freeze,” in which North Korea would halt its missile and nuclear programs in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea stopping major military exercises. The U.S. and South Korea rebuffed that proposal previously, and Ms. Thornton did so again Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Manila on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Manila on Sunday. PHOTO: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The U.S. will also focus on ensuring China follows through on fully implementing the new sanctions, Ms. Thornton said, suggesting China had in the past acted initially, before “slipping back” over time. “We want to make sure China…is working actively to continue putting pressure on North Korea,” she said.

Ms. Thornton also praised Saturday’s “really strong” statement by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which hosts the annual security meetings. The countries condemned North Korea’s weapons testing and called on the regime to comply with U.N. measures.

Mr. Tillerson doesn’t have a scheduled meeting with North Korea’s Mr. Ri, but both men are expected during the meeting of all 27 participants Monday.

The U.S. Secretary of State did meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for more than an hour late Sunday, ahead of a gala dinner. Neither official made any public comment.

Write to Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-korea-shrugs-off-sanctions-despite-chinas-push-to-end-missile-tests-1502020932?mod=e2tweu

Related:

Ri Yong Ho, Wang Yi

South China Sea: China’s foreign minister says maritime code negotiations with ASEAN to start this year

August 6, 2017

Reuters

August 6, 2017

Image result for Wang Yi, Philippines, asean, photos

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, poses with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for a photo prior to their bilateral meeting in the sideline of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its Dialogue Partners. Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south Manila, Philippines. Bolstered by new U.N. sanctions, the United States and North Korea’s neighbors are joining in a fresh attempt to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, in a global campaign cheered on by U.S. President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister said on Sunday negotiations between Southeast Asian countries and China on a code of conduct for the South China Sea would start this year, and whatever agreement is made must be adhered to.

Wang Yi told reporters on the sidelines of a regional meeting that there had been “really tangible progress” made between the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China towards settling disputes in the South China Sea, and all sides needed to cherish that momentum.

ASEAN and China have agreed on a framework for how they will go about drafting a code.

Wang said the situation between claimant states was quite different to previous years and was now more relaxed and conducive to stability.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd and Martin Petty; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Peace and Freedom Comment: How can you trust a party to a Code of Conduct when they have already proven their unwillingness to follow international law? For China, legally binding means nothing…