Posts Tagged ‘South China Sea’

I’m ready to put tariffs on every import from China, US President Donald Trump warns

July 21, 2018

US leader says China has been ‘ripping off’ the United States for years and he’s willing to go ahead with extra tariffs on US$500 billion in Chinese goods

South China Morning Post

US President Donald Trump has said he is willing to slap tariffs on all Chinese products imported to the United States, a threat that could propel the world’s two biggest economies into an all-out trade war.

“I’m ready to go to 500 [billion dollars],” Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen on Friday, suggesting that every Chinese product would be subject to duties. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”

The “tremendous amount” threatened by Trump is roughly equivalent to the US$505.5 billion in Chinese products imported by the US last year. China, on the other hand, buys far less from the US, with last year’s total just US$130 billion.

Washington imposed tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese products on July 6, prompting similar action from China. Then last week the US threatened to slap 10 per cent duties on another US$200 billion worth of the goods.

On Wednesday, the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping for blocking trade talks with the US. China’s foreign ministry fired back a day later, accusing American officials of “making false accusations”.

In the CNBC interview, Trump also took aim at China’s currency.

“Their currency is dropping like a rock, and our currency is going up, and I have to tell you it puts us at a disadvantage,” he said.

The yuan fell 0.5 per cent against the US dollar in offshore markets to 6.8130 per dollar after Trump’s comments. It had already fallen 6.7 per cent against the dollar since April, making it the biggest loser among Asia’s 12 currency pairs during the period.

“I don’t want them to be scared. I want them to do well,” Trump said. “I really like President Xi a lot, but it was very unfair.”

Within hours of the interview going to air, Trump continued his complaints on Twitter, saying China and the European Union deliberately kept their currencies and interest rates low.

Chinese analysts were not surprised by Trump’s threat.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day – taking away our big competitive edge. As usual, not a level playing field…

“He has threatened it time and again. And you can’t rely on his words,” said Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University’s Centre on American Studies and an adviser to the State Council.

John Gong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, called Trump’s threat a “knee-jerk reaction” that “shouldn’t been taken seriously”.

“It must have been in the heat of the moment. The probability of going so far is almost zero. And if it ever reaches there, it will no longer be a trade problem – the US$300-500 billion operations of American corporates in China will surely be implicated,” Gong said.

Shang-Jin Wei, senior scholar at the Jerome A Chazen Institute for Global Business at the Columbia Business School, said an escalation in the trade dispute would have a minimal impact on the US in the short term.

“The [US] economy was on the trajectory of a strong recovery even before Trump took over, and then the tax reform of the end of last year provided overstimulation to the economy,” Wei said.

But things were looking differently for China, he said.

“China’s economic growth had already been moderating because of a combination of rising wages and a shrinkage of working-age cohorts,” Wei said.

“The Chinese economy is more open in terms of its dependence on trade. Leaving aside technical factors, the same punitive measures on trade have greater potential for damage to the Chinese economy than damage to the US.

“If President Trump needed to pick a time to engage in a bad trade war, the current timing is lucky for him.”

Additional reporting by Robert Delaney

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CIA official: China waging ‘quiet’ cold war against US — South China Sea is the “Crimea of the East”

July 21, 2018

China is waging a “quiet kind of cold war” against the United States, using all its resources to try to replace America as the leading power in the world, a top CIA expert on Asia said Friday.

Beijing doesn’t want to go to war, he said, but the current communist government, under President Xi Jingping, is subtly working on multiple fronts to undermine the U.S. in ways that are different than the more well-publicized activities being employed by Russia.

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“I would argue … that what they’re waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War (between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) but a cold war by definition,” Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s East Asia mission center, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Rising U.S.-China tension goes beyond the trade dispute playing out in a tariff tit-for-tat between the two nations.

There is concern over China’s pervasive efforts to steal business secrets and details about high-tech research being conducted in the U.S. The Chinese military is expanding and being modernized and the U.S., as well as other nations, have complained about China’s construction of military outposts on islands in the South China Sea.

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Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago

“I would argue that it’s the Crimea of the East,” Collins said, referring to Russia’s brash annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which was condemned throughout the West.

Collins’ comments track warnings about China’s rising influence issued by others who spoke earlier this week at the security conference. The alarm bells come at a time when Washington needs China’s help in ending its nuclear standoff with North Korea.

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said China, from a counterintelligence perspective, represents the broadest and most significant threat America faces. He said the FBI has economic espionage investigations in all 50 states that can be traced back to China.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said.

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National Intelligence Director Dan Coats also warned of rising Chinese aggression. In particular, he said, the U.S. must stand strong against China’s effort to steal business secrets and academic research.

Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said increasing the public’s awareness about the activities of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students or groups at U.S. universities could be one way to help mitigate potential damage.

“China is not just a footnote to what we’re dealing with with Russia,” Thornton said.

Marcel Lettre, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army of ground forces, the third-largest air force and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines.

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China Hypersonic Plane (Artists impression)

“All of this is in the process of being modernized and upgraded,” said Lettre, who sat on a panel with Collins and Thornton.

He said China also is pursuing advances in cyber, artificial intelligence, engineering and technology, counter-space, anti-satellite capabilities and hypersonic glide weapons. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a congressional committee earlier this year that China is developing long-range cruise missiles — some capable of reaching supersonic speeds.

“The Pentagon has noted that the Chinese have already pursued a test program that has had 20 times more tests than the U.S. has,” Lettre said.

Franklin Miller, former senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, said China’s weapons developments are emphasizing the need to have a dialogue with Beijing.

“We need to try to engage,” Miller said. “My expectations for successful engagement are medium-low, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

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https://nypost.com/2018/07/21/cia-official-china-waging-quiet-cold-war-against-us/

South China Sea: Filipinos say it’s important to regain control

July 21, 2018

 

In this May 18, 2018, file photo, protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate to protest China’s deployment of missiles on the Philippine-claimed reefs in South China Sea in the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines. Filipino officials say China’s coast guard has continued to seize the catches of Filipino fishermen at a disputed shoal.

AP/Bullit Marquez, File photo

 

Poll: Filipinos say it’s important to regain control of West Philippine Sea
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – July 21, 2018 – 1:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Most Filipinos believe it is highly crucial for the Philippines to regain control of islands and shoals it claims in the disputed South China Sea, where rival claimant Beijing has been increasing its power projection capabilities, a new poll showed.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.

In a June 27 to 30 poll of 1,200 adults by Social Weather Stations, 87 percent of respondents said it is “important” for the Philippines to assert its sovereign rights on islands in the West Philippine Sea that China occupied.

Sixty-nine percent of Filipinos also said China is afraid to face any court.

Ties between China and the Philippines soured after the previous Aquino administration filed a case in 2013 with a United Nations-backed tribunal, which does not have an enforcement mechanism. The ruling favors Manila and was handed down a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.

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But China vehemently rejected the landmark decision, which Duterte put on the back burner in exchange for warmer ties and Chinese funding for his administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.

Duterte has also been under fire over his apparent refusal to confront China, which recently landed nuclear-capable strategic bombers and installed missile systems on outposts in the contested waters.

It was also reported that Chinese coast guards have been forcibly taking the best catches of Filipino fishermen at the disputed Scarborough shoal, which is well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

According to the SWS poll, 65 percent of respondents were aware of the reported Chinese confiscations of Filipino fishermen’s catch. Majority of Filipinos also knew that Philippines is unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in Philippine waters, and that China broke its promise not to militarize the area.

The pollster also found that the government’s seeming inaction against China eroded public satisfaction with Duterte, especially among those aware of the maritime row.

Meanwhile, 43 percent said the Duterte administration’s refusal to protest Beijing’s actions is not a form of treachery, while 29 percent thought otherwise. Twenty-eight percent were undecided.

The survey has sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages, and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/21/1835516/poll-filipinos-say-its-important-regain-control-west-philippine-sea#dUPhCoQQ29dWOea3.99

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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 and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

South China Sea: Philippines Government Says It Has Isolated China

July 21, 2018

Contrary to popular notion, the dispute in the West Philippine Sea involves two issues: territorial and economic. The Hague arbitral ruling addressed the economic dispute by defining our maritime entitlements over features that we claim and at the same time quashing China’s sweeping historical claims over the entire South China Sea. The ruling, however, did not resolve the dispute over the overlapping territorial claims we have with Vietnam, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and Brunei.

That was just part of a long online chat I had the other day with my journalist-diplomat friend, Elmer Cato who is now the Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. Elmer is a personal friend from way back, when we both were working for local newspapers, before he joined the foreign service.

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal

We’ve kept in touch through the years and I wasn’t surprised when he messaged me after reading my column on my concerns about China. Elmer said he reached out to make some factual clarifications that would hopefully help us arrive at an informed decision about the current approach of the Philippine government to address the dispute in the South China Sea. I do appreciate the fact that he reached out to share a perspective that most of us have not seen. I may not necessarily agree with some of what he said which I am sure Elmer respects, but if only to prove I could, at the very least, tolerate a contrary view and present the other side of the story, I am sharing parts of our exchange.

Elmer started by saying there was “nothing to worry” about the visit of the Chinese vessel and aircraft as these were covered by the necessary diplomatic clearances. All foreign aircraft or vessels must first secure and be granted permission before they could be allowed to enter Philippine territory, he said. Our own military aircraft or vessels also have to ask permission before they could land or dock in other countries. So far, China has requested and been given three diplomatic clearances. The United States has been given almost 250. Also given landing clearances were Australia, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand, he said.

I told Elmer I wasn’t worried about protocols; what I was worried about was the heightening presence, if not creeping invasion of China in the country. China can’t just invade us, he said, explaining that our dispute with China is limited to the West Philippine Sea. “We are trying to isolate that particular dispute so that it would not affect other aspects of our relationship,” he said, which is the same approach we have with Malaysia despite the dispute over North Borneo and the West Philippine Sea and also with Vietnam and other claimants.

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It was then that Elmer dropped what to me was a bombshell: “It is not only China that has been building in the South China Sea. The other claimants have been doing the same thing and have not only constructed but also fortified their respective military facilities. It’s only the Philippines and Brunei that have not.”

More bombshells: China resorted to aggressive action in the WPS during the previous administration and created a complicated situation that the current administration is now trying to untangle. “When the current administration took over, we already had lost control over those features that China eventually built structures on. We also lost control of Scarborough Shoal six years ago.” Another bombshell: the United States will not get involved in case we got into a fight with China over the WPS because Washington had said it will not interfere in a territorial dispute. Elmer said he used to support a hardline approach to enforce The Hague ruling thinking the Philippines has the support of the US. He said he was mistaken. Ambassador Sung Kim himself had said last April the US will not get itself involved.

He then asked: Should we be confrontational as some of us want? Will a shouting match with Beijing advance our interests in the South China Sea? Or would we be able to accomplish more if we sit down and talk with China and discuss how we could strengthen other aspects of our relationship such as trade, investments, tourism and people to people ties the way other claimants like Malaysia and Vietnam have been doing even as we try to build trust and confidence to allow us to find solutions to our dispute and prevent the situation from escalating but without setting aside the arbitral ruling or surrendering a single inch of Philippine territory?

Elmer had more to share, but space limitations force me to end here in the meantime. While I do not agree with everything that he said, he hopes this will help us see things from a different point of view.*

By Eli F.J. Tajanlangit

http://visayandailystar.com/2018/July/20/dash.htm

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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 and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

China believes that fishing and oil industries from the South China Sea may amount to trillions of dollars — What does the Philippines get?

July 20, 2018

NATIONAL papers talk about the Spratly Islands as belonging to us, well and good. What’s then all the protests about?

The Spratly Islands were, in the past, coral islets mostly inhabited by seabirds. They consist of 18 islands but, according to Chinese sources, the Spratlys consist of 14 islands or islets, 6 banks, 113 submerged reefs, 35 underwater banks and 21 underwater shoals.

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After so many claims and disputes of nearby surrounding countries, the international courts decided in favor of the Philippines. So, the Spratly Islands belong to us. However, claims and counter claims as to which country these islands belong to have not waned.

Aside from us, China insists on its historical rights over the islands, and so do Brunei, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. This is now what we call the South China Sea Disputes involving island and maritime claims.

What’s there to fight about? The Philippines, Malaysia and other countries began referring to the Spratly Islands as included in their own territory as far back as the 1970s. The Philippines started exploring the area in 1976 until gas was discovered. However, China complained and its protests halted the exploration. President Ferdinand Marcos then in 1978 issued Presidential decree No. 1596, declaring the north-western part of the Spratly Islands or the Kalayaan Island Group as Philippine territory.

The first Philippine oil company discovered an oil field off Palawan in 1984, which is an island province bordering the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea. These oil fields supply 15 percent of annual oil consumption in the Philippines.

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The whole contested area seems to parallel the crude oil output of Kuwait in case it undergoes serious exploration and production. It has been speculated to be the new Persia related to oil production. In addition, the abundant fishing opportunities in the area are strong incentives for the disputes. The South China Sea is believed to have accounted for ten percent of fishing harvests worth billions of dollars in the world resulting in clashes between Philippine and foreign vessels. China seems to believe that fishing and oil industries from the South China Sea may amount to trillions of dollars.

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Aside from these, the region is also one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. Crude oil transported by sea passes through this sea way and accounts for more than half the tonnage of the world’s transported crude oil. It is claimed that the traffic here is three times bigger than that passing through the Suez canal and greater too than the business traffic in the Panama Canal. Oh oh, no wonder the scramble for ownership?

To add, the US and China are at odds over the area because of international rights to free access. The USA’s free access to this region is good for its economic and geopolitical interests.

So that’s the picture! The claims of six other sovereign nations will go on despite the Philippines’ being bestowed ownership by international courts. Vietnam is aggressive on this and so are several of the other nations. Now, we have protesters urging our government to fight China and all other nations expecting ownership of the Spratlys despite the international court’s decision.

Should we fight for our rights over the islands that have been naturally inhabited by birds since the beginning of our knowledge, or should we opt for peace by sharing the bounty of the South China Sea with all the nations aggressively fighting for this area too? In other words, should we opt for peace…or WAR?

I love you Baguio!

By EVANGELINE MURILLO

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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 and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

Philippines: ‘True state of the nation’ — Philippines worse since Duterte became president

July 20, 2018

Lawmaker says President Duterte is taking the Philippines in the wrong direction… Culture of violence and impunity…

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) said that the country had deteriorated since President Duterte assumed the presidency more than two years ago.

Combination Photo, File
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‘True state of the nation’: Philippines worse since Duterte became president, says Alejano
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) – July 20, 2018 – 2:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — An opposition congressman on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte who is set to deliver an annual national address on Monday, saying the Philippines has deteriorated since he won the presidency more than two years ago.

Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, meanwhile urged the president to attend to the economic concerns especially of poor Filipinos, who have been burdened by the rising inflation in recent months.

Despite some “laudable efforts” in the past two years, Duterte’s leadership is marked by worsening poverty, increasing levels of insecurity and ceding of the country’s territory, according to Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo).

Alejano assailed Duterte for creating a culture of violence and impunity in the Philippines, especially in the conduct of his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.

“He claims to be an advocate of peace and order, yet his senseless policy has allowed fear to envelop the streets. Killings have multiplied while the public’s sense of security has degraded,” the Magdalo representative said.

He also hit the president’s economic policy, under which the Philippines has experienced record inflation rates, plummeting value of the peso and worsening economic conditions.

Robredo said that she would like to hear the president present his plan for helping Filipinos, especially the poor, cope with rising prices and for arresting the climbing inflation.

The vice president said that Duterte’s State of the Nation Address this year should enumerate the achievements and failures of the past two years.

“I think all people should be interested in what the president says in his SONA,” Robredo said in an interview with reporters in Naga City.

Aquino, meanwhile, called on the chief executive to use his annual address to tell the nation what he would do to help poor Filipinos and not to pursue hiw war on drugs and plans to change the Constitution.

He also urged the president to support his pending measure at the Senate which would automatically suspend the excise tax on fuel if inflation for the past three months exceeded official targets.

“I hope the president discusses in his SONA the solution to the rising prices. Suspend the excise tax on petrol to give relief to those families drowning in high prices,” the Liberal Party senator said in a statement.

Duterte has also led an assault on the country’s democractic institutions and compromised the checks and balances among the branches of government, Alejano said.

He also criticized the president’s vaunted anti-corruption campaign, saying this is a “farce” as he simply reappoints sacked officials accused of graft.

“Respect for the rule of law, due process and human rights have also diminished with law enforcement personnel getting involved in extrajudicial killings under the war on drugs,” he said.

As he continues to hurt his fellow Filipinos, Duterte meanwhile has been very gullible in following the wishes of China and compromised the country’s national security and interest, according to Alejano, a former Marine officer.

He also condemned the president for setting a bad example for the youth through his uncouth remarks and expletive-laden public pronouncements, attacks on religious beliefs and demeaning comments on women.

Alejano advised the president to start uniting and caring for Filipinos and honoring their dignity as a race.

He said that Duterte should also preserve the country’s integrity, set a good example to the youth and start building a good image on the Philippines in the international community.

Duterte is set to deliver his annual SONA before a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Traditionally, presidents use this occasion to enumerate their accomplishments in the past year and enumerate their legislative priorities.

DUTERTE SONA 2018GARY ALEJANOLENI ROBREDO, PAOLO BENIGNO AQUINO IV, RODRIGO DUTERTE, STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/20/1835227/true-state-nation-philippines-worse-duterte-became-president-says-alejano#pkArq1abQ7rsEOwG.99

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See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

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FILE Photo — Nora Acielo, 47, lies dead after she was gunned down by unidentified men while she was escorting her two children to school in Manila, Philippines, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Council of nations could determine the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea

July 19, 2018
 / 05:12 AM July 19, 2018

This is regarding Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus’ piece, “Return to great power geopolitics” (6/2/18).

As an expatriate for 30 years, I sat as founding member of a public safety committee in one of the northerly territories in North America. From time to time, I had discussions with delegates of the Circumpolar Conference and Arctic Council that deals with iffy issues on what to do with the resources in the Arctic Ocean, which borders the coastlines of Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska, without resorting to war. Emerging military and economic power China, and past imperial powers like Great Britain and Spain, have expressed their desire to be invited on observer status to such collective bodies.

De Jesus seems to be nervous of China. But, to my mind, China is not the only one that makes Filipinos nervous. The United States, the superpower that did not sign treaties they perceive would curtail their liberty to navigate around the globe, is cruising their battleships around and flying their bombers over contested sandbars and coral reefs inhabited by migrant fish.

The Philippine claim of sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea ought to be granite solid and unchallengeable. What are the basic elements, or the requirements, for establishing territorial sovereignty?

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Did we inherit those sandbars and coral reefs? Or were they ceded to us by a colonial power? Quasi purchase—and if so, from whom? Did we discover them? If we discovered West Philippine Sea, how did we exercise control over the sandbars and coral reefs?

If we view the world from a biblical perspective, no one owns a thing, even an iota of dust. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything therein.” Silver and gold “are mine,” says the Lord. Humankind is the delegated steward, but ownership belongs to Him.

To resolve the pestering issue over “ownership” of WPS, perhaps nations that claim a stake in the controversial body of water should come together and form a council of nations. Member nations must seek active partnership in the economic development of the region, rather than show their fangs and snarl at each other.

It is easy to start a war. But, how easy is it to stop a war?

Bob Gabuna, bob.gabuna@gmail.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/114706/council-nations-disputed-waters#ixzz5LgfU0ka8
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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Japan stands beside Europe on free trade

July 18, 2018

The performance of the president of the United States in Europe over the past week left Europeans dumbfounded, shaken and at least on trade, rightfully anxious about the future. Donald Trump has once again threatened Europeans with tariffs in the one sector that hurts (Germans especially) the most — the automotive industry. Since his election, America’s new protectionism certainly makes Europeans feel isolated on issues of trade and the defense of liberal values.

Yet what Europeans often forget is that this is not the case. Europe is not the last man standing. Japan, Australia, India and Canada are all still very much part of our community of shared values.

By Harry Nedelcu
Japan Times

Commentary

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker looks on after the signing of a Japan-EU trade deal in Tokyo on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI

How we strengthen this community, will depend on the way Europeans will capitalize on the visit of Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk to Tokyo this week. This visit can take two different paths. One is the path of diplomatic niceties, signing agreements, and smiling and posing for pictures. Following the storm caused by Trump in Brussels and London, that was a welcome respite, to be sure. The other path goes far beyond and can turn our relationship into something much more enduring and ambitious.

This means not just finalizing the trade agreement and strategic partnership, but seizing the moment and using it as a springboard for setting together global standards on a number of issues — such as trade, climate change, security policy, rule-of-law, cyber and data flows as well as data protection.

At the same time, many Europeans, who seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that destiny shall be set by China, need to ask the question — why not also by cooperation with like-minded countries like Japan?

Many in Europe look at Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative (BRI) both as an opportunity but also as a Trojan horse. Europeans are not sure how to handle it. On one hand they welcome Chinese investments. On the other, they realize that with these investments, China is pursuing a meticulous strategic goal, acquiring key infrastructure and technological know-how. China’s investments in Europe has increased exponentially — 10 times from 2008 to 2015 and another 70 percent the year after.

Over the past year, many have awoken to the dangers that Chinese foreign direct investment carries and the European Union is working toward a framework for investment screening at the union level. Albeit far behind what other Group of Seven countries already have in place, this is an important step forward.

Europeans are also starting to learn their lessons from Gazprom, where through Russia’s pipelines, it’s not just gas flowing through to Europe but also Russian influence.

The same is becoming true of Chinese influence. With the promise of investment comes Chinese influence and we see it manifesting itself in the shifting foreign policy of countries like Hungary, Croatia and Greece on issues of human rights and the South China Sea. Nonetheless, just as in the Gazprom case, Europe does have alternatives to the BRI. The Chinese initiative is one but not the only option toward opening up to Asia.

The Indo-Pacific corridor is one alternative to the BRI and here Europe has a lot to contribute. The concept is based on norms of freedom of navigation, free trade, stability and the rule of law. With an international order ever more increasingly violated by Russia in Ukraine and China in the South China Sea, Europeans have a vested interest in ensuring this order is respected, especially through one of the world’s most important commercial arteries. With their naval capabilities, France and the United Kingdom are in a unique position to spearhead Europe’s contribution to upholding freedom of navigation, peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

At the same time, Japan, with some of the most open data-flow systems in the world, is also best placed to establish together with Europe a state-of-the-art digital economy that could serve as a model for the rest of the world. With much of the global trade happening online in our current century, should data flow freely from one side to the other, both Europe and Japan would gain significantly.

Ultimately, it is in Europe’s interest to upgrade its relationship with Japan and vice-versa and the current Japan-EU summit is a unique opportunity. If EU and Japanese leaders seize it, this could be an important turnaround both for the way Europeans see trade with Asia and for liberal democracy at large.

Harry Nedelcu is policy adviser at Rasmussen Global, a Copenhagen- and Brussels-based consultancy and advisory firm founded in 2014 by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former prime minister of Denmark and former secretary-general of NATO.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/07/18/commentary/japan-commentary/japan-stands-beside-europe-free-trade/#.W08aqtJKhaQ

China Is Winning in the South China Sea

July 18, 2018

The U.S. should respond more vigorously to Beijing’s violations of international law.

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Two years after an international tribunal rejected expansive Chinese claims to the South China Sea, Beijing is consolidating control over the area and its resources. While the U.S. defends the right to freedom of navigation, it has failed to support the rights of neighboring countries under the tribunal’s ruling. As a result, Southeast Asian countries are bowing to Beijing’s demands.

The tribunal’s main significance was to clarify resource rights. It ruled that China cannot claim historic rights to resources in waters within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of other coastal states. It also clarified that none of the land features claimed by China in the Spratlys, in the southern part of the South China Sea, generate an exclusive economic zone.

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In late July 2017, Beijing threatened Vietnam with military action if it did not stop oil and gas exploration in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, according to a report by the BBC’s Bill Hayton. Hanoi stopped drilling. Earlier this year, Vietnam again attempted to drill, and Beijing issued similar warnings.

Other countries, including the U.S., failed to express support for Vietnam or condemn China’s threats. Beijing has also pressured Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines to agree to “joint development” in their exclusive economic zones—a term that suggests legitimate overlapping claims.

Meanwhile China is accelerating its militarization of the South China Sea. In April, it deployed antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to artificial islands constructed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef. In May, it landed long-range bombers on Woody Island.

Chinese envoy to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua, right, said that the Philippines was not and would not be a province of China.  Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi Jr., File

Beijing says it can do as it wishes on its own territory. But under international law, Mischief Reef isn’t Chinese. The 2016 tribunal decision made clear that jurisdiction over a low-tide elevation lies with the country in whose territorial sea or exclusive economic zone it is located, and no other country can claim sovereignty. Because Mischief Reef is located in the Philippines zone, the Philippines has jurisdiction over it.

Sovereignty over the rest of the features in the South China Sea continues to be fiercely contested. As I wrote in these pages last year, international law on the responsibility of an occupying state in a disputed area is far from clear, so Beijing’s actions are at best in a legal gray zone.

While Beijing’s dramatic military buildup in the South China Sea has received much attention, its attempts at “lawfare” are largely overlooked. In May, the Chinese Society of International Law published a “critical study” on the South China Sea arbitration case. It rehashed old arguments but also developed a newer one, namely that China is entitled to claim maritime zones based on groups of features rather than from individual features. Even if China is not entitled to historic rights within the area it claims, this argument goes, it is entitled to resources in a wide expanse of sea on the basis of an exclusive economic zone generated from outlying archipelagoes.

But the Convention on the Law of the Sea makes clear that only archipelagic states such as the Philippines and Indonesia may draw straight archipelagic baselines from which maritime zones may be claimed. The tribunal also explicitly found that there was “no evidence” that any deviations from this rule have amounted to the formation of a new rule of customary international law.

China’s arguments are unlikely to sway lawyers, but that is not their intended audience. Rather Beijing is offering a legal fig leaf to political and business elites in Southeast Asia who are already predisposed to accept Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. They fear China’s threat of coercive economic measures and eye promises of development through offerings such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

Why did Washington go quiet on the 2016 tribunal decision? One reason is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s turn toward China and offer to set aside the ruling. The U.S. is also worried about the decision’s implications for its own claims to exclusive economic zones from small, uninhabited land features in the Pacific.

The Trump administration’s failure to press Beijing to abide by the tribunal’s ruling is a serious mistake. It undermines international law and upsets the balance of power in the region. Countries have taken note that the tide in the South China Sea is in China’s favor, and they are making their strategic calculations accordingly. This hurts U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. still has a chance to turn things around. It must coordinate a regional and international effort to insist that Beijing abides by international law. Coastal states must be supported in standing up to any incursions into their exclusive economic zones, including through coastal state-initiated legal action.

There must also be greater pushback against Beijing’s claims that China is entitled to do as it likes on its own territory. In all of this, the U.S. will have greater credibility if it finally accedes to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. These efforts will be critical to defend a rules-based order against China’s bid for hegemony in the region.

Ms. Kuok is an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Rising Powers, University of Cambridge.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-is-winning-in-the-south-china-sea-1531868329

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See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

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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 and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

China’s Ambassador to the Philippines insists grants have no strings attached — Now that we own the South China Sea

July 18, 2018

 

Chinese Ambassador Zho Jianhua attends the groundbreaking ceremony for two China-funded bridges over Pasig River.

Chinese Embassy/Released

(philstar.com) – July 18, 2018 – 11:09am

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MANILA, Philippines — Allaying fears that the Philippines is at risk of falling into China’s debt trap, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua stressed that the loans will not have negative impacts to the country.

“Chinas’ grants do not have strings attached to them,” Zhao said at the groundbreaking of two China-aid bridges project over Pasig River.

The project is seen to improve the capacity and efficiency of road transport in Metro Manila, according to the Chinese Embassy.

In his speech, the Chinese envoy said that President Rodrigo Duterte and his economic management team will not allow the Philippines to fall into the so-called debt trap.

“China will honor this commitment to make sure those projects will benefit the Filipino people and will not have any negative impact on the socio-economic development of the Philippines,” Zhao said.

Duterte, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude to China for funding the construction of the two bridges.

Chinese envoy to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua, right, said that the Philippines was not and would not be a province of China.  Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi Jr., File

“As a friend, China has once again proved they intend to join us in achieving lasting progress by addressing traffic congestion in Manila,” Duterte said.

Beijing has loaned Manila P4.243 billion for the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros bridge and P1.229 billion for the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge. The construction project is expected to last for 30 months and 23 months, respectively.

“They will enhance the views of the riverine area and contribute to local tourism,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

The constrution of two new bridges is part of the government’s program to address road congestion in the country’s capital.

According to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, the construction of the bridges is part of a traffic management plan composed of 12 bridges crossing the Pasig and Marikina rivers. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

DEBT TRAP DIPLOMACYPASIG RIVERPHILIPPINES-CHINA TIES

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/18/1834608/chinese-envoy-insists-grants-have-no-strings-attached#xQUotkC8rrjC9lo5.99

Related:

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See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

Related:

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