Posts Tagged ‘Taiwan’

South China Sea: Philippine Judge and Frequent Duterte Critic Likes Progress in Talking To China

November 19, 2017
By:  – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
 / November 18, 2017

Antonio Carpio

The Philippine government’s decision to negotiate with China on its own will not end the protracted territorial claims involving other nations in the South China Sea, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday.

Nonetheless, Carpio said President Duterte’s policy shift to engage Beijing in bilateral talks was a “logical step” and a “positive development” in implementing the ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year.

Besides China and the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are also insisting ownership over parts of the sea, said to be rich in energy reserves and marine resources.

“Clearly, the South China Sea dispute involves both bilateral and multilateral disputes,” Carpio said in an emailed statement to the Inquirer.

“A bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines can take up only the bilateral disputes between (both countries) … and not the multilateral disputes involving … other states,” he pointed out.

Carpio, who has been championing the country’s claim to the West Philippine Sea—the part of the South China Sea within the country’s 327-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—noted that even nonmembers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were interested in finding a final solution to the decadeslong sea row.

“The South China Sea dispute also affects nonclaimant states, both within (the) Asean (region) and outside (of it) … These nonclaimant states, which include the US, Japan and Australia, are worried how China’s expansive claim will affect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, for both commercial and military vessels and aircraft,” he said.

The magistrate noted that Beijing’s disputed nine-dash line asserted ownership of 85.7 percent of the strategic waterway where about $5 trillion in global trade transits every year.

The landmark decision of the international tribunal invalidated China’s nine-dash line and its argument that it had sovereign and historic rights over the disputed sea.

It also upheld the Philippines’ exclusive rights over its EEZ, including Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.

According to Carpio, the territorial row involving the Philippines and China is “intimately related to all the multilateral disputes and all the other bilateral disputes” as Beijing’s territorial claims are based on its nine-dash-line policy.

“A bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines on the enforcement of the arbitral award will be a logical step as the award is binding only between China and the Philippines,” the magistrate said.

“However, this will not resolve the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines. Neither will it resolve the multilateral disputes involving China, the Philippines and other states,” he said.

Carpio, however, said that “any bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines on the enforcement of the arbitral award is a positive development.”

On Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Mr. Duterte had “articulated preference for bilateral talks rather than multilateral talks in resolving the dispute” when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Vietnam last week.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/945938/philippine-news-updates-supreme-court-senior-associate-justice-antonio-carpio-philippines-china-diplomacy#ixzz4yrxsXzXF
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Panama eyes trade deal with China after ditching Taiwan

November 17, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | ‘China-Panama relations have turned over a new leaf,’ Chinese leader Xi Jinping said during talks with Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela

BEIJING (AFP) – 

Panama and China agreed Friday to study the possibility of reaching a free trade agreement after the Central American nation ditched Taiwan and recognised Beijing.

The memorandum of understanding was among 19 cooperation agreements signed by the two countries as Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The two nations also reached agreements related to agriculture, civil aviation and maritime transport, as well as tourism to facilitate visits by Chinese tour groups to Panama.

After the United States, China is the second-most frequent user of the Panama Canal.

“China-Panama relations have turned over a new leaf,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said during talks with Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Varela was treated to a state visit as he met Xi at the massive Great Hall of the People. On Thursday, Varela inaugurated his country’s new embassy in Beijing.

With Panama establishing relations with China in June, Taiwan is now only recognised by 20 nations.

Mainland China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949 and while Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation, it has never formally declared independence.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province that is part of Chinese territory and will be brought back into the fold at some point.

South China Sea: ASEAN Goes Soft on China

November 16, 2017
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks during the 20th ASEAN China Summit in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. Linus Escandor/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The ASEAN, under Philippine chairmanship, declined to mention China’s expansive island-building activities in the South China Sea in its chairman statement.

In its chairman statement released after the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, the ASEAN merely mentioned “non-militarization” and “self-restraint” among claimant states.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, gestures to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as they prepare for their bilateral meeting following a welcome ceremony at Malacanang Palace grounds in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Li is on an official visit to the country. AP/Bullit Marquez

“In this regard, we further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states,” the statement read.

This echoed the joint communique issued during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila last August, where the ministers said they “took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.”

READ: ASEAN stresses self-restraint, non-militarization in South China Sea

The 10-member regional bloc welcomed its improving relations with China following the adoption of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea last August.

The ASEAN is looking forward to the start of the negotiations on the COC, which was announced at the ASEAN-China Summit in Manila.

The chairman statement stressed the need to adhere to a peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The statement, however, did not mention the arbitral ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands.

RELATED: With no reference to arbitral ruling, ASEAN to pursue sea code

In July 2016, the international tribunal issued a landmark award in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The tribunal also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS by constructing artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The regional bloc, meanwhile, reaffirmed its commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

“We reaffirmed our commitment to the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety, and the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties,” the statement read.

The ASEAN-China joint working group meeting on the implementation of the DOC is set to convene in Viet Nam early next year.

In a separate chairman statement of the 20th ASEAN-China Summit, the concerned parties “welcomed the positive developments in the South China Sea.”

The ASEAN and China reiterated their commitment to the implementation of the DOC. Implementation will include confidence-building measures and practical maritime cooperation.

FULL TEXT: Chairman’s statement for the 31st ASEAN Summit

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/16/1759490/asean-goes-soft-china-sea-code-talks-start

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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.

China, Philippines agree to avoid force in South China Sea dispute

November 16, 2017

 

President Rodrigo Duterte attends a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Malacanañ Palace in Manila. (Reuters)

BEIJING/MANILA: China and the Philippines have agreed to avoid force to resolve their differences over the South China Sea, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday by China at the end of a visit to Manila by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

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China and the Philippines have long sparred over the South China Sea, but relations have improved considerably under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
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Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands. China claims most of the waterway and has been aggressively building and militarizing artificial islands.
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The joint statement, carried by China’s official Xinhua news agency, said China and the Philippines reaffirmed the importance of peace in the South China Sea and of freedom of navigation and overflight.
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There should be no violence or threats of violence and the dispute should be resolved via talks between the “relevant sovereign countries,” it added.
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“Both sides believe that the maritime dispute is not the full sum of the China-Philippines relationship,” the statement said.
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In a separate statement summing up discussions at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, Duterte took note of the “improving relations between ASEAN and China” in the South China Sea.
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“In view of this positive momentum, we looked forward to the announcement of the start of substantive negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) with China” he said, hopefully in early 2018 in Vietnam, where the two sides will meet at the earliest.
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ASEAN and China have been discussing a set of rules on how to behave in the disputed waters to avoid accidents and raising tension.
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Duterte said the two sides also had successfully tested the hotline among foreign ministries on how to manage maritime emergencies.
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“In our view, these are practical measures that could reduce tensions, and the risks of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation,” he said.
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Vietnam and China agree to back off conflicts in South China Sea

November 13, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang (R) at the presidential palace in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam and China agreed Monday to back away from conflicts in the South China Sea, in a move aimed at easing tensions over Beijing’s claims to most of the waterway.

The communist neighbours have long-sparred over the sea — to which Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines also have partial claims — through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually.

China has built artificial islands and airstrips capable of hosting military installations in the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Hanoi and Beijing agreed Monday to keep the peace in the sea, the countries said in a joint statement during a state visit to Hanoi by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

They agreed to “well manage disputes at sea, make no moves that may complicate or expand disputes, (and) maintain peace and stability on the East Sea,” the Vietnamese version of the statement said, using Hanoi’s term for the sea.

Tensions flared earlier this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area off its coast that China claims as its own, reportedly following pressure from Beijing.

Relations hit rock bottom in 2014 when Beijing moved an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam, sparking weeks of protests.

On Sunday US President Donald Trump offered to use his negotiation prowess to help Vietnam resolve the long-simmering tensions.

“If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know… I am a very good mediator,” Trump said on his own state visit to Hanoi at the tail end of his marathon tour of Asia.

But on Monday, China appeared to take a swipe at his offer.

“We hope non-regional countries can respect the regional countries’ efforts in maintaining the regional stability of the South China Sea, and play a constructive role in this aspect,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Trump was in Manila Monday for meetings with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and several other countries.

Later Monday China and ASEAN, which includes Vietnam, were expected to announce in Manila that they have agreed to begin talks on a much-delayed code of conduct for the sea.

China insists the code must not be legally binding, a demand to which Southeast Asian countries have so far acquiesced.

Vietnam had been pushing for the code to be legally binding but ASEAN agreed in August that it would not have any legal force.

China agreed in 2002 to begin talks on a code, but has delayed actually doing so while carrying out its expansionist strategy.

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Vietnam wants peaceful end to sea disputes — Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea feud — Long Trump News Q and A in Vietnam

November 12, 2017

Image result for trump, south china sea, vietnam photos

Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea feud

 November 12 at 12:16 AM
HANOI, Vietnam — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia (all times local):12:05 p.m.

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang says his country wants to settle disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations.

Quang made the comments Sunday during a joint appearance with President Donald Trump, who is on a brief state visit to Vietnam. Trump had offered during an earlier meeting Sunday with Quang to serve as a mediator on the South China Sea territorial disputes.

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Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang and U.S. President Donald Trump address a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam November 12, 2017. REUTERS- Jonathan Ernst

Vietnam and China along with four others claim all or parts of the strategic waters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) is scheduled to arrive in Vietnam for a state visit later Sunday. Disputes over the South China Sea are expected to be high on the agenda during Xi’s talks with Vietnamese leaders.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has highlighted trade issues in meetings with Vietnam’s prime minister and the secretary general of its Communist Party.

Trump told Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong (nuh-WEE’-ihn FOO Trawng) that trade has become a very important element in the relationship between the two countries.

The president delivered a similar message later to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (nuh-WEE’-ihn SOO’-an FOOK). Trump urged Vietnam to buy missiles and other weapons systems from the United States, seeming to suggest that it would help erase a trade imbalance. Trump says the U.S. “makes the greatest missiles in the world.”

Outside of trade, Trump says he looks forward to the onetime adversaries U.S. and Vietnam having a fantastic relationship for years to come.

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11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says stronger U.S. relations with Russia would benefit the globe and suggests that Russian sanctions may be lifted.

Trump says in Vietnam that Russia has been “very heavily sanctioned” and “it’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.” The president is pointing to the need to work with Russia to solve problems in Syria, North Korea and Ukraine.

Trump says he believes “having Russia in a friendly posture as opposed to always fighting them is an asset.”

Congress slapped sanctions on Russia last summer for interfering in the 2016 election. Those sanctions were in addition to existing U.S. penalties on Russia for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine and 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

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11:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says it would be a “good thing” for North Korea and the world if he and Kim Jong Un become friends.

But he immediately cast doubt on whether that could happen. Trump has spoken forcefully against North Korea and its nuclear threat while traveling in Asia.

Trump tweeted about the North Korean leader on Saturday, saying he had tried “so hard” to be Kim’s friend and that “maybe someday that will happen!”

Asked at a news conference in Hanoi about the tweet, Trump said a friendship with Kim “might be a strange thing to happen but it’s certainly a possibility.”

Trump says he doesn’t know that friendship will develop, but says it would be “very, very nice if it did.”

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10:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes in the U.S. intelligence agencies despite his past skepticism about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The president says during a joint news conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang that the U.S. intelligence agencies are “currently led by fine people.” He adds, “I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

Trump’s comments come a day after he bashed the former heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks” and accused Democrats of trying to sabotage relations between the two countries.

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10:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is reiterating that “all responsible nations” must act to help stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

Trump says at a joint news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, that “we want progress, not provocation” and “we want stability, not chaos.” Trump says the U.S. wants peace and not war.

North Korea has been a focal point of Trump’s trip to Asia. He is speaking at a news conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang.

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9:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is offering to serve as a mediator on the South China Sea territorial disputes as he meets with the president of Vietnam.

Trump is telling President Tran Dai Quang he knows Vietnam has had a dispute with China over the strategic waterways.

Trump says he’s a “very good mediator and a very good arbitrator” and willing to help.

Trump was speaking to Quang at the start of their meetings in Hanoi. Trump says North Korea “continues to be a problem” and he’s hopeful that Chinese President Xi Jinping will “be a tremendous help.” Trump says he also hopes that Russia will “be a tremendous help.”

Trump says they’ll also talk about trade. He says the U.S. will “be treated fairly,” adding, “past administrations didn’t understand trade.”

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9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is promising a “tremendous amount of trade” with Vietnam as he arrives at the presidential palace for his meeting with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang.

Trump and Quang spoke briefly to reporters after the U.S. president arrived at the presidential palace in Hanoi on a rainy morning. Trump says they’ll be conducting “billions and billions” of dollars in trade.

The two leaders were greeted by young children waving U.S. and Vietnamese flags and then paused as a band played the two countries’ national anthems.

Trump is in Hanoi for a brief state visit and will hold a joint news conference with Quang. He’ll depart for the Philippines later Sunday for a pair of summits that will close out his trip to Asia.

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8:10 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is bashing the “haters and fools” he says are questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia.

Trump, in the final days of a lengthy Asia trip, shared his thoughts in a series of tweets Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam.

He accused critics of “playing politics” and hurting the country.

The day before, Trump had told reporters that Russia President Vladimir Putin has again denied meddling in the 2016 election. Trump did not make clear whether he believed Putin but did make clear that he did not want to revisit the issue.

Trump has suggested that the ongoing probe into contacts between his campaign and the Russians was hurting the U.S. relationship with Moscow and could hinder efforts to solve crises like Syria and North Korea.

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8:05 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is exchanging schools yard taunts with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Trump says in a tweet from Vietnam: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?””

Trump goes on to say sarcastically, “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend” and says that, “maybe someday that will happen!”

Trump has been working to rally global pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on a trip to Asia. That includes a stern speech delivered in South Korea.

Kim’s government responded to that speech by calling Trump an “old lunatic.”

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12:50 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is back on the defensive over Russian election meddling and is accusing Democrats of trying to sabotage U.S.-Russia relations.

Speaking to reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently insisted once again that Moscow had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The Republican president declined to say whether he believed Putin but made clear he wasn’t interested in dwelling on the issue.

Trump is in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a brief state visit. He’ll depart for the Philippines later Sunday for a pair of summits that will close out his trip.

Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times on the event’s sidelines.

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11:15 p.m. Saturday

The Kremlin’s spokesman says Vladimir Putin flatly denied any Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election during a short meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Russian president and Trump met Saturday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific conference in Vietnam.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling reporters: “Trump really raised the topic of so-called interference in U.S. elections.

Peskov says, “Putin categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could have in some way interfered in the U.S. electoral process.”

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11:05 p.m.

The White House Correspondents Association is voicing concerns about press access during President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia.

Reporters and photographers traveling with the president were barred from covering any of the events at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the coastal city of Danang on Saturday.

Reporters have also voiced concerns that Trump declined to take questions in China, though he has held press conferences in Japan and South Korea and spoke to reporters at length aboard Air Force One Saturday.

Margaret Talev, the correspondents association president, says in a statement the group is “concerned that access on this trip has eroded more significantly” and that “notice about changes or new coverage restrictions has often come with too short of notice to be able to react effectively.”

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8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising Vietnam in brief remarks before a state dinner, calling the nation “one of the great miracles of the world.”

He says the United States and Vietnam have “come a long way,” in an apparent reference to the Vietnam War.

Trump added that “there is nothing more impressive” than the success of the country. He spoke during a state dinner featuring local flavors.

On the menu: steamed rice powder rolls “with fluffy pemmican”; shrimp rolled in fried egg; a seafood soup made with fish maw, shrimp, scallop and shark fin; and Dong Tao chicken rolled with lotus and mushrooms.

Besides dinner, Trump is scheduled for talks with Vietnamese leaders before heading to the Philippines, his last stop on the trip.

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7:25 p.m.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued its first official statement on President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia, slamming Trump for trying to denuclearize the North.

The ministry said that Trump’s trip “is a warmonger’s trip for confrontation with our country, trying to remove our self-defensive nuclear deterrent.”

It accused Trump of trying to demonize North Korea, keep it apart from the international community and undermine its government.

The ministry said, “Reckless remarks by an old lunatic like Trump will never scare us or stop our advance. On the contrary, all this makes us more sure that our choice to promote economic construction at the same time as building up our nuclear force is all the more righteous, and it pushes us to speed up the effort to complete our nuclear force.”

North Korea is not known to have tested any of its missiles or nuclear devices since Sept. 15, a relative lull after a brisk series of tests earlier this year.

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7:20 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is brushing off recent reports that the U.S. commerce secretary had interest in a company that does business with a major Russian company with possible ties to Putin relatives.

Reports this week said Wilbur Ross is a shareholder in a shipping company that relies on the Russian company Sibur for much of its revenue. A man reported to be one of Putin’s sons-in-law is believed to be a major Sibur shareholder.

Putin said Saturday that “This is nothing more than business. It never had and does not have any relation with politics.”

Putin also rejected any Russian connection to the recently indicted former campaign manager of President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort.

Manafort is charged with offenses including failing to register as a foreign agent while advising the party of Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-friendly Ukrainan president who was ousted amid massive street protests in 2014.

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6:55 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the lack of a formal meeting with President Donald Trump at a conference in Vietnam reflects continuing tense relations between their countries.

Putin and Trump had several brief exchanges Friday night and Saturday as world leaders gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. They did not have a formal, one-on-one meeting.

Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying that the lack of a formal meeting shows that U.S.-Russia relations have “not yet emerged from the state of crisis.”

But he was also quoted as blaming the absence of a sit-down on scheduling conflicts and “certain matters of the protocol” that couldn’t be worked out.

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5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he didn’t see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh AH’-bay) take a tumble on the golf course.

But he says, if it was Abe, “I’m very impressed because (Abe is) better than any gymnast I’ve ever seen.”

Trump made the remarks to reporters aboard Air Force One as it headed toward Hanoi, Vietnam, for meetings and a state banquet.

Japan’s TV Tokyo aired footage of a player identified as Abe trying repeatedly to hit his ball out of a steep bunker. As he finally made the shot, Trump began walking away, and Abe ran up the side of the bunker to catch up.

But just as the 63-year-old prime minister stepped onto the grass, he slipped, making a backward flip down into the sand. He quickly stood up and picked up his cap.

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5:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Russia President Vladimir Putin once again denied meddling in the 2016 election during their conversations Saturday at a summit in Vietnam.

And Trump still won’t say definitively whether he believes Putin.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that every time Putin sees him he says: “I didn’t do that.”

Says Trump: “And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it.”

Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win. Multiple investigations are also under way to determine whether Trump campaign officials colluded with them.

Trump dismissed the heads of those agencies as “political hacks.” He says there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of their findings.

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5:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for creating an “artificial barrier” to U.S.-Russian relations by accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Hanoi that the allegations, which he’s dismissed as a witch hunt in the past, are damaging his ability to work with Russia. And he says that’s putting lives at stake.

He says the “artificial barrier” gets in the way of putting global pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Without that obstacle, Trump says, “we could really be helped a lot, tremendously with Russia having to do with North Korea.”

He goes on to say that, “If we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved and getting Ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia’s a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way,” he says, adding that, “people will die because of it.”

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In Vietnam, Trump offers to mediate on South China Sea

November 12, 2017

Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was prepared to mediate between claimants to the South China Sea, where five countries contest China’s sweeping claims to the busy waterway.

Trump was speaking in Vietnam, which has become the most vocal opponent of China’s claims and its construction and militarization of artificial islands in the sea. About $3-trillion in goods passes through the sea each year.

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U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, right, attend the welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Kham/Pool Photo via AP) The Associated Press

“If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know,” Trump said in comments at a meeting in Hanoi with Vietnam’s president, Tran Dai Quang.

Trump acknowledged that China’s position on the South China Sea was a problem.

“I‘m a very good mediator and arbitrator,” he said.

President Quang said Vietnam believed in handling disputes on the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations and on the basis of international laws – which Vietnam says nullify China’s claims.

Vietnam has reclaimed land around reefs and islets, but on nowhere near the same scale as China. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has grown closer to China, Vietnam has emerged as China’s main challenger in the region. In July, China pressured Vietnam to stop oil drilling in a disputed area, taking relations to a low.

Relations have since improved and Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Hanoi later on Sunday.

The South China Sea was discussed in Beijing on an earlier leg of Trump’s 12-day Asian tour and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States and China had a frank exchange of views.

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang and U.S. President Donald Trump prepare to address a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States has angered China with freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-controlled islands.

CODE OF CONDUCT

In August, foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but one seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its power.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven man-made islands in disputed waters, three of them equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established and critics raise doubts about how effective the pact will be.

The framework will be endorsed by China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a summit in Manila on Monday, a diplomat from one of the regional bloc’s countries said.

The next step is for ASEAN and China to start formal consultations and negotiations for the actual Code of Conduct, and the earliest that talks on this can start is February 2018, the diplomat said.

From Vietnam, Trump flies to the Philippines for a meeting with ASEAN leaders before he heads back to Washington.

Relations between Vietnam and the United States have blossomed in the decades since their war ended in 1975. A recent survey put the favorability of the United States at 84 percent among Vietnamese.

But Vietnam’s trade surplus remains an irritant for the Trump administration. At $32 billion last year, it was the sixth largest with the United States, though less than a tenth the size of China‘s.

“We want to get that straightened out very quickly,” Trump said at a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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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.

Pacific trade deal reached but leaders won’t endorse it yet

November 11, 2017

Tran Tuan Anh, Toshimitsu Motegi

DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries announced an agreement Saturday on pushing ahead with a free-trade deal whose destiny was uncertain after President Donald Trump dropped it.

“We have reached an agreement on a number of fundamental parts,” Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, told reporters in the coastal resort city of Danang, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. But more work must be done before leaders of the countries involved can endorse the plan, said Anh and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi.

The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without U.S. involvement. That involved a difficult balance between maintaining high standards and pragmatism, Motegi said.

“Through a pragmatic response of the officials involved we could come to an agreement,” Motegi said. He said it was clear there would be a need for further changes but that differences had been narrowed down.

“The substance is something all the TPP countries can agree on,” said Motegi. “This will send a very strong message to the U.S. and the other countries in the region.”

The talks resulted in an even longer name for the trade pact than originally devised. It is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The announcement of a basic agreement was delayed by last-minute discord that prevented the TPP leaders from endorsing the plan when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not join other leaders who gathered Friday to endorse an agreement in principle on pressing ahead without the U.S.

In the end, Canada’s Minister for International Commerce Francois-P Champagne said in a tweet Saturday that “after lots of work, big progress on the ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.’”

Trudeau had said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

Despite enthusiasm for sticking with the plan following the U.S. withdrawal, criticism over various issues persists. Detractors of the TPP say it favors corporate interests over labor and other rights. Trudeau said days before arriving in Danang that he would not be rushed into signing an agreement that did not suit Canada’s interests.

Aspects of the trade pact have also raised hackles over a requirement that companies be allowed to sue governments for lack of enforcement of related laws.

The proposed basic agreement reached in Danang said that the ministers maintained “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.”

The U.S., the biggest TPP economy, had been one of its most assertive supporters before Trump took office. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” he told an APEC business conference. He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”

Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to U.S. involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.

In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.

Xi drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific. China is not part of the TPP.

APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments are to be eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.

But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. The release of a set of ministerial agreements early Saturday suggested the leaders would finesse any disagreements, as usual, to demonstrate unity and avoid embarrassing their hosts.

As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.

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Associated Press writer Robert Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Taiwan the most important issue in Sino-U.S. ties, China’s Xi tells Trump

November 9, 2017

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Xi Jinping

BEIJING (Reuters) – Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping told visiting U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Trump taking a precedent-breaking call from Taiwan’s president.

China considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and integral part of its territory, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms.

 Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and suit

Donald Trump constantly referred to President Xi Jinping as a great friend.

Trump upset China last December by taking a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, shortly after he won election, the first call between U.S. and Taiwan leaders since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 1979.

While there was no public mention of Taiwan in comments Xi and Trump made in front of reporters, the official Chinese foreign ministry statement about their talks did not mince its words.

“The Taiwan issue is the most important, most sensitive core issue in China-U.S. relations, and concerns the political basis of the China-U.S. relationship,” the ministry paraphrased Xi as telling Trump.

China “hopes that the U.S. side continues to scrupulously abide by the ‘one China’ principle, and prevents disturbances to the broader picture of China-U.S. ties”, Xi added.

Trump told Xi that the United States government upheld and stuck to the “one China” policy, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

In Taipei, Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council, said China should respect Taiwan’s people.

“We think China should deeply understand and respect Taiwan people’s opinions on the growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait,” Chiu told reporters.

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Trump and his team should have skimmed through Martin Jacques’ book…. Going without a plan to make make a meaningful deal with China is always a waste of time….

“We are also willing to work with the other side to find a new, positive model in cross-straits ties that would use dialogue to resolve differences, and to create a proper path for harmonious relations.”

China suspects Tsai wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s democracy and security.

China has pressured Taiwan since Tsai took office last year, suspending a regular dialogue mechanism and slowly peeling away its few remaining diplomatic allies.

China is deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward Taiwan, and was upset when the United States recently allowed Tsai to transit through Hawaii and Guam on her way to and from diplomatic allies of Taiwan’s in the Pacific.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Jess Macy Yu in TAIPEI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie

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China’s Xi warns Trump of ‘negative factors’ hurting US ties

July 3, 2017

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Donald Trump on Monday that “some negative factors” are hurting U.S.-China relations, as tensions flare anew over a slew of long-standing sore points.

Xi’s comments in a phone call with Trump follow Beijing’s displeasure over U.S. arms sales to rival Taiwan, U.S. sanctions against a Chinese bank over its dealings with North Korea and, most recently, the sailing of a U.S. destroyer within the territorial seas limit of a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea.

Beijing was also miffed after the State Department gave Beijing a dismal grade last week in a new human trafficking report.

According to state media, Xi told Trump in their call that Beijing expects Washington to continue managing relations on the basis of the “one China” principle that rules out formal contacts with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

“Xi Jinping emphasized that, since my meeting with the president at Mar-a-Lago, China-U.S. relations have achieved important outcomes,” state broadcaster China Central Television reported, referring to Xi’s meeting with Trump in Florida in April. “At the same time, bilateral relations have been affected by some negative factors. China has expressed its position to the U.S.”

Seeking to lighten the message slightly, Xi also said that China-U.S. relations had achieved “important outcomes” since the Florida meeting.

It’s unclear whether any of those issues will come up in discussions at the G-20 summit in Germany this week, at which Trump and Xi are expected to hold a bilateral meeting.

But it now appears that China is pushing back against the U.S. pressure, setting the stage for a potential confrontation.

China’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. of violating Chinese sovereignty and disrupting “peace, security and order of the relevant waters” after the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Stethem sailed Sunday within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of tiny Triton island, which is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China’s defense ministry issued a similar statement Monday, saying it would beef up patrols and take precautions commensurate with the threat level to safeguard “national sovereignty and security.”

Trump and his top aides have done little to hide their irritation over what they see as the reluctance by China, North Korea’s main economic partner, to tighten the screws on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

Until recently, American officials had been describing China as a partner in their strategy to prevent North Korea from developing the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons. While China has agreed to sanctions, it is wary of measures that could cause the regime’s collapse, leaving a united, U.S.-backed Korea on its border.

However, Trump hinted last month at his loss of patience, tweeting that his bid to secure a tougher Chinese approach “has not worked out.”

Asked about the state of ties, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that it was normal to encounter “some issues in the process of developing the bilateral relationship.”

“We believe that the significance of our bilateral relationship has already exceeded the bilateral scope and is exerting important influence on the development of the whole world,” Geng told reporters at a regularly scheduled press briefing.

“On our part, we are willing to develop the bilateral relationship based on non-confrontation, mutual benefit and mutual trust, expand cooperation and properly manage differences between the two countries so as to further advance the bilateral relationship.”

Along with Xi, Trump also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he reaffirmed a shared commitment to dealing with North Korea, the White House said. It said the president also looked forward to meeting Abe at the upcoming G-20 summit in Hamburg.

Abe praised Trump for the recent U.S. sanctions on the small Bank of Dandong over its alleged support for North Korea’s nuclear program, according to Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. That severs the bank entirely from the U.S. financial system, pending a 60-day review period.

Suga said that during their 35-minute phone conversation, the two leaders reaffirmed close coordination between their countries and South Korea in stepping up pressure on North Korea.

The talks were meaningful for the two leaders “to be on the same page” about their approach to North Korea ahead of the G-20 summit, Suga said.

Related:

Cost of Taiwan’s ageing Mirage jets in spotlight again as fighter goes missing

November 9, 2017

Island struggling to maintain more expensive French aircraft amid budget squeeze, observers say

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 10:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 9:48am

Taiwan’s air force grounded all of its Mirage jets after a single-seat Mirage 2000 disappeared from the radar 34 minutes after take-off on Tuesday night from a base in Hsinchu across the Taiwan Strait from Fujian province during a routine training exercise, air force deputy commander Lieutenant General Chang Che-ping said on Wednesday.

“The military will continue searching day and night until the pilot is safely rescued. There is no so-called golden 72-hour limit,” Chang said, referring to the window for finding a pilot alive.

The pilot, Ho Tzu-yu, joined the air force more than a decade ago and had 227 hours of flight time in Mirages, but there was no indication Ho had ejected, the Central News Agency reported.

It is the sixth major accident involving Mirages since Taiwan bought 60 of the aircraft from France two decades ago. In that time, 10 per cent of the jets have crashed.

Military analysts said a lack of maintenance on the aircraft might be a major cause of the crashes, as more of the island’s shrinking defence budget was earmarked for US weapons.

Beijing-based military observer Zhou Chengming said the accident exposed Taipei’s focus on US systems at the expense of the more costly French jets.

“It is sacrificing the higher cost of upgrading and maintaining Mirage fighters because of its limited military budget,” Zhou said.

 The French jets are reportedly more expensive to maintain than US and Taiwanese equivalents. Photo: AP

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force also considered buying some of the jets in the 1980s but abandoned the idea after realising that it did not have the capacity to transfer French technology to make them itself at the time, Zhou said.

Beijing later opted for Soviet technology and developed its own versions of Moscow’s MiG-29 and Su-27.

Taiwan also developed its own F-CK-1 indigenous defence fighters in the 1980s with the help of the United States but shelved the project after it bought more advanced US F-16s and the Mirage fighters.

But calls have grown over the past decade for Taipei to decommission the Mirages because they are expensive to maintain and need to be replaced.

Taipei will spend nearly NT$13 billion (US$430 million) upgrading its 144 F-16s in the next five years, but a squeeze on the defence budget means nothing has been set aside for Mirage upgrades. In all, the island’s defence budget is equivalent to just 1.84 per cent of the island’s GDP, the lowest proportion in four years.

 Taiwan bought 60 of the Mirage jets in the 1990s. Photo: EPA

In December, Taiwan’s then deputy defence minister Lee Hsi-ming dismissed suggestions that the Mirages should be decommissioned but acknowledged that the parts and supplies needed to maintain them were more expensive than those needed for the indigenous aircraft and the F-16s.

Earlier, Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Asian Defence, cited a Taiwanese air force source as saying that the cost of Mirage spare parts was on average at least double that for the F-16.

And Mirage 2000-5 fighters used up to 1.5 times as much fuel as F-16s, he said.

Former Taiwanese defence minister Andrew Yang Nien-dzu said Taiwan’s security strategy was defensive rather than offensive and it had the aircraft it needed.

“The mainland has more warplanes in both quantity and quality than Taipei, but Taiwan’s air force has never wanted to compete with the PLA Air Force,” Yang said. “Taiwan is small and the number of warplanes it has now is enough to safeguard our territory in case of attack.”

 http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2119000/cost-taiwans-ageing-mirage-jets-spotlight-again-fighter