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‘Send Chinese ambassador back to China’

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday urged President Marcos to send Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian back home following China’s latest aggressions against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarDec 11th, 2023

China to send youngest-ever crew to space station

Tiangong is the crown jewel of Beijing's space program, which has also landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon and made China the third country to put humans in orbit. The station is constantly crewed by teams of three astronauts, who are rotated out every six months. The Shenzhou-17 module carrying the trio to the station is scheduled to blast off at 11:14 a.m. (0314 GMT) Thursday from the Jiuquan launch site in China's arid northwest. "It is the crew of astronauts with the youngest average age since the launch of the space station construction mission," Beijing's State Council Information Office said in a statement. The all-male trio will be led by Tang Hongbo, who is on his first return mission to the Tiangong space station. "Throughout the past two years, I have often dreamt of going back to space," Tang said at a press conference on Wednesday. "The space station is our other home that takes us away from Earth and into the universe," he added. Accompanying him will be Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin, both in their thirties and each making maiden space voyages. The crew has an average age of 38, compared to 42 for the crew of Shenzhou-16 when it launched. "According to the plan, the Shenzhou-17 spacecraft will conduct autonomous rendezvous and docking procedures after entering orbit," Lin Xiqiang, spokesperson for China's space program, said during a Wednesday morning press briefing. It will dock with the station's core module "about six-and-a-half hours" after first initiating the procedure, he added. 'Space dream' Plans for China's "space dream" have been put into overdrive under President Xi Jinping. The world's second-largest economy has pumped billions of dollars into its military-run space program in an effort to catch up with the United States and Russia. In June, the return capsule of the Shenzhou-15 spaceship touched down at a landing site in the northern Inner Mongolia region, with state media hailing the mission as a "complete success". That month also saw the launch of the Shenzhou-16 capsule, which carried the first Chinese civilian -- Beihang University professor Gui Haichao -- into orbit. That crew will return to Earth on October 31 after completing a handover, officials said Wednesday. Beijing also aims to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to build a base on the lunar surface. Spokesperson Lin reiterated that aim Wednesday, saying that the "goal of landing Chinese people on the moon by 2030 will be realized as scheduled". Lunar plans The country's lunar plans were dealt a setback in 2017 when the powerful Long March-5 Y2 rocket failed to launch on a mission to put communication satellites into orbit. That forced the postponement of the Chang'e-5 launch, originally scheduled to collect Moon samples in the second half of 2017. Another robot, the Chang'e-4, landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019 -- a historic first. Chang'e-5 eventually landed on the Moon in 2020, raising a Chinese flag on the lunar surface and returning to Earth with the first lunar samples in four decades. The final module of the T-shaped Tiangong -- which means "heavenly palace" -- successfully docked with the core structure last year. The station carries several pieces of cutting-edge scientific equipment, according to state news agency Xinhua, including "the world's first space-based cold atomic clock system". The Tiangong is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometers (250 and 280 miles) above the planet for at least 10 years. China will send its youngest-ever crew of astronauts to the Tiangong space station this week, officials said Wednesday, as Beijing pursues plans for a manned mission to the Moon by the end of the decade. Tiangong is the crown jewel of Beijing's space program, which has also landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon and made China the third country to put humans in orbit. The station is constantly crewed by teams of three astronauts, who are rotated out every six months. The Shenzhou-17 module carrying the trio to the station is scheduled to blast off at 11:14 am (0314 GMT) Thursday from the Jiuquan launch site in China's arid northwest. "It is the crew of astronauts with the youngest average age since the launch of the space station construction mission," Beijing's State Council Information Office said in a statement. The all-male trio will be led by Tang Hongbo, who is on his first return mission to the Tiangong space station. "Throughout the past two years, I have often dreamt of going back to space," Tang said at a press conference on Wednesday. "The space station is our other home that takes us away from Earth and into the universe," he added. Accompanying him will be Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin, both in their thirties and each making maiden space voyages. The crew has an average age of 38, compared to 42 for the crew of Shenzhou-16 when it launched. "According to the plan, the Shenzhou-17 spacecraft will conduct autonomous rendezvous and docking procedures after entering orbit," Lin Xiqiang, spokesperson for China's space program, said during a Wednesday morning press briefing. It will dock with the station's core module "about six-and-a-half hours" after first initiating the procedure, he added. 'Space dream' Plans for China's "space dream" have been put into overdrive under President Xi Jinping. The world's second-largest economy has pumped billions of dollars into its military-run space program in an effort to catch up with the United States and Russia. In June, the return capsule of the Shenzhou-15 spaceship touched down at a landing site in the northern Inner Mongolia region, with state media hailing the mission as a "complete success". That month also saw the launch of the Shenzhou-16 capsule, which carried the first Chinese civilian -- Beihang University professor Gui Haichao -- into orbit. That crew will return to Earth on October 31 after completing a handover, officials said Wednesday. Beijing also aims to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to build a base on the lunar surface. Spokesperson Lin reiterated that aim Wednesday, saying that the "goal of landing Chinese people on the moon by 2030 will be realized as scheduled". Lunar plans The country's lunar plans were dealt a setback in 2017 when the powerful Long March-5 Y2 rocket failed to launch on a mission to put communication satellites into orbit. That forced the postponement of the Chang'e-5 launch, originally scheduled to collect Moon samples in the second half of 2017. Another robot, the Chang'e-4, landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019 -- a historic first. Chang'e-5 eventually landed on the Moon in 2020, raising a Chinese flag on the lunar surface and returning to Earth the first lunar samples in four decades. The final module of the T-shaped Tiangong -- which means "heavenly palace" -- successfully docked with the core structure last year. The station carries several pieces of cutting-edge scientific equipment, according to state news agency Xinhua, including "the world's first space-based cold atomic clock system". The Tiangong is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometers (250 and 280 miles) above the planet for at least 10 years. The post China to send youngest-ever crew to space station appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 25th, 2023

Manila says Chinese vessels ‘intentionally’ hit Philippine boats

Manila said Monday that Chinese vessels "intentionally hit" Philippine boats at the weekend, escalating a diplomatic row over two collisions in the South China Sea. The countries have traded blame over Sunday's incidents near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands, with both sides filing diplomatic protests and releasing videos to support their accusations. The two collisions happened during a Philippine resupply mission to troops stationed on a navy vessel that was grounded on the shoal in 1999 to assert Manila's territorial claims. Philippine officials accused a Chinese coastguard ship and a "militia" vessel of "dangerous maneuvering" that resulted in collisions with a Philippine resupply boat and a Philippine Coast Guard vessel. Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro took it one step further Monday, labelling the Chinese actions near Second Thomas Shoal deliberate. "Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels, in blatant violation of international law, harassed and intentionally hit Unaiza May 2 and Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Cabra," Teodoro said. "We are here to really decry in the strongest possible terms this egregious violation and illegal act within the (Philippines') 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and the obfuscation of the truth by China's distorting the story to fit its own ends." His comments came hours after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos met with security officials and ordered the coastguard to investigate the incident, which was "being taken seriously at the highest level of government", his communications team said. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Mao Ning on Monday accused the Philippines of "continuing to spread false information and hype things up". Earlier Monday, the Philippine foreign ministry summoned China's ambassador to Manila and lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident. Spokeswoman Teresita Daza said the ambassador was unavailable and was represented by his deputy chief of mission. "Ayungin Shoal is part of our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and we have sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it," Daza said, using the Philippine name for the shoal. The Chinese foreign ministry and embassy in Manila also issued "stern representations to the Philippines" over its "infringements" at Ren'ai Reef, Mao said, using China's name for Second Thomas Shoal. China has said a "slight collision" happened after the Philippine resupply boat ignored "multiple warnings and deliberately passed through law enforcement in an unprofessional and dangerous manner". In the other incident, China accused the Philippine Coast Guard of reversing in a "premeditated manner" into a Chinese fishing vessel. No Filipino crew member was injured, but the supply boat was damaged and forced to turn back, Philippine officials said. A second supply boat reached the tiny garrison on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre and unloaded its cargo. Manila's longtime ally Washington has led a chorus of international criticism of China's alleged interference in the resupply mission. The US State Department on Sunday reiterated its mutual defence pact with the Philippines "extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft –- including those of its Coast Guard –- anywhere in the South China Sea". 'Arbitral ruling is binding' China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored a 2016 international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. Second Thomas Shoal is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometers from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island. Previously warm ties between Manila and Beijing have cooled since Marcos took power in June 2022, as he seeks stronger relations with the United States. The Marcos administration has publicly criticized Chinese actions in the South China Sea, publishing photos and videos to support its claims of Chinese harassment and the blocking of its vessels. Beijing has released its own images of the incidents. Despite the challenges, the Philippines would "continue to do what is necessary" to supply its troops on the BRP Sierra Madre with provisions, said Jonathan Malaya, assistant director general of the National Security Council. Manila and Beijing have a long history of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Tensions flared in August when China Coast Guard vessels used water cannon against a Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal, preventing one of the boats from delivering its cargo. The post Manila says Chinese vessels ‘intentionally’ hit Philippine boats appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2023

Defector’s plea: Don’t send me back

A Chinese activist who fled to Taiwan is holed up in a local airport, pleading authorities no to send him back to his country. “I hope to seek asylum in the United States or Canada. I request for friends to appeal to Taiwan’s government to please not send me back to China,” Chen Siming wrote on X from the transit area of Taoyuan International Airport. Chen said he fled China three months ago because the methods used by authorities “to maintain stability are becoming more brutal.” He also alleged that Chinese authorities had detained him in the past, confiscated his phone, and conducted a psychiatric evaluation on him. “I could no longer endure (it)... so I fled China on 22 July,” Chen wrote. “On September 22, I finally arrived in Taiwan, the island of freedom.” According to Radio Free Asia, Chen first traveled to Laos after leaving China in July, before crossing into Thailand. But due to worries about being sent to immigration prison in Thailand — a country with a track record of deporting dissidents — he bought a return ticket to China that transited via Taiwan, RFA said. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has not responded to requests for comment on Chen’s current status. In 2019 two Chinese dissidents spent more than four months trapped in limbo at Taiwan’s airport after fleeing China. WITH AFP The post Defector’s plea: Don’t send me back appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 22nd, 2023

Coral pillage worries U.S.

The United States on Tuesday denounced the alleged coral-clearing activities of China at Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. In a tweet, US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson described the reported coral destruction in the WPS as “troubling,” stressing that it would have adverse effects on the livelihood of people who depend on the sea for their livelihood. “Habitat damage harms ecosystems and negatively affects lives and livelihoods,” Carlson said. “We are working with our #FriendsPartnersAllies to protect the Philippines’ natural resources.” Carlson was referring to the massive coral harvesting at Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal, which are within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. Over the weekend, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command reported massive coral harvesting at Rozul Reef. The report of missing and destroyed corals came following the sighting of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the area. The report was confirmed by the Philippine Coast Guard, which made similar observations in the seabed of Escoda Shoal. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko also expressed alarm on the reported coral destruction in the West Philippine Sea. “Very alarming news. Our oceans are the lifeblood of our planet, and coral reefs are its colorful heartbeats,” Koshikawa said in a tweet. “Let’s preserve and protect these vital ecosystems for generations to come.” China fired back at Japan by saying the international community should be more concerned about Japan’s release of water from the out-of-commission Fukushima nuclear power plant. On Monday evening, the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, said it was “seriously concerned” about reports on the destruction of corals in Rozul Reef. “The Philippines has consistently raised the alarm over ecologically harmful activities conducted by foreign vessels in our maritime zone, an issue extensively discussed in the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea,” the DFA said in a statement. “We therefore call on everyone concerned to act responsibly and cease all activities that can damage our precious marine environment. The well-being of millions of people who depend on the South China Sea for their livelihood is at stake,” it added. Earlier, senators warned that the destruction of the shoal’s seabed could be in preparation for China’s reclamation activities in the area. The post Coral pillage worries U.S. appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 19th, 2023

Chinese carmakers confront European industry at Munich show

Chinese manufacturers will be out in force at next week's IAA auto show, one of the industry's biggest, revving their new electric models on the turf of German carmakers, which have been lagging in the e-mobility race. Elon Musk's Tesla, usually a hold-out from such events, will also make an appearance at the show in Munich, joining the jostle to steal the spotlight from Europe's biggest brands. The industry fair, which opens Tuesday with a speech from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, comes with clouds gathering for the automotive sector in Europe and in particular, Germany. While suffocating supply chain problems have eased from the pandemic years, European auto giants are struggling to cope with increased energy costs in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. Although sales in the European Union have steadily improved over the last 12 months, they remain around 20 percent below their pre-coronavirus levels as inflation and higher interest rates dampen appetite for new vehicles. At the same time, European manufacturers are facing increasingly stiff competition from Chinese carmakers which are touting their vehicles at far lower prices. Local upstarts have captured an increasingly large part of the prized Chinese market and are threatening to dominate the growing trade in electric vehicles. Chinese groups were starting "their assault on Europe with the IAA", said industry analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center Automotive Research in Germany. "The IAA 2023 maps out a new automobile world in Europe. Competition will be tougher. After the Chinese battery factories, their automobile makers are coming," he said, calling it a "turning point" for the industry. In all, 41 percent of exhibitors at the industry fair have their headquarters in China, including brands such as BYD and Leapmotor which will hope to steal the spotlight from German giants Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Contrary to the Asian onslaught, participation from other European makers is muted. Opel will be US-European conglomerate Stellantis's lone ambassador in Munich, while Renault is showcasing only its eponymous marque at the show. In contrast, Musk's Tesla was slowly falling in line with traditional manufacturers as "the brand that doesn't do marketing begins to do exactly that" with its first appearance at the IAA, said independent analyst Matthias Schmidt. - Petrol protest - Over the week, around 700,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, split between exhibition halls and the city center. The move away from combustion engines to electric vehicles -- and the bigger climate question -- will take center stage inside and outside the exhibition halls. As carmakers roll out their latest offerings, climate groups have vowed protests at the fair, including "civil disobedience" aimed at disrupting the IAA. The last edition of the show in 2021 was already troubled by small-scale protests. This time around, some 1,500 people are expected at a camp in a suburban Munich park promoting a "revolution in mobility". Car manufacturers were "destroying the lives of countless people worldwide with their growth imperative", one of the climate groups said ahead of the fair. Automotive groups have not helped their case recently by recording massive profits on the back of strong inflation. Manufacturers -- particularly those at the high end of the market -- have been able to benefit from rising prices to boost their margins. A growing climate consciousness movement is increasingly pitting environmental activists against carmakers. Mindful of society's changing views on automobiles, the IAA upped sticks from Frankfurt to Munich in 2021 and restyled itself as a festival for all forms of "mobility" -- bringing bikes and scooters into the fold. As well as cleaning up its image, the move was an attempt to reinvigorate traditional motor shows. The marquee events have struggled to attract manufacturers, who are doubtful that they create enough publicity to be worth the bother. In 2022, the Paris Motor Show saw visitor numbers dwindle, as it was cut in length from two weeks to one. Many big European names, such as Volkswagen, BMW, and Ferrari were absent from the French fair, to which Chinese carmakers like BYD by contrast turned up. The post Chinese carmakers confront European industry at Munich show appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2023

CA confirms Brawner, 29 military officers

The Commission on Appointments, led by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, confirmed Wednesday the ad interim appointment of Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rank of four-star general and the nomination of other 29 generals, flag officers, and senior military officers. Zubiri lauded the soldiers for their loyalty to the Philippine flag and their willingness to make sacrifices for the country. “Once again, you are the vanguards of democracy in our country. We cannot have hearings today, we cannot have these institutions in place without the brave men and women of the Armed Forces,” Zubiri said. During the bicameral CA deliberation of his appointment, Brawner vowed the AFP military officials are ready to defend and protect the country and Filipino people against any security threats. Senator Risa Hontiveros started the deliberation by asking Brawner about his primary objectives intended to be accomplished through the AFP's revolving door policy and Republic Act 11939. Brawner responded by enumerating his priority thrusts for the armed forces embodied in an acronym U.N.I.T.Y, which stands for unification, normalization, territorial defense, internal security operations and youth programs. Brawner said the AFP will focus on the the normalization of the Bangsamoro region, particularly the decommissioning, disarmament and reintegration of the former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “Now that we believe that we are winding down with our internal security operations, we will have to sustain the gains that we had,” he added. Brawner also noted that the AFP will have to recalibrate its doctrines, training and the entire organization in order to be able to cope with the demands of defending the country’s territory. The AFP, he added, will focus on developing the Filipino youth through programs such as the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Brawner said the AFP will make sure that those who will handle the ROTC activities “are prepared and are professional” to prevent a repeat of abuses, including grades for sale, hazing and maltreatment of students. “We are anticipating the passing of that bill for the mandatory ROTC. Naghahanda na po ang inyong armed forces and we want to make sure that we will not repeat the mistakes that we had, the abuses that happened during the past when we had the ROTC program,” he said. On sending military officers to China Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino scrutinized the AFP’s engagements with China, particularly the sending of senior officials and cadets to Chinese military schools. Brawner explained that the Philippines’ military-to-military relationship with China is covered by a memorandum of agreement on Defense Cooperation that was forged in 2004. “That is why we are allowed to send officers to China to study and vice versa, they are sent here because we find value in sending our officers abroad not just to China but in fact to so many countries in order for them to train and to bring back the knowledge that they gain so that we can learn from them and probably apply the best practices that they are applying in other countries,” he said. However, Brawner noted that the AFP is currently studying the revisitation of the memorandum following the blocking and water cannon actions by  Chinese vessels against Philippine ships last 5 August in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. “I ordered the temporary stop to sending officers to China. Just last week there was a communication, an invitation from China for us to send cadets to China to join a conference of cadets from all over the world,” he said. Tolentino urged Brawner to provide updates on the results of the study. Senator Imee Marcos also pushed for the local production and procurement of firearms and equipment for the AFP to lessen the country's dependence on foreign suppliers for its national defense. Brawner said the AFP is eyeing the revival of the country’s Self-Reliant Defense Posture program. Meanwhile, the number of military personnel filing for early retirement has increased due to the bill on the reform of the pension system for military and uniformed personnel. "Tumaas po 'yung nagfa-file ng early retirement dahil nga po they are anticipating na kapag lumabas yung batas, 'yung unang version po, they are basing it on the early versions (The number of personnel filing for early retirement increased because they are anticipating the law on the reform of the MUP pension system. They are basing it on the early version),” the AFP chief. "Gusto nila na mapaloob pa sila sa lumang sistema (They want to be covered by the old system). They want to avail of the old system wherein they will receive one-rank higher pay when they retire and indexation,” he added. However, Brawner said there is no cause for concern as many Filipinos are willing to join and apply for the AFP service. "The alarming situation would be 'yung mawawala po 'yung ating senior non-commissioned officers. So kung puro bata naman yung ating Armed Forces, it will not be a healthy organization (The alarming situation would be when our senior non-commissioned officers leave the AFP. So we will be left with mostly young personnel, it will not be a healthy organization),” Brawner said, noting that the military organization also needs the leadership of its non-commissioned officers. According to Brawner, he already advised AFP personnel “to just wait for the final version of the law before making a decision on their retirement.” He added that soldiers are always willing to sacrifice a portion of their pay for the country's benefit. Brawner stressed the Department of National Defense has developed a plan that would enable the AFP to generate pension funds, including utilizing available real estate assets. The post CA confirms Brawner, 29 military officers appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 30th, 2023

AFP eyes review of 2004 Phl-China defense cooperation agreement

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is considering the review of the country’s military engagement with the Chinese government amid increasing tensions in parts of the West Philippine Sea, military chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said Wednesday This came after Senator Francis Tolentino scrutinized the AFP’s engagements with China, particularly the sending of senior officials and cadets to Chinese military schools. Brawner explained that the Philippines’ military-to-military relationship with China is covered by a memorandum of agreement on Defense Cooperation that was forged in 2004. He clarified that it was an exchange program designed to fostered stronger military relations between the two countries. “That is why we are allowed to send officers to China to study and vice versa, they are sent here because we find value in sending our officers abroad not just to China, but in fact to so many countries in order for them to train and to bring back the knowledge that they gain so that we can learn from them and probably apply the best practices that they are applying in other countries,” he said. However, Brawner noted that the AFP is currently studying the revisitation of the memorandum, following the blocking and water cannon action by Chinese vessels against Philippine ships last 5 August in Ayungin shoal in WPS. “I ordered the temporary stoppage of sending officers to China. In fact, just last week there was a communication, an invitation from China for us to send cadets to China to join a conference of cadets from all over the world,” he said. Tolentino urged Brawner to provide him with updates on the results of the study once completed. The post AFP eyes review of 2004 Phl-China defense cooperation agreement appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 30th, 2023

AFP-PLA patrol dead on water

The proposed joint maritime patrol between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea may no longer proceed. AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., on Sunday, said the government may have gotten cold on the idea amid China’s continuing hostility toward the country in the West Philippine Sea. Brawner, in a radio interview, said Beijing’s actions in the WPS have raised questions over its claimed intention to uphold peace in the Indo-Pacific region. “With the way they are currently doing things, [the possibility of a joint patrol] seems quite unclear,” Brawner said, clearly referring to incidents of harassment by the China Coast Guard in the WPS. However, military collaboration between the two nations’ militaries will continue under a 2004 defense cooperation memorandum of understanding, the AFP chief stressed. The MoU had provisions allowing the AFP to send its officers to China for additional training, something that does not seem to interest the Philippine government at the moment. On the other hand, Brawner said the Philippines will continue to hold military drills with “partner” countries like the US, Japan and Canada. “We need to inform the whole world about what is happening here in the South China Sea. Because of these recent events, we have been successful in revealing China’s coercive and dangerous tactics,” he said. Previously, Brawner disclosed that China’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, had offered to have joint patrols with the Philippines in the SCS, which overlaps with the WPS. China is claiming nearly all of the South China Sea under its nine-dash line theory, including the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the WPS. A decision made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 junked China’s claim in the WPS, saying it has no historical basis while affirming the Philippines’ WPS claims. On 5 August, the Chinese Coast Guard bombarded a Philippine Coast Guard fleet with water as the latter was delivering supplies to Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. The latest in a string of harassment incidents against Philippine ships this year, China’s action drew denunciation from several nations, including the US, Australia, Japan and Canada. The post AFP-PLA patrol dead on water appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 27th, 2023

Australia’s biggest warship deployed in Philippine drills

Australia's largest warship took part in joint drills with the Philippines and the United States in the disputed South China Sea on Monday, as they seek to strengthen defence ties in the face of China's growing military presence. China deploys hundreds of coast guard, navy and other vessels to patrol and militarize reefs in the contested waters, which it claims almost entirely despite an international ruling that its position has no legal basis. HMAS Canberra is one of several ships involved in Exercise Alon in the Philippines, which is being held for the first time as part of Australia's annual Indo-Pacific Endeavour activity. Alon is Tagalog for "wave". More than 2,000 troops from Australia and the Philippines are taking part in the August 14-31 air, sea and land exercises. About 150 US Marines are also participating. Monday's simulated air assault in the south of the Philippine island of Palawan happened around 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the Spratly Islands, where longstanding tensions between Manila and Beijing have flared. "Like the Philippines, Australia wants a peaceful, stable and prosperous region which respects sovereignty and which is guided by rules-based order," Hae Kyong Yu, Australia's ambassador to Manila, said at Tarumpitao Point Airfield. Such exercises were "critical" because "through these we are putting our words into action", she said. The United States, Japan and Australia will also hold joint naval exercises off the Philippines this week. "That's always been the plan," Captain Phillipa Hay, commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Force, told reporters on board the HMAS Canberra. "Those ships have come from Talisman Sabre (exercises in Australia) and everyone is on their way home, it's very normal for us to train in company with partners when we proceed to and from exercises." The drills come after a Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys was blocked by Chinese Coast Guard vessels using water cannon on August 5, triggering a diplomatic spat and international outrage. One of the charter boats carrying supplies to the outpost was prevented from reaching the shoal, while the other succeeded in unloading its cargo. The Philippine military has said it will send more supplies to the remote outpost, where a handful of Filipino marines are stationed on a rusty navy vessel. The BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately grounded on the reef in 1999 to check China's advance in the waters. China has demanded the Philippines remove the vessel and defended its actions as "professional". The post Australia’s biggest warship deployed in Philippine drills appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2023

Will Locsin soar over or crash into Great Wall?

The President’s appointment of Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. as Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China for Special Concerns — a post he will hold on top of his day job as Philippine Ambassador to Great Britain and Ireland — is a daring, if astute, move. Daring because Locsin is not known to hold back with either word or deed to express what he feels strongly about, e.g., the dirty finger,  and astute because in naming Locsin, the President couldn’t have found a better, smarter, and more seasoned man to represent Philippine interests with singular loyalty and devotion to the republic. Locsin was, of course, the former dispensation’s Ambassador to the United Nations where he, fluent as he is in Spanish, enjoyed congenial relations and camaraderie with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the rest of the Spanish-speaking members of the Latin America bloc in the multilateral organization. The former journalist (his father, Teodoro M. Locsin Sr., was publisher of the legendary Free Press) and Makati congressman was subsequently appointed by then President Duterte Secretary of Foreign Affairs, during whose tenure 45 diplomatic protests were filed against Beijing, including over a law that allows the China Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines, in fact, during Locsin’s term as DFA Secretary was the first country in the world to file a diplomatic protest through a note verbale in January 2021 against China’s Coast Guard Law. As Foreign Affairs Secretary, he laid claim to “assiduously  protesting every infringement on Philippine territory and sovereign right, as well as Chinese actions that amounted to provocation, threats or coercion.” The DFA, with Locsin at its helm, raised the South China Sea dispute in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other fora even as it continued to engage China through the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea. His accomplishments included the two diplomatic protests filed by the DFA in May 2021 over the “incessant, illegal presence” of Chinese militia disguised as fishermen in fishing boats and the Chinese Coast Guard “shadowing, blocking, conducting dangerous maneuvers and radio challenges against Philippine Coast Guard vessels in the WPS,” which an irate Locsin accompanied with a separate post on Twitter saying, “China my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see. O.. GET THE F**CK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us….” He eventually apologized to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian for his intemperate language after then-President Duterte reminded him that only he (Duterte) could spew profanities while engaging in diplomacy. Whatever advice President Marcos may have received before he named Locsin to the post must have detailed certain actions by the former DFA chief towards the Chinese. That these did not deter the President from naming Locsin anyway signifies that he sees more in Locsin than his capacity for displaying outrage in a provocative manner. Many have lauded the choice of Locsin by the President. Indeed,  we hold our breath as Locsin sets out to engage with the top Chinese officialdom in Beijing. We are curious to see what charms and ingenious diplomatic skills he will pull from his sleeve and whether these will make the Chinese finally accept, for instance, the 2016 ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal that said China has no lawful claim over waters determined to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. It will be interesting to see if Locsin will be able to clinch his objectives and score well enough to make him, and the country, feel like soaring over — instead of crashing into — China’s Great Wall. The post Will Locsin soar over or crash into Great Wall? appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 18th, 2023

Kalayaan declares Chinese envoy persona non grata

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — The municipal council of Kalayaan unanimously approved Wednesday a measure declaring Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian persona non grata, signifying their strong opposition to his presence in their area at any time. Councilor Maurice Philip Alexis Albayda’s resolution will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Senate, and the Chinese Embassy in Manila to convey the sentiments of the island town. Albayda said this will serve to inform high government officials of their feelings and to make Xilian aware of their strong concerns regarding his country’s oppressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, where their hometown Kalayaan is located. The resolution was prompted by the 5 August incident during which China Coast Guard ships attempted to ram and used a water cannon on two supply boats being escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard. Albayda said the aggressive behavior by China not only put the lives of the supply boats’ crew and passengers at risk but also of the crew aboard the escorting PCG’s BRP Cabra who included three Kalayaan residents. “Did you know that we had fellow Kalayaan residents on board the BRP Cabra? Yes, they were there,” he said. “Without a doubt, the actions of our neighboring country are truly infuriating.” The Kalayaan residents were en route to Lawak Island at the time to build a shelter for coastal enforcers, he said. “I want to propose that we declare Ambassador Huang Xilian persona non grata in the town of Kalayaan, the only town in the West Philippine Sea,” Albayda said in his privilege speech shortly before the resolution was passed. Albayda also said he was calling on the DFA to downgrade the Philippines’ diplomatic relationship with China given what it is doing in ignoring the safety of the people in the WPS. Kalayaan Vice Mayor Beltzasar Alindogan supported Albayda’s move declaring Xilian persona non grata. “I’ve personally experienced China’s harassment, like being driven away, but the situation with the two supply boats was much more intense,” Alindogan said, emphasizing that Kalayaan should also communicate to China their strong disapproval of its actions. He said he has volunteered to join the reservists and encouraged the military to conduct training on Pag-asa Island, to allow residents to display their patriotism. Former Kalayaan Mayor Joel Bito-onon, who is now a municipal councilor, also voted to approve the declaration against Xilian, but cautioned that it might jeopardize diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines given what happened in the past when two government officials were denied entry to Hong Kong. “Since way back, I’ve thought that due to China’s deceptive behavior, very deceitful. They say one thing, do another. I’ve seen countless instances on YouTube of them overturning ships, like what they did to Vietnam. I’ve wondered when that will happen in the Philippines. And now, this incident with our supply boats, it’s the worst that I have seen so far,” Bito-onon said. “But I’m thinking, maybe we should add a bit more wisdom, because you might end up like me, being told not to go to any city in China,” he added. Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero on Wednesday said he will propose the allocation of at least P100 million in the 2024 national budget to fund the construction of permanent structures at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea “to strengthen the country’s presence in the contested maritime territory.” “I will propose the allocation of a minimum of P100 million to fund the construction of a pier and lodging structures for our soldiers assigned in the area, and for our fishermen who might seek temporary refuge in times of bad weather,” Escudero told the Senate reporters. The senator said the structures could serve as permanent lodging for military personnel stationed at the old BRP Sierra Madre, a warship intentionally grounded in the shoal in 1999 as a Philippine military outpost. It can also serve as temporary shelter for foreign fishermen “who will be caught in bad weather” in the waters. Lade JEAn Kabagani @tribunephl_Lade The post Kalayaan declares Chinese envoy persona non grata appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 16th, 2023

‘I miss the sun’: Journalist detained in China issues rare message

Jailed Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei has described the bleak conditions she faces in detention in a rare public message released on Thursday ahead of the third anniversary of her imprisonment by Beijing. "I miss the sun," reads the message, described as a "love letter" to Australia dictated to officials on a consular visit. "In my cell, the sunlight shines through the window but I can stand in it for only 10 hours a year." The message was shared with Australian news outlets and on the social media platform X by Cheng's partner, Nick Coyle, on Thursday evening. Cheng, a former anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, is formally charged with "supplying state secrets overseas", though no further details have been supplied. Her detention came as relations between Australia and China cratered, raising speculation it was politically motivated. Last year Coyle said he had serious concerns about a "range of health issues" Cheng faced behind bars. In Thursday's poignant message, the mother of two said she hadn't seen a tree in three years and spoke of her longing for Australia and the outside world. She said her bedding in jail was only taken out to air once a year. "When it came back last time, I wrapped myself in the doona (quilt) and pretended I was being hugged by family under the sun," the message read. "Most of all I miss my children," it ended. Cheng has been detained since August 2020 but was only formally arrested in February 2021. She was tried last March behind closed doors, with even Australia's ambassador to China blocked from entering the court to observe proceedings. The court deferred the verdict and Cheng's sentence, which could extend to life in prison. "She has missed her daughter going to high school. Her parents aren't getting any younger and Lei is their only child. So time is getting more and more precious," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Coyle as saying on Thursday. Last month Australia's foreign minister said she had again raised Cheng's case when she met China's top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Jakarta. Ties between the two sides have been improving since the election of Australia's center-left Labor government in May last year. Last week, China announced it was removing extra tariffs on Australian barley imposed in 2020 at the height of the dispute. The post ‘I miss the sun’: Journalist detained in China issues rare message appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

One giant step: Moon race hots up

Russia's plan to launch its lunar lander on Friday is the latest in an international push to return to the Moon that includes the world's top powers but also new players. Technology, science and politics are all essential factors in the Moon race. Here is the latest: China's great leap China is pursuing plans to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to build a base there. The world's second-largest economy has invested billions of dollars in its military-run space program in a push to catch up with the United States and Russia. China was the third country to put humans in orbit in 2003 and Tiangong is the crown jewel of its space program, which has also landed rovers on Mars and the Moon. The unmanned Chang'e-4 rocket landed on the far side of the Moon in 2019, with another robot mission to the near side raising the Chinese flag there in 2020. That moonshot brought rock and soil samples back to Earth, the first time that has been done in more than four decades. NASA's Artemis NASA's Artemis 3 mission is set to return humans to the Moon in 2025 including its first woman and first non-white astronaut. Under the Artemis program, NASA is planning a series of missions of increasing complexity to return to the Moon and build a sustained presence in order to develop and test technologies for an eventual journey to Mars. The first, Artemis 1, flew an uncrewed spacecraft around the Moon in 2022. Artemis 2, planned for November 2024, will do the same with crew on board. NASA sees the Moon as a pit stop for missions to Mars and has done a deal with Finnish mobile firm Nokia to set up a 4G network there. However, NASA said this week that the Artemis 3 mission may not land humans on the Moon, depending on whether certain key elements, including the landing system developed by SpaceX, were ready. Elon Musk's firm won the contract for a landing system based on a version of its prototype Starship rocket, which remains far from ready. An orbital test flight of the uncrewed Starship ended in a dramatic explosion in April. Russia's Luna Russia's launch of Luna-25 on Friday will be its first to the Moon since 1976 and marks the beginning of Moscow's new lunar project. President Vladimir Putin is looking to strengthen space cooperation with China after ties with the West broke down following the start of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. New players Recent technological progress has reduced the cost of missions and opened the way for new players in the public and private sector to get involved. India's latest space mission Chandrayaan-3 entered the Moon's orbit in August ahead of the country's second attempted lunar landing later this month. But getting to the Moon is not an easy task. Israeli non-profit SpaceIL launched its Beresheet lunar lander in 2019, but it crashed. And in April this year Japan's ispace was the latest company to try, and fail, at the historic bid to put a private lunar lander on the Moon. Two other US companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, are set to try later in the year. The post One giant step: Moon race hots up appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

NSC: ‘Agreement’ to remove Phl ship from Ayungin is Chinese ‘fiction’

The Philippines will “never abandon” the BRP Sierra Madre (LST-57), an active Philippine Navy commissioned vessel, amid China’s call for the removal of the grounded vessel in Ayungin Shoal, the National Security Council emphasized on Tuesday. In a radio interview, NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the country did not make any commitment to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, contrary to recent statement by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin that the “Philippines explicitly promised several times to tow away the military vessel deliberately and illegally grounded at the Ren’ai Jiao”—the Chinese name for Ayungin Shoal. “There is no record or any minutes of a meeting or any formal report or any legal document or a legally enforceable document or otherwise—a verbal agreement—without the knowledge of the National Security Council,” Malaya stressed. In his statement, Wang insisted that Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal) is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. But the Philippines maintains its sovereignty over the shoal as affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral ruling. “Ayungin Shoal is located in our exclusive economic zone, it is part of our continental shelf and that fact was affirmed by the 2016 ruling of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague, so if someone from the Philippines made the agreement, that goes against the legal position of the government. So again we can consider this, I think of it as fiction… imaginations of the Chinese ambassador,” Malaya said. “We don’t know anything, even if you track back the statements of previous secretaries or even media reports, you would not see that kind of agreement being discussed,” he added. Malaya said the BRP Sierra Madre serves as a symbol of Philippine sovereignty over Ayungin Shoal. Thus, towing away the Filipino vessel will never be an option for the country. “Never, we will not abandon [BRP] Sierra Madre, kahit magpatintero tayo araw-araw… We will continue to support and supply our troops,” he added. Malaya underscored that the Philippines will have to maintain operations within its sovereignty, which include the provision of supplies to its troops deployed in the shoal. “We are well within our rights kung ano 'yung ipapadala natin doon. These are matters that are covered by national security,” he said. The post NSC: ‘Agreement’ to remove Phl ship from Ayungin is Chinese ‘fiction’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2023

China says sea clash with Philippines vessels ‘professional and restrained’

China said on Monday that a maritime clash in which it fired water cannon at Philippine vessels in the disputed South China Sea was "professional and restrained". A foreign ministry spokesperson said a Chinese coast guard ship "lawfully stopped" two Philippine vessels, adding: "This professional and restrained on-site operation is beyond reproach." The incident happened on Saturday as the Philippine Coast Guard escorted charter boats carrying food, water, fuel and other supplies to Filipino military personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. The intervention by China -- which claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own sovereign territory -- was criticized by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who said on Monday that Manila had summoned Beijing's ambassador. The US State Department on Sunday condemned the Chinese vessels' conduct, saying it directly threatened regional peace and stability. China's foreign ministry statement on Monday pushed back against Washington's criticism, accusing the State Department of "disregarding the facts". "What the United States is doing is to blatantly support the Philippines' violation of China's sovereignty, and this plot is doomed to fail," the statement said. The Philippine military and coast guard have accused the China Coast Guard of breaking international law by blocking and firing water cannon at the resupply mission, preventing one of the charter boats from reaching the shoal. The post China says sea clash with Philippines vessels ‘professional and restrained’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

AFP studying China’s offer to conduct joint military drills with Phl

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will be studying China’s offer to conduct a joint military exercise with the country, military chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said. “They offered us that prospect, but we have to study it further,” Brawner said at the sidelines of the 96th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Mandaluyong on Wednesday night. The AFP did not provide further details as to how and where the joint military exercise will be possibly conducted between China and the Philippines. “Informal lang (The talks are still informal). The ambassador said they submitted white papers, but we have to study,” he added. Meanwhile, Brawner said his presence during the China’s Army event is part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s marching order to “become friends to all, enemy to none.” “We (AFP) we’re naturally told alike, that’s what we are going to do. We try to establish relations with the armies—with armed forces around the world and this is one way for us to actually prevent war,” he stressed. According to Brawner, the AFP’s relations with its counterpart in China remain limited to training. “We send our officers in training schools in China, particularly in National Defense University and as I mentioned awhile ago that during the Marawi Siege, they send us some weapons and ammunition,” he said. For his part, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said mentioned the military-to-military ties between China and the Philippines. “There have been a high-level exchanges in the defense sector, deepening cooperation in education and training, and smooth implementation of military assistance by our side to the AFP,” Xilian said. Further, Brawner told the reporters that the Philippine government is keen to improve its “international and bilateral relations” with other countries. “We are opening up to any country that would like to help us—because right now one of the efforts that we are trying to do—is trying to develop our own defense industry,” he said. The Philippines is adamant to boost its self-reliance defense posture, he added. “So as much as possible, we get help from other countries because they're more modern and they have funds for research and development while we are fighting an insurgency war for the longest time,” the AFP chief said. Brawner also lamented that most of the defense fund goes to its efforts against local insurgency as well as maintaining peace and security in the country. Brawner said the Philippines has to extend its diplomatic ties with China. “So let’s do first what we can do in terms of diplomacy and our last resort will be military. That’s why we try to look into several avenues where we could really cooperate, for instance, preservation of our biodiversity and that’s one area that we could cooperate,” he said. The post AFP studying China’s offer to conduct joint military drills with Phl appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 27th, 2023

China removes foreign minister Qin Gang

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang was abruptly removed from office this week, deepening a mystery over what precisely has happened to a one-time confidant of President Xi Jinping and one of Beijing's most well-known officials. Here's what we know so far about the dramatic removal of one of China's most prominent diplomats. Who is Qin Gang?  Qin, considered close to President Xi, was appointed foreign minister in December 2022. The 57-year-old spent several years at the Chinese embassy in London and is a fluent English speaker. Qin earned a reputation as a "Wolf Warrior", a nickname given to a new generation of Chinese diplomats who push back with often inflammatory rhetoric against Western criticism of Beijing. He said in 2020 that the image of China in the West had deteriorated because Europeans and Americans -- in particular the media -- had never accepted the Chinese political system or its economic rise. While serving as ambassador to the United States, Qin stepped up his visibility through public and media appearances in Washington in which he explained the Chinese position. He kept up a busy schedule after his appointment as minister, visiting Africa, Europe and Central Asia as well as hosting foreign dignitaries in Beijing. What happened to him? On Tuesday, after not being seen in public for a month, China's top lawmaking body met and removed Qin from his position. "Qin Gang was removed from the post of foreign minister," state news agency Xinhua reported, adding that President Xi "signed a presidential order to effectuate the decision." No reason has been given for his removal. But on Wednesday, the website of the Chinese foreign ministry was abruptly scrubbed of any mention of Qin. The rumor mill has gone into overdrive since Qin's disappearance, with some online claiming the diplomat's alleged affair with a prominent television anchor had landed him in hot water. And while China's foreign ministry said "health reasons" were to blame for Qin's absence, a spokeswoman later deflected further questions about the missing diplomat. "On the basis of all available evidence, it seems very unlikely this matter is only -- or at all -- health-related," China law expert Neysun Mahboubi told AFP. After weeks of "ceaseless speculation", he added, "it beggars the imagination that a primarily health-related cause would not have been clarified a lot more forcefully than we have seen." What do we know about his whereabouts? Qin has not been seen in public since June 25, when he met Russian deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko in Beijing. But it was his absence from a high-level ASEAN summit in Indonesia two weeks later that first raised eyebrows. Qin's absence left a vacuum at the top of China's foreign ministry. A visit by the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to Beijing was abruptly called off this month. And Bloomberg reported on Friday that a visit by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was postponed due to Qin's absence. Who is representing China in his stead? Top diplomatic official Wang Yi -- who outranked Qin in China's political hierarchy -- has taken up the job of foreign minister, a job he held before Qin's appointment. Beijing insisted Monday that "China's diplomatic activities are moving forward steadily". And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he expects to "work well" with Wang, promising to "work with whoever the relevant Chinese counterpart is." Given Wang's experience, experts said they expect Chinese diplomacy to carry on as normal -- despite the political drama in Beijing. "I do not expect China's foreign policy to shift significantly on account of Qin Gang's exit," Ryan Hass, a Brookings scholar on China and a former US National Security Council official, told AFP. "Qin was more an implementor and articulator of China’s foreign policy than an architect of it," he added. "Wang Yi is one of the world's most experienced and recognizable diplomats. He will ably carry forward China's foreign policy." The post China removes foreign minister Qin Gang appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 26th, 2023

Missing for a month: Where is Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister?

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for almost a month, sparking a flurry of questions over his whereabouts. Here's what we know so far about the disappearance of one of China's most senior diplomats: Qin, considered a confidante of President Xi Jinping, was appointed foreign minister in December 2022. The 57-year-old spent several years at the Chinese embassy in London and is a fluent English speaker. Qin earned a reputation as a "Wolf Warrior", a nickname given to a new generation of Chinese diplomats who push back with often inflammatory rhetoric against Western criticism of Beijing. He said in 2020 the image of China in the West had deteriorated because Europeans and Americans -- in particular the media -- had never accepted the Chinese political system or its economic rise. While serving as ambassador to the United States, Qin stepped up his visibility through public and media appearances in Washington in which he explained the Chinese position. Following his appointment as minister, he kept up a busy schedule, visiting Africa, Europe and Central Asia as well as hosting foreign dignitaries in Beijing. Whereabouts Qin has not been seen in public since 25 June, when he met with Russia's deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko in Beijing. But it was his absence from a high-level ASEAN summit in Indonesia two weeks later that first raised eyebrows. China's foreign ministry said "health reasons" were to blame for Qin's absence. But that has done little to stem an explosion of rumors online. "Everyone is concerned about something but cannot discuss it publicly," Hu Xijin, a prominent commentator with the state tabloid Global Times, said in a post on Weibo. "A balance needs to be struck between maintaining the situation and respecting the public's right to know," he said. The foreign ministry has since deflected further questions about Qin's absence. Who's representing China? Qin's absence has left a vacuum at the top of China's foreign ministry. A visit by the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to Beijing was abruptly called off this month. And Bloomberg reported on Friday that a visit by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was postponed due to Qin's absence. Top foreign policy official Wang Yi -- who outranks Qin in China's political hierarchy -- has taken on some of his responsibilities in the meantime, travelling to Africa this week to attend a BRICS meeting on security affairs in Johannesburg. And Beijing has insisted throughout his absence that China's diplomacy is functioning as normal. But as the foreign ministry reaches a month without a visible boss, doubts will start to mount over how much it's business as usual. "When the top dog is disappeared by the state, everyone in the organization freezes," Desmond Shum, a former Chinese business and political insider and author of "Red Roulette" tweeted. "Who's going to sign on the dotted line of the minister?" The post Missing for a month: Where is Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister? appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023

Ironclad it must be

As the two giants on the world stage take their positions in the simmering conflict over a safe passage on the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines is again sandwiched between an immovable object and an unstoppable force. The last time the Philippines was caught in the middle was during the Obama administration’s Asian pivot when a freshly unwrapped cutter, which was a former US Coast Guard ship, was received by the Philippine Navy. President Noynoy Aquino then promptly sent it to the disputed area to catch “poachers.” A string of events then followed which concluded in a copout by the US after China started reclaiming Scarborough Shoal, on which solid structures now stand. The deployment of the “gray ship” — which has consequences in protocol during international disputes — resulted in a standoff between China and the Philippines in 2012. Despite the frequent vow of American officials, which later extended to President Joe Biden, that the alliance between the US and the Philippines is “ironclad,” historical experience says otherwise. Noynoy Aquino and some officials he designated lost Scarborough Shoal because they were gullible enough to believe that Washington would immediately come to the country’s aid considering the several defense agreements between them. It was the Americans who brokered the agreement in which the Philippines and China were supposed to withdraw from the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012. Former US Ambassador Jose Cuisia said it was then US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell who mediated to end the stalemate. The Philippine vessels hightailed it out of the conflict zone but the Chinese knew better and never left the area. Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the Aquino administration made a fatal blunder as they “acted without verifying the facts.” The Philippine forces withdrew based on the wrong belief that there was an agreement between the Philippines and China that both would mutually follow. Enrile lamented that Aquino and his officials swallowed the word of an American official “hook, line, and sinker.” The way that the Mutual Defense Treaty is crafted does not compel United States forces to respond quickly to aggression against the Philippines. It will be the call of the US Congress whether or not to authorize a response. Unless the MDT is renegotiated to become a pact similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, where the response is automatic to a particular threat, the Americans can’t be relied on to come to the rescue during an actual conflict. The WPS will always be an area of conflict because of the resources believed to be hidden beneath it. Past estimates of the proven reserves of oil and natural gas in the WPS are from seven to nine billion barrels of crude and 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China estimates that the area has potential reserves of 130 billion barrels of oil. The WPS is also a very strategic route, according to Enrile. “If that area is closed or controlled by another country, China in two months will wither away as a nation. They will have famine, riots, they will have no economy because 80 percent of their energy passes through the Strait of Malacca through the WPS,” he explained. The point is that both America and China will not allow the other to control the sea that lies within the area of maritime rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The US has no moral standing even to compel China to follow the international agreement since it is not a signatory to UNCLOS. There’s still a lot of proving that the US will have to do to back up its oft-repeated promise that it will not backpedal from its commitments when the going gets tough. The post Ironclad it must be appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2023

Bully Communist China shrieks as Philippines starts fighting back

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang feigned a peace mission to Manila last April 21-23. He met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. purportedly “to tone down the rhetoric.” Qin’s wolf-warrior ambassador Huang Xilian had inflamed Filipinos by threatening the livelihoods of 150,000 countrymen working in Taiwan......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2023