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China s disinfo campaign shows growing unease about Philippines WPS actions

An expert observed that China's recent disinformation campaign has raised a growing anxiety about the Philippines' efforts in the West Philippine Sea. .....»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarNov 3rd, 2023

Survey shows Filipinos view the challenge of health longevity with growing concern

Health longevity, or the length of a time people think they will remain in good health, is an emerging concern among Filipinos surveyed, especially as they consider the financial costs of critical illnesses amid a backdrop of economic uncertainties, according to a new study by Manulife. The new Manulife Asia Care Survey 2023 shows that while the surveyed Filipinos on average expect to retire at 59 years of age, they anticipate only remaining healthy for three years post-retirement. Of those surveyed, Filipino millennials aged 25 to 34 are the most pessimistic, believing they will only remain healthy until they are 55, below the average perceived health longevity. The study noted that the financial risk posed by poor health lies in the cost of medical treatment, a significant concern for many Filipinos. Nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed said that the expense of treatment was their number one health management worry. Other concerns of those surveyed include loss of income or job because of illness (37 percent) and not knowing who will take care of them in the event of illness (26 percent). Almost all of those surveyed are worried about at least one illness, with heart disease, diabetes and cancer being their top three main fears. It also found that around a third of Filipinos surveyed believe they currently enjoy excellent physical and mental health. With concerns about both their current health and health longevity, nearly all Filipinos surveyed claim that they are taking actions to manage their well-being through exercise (65 percent), better diet (62 percent), regular body checks (52 percent), and closer self-monitoring (50 percent). Despite their concerns about the future, especially with regard to health, most of those surveyed (57 percent) feel confident about their current finances, with more than three quarters (77 percent) expecting their finances to improve in the coming 12 months. Almost three-quarters expressed confidence in being able to achieve their financial goals (72 percent), such as saving for retirement (55 percent), paying for healthcare and medical treatment costs (43 percent) and emergencies (36 percent). This optimism, which may be reflective of a post-Covid euphoria and, to an extent, the mobility of the workforce, is tempered by the threat of inflation (75 percent), which emerged as the most prominent financial concern among Filipinos surveyed, more than in any of the other markets surveyed in the region. The other main threats cited are an economic slowdown (56 percent) and rising healthcare costs (38 percent). These concerns may have merit given that 81 percent of Filipinos surveyed said that cash and bank deposits are the primary ways they believe will help achieve their goals. The Manulife study showed that the majority of Filipinos surveyed (80 percent) view positively the idea of retirement planning, well above the regional average (68 percent) and, for many, it is their top personal finance goal (55 percent). Yet, despite that, only a third of them (30 percent) have such a plan in place. However, including those with plans already in place, 70 percent said they will have plans set up within three years. Most are looking at relying on their cash savings or deposits (46 percent), potential inheritance from family members (18 percent), government or state subsidy (18 percent), or support from their children (17 percent). With their interwoven concerns about their health, finances and the economy, the Filipinos surveyed are clearly interested in insurance (80 percent), the highest in the region (average 68 percent), mainly because of the protection it offers against financial risk (54 percent). However, their current ownership of insurance (59 percent) is the lowest in the region (average 70 percent). During the coming 12 months, however, 87 percent of those surveyed said they intend to buy insurance, with health (36 percent), life (34 percent) and hospitalization (33 percent) insurance topping the list. To address the heightened need for health protection, Manulife Philippines and Manulife China Bank Life offer HealthFlex, an affordable and customizable health insurance plan that allows customers to choose their critical illness coverage depending on their needs and budget. Customers may choose which types of illness will be covered by their insurance: cancer only; cancer, heart attack, and stroke (the top three critical illnesses); cancer plus other elderly and critical illnesses; or the top three illnesses, plus other elderly and critical illnesses. It also provides guaranteed coverage until the age of 100 for more than 112 critical illnesses and may be further upgraded through protection riders. The Manulife Asia Care Survey was conducted via online self-completed questionnaires in seven markets: mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. A total of 7,224 people, aged 25 to 60 years old, were surveyed in late December 2022 and early January 2023. In the Philippines, 1,004 people were surveyed. Each person surveyed either owns insurance or intends to buy insurance. The post Survey shows Filipinos view the challenge of health longevity with growing concern appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsApr 21st, 2023

Philippines expands US military presence amid growing China concerns

Manila [Philippines], December 30 (ANI): Against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical tensions and growing unease over China's assertiveness, the Philippines is taking strategic steps to bolster its defence capabilities, Voice of America reported. The Philippines' decision to enhance its military collaboration with the United States, particularly the expansion of US military presence at key locations, is a calculated res.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsDec 31st, 2023

Philippines expands US military presence amid growing China concerns

Manila [Philippines], December 30 (ANI): Against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical tensions and growing unease over China's assertiveness, the Philippines is taking strategic steps to bolster its defence capabilities, Voice of America reported. The Philippines' decision to enhance its military collaboration with the United States, particularly the expansion of US military presence at key locations, is a calculated res.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsDec 30th, 2023

Philippines, Australia start Sea, air patrols in West Philippine Sea

The Philippines and Australia kicked off yesterday its “maritime cooperative activity” aimed at demonstrating their commitment to a rules-based international order and a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region in the face of growing concerns over China’s aggressive actions in disputed waters......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 25th, 2023

More senators condemn China’s ‘bullying’ in WPS

More senators on Monday condemned China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea which resulted in a collision with Philippine vessels en route to a resupply mission to the Ayungin Shoal. For Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, China “has gone too far in disrespecting the Philippines” when it performed “dangerous blocking maneuvers” that resulted in a collision with the Unaiza May 2, an indigenous boat contracted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre. “I strongly condemn the recent aggression of the Chinese Coast Guard against our Philippine Coast Guard,” Ejercito said in a statement. “The reckless maneuvers executed by the CCG, which resulted in a collision with the Armed Forces of the Philippines-contracted resupply vessel, were not only provocative but also a blatant act of bullying that must be denounced, not only by us but by the international community,” he added. Ejercito said the act of harassment of China within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone “obviously violates our sovereignty and territorial integrity.” “We must strongly assert the 2016 arbitral ruling, which clearly affirms that the Philippines has the exclusive rights over the West Philippine Sea,” he said. “This ruling is not only legally binding but a reflection of the principles of international law,” he added. China claims the vast South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. However, on 12 July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration favored the Philippines’ arbitral case against China. Seven years after the Tribunal favored the Philippines’ arbitral case against China, the ruling remains on paper as China continues to disregard it by keeping its illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea. Ejercito said it is “essential to note that this is not the first time the CCG has engaged in such provocative actions against our coastal guards and fisherfolks.” “Moreover, it is the government's duty to ensure the safety of our waters for all Filipinos. We cannot and will not allow such incidents to jeopardize the safety of our people, particularly those who serve in our armed forces and the PCG,” he said. “At the same time, I personally believe that it is high time to expedite the modernization of our Armed Forces in the coming years to protect our sovereignty, safeguard our maritime interests, and ensure the safety and security of our people,” he added. ‘Potential flashpoint’ Senator Grace Poe, likewise, expressed concern over the “dangerous blocking maneuver” carried out by CCG against Philippine vessels. “China's latest act of aggression poses a credible concern that could heighten the tension not only between Philippines and China, but could also be a potential flashpoint in the region,” Poe said in a separate statement. “While an immediate diplomatic protest is anticipated, the recent incident calls for a serious rethinking of our strategies in dealing with these acts,” she added. She continued: “As we firmly assert our rights in our waters, fortifying our relations with like-minded states must continue to thwart similar belligerent actions.” On Sunday, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Tolentino expressed their anger over the collision that put the safety of the Filipino crew at risk. “I am one with peace-loving Filipinos in strongly condemning this latest abhorrent actions of the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia that put in danger the lives of our brave countrymen who were on a routine resupply mission to our troops in Ayungin Shoal,” Zubiri said. “Let me salute our personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for displaying courage and restraint in continuing their resupply missions despite the hostile and treacherous acts of China Coast Guard and their maritime militia,” he added. Hontiveros echoed Zubiri’s call on China to “stop” its activities in the West Philippine Sea which she said clearly violates international law. “This latest collision is squarely the China Coast Guard’s fault,” she said in a separate statement. “The 2016 Arbitral Award has resolutely invalidated China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, making this incident a clear violation of international law,” she added. For his part, Tolentino said the recent confrontation between the Philippines and China clearly shows China’s continuous disregard for international law. He noted that the incident should be investigated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the Code for Investigation ng Marine Casualties and Incidents of the International Maritime Organization. The post More senators condemn China’s ‘bullying’ in WPS appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2023

U.S., Canada lambast PRC

The United States on Sunday denounced China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea that led to the collision of its ships with Philippine boats en route to a resupply mission to the Ayungin Shoal. In a tweet, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson described China Coast Guard’s actions as a “disruption” of a “legal” resupply mission of the Philippines to the BRP Sierra Madre, its permanent military post in the West Philippine Sea. She tweeted on X that the US “condemns” China’s “latest disruption of a legal Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, putting the lives of Filipino service members at risk. One of two boats contracted by the Philippines to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre was bumped by a China Coast Guard Ship before a Chinese militia vessel did the same to a Philippine Coast Guard escort ship. Carlson said Washington “stands” with Manila in “protecting Philippine sovereignty and in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific.” Over the past months, the US had reiterated its “ironclad” alliance commitment to the Philippines amid the escalating tension in the WPS, a portion of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and China. In August, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III stressed that the Mutual Defense Treaty between Washington and Manila extends to the latter’s public vessels.   Unlawful conduct Canada also condemned what it described as “unlawful and dangerous conduct” of the People’s Republic of China in the WPS, which “provoked two collisions with Philippine vessels engaged in routine operations inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal.” “The PRC’s actions are unjustified. China has no lawful claim to the West Philippine Sea. Its actions are incompatible with the obligations of a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the Canadian Embassy in Manila said. “Continuing acts of intimidation and coercion undermine safety, stability, and security across the region and increase the risk of miscalculation,” it added. Canada said it welcomed the news that no injuries resulted from the collisions and commended the “professionalism and restraint exercised” by the Philippine Coast Guard. “Canada affirms its support for a rules-based order in the South China Sea consistent with international law, including UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral decision, which is final and binding on the parties,” it said. Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. On 12 July 2016, the Philippines won its arbitral case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration — a landmark decision that China continues to reject. Germany also expressed concern over the incident in the WPS.   Senators enraged “Germany is very concerned about recent confrontations in the SCS involving Chinese coast guard ships and maritime militia vessels in the Exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,” German Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke said in a separate tweet. Pfaffernoschke called on “all parties to act in accordance with UNCLOS-rules and to respect the 2016 arbitral award. Senators also condemned China’s actions. In separate statements, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Tolentino expressed anger over the collisions that put the safety of the Filipino crew at risk. “I am one with peace-loving Filipinos in strongly condemning this latest abhorrent actions of the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia that put in danger the lives of our brave countrymen who were on a routine resupply mission to our troops in Ayungin Shoal,” Zubiri said. Zubiri called on CCG to “respect human lives and abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws governing safe maritime travel.” “This latest collision is squarely the China Coast Guard’s fault,” Hontiveros said. “The 2016 Arbitral Award has resolutely invalidated China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, making this incident a clear violation of international law.” For his part, Tolentino said the recent confrontation between the Philippines and China clearly shows China’s continuous disregard for international law. He noted that the incident should be investigated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the Code for Investigation ng Marine Casualties and Incidents of the International Maritime Organization. The post U.S., Canada lambast PRC appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2023

 Senators denounce China’s ‘abhorrent’ actions in WPS

Senators on Sunday condemned China for performing “dangerous blocking maneuvers” that resulted in a collision with the Unaiza May 2, an indigenous boat contracted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre. In separate statements, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Tolentino expressed their anger over the collision that put the safety of the Filipino crew at risk. “I am one with peace-loving Filipinos in strongly condemning this latest abhorrent actions of the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia that put in danger the lives of our brave countrymen who were on a routine resupply mission to our troops in Ayungin Shoal,” Zubiri said. “Let me salute our personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for displaying courage and restraint in continuing their resupply missions despite the hostile and treacherous acts of China Coast Guard and their maritime militia,” he added. Zubiri called on CCG to “respect human lives and abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws governing safe maritime travel.” “Our freedom of navigation in our own exclusive economic zone within our own continental shelf should be recognized and upheld,” he stressed. The Senate chief also reiterated his support for his colleagues' efforts to beef up the PCG and AFP’s budget for the next fiscal year to “better capacitate them in safeguarding our exclusive economic zones from illegal foreign intrusions.” “As leader of the Senate, I will make sure that our troops will get sufficient funds under the 2024 national budget to bankroll the much-needed upgrade of their equipment,” he said. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea accused the CCG of performing "dangerous blocking maneuvers" that resulted in a collision with the Unaiza May 2, an indigenous boat contracted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre. The NTF-WPS condemned the “provocative, irresponsible, and illegal action” of the China Coast Guard ship which “imperiled the safety” of the Unaiza May 2 crew. In the same resupply mission, a Chinese Maritime Militia vessel “bumped” the Philippine Coast Guard BRP Cabra’s port side which was escorting the Philippine vessels while it was lying approximately 6.4 nautical miles northeast of Ayungin Shoal. The NTF-WPS said it “condemns in the strongest degree the latest dangerous, irresponsible, and illegal actions of the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia done this morning.” ‘Enough’ Hontiveros echoed Zubiri’s call on China to “stop” its activities in the West Philippine Sea which she said clearly violates international law. “This latest collision is squarely the China Coast Guard’s fault,” she said in a separate statement. “The 2016 Arbitral Award has resolutely invalidated China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, making this incident a clear violation of international law,” she added. Hontiveros said the PCG “has every right to be in the West Philippine Sea.” “China has no right to drive our forces into our own seas. Furthermore, they do not have the right to hurt and bump Philippine vessels that are only performing their jobs in our territories,” she stressed. “Chinese vessels have chased, blocked, and harassed our Philippine Coast Guard daily, 24/7 every single time we conduct our resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre,” she added. The opposition lawmaker also called on the international community to join the Philippines’ condemnation of China’s most recent violence against the Filipino people. “Our nations should not stop fighting for the rule of law. It is the only way to have a chance at true peace and stability across the region and the world,” she said. For his part, Tolentino said the recent confrontation between the Philippines and China clearly shows China’s continuous disregard for international law. He noted that the incident should be investigated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the Code for Investigation ng Marine Casualties and Incidents of the International Maritime Organization. Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China claims the vast South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. On 12 July 2016, the Philippines won its arbitral case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration – a landmark decision that China continues to reject. The post  Senators denounce China’s ‘abhorrent’ actions in WPS appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2023

External headwinds

The price shocks besetting Filipinos, now the main preoccupation of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is a global phenomenon rippling down to the nation. Greatly affected are rice prices that had surged with the government hoping to tame them through price caps of P41 per kilo of regular-milled and P45 for well-milled grains. In its latest review of the domestic fiscal situation, an International Monetary Fund team said that while the economy has emerged from the pandemic strongly, it now faces “a confluence of global shocks.” Growth moderated from 7.6 percent in 2022 to 4.3 percent in the second quarter of 2023, which IMF attributed “to a weak global economy and tightened policy settings.” The IMF, thus, recognized that the weak state of the global economy has had a strong impact on the country and that the response through the tightening of the money supply by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas resulted in a growth slowdown. An acceleration in public spending and an improvement in exports is expected to lift the gross domestic product by year’s end to 5.3 percent in 2023 and 6 percent in 2024. The risks associated with the slowdown in the economy all originated beyond the Philippines. The IMF review said the main downside risks to the outlook include the persistently high global and domestic inflation that could necessitate a further tightening of monetary policy. This abrupt global slowdown may further weaken goods and services exports, intensifying geo-political tensions and depreciation pressures stemming from capital outflows under volatile market conditions. Recent surveys showed that rising inflation has been the major culprit for the weakening of the public ratings of President Marcos and other high officials. Consider the resolute actions taken to arrest the price upsurge, particularly the calculated measures to place a ceiling on retail costs while the National Food Authority intervenes to keep farmgate prices high. Another budding concern should be the weakening in foreign direct investments, or FDI, which needs to be reflective of the high confidence level of investors, according to Trade Secretary Fred Pascual. Pascual cited the capital being plowed back and the rising cost of business projects listed with the Board of Investments and other investment promotion agencies, which would mean optimism in long-term prospects. He said FDI numbers reflect investors’ decisions well before the funds were released that go into the BSP records. The past practices of market manipulators with political agendas were to hit the equities and foreign exchange markets while influencing the flow of investments. Keeping these economic indicators weak makes it easy for opportunists to paint the perception of a looming economic crisis where there is none. For instance, during the shortened term of President Joseph Estrada, the peso depreciation that caused a dip in the stock market and a supposed capital flight were thoroughly exploited to show mismanagement of government that resulted in his eventual downfall. The recent association of high prices and the plunge in the survey ratings of Marcos and other officials raises suspicions of another black operation, which had been heard since the new leadership assumed office. It is not farfetched that the playbook of EDSA 1 and 2 is underway to undermine the Marcos administration. Another element that should be considered is the growing insecurity of China amid the strengthened relations between the Philippines and the United States. Considering its economic clout, China can manipulate situations that may pave the way for political conditions to favor its interests. The accurate picture is that most of the problems confronting Marcos are outside his control since they emanate from beyond the border. The post External headwinds appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 4th, 2023

Spins, deceptions, barrage

Chinese propaganda was in full force yesterday as the country’s state media again referred to the Philippines’ removal of the floating barrier as done to further the interest of the Americans. The narrative that China wants the world to follow is that the actions of the Philippines are all being dictated by the United States, to which the country has a long history of subservience. Thus, the Philippines’ sovereign interests are really at stake in the challenges to China’s aggressive assertions. Beijing’s propaganda mill has been busy since the expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement increased from five to nine the number of Philippine military bases US forces have access to. It initially raised the bogey of the broader military pact being the launch pad for an American defense of Taiwan if China attacked, which is farthest from the truth since it presumes that Filipinos would be stupid enough to risk their country for another’s interest. The latest volley from China was related to removing the floating barrier that cordoned off Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc to Filipino fishermen. The Philippine Coast Guard should check the contraption to determine where it was manufactured. Recall the suspicion that the rocks and other materials used for China’s reclamation of Philippine islands had come from Zambales with the collusion of local government officials. Wang Wenbin, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said the Philippine statement was just what it wanted to believe itself. “China’s resolve in safeguarding its sovereignty and maritime rights and interests over Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is unwavering. We call on the Philippines not to make provocations or stir up trouble,” Wang said. Moreover, China parrots the line that opening four additional military bases was a move “to win US support for its claims in the South China Sea.” The US then wants to exploit the Philippines so that “it can intervene in the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue from a closer range.” The US is using the Philippines as a pawn in its campaign to “contain China,” according to the propaganda minions. EDCA was an offshoot of the Mutual Defense Treaty, a post-World War II pact in which the Philippines and the United States committed to come to each other’s aid in case of attack. Based on the hype generated in Beijing, the Philippines has made several “failed” attempts to deliver building materials to reinforce the “grounded warship” on China’s Ren’ai Jiao, also known as Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal, since August. Indeed, attempts to reinforce the BRP Sierra Madre ended in a cat-and-mouse chase that succeeded, revealing that China is out of touch with reality. Also, the Sierra Madre is not a warship but a landing craft. It is an LST 542-class tank landing ship, previously known as the USS Harnett County, built for the United States Navy during World War II. The paid hacks and lapdogs of the Chinese government want to create an image that the venture between the Philippines and the US is meant to contain Beijing. The fundamental issue, however, remains the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, that has under it the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, or ITLOS. The Permanent Court of Arbitration, or PCA, issued the 2016 ruling favoring the Philippines was formed under ITLOS. Thus, UNCLOS invalidated China’s historical claims and upheld the exclusive economic zone from which the Philippines can derive economic benefits. Any argument that strays from the guiding principle must be treated with a grain of salt, if not doused with cold water. The post Spins, deceptions, barrage appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 27th, 2023

US, China call for stable ties in latest top-level talks

America's top diplomat and China's vice president voiced hope Monday for more stability in the often tense relationship as the rival powers held their second high-level talks in days. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meeting Vice President Han Zheng in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, said he believed in "face-to-face diplomacy" to deal with disagreements. "I think it's a good thing that we have this opportunity to build on the recent high-level engagements that our countries have had," Blinken told Han as they opened their meeting at China's mission to the United Nations. The talks aim to "make sure that we're maintaining open communications and demonstrate that we are responsibly managing the relationship between our two countries." Han said that the world's two largest economies face "a lot of difficulties and challenges." "The world needs healthy and stable US-China relations, which benefit not only China and the US, but the whole world," he said. The meeting comes as the United States watches personnel changes in Beijing with growing intrigue. Qin Gang, handpicked by President Xi Jinping as foreign minister, was abruptly replaced in July by the veteran policymaker Wang Yi. US officials initially expected Wang to travel to the annual UN meeting, where he may have met briefly with President Joe Biden; but instead, China sent Han, better known for his tenure as mayor of Shanghai than for diplomacy. But Wang, who also is the Communist Party foreign policy director, held talks over the weekend with Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, in Malta. The United States and China remain at loggerheads on a host of issues including Taiwan, the self-ruling democracy that Beijing claims and has not ruled out seizing by force. China charges that the United States is stirring up Taiwanese independence supporters, and has repeatedly staged shows of force. The United States says it is seeking the preservation of the status quo and has stepped up support, including last month for the first time approving direct military aid to Taiwan, which traditionally buys its own weapons. Blinken in the talks "underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. Touching on nations with close ties with China, Blinken also discussed the "provocative actions" by North Korea and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Miller said. China has also been outraged by US restrictions on high-end investment and exports of semiconductors from the United States, which says it is doing that to safeguard its own security. But the tone has become comparatively civil. Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen both traveled this year to Beijing, resuming contact that had all but ceased during the pandemic. The approach to China stands in contrast with the US refusal of most dialogue with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, with Blinken and other senior US officials doubting the utility of talking to Moscow. The post US, China call for stable ties in latest top-level talks appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 18th, 2023

What’s in a dash?

China last week released a new map that expanded its original 9-dash line territorial claim in the South China Sea with the addition of a 10th dash east of Taiwan. That move by Beijing drew strong condemnation from the Philippines, Malaysia and India, and a statement of concern from the United States. Other nations, especially those with overlapping claims in the South China Sea, can be expected to also vigorously oppose Beijing’s new map which was built on the original claim it first floated in the 1940s. While the Philippines resoundingly won its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with a final ruling in 2016, Beijing has refused to be bound by it and now mocks the same with a 10-dash line map. Just to recap, the arbitral court recognized the Philippines’ maritime entitlement in the West Philippine Sea, which overlaps with the South China Sea. At the same time, it declared China’s sovereign claim over nearly the entire SCS legally and historically baseless. The addition of the 10th dash east of Taiwan is troubling because it may be used by Beijing to lay claim to the Pratas Islands, which are claimed not only by Taiwan but also by Vietnam. Located in the northern part of the South China Sea, the Pratas Islands are strategically important because from there one may control access to the Taiwan Strait. Geopolitical experts are warning that China’s new map may be preparatory to Beijing building military bases in the Pratas as it has done in the Mischief, Gaven, Hughes and Cuarteron reefs, just to name a few. Beijing’s control of passage in and out of the Taiwan Strait is simply inconceivable and unacceptable. Without a doubt, the Taiwan Strait is a vital commercial waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with an estimated half a million ships passing through it each year. The strait is critical for trade between China, Japan, South Korea, and the US. It is also a major oil and gas shipping route from the Middle East to East Asia. The numbers should give us an idea why China’s 10th dash is being pilloried by nations as inconsistent with international law that guarantees the freedom of navigation. An estimate had put the value of goods transported through the Taiwan Strait at $1.5 trillion in 2022, making it the world’s third busiest strait, after the Strait of Hormuz and the Malacca Strait. China, of course, claims Taiwan as its territory and, in fact, its President, Xi Jinping, has vowed to retake it by force if it comes to that. China has claimed the strait as its internal waters, but the US does not recognize that claim. One possibility looms large on the horizon: That China will use the 10-dash line claim to justify its continued militarization of the South China Sea, leading to heightened tension between it and the rest of the world that fears unwarranted control by Beijing of the Taiwan Strait. It has to be emphasized that both the 9-dash line and 10-dash line claims of China have not been recognized by international law. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, which is the main international treaty governing the use of the oceans, does not recognize any country’s right to claim territorial waters beyond its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. As China has yet to formally adopt the 10-dash line, however, there’s a need to review how the arbitral court had ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016 based on three main findings: First, China has not historically exercised exclusive control over the waters within the nine-dash line; second, the line cannot be considered a valid maritime boundary; and third, China’s actions in the South China Sea, including its land reclamation activities, have violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and its exclusive economic zone. While Beijing may choose to ignore the arbitral ruling, it is nonetheless a strong legal opinion on the matter that could embolden other countries to challenge China’s overreach into their respective territories. China’s actions in the South China Sea are a reminder of its growing assertiveness in the region. Beijing has been steadily militarizing its claims in the South China Sea, and it has also been using its economic power to pressure other countries into accepting its claims. The world must stand firm against China’s aggression and make it clear that nations will not tolerate Beijing’s attempts to bully its neighbors or violate international law. The stakes are high in the South China Sea. The region is home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes, and it is also rich in natural resources. China cannot be allowed to have its way and put the region in a stranglehold. The post What’s in a dash? appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 4th, 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

U.S. must step up too

American analysts have been exploring the possible ways the West Philippine Sea conflict will play out primarily with the       so-called “gray zone” maneuvers by China in the disputed waters in which non-military activities are employed for coercion. The United States Institute of Peace, or USIP, a federal body tasked with promoting conflict resolution and prevention worldwide, is reviewing ways that Washington can play a role in de-escalating the tension in the region. The review was sparked by an act of aggression last week when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel deployed a water cannon to redirect an unarmed Philippine Navy supply boat. China blamed the incident on the Philippine government’s continued defiance of an earlier understanding to ban the delivery of construction materials to the beached BRP Sierra Madre navy vessel at Ayungin Shoal. Tensions have been on the rise since last year on China’s perception that Manila was moving closer to Washington, prompting a more aggressive assertion of its claim over most of the West Philippine Sea. “Given that Washington and Manila have a mutual defense treaty, there is credible concern that an incident like this could trigger a wider US-China conflict,” according to the USIP. Under a new Philippine administration, the formerly conciliatory approach the country had taken in its dispute with China has shifted. Instead, Brian Harding, USIP senior expert for Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has highlighted China’s efforts to swarm and intimidate fishing and coast guard vessels to take the bold move of deepening defense ties with the United States, bringing China-Philippines ties to a new low. Ayungin Shoal, the USIP expert said, has long been a likely candidate for the first showdown between the Philippines and China since Beijing took control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012. Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio also identified the shoal, in a speech the other day, as one of five possible flashpoints that may lead to a deeper maritime conflict. In 1999, the Philippines intentionally beached a World War II naval vessel on a submerged reef, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and has since maintained a small contingent of Marines on board in extremely austere conditions. As a practical matter, in recent years China has turned a blind eye to the Philippines replenishing supplies for the Marines but has blocked the delivery of materials that could be used to repair the ship. USIP’s Andrew Scobell, a China expert, said the recent aggressive actions of a large China Coast Guard vessel on a tiny Filipino Navy supply boat was merely the latest episode in a decades-long campaign of intimidation and coercion by Beijing. Based on its insisted-on nine-dash line boundaries, Beijing claims the right to restrict access to ships from other countries to the South China Sea. “Many of (China’s) white-hulled ships are far larger, much better equipped, and more intimidating than the gray hull naval vessels possessed by most Southeast Asian states,” USIP said. China has persisted in its well-orchestrated campaign of low-intensity conflict, what is widely called “gray zone” actions, to forcefully advance its claims and aggressively push back against rivals. Carla Freeman, a senior USIP expert on China, said that beyond the effort to persuade and deter China, the US should engage in diplomacy to encourage allies and partners in the region to make clear to Beijing their own concerns about the risks to peace posed by confrontation. Regional allies have already issued statements criticizing China’s behavior, with Tokyo using unusually strong language to condemn China’s conduct, the USIP said. Like the Philippines’ position, the USIP said that Washington’s efforts in support of a binding code of conduct, or CoC, would be key to preventing conflict. The USIP, nonetheless, sees as a major obstacle toward progress in the United States itself since it is limited in its diplomatic capabilities after it failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Taking the high road in the simmering conflict, thus, would need both the US and China to review their positions of leadership to keep the stability in the region. The post U.S. must step up too appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 16th, 2023

Heinous crime on high seas

The West Philippine Sea has been a longstanding flashpoint in Southeast Asia due to the competing territorial claims between China and the Philippines. Amid the territorial dispute, a concerning incident occurred when China’s Coast Guard again fired a water cannon at a Philippine vessel on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal. Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is an atoll located in the Spratly Islands chain in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines claims Ayungin Shoal as part of its exclusive economic zone or EEZ, while China asserts its historical rights over the entire South China Sea, including areas claimed by neighboring countries. This is not the first time the Chinese Coast Guard committed provocative acts against Philippine vessels. Earlier, on March 2021, when the Philippine Coast Guard attempted to deliver supplies and rotate personnel stationed on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal, the China Coast Guard intercepted the Philippine vessel and used water cannons to deter the resupply mission. The Sierra Madre is a scuttled, rusted Philippine Navy ship that serves as the country’s outpost on Ayungin. The firing of water cannons on Philippine vessels underscores the increasing tension in the West Philippine Sea. Such provocative acts heighten the risk of a clash between the two countries’ naval forces, which would surely lead to further instability in the region. With other claimant states, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, having their own territorial disputes with China, any escalation of hostilities could have far-reaching consequences for regional stability and peace. The latest water cannon incident further strains Philippines-China relations, which have been marred by territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea for years. The Philippines has consistently sought a peaceful resolution through diplomatic means and in adherence to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. However, China’s assertive actions, including the deployment of its Coast Guard and maritime militia in the disputed waters, have challenged these efforts. The incident at Ayungin Shoal adds to the mistrust and animosity between the two countries, making the prospect of diplomatic negotiations more challenging. It also raises concerns among Filipinos about their country’s ability to protect its sovereignty and maritime rights in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the region. The Ayungin Shoal incident is just one of many incidents that have contributed to the complexities of the West Philippine Sea dispute. China’s expansive claims and island-building activities in the area have raised concerns among other claimant states and the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling in 2016, which invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” claim and affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights within its EEZ, has not deterred China’s actions. China’s militarization of artificial islands and imposition of fishing restrictions further intensified tensions and escalated the territorial dispute. The water cannon incident reflects a broader pattern of behavior, where China uses its military and paramilitary forces to assert dominance and control over contested waters, challenging the norms of international law and UNCLOS. To achieve lasting peace and stability, it is crucial for all parties involved to uphold the principles of international law, including UNCLOS, and engage in diplomatic negotiations in good faith. Moreover, regional and international cooperation is essential to addressing the complexities of the West Philippine Sea dispute and promoting a peaceful resolution that will respect the rights and interests of all claimant states. Only through constructive dialogue and adherence to established norms can the countries in the region find a way to coexist peacefully and ensure the sustainable management of the West Philippine Sea’s resources for the benefit of all stakeholders. **** E-mail: mannyangeles27@gmail.com The post Heinous crime on high seas appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2023

Mga UNGA(s)

The United Nations General Assembly, or UNGA, is the “chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations,” according to the UN’s official website. And says the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs, our country’s representative to the UNGA is a diplomat of ambassadorial rank appointed by the President. This is as it should be, for it is a doctrine beyond cavil that the President is the main architect of our country’s foreign policy, hence, the country’s delegate to the UNGA must act under the direction of our Chief Executive. Anyone who has gone through high school civics class and/or can use an internet browser would know that. In other words, while the Legislature has not been locked out of certain foreign policy considerations (such as the approval of treaties and the confirmation of ambassadors), its main function is to make laws. If memory serves, it’s called the separation of powers. But then, some members of our Senate — which Ferdinand Marcos Sr. wisely did away with in 1972 — specifically Senate President Zubiri and Senator Hontiveros, thought it would be politically expedient to pander to the growing throng of Filipinos constantly angered by the Chinese harassment of our fishermen. Thus, in aid of election (he to the vice presidency, she to the presidency, if the grapevine is to be believed), the two strange bedfellows shepherded through the chamber Senate Resolution 718, which practically dictated to the Department of Foreign Affairs, through a so-called five-pronged approach, how it should deal with the West Philippine Sea problem. Now, it, of course, shouldn’t be a problem for individual legislators to express their opinions as to how the WPS question should be handled by our government. After all, the members of Congress, even as citizens — and more so as elected representatives — have as much right as anyone to do so. But for the Senate, as an institution, to practically boss around the DFA on what to do, especially with regard to our actions in the UNGA, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, to be charitable about it. Chief Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile was more blunt. He called it “stupid.” A Senate Resolution, although not law, expresses the sense of that body on a particular issue. It can be made to cut for good when the Senate throws its institutional weight behind a subject of national interest. But the mandate at large of the senators does not justify trenching upon the prerogatives of the President when it comes to conducting international policy. When that happens, the Senate’s sense, in that sense, becomes nonsense. There is a reason why the President is the one mandated by the fundamental law to lay down our foreign policy. By virtue of his being commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the Philippines, as well as the head of government, he is privy to top secret information that all others — senators included — have no access to. And as head of state, he receives information from other heads of state — formally and through backchanneling, that aid him in determining the best strategy to adopt in our relations with other nations. Resolution No. 718 thus not only preempts the Chief Executive, it tries to embarrass him by publicly suggesting steps that he is “strongly urged” to take. Worse, it presumptuously gives the subtext that the Senate knows better than the President in matters of foreign policy. Not good. It was right for the DFA to diplomatically call out the Senate on its resolution by saying that the option of bringing the WPS brouhaha to a vote in the UNGA should be seriously studied. Knowing China’s diplomatic clout in view of its trade partnership with so many nations, if the WPS topic dies on the floor of the UNGA, then the Senate will look like a bunch of “mga ungas” (stupid or ignorant people). The post Mga UNGA(s) appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Beijing’s ‘diplomatic duplicity’ slammed

Senators yesterday lambasted the China Coast Guard for blocking and using  water cannons against Philippine vessels on a resupply mission in the Ayungin Shoal Saturday. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said the incident should prompt the government to adopt. the Senate resolution proposing actions to counter China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea. “We cannot let this slip. This is too much already!” Ejercito said. “China’s hostile actions towards our Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, and fishermen are extreme. Our territory, security, and peace are at stake here.” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said China’s actions are “yet again a manifestation of its ‘might vs. right’ treatment of its peaceful neighbors.” “By its actions, it shows diplomatic duplicity, of preaching about amity, but practicing hostile behavior,” he said. “We want to be friends with you, but why is it difficult to love you, China?” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros pointed out that China has “absolutely no right to block, let alone water cannon, our supply vessels.” “They do not have any right to starve Filipinos in the Ayungin Shoal,” Hontiveros added. “I call on our regional neighbors and the broader international community to join the Philippines in condemning this dangerous behavior,” she added. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. It is in this shoal that the Philippine government scuttled the BRP Sierra Madre in 1999 to serve as a permanent outpost. The post Beijing’s ‘diplomatic duplicity’ slammed appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 6th, 2023

Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal

Senators on Sunday condemned the "excessive and offensive" actions of Chinese Coast Guard vessels against Philippine vessels near the Ayungin Shoal last Friday. Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri called the People’s Republic of China’s actions “reaffirms the merit of the resolution the Senate has unanimously passed.” The incident, which took place on 5 August near the Ayungin Shoal, happened barely a week after the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing China's intrusion into the West Philippine Sea and its harassment of Filipino fishermen. “Because China contemptuously ignores protests, all the more that we have to rally the world to condemn acts which have no place in a civilized order,” Zubiri said in a statement. In a statement issued on Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guards accused the CCG of using water cannon against its vessels while en route to the Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also condemned China’s latest actions in the WPS, which it described as “excessive and offensive.” Zubiri said China’s actions are “yet again a manifestation of its ‘might vs. right’ treatment of its peaceful neighbors.” “By its actions, it shows diplomatic duplicity, of preaching about amity, but practicing hostile behavior,” he said. “We want to have friendship with you but why is it difficult to love you, China?” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros echoed the same sentiments against China, saying China has no right to block the Philippine vessels in its own territory. “The Chinese Coast Guard has absolutely no right to block, let alone water cannon, our supply vessels. They do not have any right to starve Filipinos in the Ayungin Shoal,” Hontiveros said in a separate statement. “China’s repeated provocations are in complete violation of UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award. I call on our regional neighbors and the broader international community to join the Philippines in condemning this dangerous behavior,” she added. In a bid to strengthen the country’s position in the Ayungin Shoal, the Philippine government permanently supplies its forces there through the BRP Sierra Madre. The BRP Sierra Madre was a World War 2 landing ship tank that was stationed at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Hontiveros said she is hoping that the Philippines could soon start joint patrols with other claimant countries in the South China Sea such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. “We need to cooperate with them to halt these aggressive actions of China,” she said. “I am also hoping that the DFA is now formulating steps to raise China’s endless incursions to different international fora.” “The recently adopted Senate resolution 718, with its precision and specific recommendations, is at their disposal,” she added. Senate Resolution 718 urges the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to “continue asserting” the country’s sovereign rights over its exclusive economic rights. 'Heed Senate’s call' For his part, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito called on the national government to heed the Senate’s resolution which contains several recommendations for the executive department. “We cannot let this slip. This is too much already! China is very frustrating! China’s hostile actions towards our Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and fishermen are extreme. Our territory, security, and peace are at stake here,” he said in a separate statement. “I urge the national government to heed the Senate's recent resolution on China's aggression and take decisive measures to safeguard our territorial integrity,” he added. Ejercito continued: “These measures will require us to expedite the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and strengthen our defense cooperation program and pacts with our allies.” For Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, China’s actions against PCG in the WPS require a strong stance from the Philippine government. “This is the reason why the Senate adopted Resolution No. 79 strongly condemning incursions like this,” Villanueva said. “Your Senate is always ready to fight for and protect the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights.” Like Ejercito, Villanueva reminded the executive department of the newly adopted resolution which contains a guide for the DFA. “We urge the Department of Foreign Affairs to implement the courses of action stipulated in the resolution passed by the Senate to finally put an end into this harassment and bullying by China,” he said. Under the resolution, the DFA is “expected” to continue holding dialogues with the Chinese government to push for recognition and respect of the Philippines' sovereign rights over its EEZ and pursue the formulation of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea based on international law and the UNCLOS. Should China continue to ignore the country’s efforts, the resolution contains actions the agency must do such as bringing international attention to China's harassment of Filipino fishermen in the Philippine EEZ and its continued violation of the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS; utilizing international fora to rally multilateral support for the enforcement of the Hague Ruling and raise awareness on the real situation in the West Philippine Sea; and engaging with “like-minded” countries to call on China to respect the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS. The DFA is also encouraged to file a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly, to call for the cessation of all activities that harass Philippine vessels and violate the Philippines' established rights in the West Philippine Sea; and pursue other diplomatic modes as the agency may deem appropriate and necessary. ‘Sensible plans' For his part, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged the PCG to come up with sensible plans to overcome China’s increasingly aggressive actions towards Philippine vessels that are on a re-supply mission to the Ayungin Shoal. “The PCG should overcome the CCG on our re-supply missions. They should come up with sensible plans behind closed doors,” Pimentel said in a separate statement. Asked if the recent actions of China against Philippine vessels could trigger the activation of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States, Pimentel said: “Use diplomacy and intelligent tactics.” “The MDT should not be invoked lightly. Use our ‘kokote’ not the MDT,” he added. In a separate statement, the US State Department warned that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces—including those of its Coast Guard in South China The post Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 6th, 2023

Conflict evolves

A new form of the Cold War that started in the 1950s is playing out in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea that the mainland has claimed as historically part of its territory. A 2016 award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, or PCA, invalidated the historic claim. China, however, said it does not recognize the ruling and it will only accede to bilateral discussions on the maritime conflict. United States security officials have laid out a scenario of heightened posturing in the WPS that is being referred to as the gray zone conflict in which China’s aggressiveness is expected to heighten short of an actual armed conflict. Geopolitical experts said the evolving military relations of the United States and the Philippines are geared toward the WPS developments. In May 2023, new bilateral defense guidelines were issued to clarify the conditions under which American forces would come to the aid of their Philippine counterparts under the terms of the Mutual Defense Treaty. The guidelines marked a change in American policy in the South China Sea from “scrupulous noninvolvement” to one that seems focused on deterring provocative Chinese actions in “gray zone” scenarios, according to Felix Chang, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the chief operating officer of DecisionQ, an artificial intelligence engineering company. He said the Philippines had long sought a clarification of America’s obligations but Washington was reluctant to give it. The US government’s previous concern was that Manila might use the mutual defense treaty as leverage to advance its maritime and territorial claims against its neighbors in the South China Sea, potentially drawing the United States into confrontations with them, most notably China. The recent American policy shift in the South China Sea, however, follows others that have occurred over the last decade. The major factors that paved the way for the new bilateral defense guidelines have been Manila’s continued commitment to rebuilding its external defense capabilities and Washington’s growing perception of China as a strategic adversary. In the event of an attack, given that the Philippines and the United States share a long-standing mutual defense treaty, American forces would be obliged to come to the country’s aid if the attack occurred in recognized Philippine territorial waters. “But until Manila and Washington issued new bilateral defense guidelines in May 2023, it was unclear what America’s obligations would be if the attack occurred in disputed waters or against non-military Philippine government vessels, like those of its coast guard. Such circumstances were considered ‘gray-zone’ scenarios,” Chang indicated. The newly issued bilateral defense guidelines that were hammered out during the recent state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. cleared up the ambiguity. They also marked a change in American policy in the WPS from “scrupulous noninvolvement” to one that seems focused on deterrence. Chang indicated that for the Philippines, the change could not have come soon enough with China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to assert its sovereignty over the waters within its “nine-dash line.” Barack Obama’s administration was the first to take a slightly firmer stance on the WPS. Then, Chang said, American policy took on a more defiant tone under President Donald Trump, who formally rejected China’s “nine-dash line” claim. And with relations between China and the United States deteriorating further during the early years of the Biden White House, not to mention continued Chinese assertiveness in Southeast Asia, Washington had become open to clarifying the terms of its MDT with Manila. President Marcos visited Washington in May 2023, he was able to secure what his predecessors had not: a clarification of America’s obligations in “gray-zone” scenarios. Chang added the main reason for Washington’s opaque posture had been Manila’s longtime neglect of its external defense capabilities. The Philippines, which at one time fielded one of Asia’s largest and most modern armed forces, had allowed its navy to dwindle to four offshore patrol boats and its air force to mothball its last jet aircraft in 2005, he said. President Marcos’ recent talks with President Joe Biden was all about restoring equilibrium in the disputed seas. The post Conflict evolves appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2023

Guess who?

It is amusing, if not vexing, to see some high officials and members of the deliberative body competing with each other to call attention to themselves. They blabber inane remarks to the exasperation and vexation of the public. A few of them boxed in into any controversy that catches national intention and inflicts us with what obviously appears to be nonsensical, unthinking, and intelligent narratives, forgetting that they look ridiculous and comical in the process. A few others sponsor resolutions on matters not within their turf and expertise. They express their opinions without studying the subject matter and foist theories and ideas exposing their intellectual barrenness. They inject their unstudied take on foreign policy. They try very hard to upstage the Chief Executive in matters of foreign policy, particularly on the issue of our foreign relations with China and the United States. They also have the gumption to teach the President what to do about the enforcement of the arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines rendered by the Permanent Arbitration Court vis-a-vis the conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea, by giving him options on what to undertake either to enforce the favorable ruling or to rally the other countries to support the Philippines in putting to a halt the Chinese unlawful incursions to the former’s territory. They also input their pretended nationalism on the issue of human rights violations and the jurisdiction of the International  Criminal Court. At least two of them contradict the President on many occasions in the matter of the ICC jurisdiction. Despite being called out on the nitwittery of their action they foolishly cling to it. Others initiate and pursue investigations on almost anything that fancies them or that will give them the opportunity to put them in the limelight for a free media mileage. A few numbers eyeing re-election in 2025 have started campaigning by advertising themselves in media outlets under the guise of asking the public to support a particular government program, introducing themselves completely with an accompanying campaign jingle heralding their names. Others use different tact, they shamelessly use their offices and positions and travel around the country using taxpayers’ money under the guise of official work but actually have slowly established a network of local government officials, for a shot at high national positions. Still others, do it brazenly, committing treasonous acts by plunging the dagger at the backs of their unsuspecting potential rivals for power. There are those, of course, who always make it a point to be on the side of the President in every official and social event that the latter attends, to make it appear they are close to him. They are always in praise of the principal in whatever he does, making themselves more popish than the Pope. Those whose exposure to the fourth estate brought them to where they are now, bring their pomposity and grandstanding in their official activities, acting as if they are still in their talk and public service shows. They browbeat and insult invited guests during inquiries believing their antics appeal to the peanut galleries. They strain themselves showing that they are smart and even scold cerebral academicians only to retreat and hide behind a growl while shifting to another topic in an attempt to camouflage their ignorance. There are also former government men who, in their desire to return to power and influence, the source of their ill-gotten wealth, ingratiate themselves to the present dispensation by publicly siding with the official pronouncements coming from the side of the Pasig River, always praising their bogus credentials. Finally, those who have managed to shockingly get appointments, delude themselves into believing that they were placed there because they deserved to be there, when in reality, it’s a political accommodation to pay off for their asinine pretended loyalty, using gutter language and indecency to get the support of the political followers of the presidential candidate. They have been unmasked as undeserving of the professions they used to belong to. Yes, you guess it right, they are the people being referred to in this article. The post Guess who? appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 1st, 2023

Bongbong’s foreign policy: More like ‘Macoy’ than ‘Digong’

Despite being dismissed as a spoiled brat and a weakling by both his father and the man he succeeded, Rodrigo Duterte, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in his first year in office, stood up to China and showed he is more like the older Marcos than Duterte. Always underestimated, Marcos Jr., observers noted, spent much of his political career surrounded by powerful women, including former First Lady Imelda Marcos and his sister, Senator Imee Marcos. But this shouldn’t fool one into thinking that he is not his own man. Only days after winning last year’s presidential elections, he asserted his independence by denying top allies, including running mate Sara Duterte, key cabinet positions. He also showed his own distinct approach on the foreign policy front by holding cordial meetings with diplomats from both traditional and regional partners. While emphasizing his preference for a diplomatic engagement with China, Marcos Jr., notes the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative,  reiterated the finality of the arbitral tribunal ruling in the South China Sea, and made clear he “will not compromise it in any way,” calling the country’s sovereignty “sacred.” “Taking into consideration the widespread skepticism towards Beijing among Filipinos and within the country’s defense establishment, Marcos Jr. adopted a calibrated assertiveness towards China while welcoming pragmatic cooperation on the economic front,” AMTI said. The perceived wisdom on the younger Marcos’s foreign policy, according to AMTI, is that he is nothing but a mild-mannered version of Duterte. In fact, he was the only candidate during the elections who publicly backed full continuity in the country’s Beijing-friendly policies. He barely mentioned the treaty alliance with the United States, emphasizing his preference for a diplomatic engagement. “Whatever we do, we can’t go to war… we don’t want to go to war with China,” he was quoted to have said. A year into office, however, it is obvious the younger Marcos was advocating a centrist position in the territorial dispute. It was, according to one analyst, a middle-of-the-road decision aimed at appeasing both superpowers, China and the United States. Indeed, it was a balancing act complicated by both internal and external factors. While Duterte was reluctant to confront China over the South China Sea, Marcos Jr. has adopted tougher rhetoric, showing a better appreciation of how the Philippines should position itself given the very uncertain strategic environment it is facing. He is said to have been able to forge closer relations with Washington because his family already has long-standing ties with Beijing which affords him a degree of capital.   A year into office, however, it was obvious the younger Marcos was advocating a centrist position in the territorial dispute   As AMTI related, the Marcos connection to Beijing goes deep, stretching back to the height of the Cold War period when his father formalized bilateral relations with Maoist China. As the then-announced successor, Bongbong even personally met Chairman Mao, who warmly welcomed the princeling and his family to Zhongnanhai. The Marcoses maintained those linkages even after their ouster from power in Malacañang, albeit on a sub-national level. As overlords of the northern province of Ilocos Norte, the Marcos dynasty continued to welcome trade and diplomatic relations with their Chinese counterparts under the emerging Maritime Silk Road Initiative. Despite the growing Chinese coercive actions against the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, Marcos Jr. welcomed continued economic engagement with China under his “Friend to all, enemy to none” policy first espoused by Duterte during his pivot to Beijing. Balancing act Compared to former presidents before him, Marcos Jr.’s foreign policy is truly a balancing act not much different from his father’s. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. (1965-1986), during his presidency, pursued a foreign policy that sought to balance relations with both the United States and other countries, including those in the Soviet Bloc. He declared martial law in 1972, and this had implications for the country’s foreign relations. The Philippines’ relationship with the US was close, but during his time, Marcos also sought to strengthen ties with our Asian neighbors. Corazon Aquino (1986-1992) focused on restoring democracy and human rights in the Philippines after the end of the Marcos dictatorship. She sought to rebuild relations with other countries that had been strained during Marcos’s rule. Her administration also emphasized diplomatic engagement with ASEAN countries and the international community. Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998) prioritized economic diplomacy and focused on attracting foreign investment to boost the Philippine economy. He worked to strengthen relationships with ASEAN and APEC countries and fostered ties with the US, Japan, and other regional partners. Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) emphasized national sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs. He pursued good relations with ASEAN nations but was criticized for a more inward-looking approach to foreign affairs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010) focused on economic diplomacy and sought to improve the Philippines’ standing in the international community. She maintained strong ties with the US and also expanded engagement with China. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (2010-2016) emphasized upholding the rule of law in the region and advocating for the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea. He strengthened relations with traditional allies like the US and worked to foster closer ties with other Asian countries. While Bongbong Marcos is not his father, the legacy of the former Filipino strongman hangs over his administration. This legacy of pragmatism is also reinforced in the sentiments of the defense establishment and the broader Filipino public who want the government to take a tougher stance against China. Unlike Duterte, the younger Marcos has shown in his first year in office that he is adopting a more calibrated foreign policy combining elements of pragmatism and assertiveness towards a major power like China while seeking to leverage Philippine ties with the United States.   The post Bongbong’s foreign policy: More like ‘Macoy’ than ‘Digong’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023