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Philippines protests new China law as `verbal threat of war’

Philippines protests new China law as `verbal threat of war’

 
JIM GOMEZ
 
 

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorizes its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy other countries’ structures on islands it claims, Manila’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet that the new Chinese law “is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it. Failure to challenge the law “is submission to it,” he said.

“While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one — given the area involved, or for that matter the open South China Sea — is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law,” Locsin said.

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China’s Coast Guard Law, which was passed on Friday, empowers the force to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

The law also authorizes the coast guard to demolish other countries’ structures built on reefs and islands claimed by China and to seize or order foreign vessels illegally entering China’s territorial waters to leave.

The Chinese law raises the stakes and the possibility of clashes with regional maritime rivals.

The Philippine protest is the latest strongly worded public criticism by Manila of China’s increasingly assertive actions in the disputed waters, despite cozier ties nurtured by President Rodrigo Duterte with Beijing. Last July, Locsin warned China of “the severest response” if military exercises being staged by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea spilled over into Philippine territory.

China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have been locked in territorial rivalries in the South China Sea in tense decades-long standoffs. Indonesian forces also have had confrontations with the Chinese coast guard and fishing flotillas in what Indonesian officials say are their territorial waters near the South China Sea.

The United States has no claims in the strategic waterway but its naval forces have challenged China’s territorial claims over virtually the entire sea. China has warned the U.S. to stay away from what it says is a purely Asian dispute but Washington has said it would continue to deploy its warships to the disputed region.

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, sailed into the South China Sea on Saturday to conduct “routine operations,” promote freedom of the seas and reassure America’s allies, Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo said in a statement.

Tensions flared in recent years after China transformed seven disputed reefs in the Spratlys, the most hotly contested region in the South China Sea, into missile-protected island bases, including three with military-grade runways. China and Southeast Asian nations have been negotiating a regional “code of conduct” to discourage aggression in the disputed waters but the talks have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s coast guard is also active in the vicinity of uninhabited East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

China seeks details about Chinese crew after tankers seized by Indonesia

China seeks details about Chinese crew after tankers seized by Indonesia

Panamanian-flagged MT Freya tanker is escorted to Batam, Riau Islands
 
Yew Lun Tian and Fathin Ungku
 
 

By Yew Lun Tian and Fathin Ungku

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Wednesday it was seeking details about 25 of its nationals who were among 61 crew on two supertankers seized by Indonesia on suspicion of illegally transferring oil.

Indonesia said on Sunday it had seized the vessels after they were detected making the transfer from Iranian-flagged MT Horse to Panamanian-flagged MT Freya, causing an oil spill.

The Indonesian authorities said the seizure was not related to U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed in a bid to shut off Iran’s oil exports in a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The MT Horse, owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company, and MT Freya, managed by Shanghai Future Ship Management Co, were detected off Indonesia’s Kalimantan island.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said 25 of the crew members were Chinese, without saying whether the crew were all on one vessel or split between both.

“Our embassy has expressed concern to Indonesia,” Zhao said. “We urged them to verify the situation about the Chinese seamen as soon as possible and inform us formally.”

He said China called on Indonesia to conduct an investigation “fairly and in accordance with the law”.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah, told Reuters there had been “initial communication” with China and Iran, and said further discussion would depend on results from the investigation.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday the seizure of its tanker was over a technical issue and that it had asked Indonesia to provide more details.

Iran has been accused of seeking to conceal the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems on its tankers.

The Indonesian authorities said the ships concealed their identity by not showing national flags, turning off automatic identification systems and failing to respond to a radio call.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires ships to use transponders for safety and transparency. Crews can turn off devices if there is a danger of piracy or similar hazards.

“We welcome the Indonesian Coast Guard efforts to counter illicit maritime activity,” a U.S. embassy spokesman in Jakarta told Reuters, saying Washington supported efforts to ensure IMO standards for safety and environmental compliance were upheld.

(Reporting by Fathin Ungku in Singapore, Yew Lun Tian in Beijing and Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta; Editing by Florence Tan and Edmund Blair)

Biden’s pick for UN post says US will counter China’s agenda

Biden's pick for UN post says the US will counter China's agenda

 
EDITH M. LEDERER
 
 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Linda Thomas-Greenfield says that if confirmed by the U.S. Senate as America’s ambassador to the United Nations she will vigorously counter China’s authoritarian agenda and engage in “people-to-people diplomacy.”

The veteran foreign service officer, in prepared remarks, speaks of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she makes clear there will be a change under President Joe Biden to reengaging internationally and promoting American values, according to excerpts of her Wednesday testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee obtained by The Associated Press.

“When America shows up — when we are consistent and persistent — when we exert our influence in accordance with our values — the United Nations can be an indispensable institution for advancing peace, security, and our collective well-being,” she says.

 

Alluding to the absence of U.S. global leadership during Donald Trump’s four-year presidency, Thomas-Greenfield says: “If instead we walk away from the table, and allow others to fill the void, the global community suffers — and so do American interests.”

She then turns to China, which has become a major player on the global stage in recent years and much more outspoken on a range of global issues at the United Nations and elsewhere. Beijing also has come under sharp criticism from the U.S. and many other nations for its treatment of more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other Chinese Muslim minority groups and for its delayed announcement of COVID-19, which was first diagnosed Wuhan.

“We know China is working across the U.N. system to drive an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the founding values of the institution — American values,” Thomas-Greenfield says. “Their success depends on our continued withdrawal. That will not happen on my watch.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Thomas-Greenfield would be neither the first African American nor the first woman, nor even the first African American woman, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But she is a groundbreaking diplomat nonetheless.

She joined the State Department more than three decades ago, when Black women were even more of a rarity in the U.S. diplomatic corps than they are today, and she is the most experienced diplomat of the six people named by Biden for top national security positions.

“Throughout my career, from Jamaica to Nigeria, Pakistan to Switzerland, I’ve learned that effective diplomacy means more than shaking hands and staging photo ops,” Thomas-Greenfield says in her prepared remarks.

“It means developing real, robust relationships,” she says. “It means finding common ground and managing points of differentiation. It means doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”

Thomas-Greenfield stresses that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” She says she also will back reforms that make the U.N. “efficient and effective” and promises to develop “a strong partnership” with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Joe Biden’s commerce secretary pick backs tariffs and export limits against Chinese firms

Joe Biden's commerce secretary pick backs tariffs and export limits against Chinese firms

Robert Delaney

·3 min read
 
 

US President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the country’s Commerce Department told senators on Tuesday that she would use punitive tariffs and export restrictions against China, but stopped short of a specific commitment to keep existing sanctions against Huawei Technologies in place.

“China’s actions have been anticompetitive, hurtful to American workers and businesses, coercive and … culpable for atrocious human rights abuses, so whether it’s the ‘entity list’ or tariffs or countervailing duties, I intend to use all those tools to the fullest extent possible,” Gina Raimondo, currently the governor of Rhode Island, testified remotely during her confirmation hearing in the Senate.

Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary during the Trump administration, put Huawei on an “entity list” in May 2019, citing national security concerns, a move that prevented US suppliers from selling goods and technology to the company without a special licence.

 

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Other Chinese companies on the list include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) and the drone maker DJI Technology.

US Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, is seen during the confirmation hearing Tuesday by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Raimondo’s nomination. Photo: EPA-EFE alt=US Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, is seen during the confirmation hearing Tuesday by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Raimondo’s nomination. Photo: EPA-EFE

The response prompted an outcry from Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican representing Nebraska, who issued a statement questioning Raimondo’s stance.

“This is ridiculous,” Sasse said. “Huawei didn’t change because America has a new President. Huawei is still the Chinese Communist Party’s tech puppet and a serious threat to national security.

“Tough talk on China is empty if you let Huawei out of the box,” he added.

However, Raimondo repeatedly emphasised to Cruz and other senators questioning her a commitment to safeguarding against possible national security threats posed by the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment.

“There’s an opportunity to move forward in 5G and create great innovation and jobs, but we can’t have the Chinese or really anyone having a back door into our network and compromising in any way our national or economic security,” she said.

“I will use the full toolkit at my disposal to the fullest extent possible to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference or any kind of back door influence into our network, and that’s Huawei, ZTE, or any other company.”

Comments by numerous Biden administration officials less than a week into his tenure have suggested that the new president will not diverge substantially from the view that Beijing presents a threat to US national security requiring more vigilance than when Biden was vice-president during the administration of Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017.

Antony Blinken, who was confirmed by the Senate as the new US Secretary of State on Tuesday shortly after Raimondo’s hearing, suggested during his testimony last week that he agreed with former president Donald Trump’s “tougher approach to China”.

“I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy,” he said.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that Biden “will take a multilateral approach to engaging with China, and that includes evaluating the tariffs currently in place, and he wants to ensure that we take any steps in coordination with our allies and partners, and with Democrats and Republicans in Congress”.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Biden Administration Points to Continued Hard Line on China

Biden Administration Points to Continued Hard Line on China

Jan.26 — Just a few days into the Biden era and already key figures in the administration indicate the tough line on China may continue. Bloomberg’s Laura Davison reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.”