China declines to say if it supports Philippine fishing ban

admin   •   November 23, 2016   •   3400

Fishing boats that had just returned from the disputed Scarborough Shoal are pictured at the coastal village of Cato in Infanta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Fishing boats that had just returned from the disputed Scarborough Shoal are pictured at the coastal village of Cato in Infanta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

 

China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday declined to say if it supported an executive order by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declaring part of the disputed Scarborough Shoal a marine sanctuary off-limits to fishermen.

The dispute over the Scarborough Shoal is one of several involving South East Asian countries seeking to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Since 2012, China has deployed its coastguard to block the shoal from Filipinos, despite its location within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Duterte plans to make a unilateral declaration barring fishermen from exploiting marine life at a tranquil lagoon that was central to years of bitter squabbling, and the basis of an arbitration case brought, and won, by the Philippines.

The move, announced on Monday, was backed by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Duterte’s office has said.

Asked about the announcement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had made “appropriate arrangements” in the spirit of friendship to allow Philippine fishermen to operate around the shoal.

“China’s sovereignty and jurisdiction of Huangyan Island has not and will not change,” Geng told a daily news briefing, using the Chinese name for the shoal.

Xi and Duterte met on Saturday on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, the Peruvian capital, and pledged to maintain the momentum of improving relations, Geng added.

“We hope China and the Philippines can continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, and make the South China Sea issue a positive factor in promoting bilateral friendship and cooperation,” Geng said.

He made no mention of Duterte’s marine sanctuary move.

The establishment of a protected marine zone, if successful, could give both countries a face-saving way to break the diplomatic deadlock without making a political agreement or formal concessions.

According to the plan announced by the Philippine president’s office, fishermen of both countries can cast nets on the fringes of the lagoon, but not inside it, allowing fish stocks to be replenished.

It is the latest gesture towards China in what has been an astonishing reversal of Philippine foreign policy under Duterte, who opted to befriend Beijing while admonishing longtime ally the United States for what he calls hypocrisy and bullying.

China has softened its stance since Duterte returned from a high-profile trip to Beijing in October. Filipino fishermen who went near the shoal said China’s coastguard was no longer driving them away, as it had done over the past four years. — Reuters

China tests its soft power in Southeast Asia amid coronavirus outbreak

UNTV News   •   February 20, 2020

China called for solidarity on Thursday (February 20) in a special meeting to discuss the coronavirus with Southeast Asian nations as it faces criticism for its handling of the outbreak elsewhere.

The hastily-called summit in Laos signaled China is seeking support from smaller neighbors into which it has poured billions of dollars in infrastructure and investment in recent years.

Wang urged Singapore to ease its travel ban on Chinese visitors, with other nations likely to face similar pressure at the meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Even as the meeting kicked off, Thailand on Thursday issued a travel advisory urging citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China and advised those already there to leave, hinting that flights to China could be further restricted

Beijing has been criticized for its handling of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, which emerged from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in recent months and killed at least 2,000.

Travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease have idled much of the world’s second-largest economy and choked key elements of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of railways, ports, and highways.

(Production: Jiraporn Kuhakan, Feline Lim)

China posts sharp drop in new coronavirus cases after criteria change

UNTV News   •   February 20, 2020

Mainland China reported on Thursday (February 20) the lowest number of confirmed cases of a new coronavirus since late January, partly because of a change in diagnostic criteria for patients in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

China had 394 new confirmed cases on Wednesday (February 19), the National Health Commission (NHC) said, sharply down from 1,749 cases a day earlier and the lowest since Jan. 23.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 74,576.

How cases are diagnosed and confirmed has had a big impact on official tallies of cases, and changes in the method have raised questions about the extent to which daily tallies accurately reflect the state of the outbreak.

The new coronavirus emerged in the city of Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei, in December, having apparently been passed to people from wildlife sold illegally in a market.

(Production: Thomas Suen)

Lacson backs gov’t move to block release of P80-B congressional realignments

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday revealed that at least P80 billion in congressional realignments have been withheld by President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a statement, Lacson said some lawmakers tried to realign at least P80 billion from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget.

But instead of exercising his veto power over the line items which could stall the approval of the budget, the lawmaker said Duterte decided to just block the release of the budget by way of a DBM circular now called “for later release,” which has the same effect of a veto.

“I support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management to withhold the release of these congressional realignments,” he said.

“This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies,” he added.

Lacson advised the president to “always be wary of these so-called allies” who have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else.

The House of Representatives has yet to issue a comment on Lacson’s claim. – RRD (with details form Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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