China’s 40% ownership of NGCP is legal – Law Expert

Marje Pelayo   •   November 15, 2019   •   935

MANILA, Philippines – Reports of China’s 40% ownership of the National Grid of the Philippines (NGCP) has been on the headlines recently as several senators claimed it would pose threats to national security.

But according to a legal expert, Atty. George Erwin Garcia, the Constitution actually allows foreign entities to have shares in government-owned corporations such as the NGCP.

“From the Constitutional point of view, everything is perfectly legal. So, there is nothing illegal,” Garcia, Dean of the College of Law in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, said.

“There is nothing unconstitutional (with the) 40% Chinese ownership of the National Grid Corporation,” he added.

Senators Ralph Recto and Francis Pangilinan recently raised concerns about possible Chinese manipulation in the Philippines’ power grid given the rights China has on its shares.

Under Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution, foreign ownership is allowed provided that 60% of the company’s shares are owned by a Filipino.

Garcia noted, however, that when it comes to security, the NGCP has to make sure that China has no control of the operations and administrations of their facility.

Read: China’s 40% ownership of NGCP, not threat to national security – PNP

The law also dictates that the foreign investor only has limited rights on the company and the state, which is the Philippine government, still has the full authority of the facility’s full operation.

“Dapat siguraduhin nila, 60-40 ang arrangement (They have to make sure that indeed the arrangement is 60-40). Forty percent nga Chinese pero baka naman ang 60, nasa likod Chinese rin (It might be 40% Chinese but it could be that those behind the other 60% are Chinese as well),” Garcia said.

“Baka naman sila’y naka-front lang for the Chinese o baka naman sila ay tinatawag nating “dummies” for the Chinese. Huwag naman sanang mangyari ‘yun (They could be fronting for the Chinese or like dummies for the Chinese. It must not be that way),” he added.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, previously stated that Chinese experts may provide technical assistance for the NGCP but only Filipinos can manage the entire facility.

In 2015, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it would no longer renew the working visas of 18 Chinese experts working then at the NGCP.

But in 2017, NGCP sent 26 engineers and technical staff for training in China to prepare them for much bigger projects.

Despite the issues, the NGCP maintained that the Chinese investors are only up for investments and business tying up with the state-run power grid. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Trump to give TikTok’s Chinese owner 45 days to reach deal to sell — sources

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft Corp, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday (August 2).

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. Trump said on Friday (July 31) he was planning to ban TikTok in the United States after dismissing the idea of a sale to Microsoft.

But following a discussion between Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the Redwood, Washington-based company said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance, and that it aimed to reach a deal by Sept. 15.

It was not immediately clear what changed Trump’s mind. Banning TikTok would alienate many of its young users ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, and would likely trigger a wave of legal challenges. Several prominent Republican lawmakers put out statements in the last two days urging Trump to back a sale of TikTok to Microsoft.

The negotiations between ByteDance and Microsoft will be overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government panel that has the right to block any agreement, according to the sources, who requested anonymity ahead of a White House announcement. Microsoft cautioned in its statement that there is no certainty a deal will be reached. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

Pompeo says closed Chinese consulate in Houston was ‘den of spies’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.

“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

Australian police say Chinese students being targeted in ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

New South Wales (NSW) Police on Monday (July 27) warned students of Chinese backgrounds studying in Sydney to be aware of a ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam that has obtained millions in payments from unsuspecting victims.

Victims are called by the criminals purporting to be from a Chinese authority like the police or tax department, “the caller then convinces the victim that they have been implicated in a crime in China, or that their identity has been stolen, and that they must pay a fee to avoid legal action, arrest or deportation” said NSW Police in a statement.

“Essentially threatening harm against people, family members in China unless they contrive a photograph that makes them look like they have been kidnapped. Then they encourage the person to lock themselves away in a hotel room, turn their phones off, cease all contact,” Director of NSW Police State Crime Command, Darren Bennett told media.

Bennett added that the phone calls are becoming very common and encourage anyone receiving one to not pay any money. (Reuters)

(Production: Stefica Nicol Bikes)

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