‘New turning point’ for ties, China tells Philippines visitors

admin   •   September 14, 2016   •   2369

China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, July 13, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, July 13, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

 

Relations between China and the Philippines are at a turning point, a top Chinese diplomat has told a visiting Philippine delegation, adding that China hopes the Philippines can handle disputes “appropriately” and get relations back on track.

The remarks by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin come as two countries at odds over sovereignty in the South China Sea try to sound each other out, and set parameters for dialogue on an issue in which both have vowed not to give way.

The mid-level visit was the latest part of some carefully calibrated engagement after a July ruling by an arbitration panel in The Hague that overwhelmingly favored the Philippines in its dispute with China over the South China Sea, invalidating China’s claim to most of the waters.

China has declined to recognize the ruling while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he wants peace with China, but will not make concessions on any part of the tribunal’s conclusion.

Liu said their bilateral relations had “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows”, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

“At present, China-Philippine relations are at a new turning point,” it quoted Liu saying, adding that China hoped the Philippines “can meet China halfway, appropriately handle disputes and push relations back onto the track of dialogue, consultation and friendly cooperation”.

China’s bid to improve relations with the Philippines comes amid uncertainty, and acrimony, over the normally tight relations between the Philippines and its main ally, the United States, as Duterte shows little sign of dialing down rhetoric fiercely critical of Washington.

That tension, following U.S. concern about a bloody Philippine campaign against drugs, has created some speculation that Duterte’s resentment about what he sees as colonial-era American interference, plus the prospect of luring big-ticket Chinese investment, could nudge Manila closer to Beijing.

Duterte has, however, insisted he wants solid ties with both powers, and subservience to no country.

‘NO ILLUSIONS’

U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte at an Asian leaders’ summit in Laos last week after a televised outburst by the Philippine leader.

Though that has caused jitters in Washington, Duterte’s softer tone toward China was not a cause for concern, according to some U.S. officials.

Speaking in Laos, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes suggested Philippine engagement with China suited the United States and would be seen as “a constructive development” if it resulted in peaceful problem-solving and followed international law.

China’s influential Global Times tabloid noted last week that despite the acrimony between Obama and Duterte, China should “not hold too many illusions” about U.S.-Philippine relations.

Referring to Duterte, the newspaper said that long term, it “will not necessarily be easy to deal with the Philippines under his rule”.

The 16-member Philippine delegation in China is comprised mostly of retired diplomats and is led by Rafael Alunan, a trusted associate of former President Fidel Ramos.

Duterte has picked Ramos as his point-man for patching up ties with China, which were tested again last week when the Philippines published images of what it said were new Chinese vessels at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. — 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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