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PH to explore new cooperation, partnership with China

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday (April 25) that the Philippines will seek “new areas of cooperation and partnership” to further strengthen its diplomatic ties with China.

Duterte said this during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing from April 25 to 27.

“The Philippines [and] China must continue to work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership. We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern,” Duterte said in his opening statement for the bilateral talks.

“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” he added.

Duterte is one of the 35 leaders and heads of international organizations who are currently in Beijing to participate in the second Road and Belt Forum.

This is the fourth time that Duterte visited China since winning the presidential election in 2016.

Duterte also said the Philippines remains keen on executing the projects that were agreed during Xi’s visit to Manila in November 2018, in line with the vision to implement high-quality and good impact projects.

“The sooner they are completed, the sooner people on the ground will feel the benefits of Philippine-China relations,” he said.

For his part, Xi said he is happy to see better relations between the two countries and that the Philippines is an important part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

After his bilateral talks with Xi, Duterte will meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Duterte arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for the four-day visit. He was accompanied by several of his cabinet members, his partner Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica. — Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Eleven pulled alive from rubble in China building collapse

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

A team of rescuers are trying to find survivors under rubble after a building collapsed in Shanghai, China on May 16. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Rescue services pulled out 11 people alive from a collapsed building in China’s financial hub of Shanghai on Thursday (May 16), and about same number are believed to be still trapped in the rubble.

The building in Shanghai’s Changning district was being renovated when it collapsed late in the morning, trapping some 20 people inside, fire services said in a statement.

Witnesses heard a big bang which lasted for five to six second and a cloud of dust that enveloped the building.

“The accident happened at 11 am and a big bang lasted five to six seconds. I immediately ran to the balcony and saw the entire factory was surrounded by dust. After the dust dispersed, I found the factory collapsed. As it was my first time to witness this, I was quiet shocked,” said Zhang Lei, who was working in an office next to the collapsed building

More than 150 rescuers are on the scene but they have not said how the building collapsed. (REUTERS)

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PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Tons of garbage from Canada were illegally exported to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the recall of Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government failed to meet the May 15 deadline on shipping back tons of garbage it sent to the Philippines several years ago.

In a post on his Twitter account on Thursday, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order has been issued and the Philippine envoys to Canada are expected to be back in the country in a day or so.

“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline,” he said.

Locsin said the reason for the recall is to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

The DFA secretary said the move was triggered by Canada’s failure to show up at a meeting with the Bureau of Customs, as relayed to him by the Department of Finance (DOF).

“That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis,” he said.

“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger,” he added.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents but he made no mention of any plans to recall envoys when he gave updates about the exported trash.

“According to the DFA, there might be a slight delay because of processing, documents are being prepared so it might take a little longer. The important thing is, they are taking it,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it failed to move its illegally exported trash. He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Trump: China “broke the deal” in U.S.-China trade talks

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (May 8) that he would be happy to keep tariffs on Chinese imports as the two countries prepare for new talks to try to rescue a faltering trade deal amid a sharp increase in U.S. duties as he charged China with “breaking the deal.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. ET (0401) GMT on Friday (May 10), right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.

Beijing announced it would retaliate if tariffs rise.

“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures,” China’s Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating.

The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over the U.S. demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.

Expectations were recently riding high that a deal could be reached but a deep rift over the language of the proposed agreement opened up last weekend.

Reuters, citing U.S. government and private-sector sources, reported on Wednesday that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft trade agreement, threatening to blow up the negotiations and prompting Trump to order the tariff increase.

Trump, who has embraced largely protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, warned China on Wednesday that it was mistaken if it hoped to delay a trade deal until a Democrat controlled the White House.

The United States is demanding that Beijing make sweeping changes to its trade and regulatory practices, including protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft and forced transfers to Chinese firms, curbs on Chinese government subsidies and increased American access to China’s markets.

Trump also has sought massive hikes in Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy, and manufactured products to shrink a gaping U.S. trade deficit with China.

Sources familiar with the talks said China’s latest demands for changes to a 150-page document that had been drafted over several months would make it hard to avoid the U.S. tariff hike on Friday.

That increase would affect Chinese imports from computer modems and routers to vacuum cleaners, furniture, lighting, and building materials. (REUTERS)

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