U.S. opposes ‘destabilizing’ behavior by China in Indo-Pacific – Pentagon chief

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019   •   497

(L-R) U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The United States opposes the destabilizing behavior by China in the Indo-Pacific, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday (August 4), as the two nations wage an escalating trade war.

“This including weaponizing the global commons, using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations intellectual property,” Esper said.

China’s increasing assertiveness, especially in the energy-rich South China Sea, has raised concerns within the region, and the United States is challenging Chinese maritime hegemony and seeking stronger ties with nations pushing back against Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday decried “decades of bad behavior” from China that have hampered free trade, laying out a case at a Southeast Asian forum for Washington’s escalating trade war with Beijing.

Pompeo also said on Sunday that he was “very confident” the United States would be able to build a maritime coalition in the Gulf, despite a lukewarm response from European and Asian allies.

“They understand that they have goods that flow through this region, that are important to their own economies and so deterrence in the Strait is incredibly important to their citizens and to their countries,” he said.

“So, I am confident that when we begin to build out this process and begin to develop the operational concept which will be run by Secretary of Defense and his team, I’m very confident that we will have a global coalition that does what Secretary Esper spoke to,” he added. (REUTERS)

(Production: Jill Gralow, Yiming Woo, Stefica Nicol Bikes)

Brazilians scramble to board last U.S. flights ahead of travel ban

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Brazilians scrambled Monday (May 25) to make last-minute arrangements to get to the United States ahead of new restrictions on travel from Brazil.

A handful of passengers were seen at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport preparing to board a United Flight to Houston Monday after the U.S. government brought the restrictions forward by two days as the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in the South American nation surpassed the U.S. daily toll.

A White House statement amended the timing of the start of the restrictions to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 26 (0359 GMT on Wednesday, May 27) instead of May 28 as in the original announcement on Sunday (May 24).

Two days earlier, Brazil overtook Russia as the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hotspot after the United States. Washington’s ban applies to foreigners traveling to the United States if they had been in Brazil in the last two weeks.

Brazil’s coronavirus deaths reported in the last 24 hours were higher than fatalities in the United States for the first time on Monday, according to the health ministry. Brazil registered 807 deaths and 620 died in the United States.

Brazil has 374,898 cases, behind the U.S. with 1.637 million. Total deaths in the U.S. has reached 97,988, according to Reuters tally, compared with Brazil at 23,473.

The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of U.S. President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

China says immediate probe into COVID-19 origin “premature”

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday it is “premature” to immediately launch an investigation into the origins and spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing that the “majority of countries” in the world believe the pandemic is not yet over.

The European Union and Australia are pushing a resolution calling for a review into the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus at the World Health Assembly.

The resolution will be put forward on Tuesday (May 19) if it gains backing from two-thirds of the 194 members of the assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Fang Nanlin)

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