UK says China’s security law is “clear violation” of Hong Kong treaty

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020   •   584

The United Kingdom said on Wednesday (July 1) that China’s imposition of a security law on Hong Kong was a “clear and serious” violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration and called on the People’s Republic to honor its international obligations.

“We have very carefully now assessed the contents of this national security legislation since it was published last night,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters and the BBC.

“It constitutes a clear violation of the autonomy of Hong Kong, and a direct threat to the freedoms of its people, and therefore I’m afraid to say it is a clear and serious violation of the Joint Declaration treaty between the United Kingdom and China.”

Raab said he would set out shortly the action Britain would take with its international partners.

Hong Kong’s autonomy was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule – imposed after Britain defeated China in the First Opium War. (Reuters)

(Production: Will Russell, Hanna Rantala, Polly Rider)

UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

600,000 doses of China’s CoronaVac to arrive in PH on Feb. 28 — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A Palace official confirmed that the initial shipment of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is set to arrive in the Philippines soon.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a total of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac from China’s pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech will be arriving on Sunday (February 28).

The official thanked China for its donations which will be used in the initial vaccine rollout of the government. 

Concerned officials from the national government will be welcoming the arrival of the vaccines in person on Sunday.

“Inaasahan na darating ang araw ng linggo, itong araw ng linggo pong ito ang Sinovac kaya po excited na tayong lahat,” Roque said.

“Inaasahan po at at least pinaplano natin na sasalubunin po ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the vaccines serve as ‘testament’ to the two countries’ diplomatic relationship.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” he said.

With the arrival of CoronaVac supplies, the government is expected to begin the roll out of COVID-19 immunization on Monday (March 1) with medical frontliners as the among the initial priorities despite advised from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the vaccine is not advisable for individuals with high exposure to COVID-19 positive cases.

First in the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot will be the spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and COVID-19 survivor, Dr. Jonas del Rosario.

“What we need is one day and we will roll out. So if it arrives on Sunday, if I’m not mistaken, we can rollout on Monday dahil excited na excited na po ang maraming kababayan natin,” Roque said.

The Palace official stressed, meanwhile, that the public should look into the positive side of vaccination regardless of which brand as long as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it can help address the current problems in relation to the pandemic.

But according to Dr. Garardo Legaspi, Director of UP-PGH, the initial survey among their staff revealed that about 90% of the hospital’s healthcare workers pre-registered and agreed to get a vaccine shot.

Although the survey, however, offered them Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and not the Chinese brand.

“Hindi ko masasabi kung ilan ang darating talaga. We are trying to manage the understanding of the EUA given to Sinovac kaya po siguro over the next few days, kailangan naming i-thresh out ang ibig sabihin ng fda na mas magiging very useful for our health workers to make their decision,” Legaspi explained.

The other survey, meanwhile, revealed that 75% of the staff agreed to be vaccinated regardless of brand.

“Hindi naman porket nabakunahan ng this particular vaccine na Sinovac ay walang proteksyon. Ang ibig lang sabihin, ang proteksyon niya ay hindi as high to prevent mild symptoms from occurring, which probably magiging dahilan ito para hindi makapasok ang healthcare workers sa ospital,” Legaspi noted.

“Siguro iyon ang basis ng FDA para sabihin na hindi siya ideal para sa healthcare workers dahil kahit mild symptom, hindi sila papasok pag nagkaroon sila ng mild symptom at mababawasan ang manpower sa ating ospital,” he added.

Legaspi further said that so far, all the vaccines which the FDA has granted approval — Sinovac, Pfizer and Astrazeneca— promise 100 percent protection against severe conditions related to COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH diplomatic protest vs China law won’t affect COVID-19 vaccine procurement — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that the diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines, questioning China’s new coast guard law, will not affect the country’s plan to procure vaccines developed by Chinese firms.

“Walang pong epekto yan, dahil ibang usapin naman ang bakuna. Ang bakuna po is actually humanitarian act of the entire planet earth in response to humanitarian disaster,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said Manila filed a protest against Beijing’s move to pass a new law allowing its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

Locsin said that while enacting a law is a sovereign prerogative, the new law – given the area involved which is the South China Sea – is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it.

Malacañang has welcomed the filing of the diplomatic protest, saying that this is consistent with the country’s position that while states can enact laws as part of their sovereignty, this must be done in compliance with the United Nations (UN) charter which prohibits the use of force unless by way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.

“We welcome the diplomatic protest of the DFA, and this will prove that the Philippines is fully committed to the rule of law and will assert all its right available under existing principles of international law to defend its interests,” Roque said.

China’s new law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the disputed waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and three other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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