USS Ronald Reagan sails in PH waters

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2019   •   1725

MANILA, Philippines – One of America’s warships has arrived in Philippine Waters in the latest show of the United States’ military might amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea and new flare-ups between the U.S. and China.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan led the Ronald Reagan Strike Group which includes Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).

USS Ronald Reagan is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier which carries supersonic F/A-18 jets, spy planes, and helicopters.

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines said the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is in the country for a brief port call that “highlights the strong community and military connections” between the two countries.

“This visit is a great representation of our strong friendship, partnership, and alliance with the Philippines, as well as a testament to our joint commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in a statement.

The warship’s visit to the Philippines comes after the U.S. criticized China’s “destabilizing” behavior in the Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday accused China of using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals, including weaponizing the global commons and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations intellectual property.

READ: United States opposes ‘destabilizing’ behavior by China in Indo-Pacific – Pentagon chief

Ronald Reagan, Chancellorsville, and Antietam are forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This port call is a direct reflection of the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines and underscores our strong support to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of Task Force 70 said in the same statement.

While it is one of America’s most visible symbols of resolve and lethal instruments of war, the ship operates on its motto “peace through strength” by using its presence to deter attacks from enemies, according to its website.

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines said that while the ship is docked in Manila, the U.S. and Philippine navies will participate in sporting events, engage in senior leadership exchanges, and take part in community relations and cultural events. 

The ships will also be open for tours for students and youth.

“Visiting the Philippines is always incredible and I’m glad that the officers and sailors of Carrier Strike Group 5 will have the chance to deepen ties with our critical ally while enjoying the culture and beauty of this wonderful country,” Thomas said.

The EmbasFor over 65 years, the U.S. and the Philippines have maintained a Mutual Defense Treaty demonstrating our joint commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. (with a report from Reuters)

China’s Singles Day sales surpass $1 billion in 1st minute

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

Workers sort packages at the Yuqiao mail processing center on Singles’ Day, in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China, 11 November 2019. Singles’ Day is the largest online shopping festival in the world and Chinese consumers are expected to spend billions on bargains during the one-day e-commerce shopping spree. EPA-EFE/MENG DELONG CHINA OUT

SHANGHAI, China — China’s golden day for e-commerce, Singles Day, began at midnight (16.00 GMT Sunday) with sales surpassing $1 billion in just one minute through the platforms of online retail giant Alibaba Group.

At 12 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of Chinese began shopping and Alibaba began counting orders with the aim of breaking internet sales records for a single day.

In the first five minutes alone, products worth $4.3 billion were sold on platforms such as Taobao or T-Mall in this public shopping festival similar to Black Friday in the United States.

One hour after midnight, Alibaba Group said sales had reached over $12 billion.

The goal is to beat last year’s record of $30.8 billion in sales, a figure expected to be achieved through an increasing number of Chinese internet users and online shoppers.

According to Alibaba Group’s latest quarterly results published at the beginning of November, annual active consumers in China reached 693 million, 15.3 percent more than a year earlier.

Singles Day emerged in 2009 with the participation of only 27 stores and a collection of just 52 million yuan ($7.4 million).

Sales each year now reach 2.5 times higher than the total of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – large sales days in the US — combined.

Although most purchases are made in China, there are also international transactions since the company is present in other countries through its AliExpress platform.

And although other online sales platforms have joined the day, as well as thousands of physical stores, Alibaba is the main promoter.

It celebrates in style, such as with a televised gala in which artists and celebrities encourage people to buy.

Sunday’s show, which ended with a countdown to mark the beginning of shopping, was held in the city of Shanghai and featured performances by artists such as the US pop star Taylor Swift. EFE-EPA

BI arrests man wanted for investment scam in China

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese national wanted for his alleged involvement in economic crimes in China has been arrested by the operatives of the Bureau of Immigration, the agency said Monday.

Chen long, alias Chen Chenglong was arrested last Oct. 30 in a building in Makati City, the bureau said in a statement.

Chen, 32, and his cohort were accused of setting up an unregistered investment company in Shandong province and “reportedly duped their victims more than 60 million RMB or more than P400 million.”

The BI said it launched an operation and case build-up after receiving information from Chinese authorities about Chen’s crimes.

“Upon receipt of the information, we immediately conducted a case build-up and determined his location to effect his arrest,” Bobby Raquepo, head of the BI’s Fugitive Search Unit said.

The bureau added that Chen’s passport has been canceled by the Chinese government, making him an undocumented alien.

Chen has been transferred to the BI Detention Center in Bicutan, Taguig pending the implementation of his deportation.

DND: ‘Green Aura’ issue must not be blown out of proportion

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2019

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday (November 3) downplayed reports in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the “Green Aura”, was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019.

In a statement, the DND said, “Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized.”

The defense department further said that an official report of the incident has been forwarded to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for its appropriate action.

The DND has also reiterated its call “for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS.”

It stressed that Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ and that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it as a common fishing area.

The DND also called on the Chinese government to “respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community.” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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