Philippines calls for construction freeze in South China Sea

admin   •   June 16, 2014   •   2228

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivers a statement during a news conference in Manila March 30, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ROMEO RANOCO

(Reuters) – The Philippines said on Monday that China’s “expansion agenda” in the disputed South China Sea threatened security and stability in the region, calling on all claimant states to halt construction activities that may raise tensions.

Albert del Rosario, foreign affairs secretary, said he supported U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel’s proposal for China and Southeast Asian states to get together for dialogue.

“Let’s call for a moratorium in terms of activities that escalate tension,” del Rosario told ANC Television on Monday. “Now, let’s do that while we work on an expeditious conclusion of the code of conduct and effective implementation.”

Del Rosario said China and other claimant states have been rushing construction activities in their respective claimed territories to expand, citing works in Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Gaven Reef, and Cuarteron Reef.

“They’re accelerating their expansion agenda for the following reasons … one is they want to do this before the conclusion of the code of conduct. They’re also trying to do this very quickly in anticipation of the handing down of the tribunal award.”

Southeast Asian states have been pressing China to conclude a Code of Conduct – a set of rules governing naval actions – for the South China Sea. Last year, the Philippines filed a case at the U.N. Arbitral Court in The Hague to clarify its rights to explore and exploit resources under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea. China has refused to participate in the case.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had a right to do what it wanted on its islands in the South China Sea as they were Chinese territory, and criticized the Philippines for what it called Manila’s illegal occupation of some of the islands and construction work there.

“On the one hand, the Philippines keep making further provocative moves, and one the other hand make thoughtless remarks about China’s appropriate moves within the scope of our sovereignty,” she told a daily news briefing. “This is totally unreasonable.”

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, believed to have huge oil-and-gas deposits and rich in fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims over the sea where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.

Del Rosario said Chinese construction in the Spratlys was an attempt to alter the character of the features, converting reefs into islands to be able to increase maritime entitlements.

China and Vietnam are also involved in an increasingly bitter spat over the operations of a Chinese oil rig in another part of the South China Sea, around the Paracel Islands.

China has made Woody Island, which Beijing calls Sansha city, the hub of its operations on the Paracels, including building a port and airport facilities there.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; and Lara Murallos; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchardin BEIJING; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

74 new COVID-19 cases reported among overseas Filipinos — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported 74 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), bringing the total number to 8,762 as of Wednesday (July 8).

Most of the new cases reported are in the Middle East, the DFA said. 

Meanwhile, the total number of OFWs under treatment has reached 2,932.

Nineteen new recoveries were also reported, bringing the total of OFWs who have recovered from the disease to 5,237.

However, 13 new deaths were recorded in the Middle East bringing the total number of COVID-19 fatalities among OFWs to 590.

With the resumption of international flight operations at NAIA Terminal 3 on Wednesday,  the DFA expects a rise in repatriations.

The agency assures its steadfast commitment to effectively facilitating and coordinating the safe return of Filipinos affected by the pandemic.

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China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

Heavy security as China opens national security office in Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.

The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.

Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.

“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”

The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)

(Production: Aleksander Solum)

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