the-dropping-and-target-striking-contest-of-kpa-special

'Conflict could break out at any moment' over N Korea: China

BEIJING: A conflict over North Korea could break out “at any moment”, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said Friday (Apr 14), warning there would be “no winner” in any war as tensions soar with the US.

The sharp language came after President Donald Trump said the North Korea problem “will be taken care of”, as speculation mounts that the reclusive state could be preparing another nuclear or missile test.

“Lately, tensions have risen … and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment,” Wang said. “If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner.”

Whichever side provoked a conflict “must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price,” he said in a joint press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Trump has sent a aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula to press his point, one of a series of signals that indicate his willingness to shake up foreign policy strategy.

The US military on Thursday dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb it possesses on Afghanistan, targeting a complex used by the Islamic State group.

Trump also flexed his military muscle last week by ordering cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase the US believed was the origin of a chemical weapons attack on civilians in a northern Syria town.

The moves are seen as an implicit warning to North Korea that Washington is not afraid to use force.

Trump has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

A White House foreign policy advisor said Friday that the US is assessing military options in response to the North’s weapons programs, saying another provocative test was a question of “when” rather than “if”.

There are reports of activity at a nuclear test site in North Korea ahead of Saturday’s 105th anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder Kim Il-Sung, which have fuelled speculation it could carry out a sixth test.

But Beijing has long opposed dramatic action against Pyongyang, fearing the regime’s collapse would send a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the US military on its doorstep.

“Dialogue is the only possible solution,” Wang said.

Any US strike on North Korea could prompt retaliation against allies or US forces in South Korea or Japan. But there are few good diplomatic or economic options for the Trump administration.

The North is already under multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and appears to see these programs as insurance against regime change.

Rattled by Trump’s behaviour, Beijing – Pyongyang’s sole major ally and economic lifeline – has adopted a tougher line against its neighbour, including suspending coal imports from the country for the remainder of the year.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

nguyen-xuan-phuc-speaks-during-a-joint-press-briefing-with-his

Vietnam seeks South Korean support in South China Sea

HANOI: Vietnam’s Prime Minister sought support for the nation’s stance in the South China Sea when he met South Korea’s foreign minister in Hanoi on Monday.

Vietnam is the country most openly at odds with China over the waterway since the Philippines pulled back from confrontation under President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The Prime Minister proposed that South Korea continue its support over the position of Vietnam and Southeast Asia on the South China Sea issue and to help the country improve its law enforcement at the sea”, the government said in a statement on its website after the meeting between Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

The statement did not say whether South Korea backed Vietnam’s position on the South China Sea.

Yun did affirm his country’s willingness to promote ties despite instability in South Korea after the ousting of President Park Geun-hye over a graft scandal.

South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest foreign investor thanks to companies like Samsung.

South Korea and China are currently in dispute over deployment of the U.S. anti-missile defence system. South Korea on Monday has complained to the World Trade Organization about Chinese retaliation against its companies over the deployment.

Last week, Vietnam demanded China stop sending cruise ships to the area in response to one of Beijing’s latest moves to bolster its claims to the strategic waterway.

China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the route, through which about US$ 5 trillion of trade passes each year.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Julia Glover)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

chinese-foreign-minister-wang-yi-talks-with-u-s-secretary-of

In talks with US, China calls for diplomacy on North Korea

BEIJING: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday that there had to be a commitment to using diplomatic means to peacefully settle the North Korea issue.

Tillerson said Wang had agreed they would work together to try to get North Korea’s government to change its current course of pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The two were speaking to reporters after meeting in Beijing.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

u-s-secretary-of-state-tillerson-arrives-at-haneda-international

North Korea, China in focus as Tillerson starts Asia trip in Tokyo

TOKYO: Japan will be seeking clues to Washington’s policies on a volatile North Korea and a rising China while hoping to steer clear of trade rows when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets officials on Thursday at the start of his first Asia trip.

The former oil executive, who will also travel to South Korea and China, will seek to reassure Tokyo and Seoul about countering North Korea’s growing nuclear prowess, and press China to do more on one of the most serious security threats facing President Donald Trump.

Tillerson is expected to confirm the “unshakeable bond” of the U.S.-Japan alliance and underline cooperation on meeting the threat from Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programmes when he meets Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe is the only Asian leader to have met U.S. President Donald Trump since his inauguration, and Trump said the United States was “100 percent” behind Japan.

North Korea last week launched four more ballistic missiles and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

Tillerson will have “substantive, hard” talks with U.S. partners in Asia on next steps in dealing with North Korea, but his visit is not likely to produce an immediate specific response, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Washington has previously said all options, including military, are on the table in its review of policies toward North Korea and Japanese officials are keen to know more details.

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim “Mattis correctly said all options are on the table … but as a practical matter, I don’t see the administration deciding to preemptively strike North Korea’s capabilities,” said Michael Green, a former U.S. official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Japan has a pacifist constitution but influential lawmakers have been pushing for the country to develop the ability to counter Pyongyang’s military advances.

Tokyo is also considering beefing up its ballistic missile defences with a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system or Aegis Ashore, a land-based version of the missile defence system used at sea.

China’s assertiveness in the East China Sea, where it has a territorial row with Japan, and the South China Sea, where it has disputes with the Philippines and several other Southeast Asia nations, will also be on the agenda as will trade.

Trump administration trade adviser Peter Navarro cited Japan on Monday for non-tariff trade barriers and said Washington must use its leverage as the world’s largest market to boost U.S. exports.

Some Japanese officials, though, say trade will take a back seat to security. “We have more key issues of common concern, like North Korea,” one official said, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to media.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

philippine-president-rodrigo-duterte-speaks-during-a-visit-in

Wary of China, Duterte tells navy to build 'structures' east of Philippines

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the navy to put up “structures” to assert sovereignty over a stretch of water east of the country, where Manila has reported a Chinese survey ship was casing the area last year.

The Philippines has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing after the vessel was tracked moving back and forth over Benham Rise, a vast area east of the country declared by the United Nations in 2012 as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

The Philippines says Benham Rise is rich in biodiversity and fish stocks.

China’s foreign ministry on Friday said the ship was engaged in “normal freedom of navigation and right of innocent passage”, and nothing more.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte’s instruction was to increase naval patrols in that area and put up structures “that says this is ours”. He did not specify what structures would be erected.

“We are concerned, they have no business going there,” Lorenzana told reporters late on Sunday.

Though he accepts China’s explanation, Lorenzana said it was clear its vessel was not passing through the area because it stopped several times, for sustained periods.

Lorenzana last week said he was suspicious of China’s activities near Benham Rise and suggested they might be part of surveys to test water depths for submarine routes to the Pacific.

Asked during a news conference what his instruction was to the navy concerning Benham Rise, Duterte said the Philippines had to assert itself, but gently.

“You go there and tell them straight that this is ours,” he said. “But I say it in friendship.”

The issue risks disturbing ties with China at a time of rare cordiality between the two countries under Duterte, who has chosen to tap Beijing for business rather than confront it over its maritime activities and intentions in disputed waters.

Rows with China have usually been about the South China Sea, west of the Philippines, a conduit for about $ 5 trillion of shipped goods annually. China lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea.

While Duterte has been sanguine about ties with China, Lorenzana is more wary, saying that Beijing’s fortification of manmade islands inside the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone has not abated.

Duterte said ties with China were in good shape and dismissed any suggestion of diplomatic disputes resurfacing soon.

“Let us not fight about ownership or sovereignty at this time, because things are going great for my country,” he said. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

asia-pacific-1

China say North Korean issue fundamentally between US, North Korea

BEIJING: China on Friday dismissed renewed pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump over its role in North Korea, saying the crux of the matter was a dispute between Washington and Pyongyang.

Trump told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea “very easily if they want to”, turning up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions.

China has made clear that it opposes North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and has repeatedly called for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a return to negotiations between Pyongyang and world powers.

It has also insisted it is dedicated to enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

“We have said many times already that the crux of the North Korean nuclear issue is the problem between the United States and North Korea,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing, responding to Trump’s remarks.

“We hope the relevant parties can shoulder their responsibilities, play the role the should, and together with China play a constructive role for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and for its denuclearisation,” he added.

China announced on Saturday last week it was banning imports of coal from North Korea, after it tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korean state media issued a rare reproach of China on Thursday saying its main diplomatic backer was “dancing to the tune” of the United States for halting its coal imports because of its nuclear and missile programmes.

The North’s state-run KCNA news agency did not refer directly to China by name but in an unmistakable censure it accused a “neighbouring country” of going along with North Korea’s enemies to “bring down its social system”.

Asked about the report, Geng said the U.N. sanctions were a clear signal of opposition from the international community about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and that China would enforce them.

However, he also described China and North Korea as being friendly neighbours.

“We are willing to work with North Korea to promote the stable and healthy development of relations,” Geng said, adding North Korea was well aware of China’s position on its nuclear programme.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

china-bird-flu

China reports more severe form of bird flu, threat to poultry: WHO

GENEVA: China has detected an evolution in the H7N9 avian flu virus that is capable of causing severe disease in poultry and requires close monitoring, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Samples of the virus taken from two infected humans were injected into birds in a laboratory and became “highly pathogenic” for poultry, it said.

But that designation applies only to birds, not humans, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said, and there is “no evidence that the changes in the virus affect the virus’ ability to spread between humans.”

A total of 304 new laboratory-confirmed human infections were reported in mainland China between Jan. 19 and Feb. 14, along with 36 deaths, the WHO said in its latest update on Monday.

The evolution of the virus may mean that the disease will become more apparent in some flocks, if birds begin to die off, making detection and control easier.

“This is the first time these changes have been detected. These are the only two cases in Guangdong province, China. So far, there have been no reports if similar changes have occurred elsewhere,” Lindmeier said.

“It is a reminder that we have to keep looking closely,” he told Reuters.

Animal health experts say bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus in humans is hard to detect in chickens and geese.

In all, since the “fifth wave” of the virus, first identified in 2013, began in October 2016, 425 human cases have been recorded in China, including 73 deaths officially reported by authorities, according to WHO figures.

“Most of these cases had known exposure to poultry or its environment, that is the main important link to this influenza type,” Lindmeier told a news briefing.

In all since 2013, there have been 1,200 laboratory-confirmed cases in China, including more than one-third since October, he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

britain-s-foreign-secretary-johnson-arrives-for-the-g-20-foreign

Britain, China pledge to promote free trade

SHANGHAI: China and Britain have pledged to promote free trade and cooperate on building a open world economy, fanning efforts to shore up what the two governments have called a “golden era” in their relationship, the Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

China is one of the countries Britain hopes to sign a free trade agreement with once it leaves the European Union, and London and Beijing have been keen to show that Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc will not affect ties.

The pledges on trade and cooperation were made during a Thursday meeting by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of 20 largest industrialised countries held in Germany’s western city of Bonn.

The two countries have in recent months announced closer cooperation in areas such as financial services as the British government prepares to negotiate the country’s EU divorce.

Wang said that both nations would promote flagship cooperation on projects such as the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Britain, and would look to strengthen their partnership on issues such as trade through close high-level exchanges, Xinhua said.

Johnson said that Britain will strengthen strategic cooperation with China on international affairs, the report added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been invited by China to attend a major summit on the “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road, diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Ben Blanchard & SImon Cameron-Moore)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

asia-pacific

China to return seized US drone, says Washington 'hyping up' incident

BEIJING/WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.: China will return an underwater U.S. drone seized by a naval vessel this week in the South China Sea, both countries said on Saturday, but Beijing complained that Washington had been “hyping up” the incident.

The drone, known as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory. The Pentagon went public with its complaint after the action and said on Saturday it had secured a deal to get the drone back.

“Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

The incident drew criticism from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to take a more aggressive approach in dealing with Beijing.

The drone, which the Pentagon said was operating lawfully and was clearly marked as U.S. property, was collecting data about the salinity, temperature and clarity of the water about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, off the Philippines.

It was seized on Thursday just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve it, U.S. officials said.

The Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of “unidentified equipment,” and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues before discovering it was a U.S. drone.

“China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.

“During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.

Trump, a Republican who takes office on Jan. 20, waded into the dispute on Twitter on Saturday.

“China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act,” Trump said in a tweet early on Saturday from his seaside resort club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where he plans to spend the holidays.

HEIGHTENED CONCERNS

The drone incident has raised fresh concerns about China’s increased military presence and aggressive posture in the disputed South China Sea, including its militarization of maritime outposts.

New satellite imagery shows China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. research group said this week.

Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters Beijing considers its own, China’s Defence Ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.

“China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.

The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, earlier cited an unidentified Chinese source as saying they believed the issue would be resolved smoothly.

Trump has previously complained about the South China Sea build-up. He has threatened to declare China a currency manipulator and force changes in U.S.-Chinese trade policy, which he says has led to the greatest theft of American jobs in history.

Trump has also raised questions about whether Washington would stick to its nearly four-decades-old policy of recognising that Taiwan is part of “one China.”

He irked Beijing by taking a congratulatory phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan after his Nov. 8 election victory. China lodged a diplomatic protest.

The 10-minute telephone call was the first of its kind since U.S. President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China.”

President Barack Obama said on Friday it was fine for Trump to review Washington’s policy toward Taiwan, but he cautioned that a shift could lead to significant consequences in the U.S. relationship with Beijing.

After China said it would return the drone, Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, tweeted a link to a news story, saying: “@realdonaldtrump gets it done.”

There was, however, no evidence that Trump had played any role. U.S. officials said the negotiations took place in Beijing during the overnight hours in the United States.

Miller did not respond to requests for comment.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jonathan Landay in Washington, Josephine Mason and Meng Meng in Beijing; editing by Ian Geoghegan, G Crosse)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News

china-s-foreign-minister-wang-yi-looks-on-in-riga-1

China labels Trump call “petty action” by Taiwan: Phoenix TV

BEIJING: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was a “petty action” by Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday, Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television reported.

The conversation was the first such contact with Taiwan by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China”.

“This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action, and cannot change the ‘one China’ structure already formed by the international community,” Wang said at an academic forum, the station said.

“I believe that it won’t change the longstanding one China policy of the United States government. The ‘one China’ principle is the cornerstone of the healthy development of Sino-U.S. ties, and we hope this political basis is not interfered with or damaged in any way.”

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring under its control what China views as a wayward province.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive policy issues, and China generally lambastes any form of official contact by foreign governments with Taiwan’s leaders.

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who won election in January, and believes she wants to push for the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing. Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China and wants peaceful relations.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Channel NewsAsia Asia Pacific News