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US backs resumption of China-Philippines talks on South China Sea

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

US backs resumption of China-Philippines talks on South China Sea
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


VIENTIANE: US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he supported the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following an international court ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month.

China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, in which U.S. ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi had asked Kerry to lend his support for bilateral talks to restart between Manila and Beijing in a meeting between the two in the Laos capital of Vientiane on Monday.

“The foreign minister said the time has come to move away from public tensions and turn the page,” Kerry told a news conference. “And we agree with that … no claimant should be acting in a way that is provocative, no claimant should take steps that wind up raising tensions.”

The court ruling has exacerbated tensions between the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which are pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while fostering ties with an increasingly assertive Beijing.

China scored a diplomatic victory on Monday when ASEAN dropped any reference to the ruling from a joint statement at the end of the bloc’s foreign ministers’ meeting in the face of resolute objections from Cambodia, China’s closest ASEAN ally.

Kerry, who was due to travel to the Philippines later on Tuesday, said he would encourage Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to engage in dialogue and negotiations with China when the two meet in Manila on Wednesday.

Duterte has already appointed former President Fidel Ramos to visit Beijing and begin informal talks to resolve the dispute, a Philippine Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.

Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told reporters in Vientiane that the dispute was not between China and the United States but between China and the Philippines.

“We would like to pursue bilateral relationships in so far as the peaceful resolution of the dispute is concerned that is between the China and the Philippines. The others are not concerned with that dispute,” Yasay told reporters.

PEACE AND STABILITY

Wang, who met Kerry on the sidelines of the ASEAN gathering in Laos, said on Tuesday he would welcome Ramos’ visit.

The Chinese foreign minister also told his US counterpart that China and ASEAN had agreed the dispute should get back on to the “correct” track of being resolved by direct talks with the parties concerned, according to a foreign ministry statement released on Tuesday.

China “hopes the United States side takes actual steps to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines, and supports the efforts of China and ASEAN to maintain regional peace and stability”, Wang said.

Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tensions in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute, accusations Washington denies.

In an address to foreign ministers, including Kerry, at the gathering in Vientiane, Wang criticized the United States, Japan and Australia for a joint statement on the issue they released late on Monday.

The statement “continued to hype up the South China Sea issue and play up tensions,” he said. “Now is the time we will test whether you are protectors of peace or agitators.”

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, a senior US administration official said at the end of a visit to China by National Security Adviser Susan Rice that she had emphasized all parties should take steps to reduce tensions and use the ruling to reinvigorate regional diplomacy.

Rice also told Chinese officials, including a top military officer, that US military operations were designed to contribute to peace and stability, including in the South China Sea, the US official said.

“Those operations are lawful, they will continue, they’ve been longstanding, and again they’re designed to impart confidence and stability,” he added.

Kerry had said earlier that China’s dismissal of the international court ruling as “illegitimate” presented a challenge when the international community, including the United States, sees it as legally binding and a matter of law.

“So we still have a task ahead of us … which is to try to work going forward to make sure that we are resolving the issues through diplomacy and the rule of law,” he said.

Admiral John Richardson, the head of US naval operations, said at a news conference in Washington that he would be very concerned if China were to declare an air defense zone over the South China Sea or carry out reclamation activity around the Scarborough Shoal after the international court ruling.

Richardson said he raised the issue with Chinese officials during his visit to China last week.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Politics

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup

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Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup | The Thaiger

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to the military coup, which has received major international backlash. As a major donor to Myanmar, Japan joins other advanced nations in condemning the coup which has seen security forces using violence against peaceful protesters.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying in a phone call that “Japan will strongly urge the Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi and other detained individuals, and to swiftly restore democratic government.”

But it may not impose sanctions like the rest of the other developed countries as its longtime ties with the armed forces, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy and investment promoting policy in the country may serve as a barrier in doing so. Britan and the United States have imposed sanctions in recent days which include the US freezing military funds.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official says stopping its support of building projects would give China a chance to move in, increasing its clout in Myanmar. Around 450 Japanese companies operate in Myanmar with Japan being the 5th largest investor in the Southeast nation. Singapore has the most companies, followed by China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan spent about US $1.8 billion in official development assistance in the fiscal year of 2019, making it the largest among the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But it is unknown what China has poured into it as it has refused to disclose its expenditures.

The Japanese government plans to continue coronavirus emergency assistance to Myanmar through international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The World Bank, however, has stopped payments to projects in the nation indefinitely, after the coup on February 1, which disrupted the democratic elections last November and saw the arrest of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in a landslide victory.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Law

Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants

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Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants | The Thaiger

In a landmark decision, Australia is now requiring global digital giants, such as Facebook and Google, to pay for using local news content on their websites. The move sets a precedent that many global companies have been anticipating.

The law passed yesterday after Facebook and Google reached an agreement to pay local Australian news organisations for using their stories on their websites. 1 week ago, Australians woke up to a blackout after Facebook temporarily banned local news, which included emergency notifications. The blackout was in response to the legislation being put forth for approval, with Facebook spokespeople saying it seemed to be their only choice at the time.

The new law sets the stage for other countries worldwide to gain more revenue for local media companies by making such social media giants pay to use content. Google’s “Showcase” product will now feature paid local news with Facebook showing such paid news under its “News” category.

Companies like Google and Facebook pushed back against the legislation, saying such a law could threaten their companies’ business models, with Google saying it could make their search engine website “unworkable.”

But local news organisations have rebuked the reasoning, citing that social media giants claim a large percentage of online advertisin, leaving local news companies out of the revenue game. Citing that news is gathered by reporting and fieldwork, the companies say it is unfair for social media companies to profit largely off of the work of local, smaller companies.

The law, called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, aims to protect such local companies and to sustain public interest journalism. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs over the past decade as local media outlets have seen the bulk of their advertising revenues flow to digital companies’ sites after using their content.

Australia’s competition watchdog says that for every $100 invested by Australian advertisers, $49 is sent to Google and $24 to Facebook. Now, both online businesses say they will each invest around US $1 billion in local news content globally in the next 3 years. Facebook and Google now have 2 more months to reach solid agreements before being subjected to binding arbritations.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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World

Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs

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Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/Lady Gaga

Who knew that finding 2 french bulldogs would earn US $500,000? That is the case for the lucky person that finds Lady Gaga’s equally lucky stolen dogs. The dogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen in Los Angeles, California while out on a walk with their dog walker.

But that’s not all. The employee in charge of keeping the dogs healthy was shot and wounded by a gunman who left the scene in a car, but not before allegedly shooting another man in this 30s. That man was hospitalised according to LA police.

Asia, Gaga’s 3rd dog was luckily found by police at the scene and was taken home by the singer’s staff. It isn’t clear if the frenchies were targeted due to their owner’s famous status or if they were taken simply because they were an expensive pedigree breed that can be sold for thousands of dollars.

Gaga, however, has offered the hefty reward for their return with “no questions asked.”

SOURCE: CNN

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