Vietnam digs in on South China Sea oil and gas projects amid Chinese pressure, SE Asia News & Top Stories

BANGKOK – Vietnam, locked in one of its most protracted test of wills with China of late, is trying to allay fears that yet another foreign joint venture energy project in the South China Sea may be canned due to pressure from Beijing. The question over American firm ExxonMobil’s involvement in the Ca Voi Xanh, or Blue Whale, gas field project off central Vietnam arose as a Chinese survey ship remained in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone this week, the third such encroachment over the past two months. On Friday afternoon…

EDITORIAL: Beijing is not ‘mellowing’

Beijing’s efforts to buy its way into the hearts of smaller nations show no signs of abating, even as China’s economy continues to slow, hampered by its trade dispute with the US and sluggish domestic demand. The billions of dollars that it is pumping into infrastructure projects in other nations as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) Belt and Road Initiative are paying off diplomatically, as shown by several news reports this week. It is not just in the South Pacific, where the Solomon Islands Cabinet is debating whether…

Navy Destroyer Tests China’s Claim to Disputed S. China Sea Islands

A Navy destroyer sailed close to disputed South China Sea islands in a direct challenge to Chinese maritime claims over the strategic waterway. U.S. and allied warships and aircraft have stepped up naval and air patrols to challenge China’s claims to control about 90 percent of the South China Sea. The USS Wayne E. Meyer, a guided-missile destroyer, conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea on Friday. Recent Stories in National Security “This freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the…

US Navy warship challenges Chinese claims in the South China Sea

The guided-missile destroyer “USS Wayne E. Meyer challenged the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and also contested China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands,” Cdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s 7th fleet said in a statement. “China, Taiwan, and Vietnam each claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands. All three claimants require either permission or advance notification before a foreign military vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ through territorial seas,” Mommsen said, adding “the unilateral imposition of any authorization or notification requirement…

Man charged with shooting 3 at Walmart to be extradited

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Mississippi man accused of shooting two Walmart workers and a police officer won’t fight extradition to face murder charges in his home state. Martez Abram appeared in court in Tennessee on Friday on a fugitive warrant. He waived extradition proceedings. The 39-year-old Abram was treated at a Memphis hospital after he was shot by police and arrested July 30 at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi. Authorities say Abram had been suspended from his job before he shot two co-workers and a police officer. The employees…

Malaysia, China Agree to Create Panel to Handle South China Sea Disputes

Kuala Lumpur and Beijing will establish a bilateral consultative mechanism to resolve differences on the South China Sea, the two nations’ top diplomats said Thursday. The announcement came less than a month after the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard launched joint drills with the Malaysian navy amid regional concerns over Beijing’s growing presence in the disputed sea region. “We are agreeable to the formation of the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told a joint news conference after he met with Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi in Beijing.…