Esper says it’s ‘unfortunate’ that Philippines ended military agreement with US

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday it was “unfortunate” that the Philippine government decided to terminate a military agreement between Washington and Manila but cautioned that the Pentagon had only received notification about the move in the last few hours and wanted to hear from his military commanders before charting a path forward following the announcement. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, which was signed in 1988, US military aircraft and vessels are allowed free entry into the the Philippines. US military personnel are also subjected to relaxed visa and passport…

Sea code high on Asean summit agenda – The Manila Times

HANOI, Vietnam: Member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China expect the completion of the second reading of the code of conduct (COC) covering the disputed South China Sea this year, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. TERRITORIAL CONFLICT Map shows disputed claims in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) including major outposts and facilities on the Spratly Islands. AFP / ADRIAN LEUNG AND GAL ROMA Vietnam Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Thi Thu hang said the South China Sea would be high on the agenda of…

Coronavirus keeps Fort Myers woman’s cruise from docking in China

CLOSE Dr. Diana Adama documents her days inside Wuhan, China to help people understand the city in the center of the coronavirus outbreak. USA TODAY She’s not sick – no one on the MS Westerdam is, as far as Fort Myers public health nurse Holley Rauen knows – but coronavirus fears are keeping the Holland America cruise ship adrift in the South China Sea, as country after country denies it docking privileges. Twenty-eight days into what was to be a multi-port Southeast Asia tour, Rauen, 1,454 fellow passengers and 802 crew wait…

More Ships? No Problem, Thanks To New Tracking Tech From Space

The South China sea is one of the busiest ship trafficking regions in the world. Artyom Ivanov/TASS The South China Sea now has sharper satellite “vision” watching the region, helping to manage one of the busiest ship trafficking areas in the world. A collaboration led by Spire Maritime and China’s HiFleet recently increased visibility of ship signals in the region by more than 200%, according to representatives. This is important for many reasons, including avoiding ship collisions and safely bringing in ship traffic to ports — in much the same…

China and ASEAN set emergency meeting on coronavirus

SINGAPORE — China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are preparing to hold an emergency meeting of their foreign ministers this month to discuss the outbreak of the new coronavirus. A diplomatic source from an ASEAN member confirmed that a meeting is being planned. The foreign minister from that country will attend, the source said. The conference, which would be held as early as Feb. 20 in Laos, is intended to share information and improve coordination among China and the 10-nation bloc to combat the virus. The new coronavirus was first detected…

Beware China’s ‘Barbarian Handlers’ – The Diplomat

Advertisement Writing in the New York Times recently, People”s Liberation Army Senior Colonel Zhou Bo made an impassioned plea for China and the United States to dampen down the risk of what he called the “real danger” of a “conflict that neither side has anticipated or possibly control.” One has to get a sense of the man to get a better understanding of his argument. I have known Zhou Bo for years, by virtue of the fact that he was a key member of successive PLA delegations which attended the Shangri-La…

Donald Trump Proposes $1.5 Billion Fund to Ensure Indo-Pacific is Free of ‘Malign Chinese Influence’

File photo: US President Donald Trump The US has long accused China of bullying Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei who have contesting claims over the South China Sea. PTI Last Updated: February 11, 2020, 5:49 PM IST Washington: The Trump administration has proposed USD 1.5 billion in budgetary allocation for 2021 fiscal for the strategic Indo-Pacific, which it said was part of its efforts to ensure that the region remains free, open, and independent of “malign Chinese influence”. China has been trying to spread its…

Taiwan hits out at China coronavirus travel bans

TAIPEI: Taiwan on Tuesday (Feb 11) hit out at countries that “confuse” it with China after the Philippines became the latest to impose a travel ban on the island over the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Despite its cultural links and close proximity to China, Taiwan moved swiftly against the outbreak and currently has just 18 confirmed cases of the new virus. Advertisement Advertisement But the self-ruled democracy has found itself increasingly caught up in travel restrictions aimed at China, where the outbreak has killed more than 1,000 people and infected over 42,000.…

Philippines Tells U.S. It Will End Military Cooperation Deal

MANILA — The Philippines said Tuesday it had officially informed the United States that it was scrapping a military pact that has given the longtime American ally a security blanket for the past two decades. The notice to terminate the pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement, comes as President Rodrigo Duterte has warmed up to China while distancing himself from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler. The move also comes as the Philippines has shown increasing reluctance to stand up to China over its territorial claims in the South…