Chad Sbragia warns Xi Jinping, China military buildup threatens U.S.

China’s decadeslong military buildup now poses a threat to U.S. security not just in Asia but also around the globe, and a confrontation with China could emerge at one of several flashpoints, a senior Pentagon official warned Thursday. Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant defense secretary for China, told a congressional commission that Beijing’s buildup of missiles, warships, aircraft, space weaponry and cybercapabilities has accelerated under President Xi Jinping. He described it as “one of the most ambitious military modernization efforts in recent history.” “In most of the potential flashpoints in the…

Australia to contract second RAAF MQ-4C Triton

The US Department of Defense has confirmed that it will issue Northrop Grumman a sole-source contract to supply Australia with an additional MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system for the Royal Australian Air Force. The US Department of Defense has confirmed that it will issue Northrop Grumman a sole-source contract to supply Australia with an additional MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system for the Royal Australian Air Force. The announcement made by the US Department of Defense as part of a notification posted to the US government’s beta.sam.gov website, is part of the $1.4…

Federal Government spends $1.1 billion on Northern Territory air base, expanding reach into the Indo-Pacific – Politics

Posted February 21, 2020 07:39:45 Photo: RAAF Base Tindal will eventually be home to some of the nation’s new F-35 joint strike fighter jets. (Reuters: Tom Reynolds) The Federal Government has announced a $1.1 billion upgrade to the Northern Territory’s RAAF Base Tindal in a bid to expand Australia and the United States’ air force capabilities into the Indo-Pacific. Key points: The upgrade to the base outside Katherine in the Northern Territory will cost $1.1 billion Some of Australia’s new F-35 joint strike fighters will be based at RAAF Tindal…

Business Update – Feb. 20: Nord Stream delays, food exports up, UN mulls investment | KyivPost

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe through Germany may become only a pipe dream if Russia cannot find a way to complete the last 6% of the project by itself, experts have told the Kyiv Post. The threat of U.S. sanctions in December caused a major European partner of Russia’s state-owned Gazprom to drop out of the $11-billion pipeline project, which could double Germany’s current gas transit capacity to 110 billion cubic meters annually.  But Ukrainian lawmakers and diplomats are concerned that Russia will eventually complete the pipeline,…

New Philippine navy chief keeps US ties afloat

Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, the Philippine Navy’s newly appointed chief, is not clearly taking his early command orders from President Rodrigo Duterte. Bacordo, who took up the navy’s top post on February 3, vowed at his appointment ceremony to “continue to maintain the nine occupied features in the [South China Sea]. We will continue to replenish and rotate our personnel in the [area],” he said. “At all times, we will show the flag in the [sea],” he told reporters, in remarks that likely pleased the United States and potentially…

China’s Communist Party makes the Chinese — and the world — sick

China’s coronavirus, after wreaking vast human suffering and a mounting death toll in Wuhan Province and elsewhere in China, has spread to other countries, disrupting travel and commerce and spurring well-founded fears of a global pandemic. It is hard to imagine that anything good could come out of this public health disaster. Yet, if the international community can muster the vision and courage, coordinated national policies could make it a historically transformative event. Since the totalitarian incompetence and callous dishonesty of the Chinese Communist Party brought about the public health…

Lorenzana confirms ‘intermittent’ presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday confirmed the “intermittent” presence of Chinese vessels surrounding Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea. “There were presence there intermittently but varying in numbers,” he told reporters in a text message. The Defense chief was responding to queries about the constant presence of Chinese maritime militia and coast guard near the Philippine-occupied island in the Spratlys. Pag-asa is the only outpost occupied by the Philippines in the Spratly Islands with a civilian community. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) director Gregory…

Maui man who traveled on Westerdam returns home | News, Sports, Jobs

Robert DeVinck of Wailea (left) enjoys Gala Night with friends Estelle and Barney Pearlman of West Palm Beach, Fla., aboard the Westerdam earlier this month. DeVinck and the Pearlmans were among the hundreds of passengers who were stuck aboard the cruise ship after five ports denied the vessel entry over fears of the coronavirus, though none of the passengers had tested positive for the disease. Photo courtesy Robert DeVinck When Wailea resident Robert DeVinck booked a 30-day cruise through Asia one year ago, there was no way he could’ve known…

South China Sea: Philippines row pushes Trump into backing down from region | World | News

The US and the Philippines have come to blows in recent weeks as the Asian nation looks to secure more independence from the US. President Rodrigo Duterte threatened last month to rip up an agreement between Manila and Washington, which would stop US troops from training in the country. The row was sparked after Mr Duterte’s political ally had his visa in the US cancelled. The White House expressed concern over Manila’s methods for combating drug-related crime in the Philippines. The Filipino leader lashed out in an animated fashion, calling…