Malaysia needs ‘naval boost to deal with possible S. China Sea conflict’, SE Asia News & Top Stories

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia needs to boost its naval capabilities to prepare for possible conflict in the South China Sea, its foreign minister said yesterday, even as South-east Asia’s third-largest economy pursues non-militarisation of the disputed waterway. Tensions have escalated in recent weeks, especially after a US Navy destroyer last month sailed near islands claimed by China as a challenge to what the US Navy described as excessive Chinese territorial claims in the region. Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Malaysia could issue protest notes if a major power were to…

Philippines’ top diplomat apologises to China for Mao Zedong tweets, East Asia News & Top Stories

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) – The Philippines’ top diplomat apologised on Sunday (Oct 13) for Twitter posts on Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, including referring to the revolutionary leader as “burnt rice”. In a tweet two weeks ago, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin called the Chinese revolutionary Mao Che “Tutung,” which means burnt rice in the Filipino language. In a separate tweet on Oct 11 while reacting to a challenge by left-leaning groups for leaders to use public transport, Mr Locsin said the point of communism…

Framework set up to discuss airspace management and military training, Politics News & Top Stories

Singapore and Indonesia have agreed on a framework to discuss two longstanding issues – airspace management and military training. Both leaders have also instructed their ministers and officials to follow up with detailed negotiations on the basis of this framework, and to conclude and implement agreements in a timely manner, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. “This framework acknowledges that the core interests and rights of both countries must be recognised and respected. And that Indonesia and Singapore should negotiate agreements on these two issues that are durable and for…

Vietnam accuses Chinese vessel of violating its sovereign rights, SE Asia News & Top Stories

HANOI • Vietnam has accused a Chinese oil-surveying vessel and its coast guard escorts of territorial violations by widening their activities after entering the country’s exclusive economic zone and operating within offshore blocks for three months. As of yesterday, the ship called the Haiyang Dizhi 8 has made several passes through the foreign-owned blocks off the coast of central Vietnam after leaving the Chinese-controlled Fiery Cross Reef on Sept 28, according to satellite tracking data from Marine Traffic. “The Chinese survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escorted vessels continue,…

Indonesia appoints chiefs for 3 new defence commands, SE Asia News & Top Stories

Indonesia’s three new joint defence commands, Kogabwilhan, which are designed for flexible and quick deployment to any security situation, will be led by three-star generals. Equipped with naval, air and army assets, each Kogabwilhan will be responsible for the country’s western, central and eastern parts. The command centre overseeing the western part of Indonesia is located in Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Islands, the province which covers Batam and Bintan and is the closest to Singapore. “There are a lot of threats coming from the Malacca Strait… We also need…

Copy of rare 18th-century Philippine map sold for $1 million, SE Asia News & Top Stories

A copy of a rare map that helped to bolster the Philippines’ case against China in a dispute over the South China Sea was sold last Saturday for 40 million pesos (S$1.06 million). The price was more than three times what another copy fetched at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 2014. Mr Mel Velarde, chief executive officer of Philippine telco NOW, had bought that copy for 12 million pesos. In the latest auction, a four-minute bidding war between two art collectors inside the gallery and a third collector bidding…

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…

Duterte says Chinese President Xi Jinping offering gas deal if Philippines sets aside South China Sea arbitration ruling, SE Asia News & Top Stories

MANILA (REUTERS) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said his Chinese counterpart has offered Manila a controlling stake in a joint energy venture in the South China Sea, if it sets aside an international arbitral award that went against Beijing. Mr Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him during their recent meeting that if he ignored the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 ruling, China would agree to be the junior partner in a joint venture to develop gas deposits at the Reed Bank, located within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).…

Duterte: Xi won’t budge on S. China Sea issue, East Asia News & Top Stories

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged he is short of solutions to press China to adhere to Manila’s arbitration victory in their South China Sea disputes, after he said Chinese President Xi Jinping had told him flatly: “We will not budge.” Mr Duterte spoke for the first time about his talk with Mr Xi on the thorny disputes in a televised news conference on Wednesday night where he was asked what move he would take next. Mr Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with China, met Mr Xi…

‘Any suggestion?’ Philippine leader Duterte asks after China’s Xi refuses to budge on South China Sea claims, SE Asia News & Top Stories

MANILA (AP) – The Philippine President has acknowledged he is short of solutions for having China adhere to Manila’s arbitration victory in their South China Sea disputes and says Chinese President Xi Jinping told him flatly: “We will not budge.” President Rodrigo Duterte spoke for the first time about his talk with Mr Xi on the thorny disputes in a late Wednesday (Sept 4) news conference where he was asked what move he would take next. Mr Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with China, met Mr Xi in Beijing last week.   “They’re…