Asia Times | A tipping point for Sino-US relations?

American and Chinese analysts often warn of a “tipping point” in China-US relations beyond which the two countries conclude that conflict is unavoidable and begin preparing for war. Indeed, in the face of current bilateral tensions over the ongoing trade war in conjunction with deteriorating ties politically, diplomatically and militarily, one wonders if we are nearing such a point. Not only has Washington ratcheted up its anti-China rhetoric, with some going so far as to call the Middle Kingdom a new Third Reich, it is also antagonizing China with new arms…

Asia Times | Jakarta fired up over clash with Vietnam vessels

There has been a clash in the South China Sea over a move to intercept a vessel said to be fishing illegally. Indonesia has accused a Vietnamese coastguard ship of ramming one of its vessels on the weekend in a bid to stop a Vietnamese boat from being impounded for fishing in waters that it claims exclusively. The clash saw Jakarta summon Vietnam’s ambassador on Monday, after a dozen Vietnamese fishermen were detained by the Indonesian navy. The drama also prompted a senior Indonesian minister to announce a return to sinking foreign…

Asia Times | Beijing’s maritime militia, the scourge of South China Sea

The shock troops of Beijing’s maritime empire-building are far more humble than the fleet of modern warships that paraded off Qingdao on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. Even as President Xi Jinping was reviewing a sail-past of his new generation of guided missile destroyers and other modern warships, his equally potent small-boat navy was at work off the Philippines. As I will describe, the fact that views of Xi’s navy were obscured by thick fog was more than…

Asia Times | Xi, Duterte in a cordial but uneasy embrace

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth visit to China in less than three years took a conciliatory tone, with both sides vowing to prioritize economic cooperation and soft pedal disputes in the South China Sea. The Filipino leader met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Belt and Road Forum on April 25. Reports said the bilateral meeting was highly cordial, underscoring Duterte’s commitment to pursue warmer ties with the Asian powerhouse. His visit took place against the backdrop of spiking tensions in the South China Sea, where an…

Asia Times | Anti-China outcry chases Duterte to Beijing

In the lead-up to China’s Belt and Road Forum, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte faces the biggest foreign policy crisis of his tenure, one that threatens to derail his government’s engagement gambit with Beijing. As the Filipino leader heads to Beijing for the summit, marking his fourth visit to China in under three years, his government’s China-leaning policy is under rising fire amid hot-boiling territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Since January, as many as 275 Chinese vessels have swarmed the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island in a bid to prevent Manila…

Asia Times | Duterte threatens trash war on Canada

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened “war” with Canada over tons of trash a Canada-based company shipped to Manila several years ago. “I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that (trash) out,” he said on April 24, according to press reports. “We’ll declare war against them, we can handle them anyway,” he said. Between 2013 and 2014 Canada shipped 103 containers of trash to the Philippines and has since pushed the country to dispose of it, reports said. The containers were labeled as plastics…

Asia Times | Business booming for Russia’s arms traders

In a high-profile spat, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged he is buying S-400 missile defense systems, a deal that has put Ankara on a collision course with Nato and Washington and complicated the country’s deal to buy F35 stealth jets from the United States. This Ankara-Washington stand-off over the sale of Russian missiles and Erdogan’s obvious commitment to go ahead with the deal make clear how Moscow’s aggressive arms trade is offering the Kremlin new opportunities to strengthen its position, influence and foothold the world over. Turkey is only…