China, Philippines agree to avoid force in South China Sea dispute

President Rodrigo Duterte attends a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Malacanañ Palace in Manila. (Reuters)
Updated 16 November 2017
0

China, Philippines agree to avoid force in South China Sea dispute

BEIJING/MANILA: China and the Philippines have agreed to avoid force to resolve their differences over the South China Sea, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday by China at the end of a visit to Manila by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
China and the Philippines have long sparred over the South China Sea, but relations have improved considerably under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands. China claims most of the waterway and has been aggressively building and militarizing artificial islands.
The joint statement, carried by China’s official Xinhua news agency, said China and the Philippines reaffirmed the importance of peace in the South China Sea and of freedom of navigation and overflight.
There should be no violence or threats of violence and the dispute should be resolved via talks between the “relevant sovereign countries,” it added.
“Both sides believe that the maritime dispute is not the full sum of the China-Philippines relationship,” the statement said.
In a separate statement summing up discussions at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, Duterte took note of the “improving relations between ASEAN and China” in the South China Sea.
“In view of this positive momentum, we looked forward to the announcement of the start of substantive negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) with China” he said, hopefully in early 2018 in Vietnam, where the two sides will meet at the earliest.
ASEAN and China have been discussing a set of rules on how to behave in the disputed waters to avoid accidents and raising tension.
Duterte said the two sides also had successfully tested the hotline among foreign ministries on how to manage maritime emergencies.
“In our view, these are practical measures that could reduce tensions, and the risks of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation,” he said.


South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

Updated 15 November 2018
0

South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

  • The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest
  • The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea

JUBA: South Sudan is planning to construct a new state capital in a central location in what was a wildlife park, a move that officials say will make the seat of government more accessible to the people, the government said on Wednesday.
“We’re not supposed to have our capital near the borders. The capital is the center of everything and it needs to be easy for everyone to come,” government spokesman Michael Makuei told The Associated Press.
The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest. The land is currently uninhabited and lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity.
The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea. Morrocan and Korean engineers will visit the site this week to begin demarcating areas for roads, utilities, markets, residential areas and key government installations.
Plans to move the capital from Juba, where it is now, to the new city have been in the works since before South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, said the government. Morocco’s decision to contribute to the project was discussed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to the war-torn nation in February, 2017.
The executive branch will move to Ramciel, while Juba will remain South Sudan’s commercial center as well as either the judicial or legislative hub, he said.
Five years of civil war have devastated South Sudan, killing almost 400,000 people and displacing millions. The power sharing agreement signed by warring parties in September is the latest attempt at peace, although implementation of the accord has been fraught with delays and there has been continued fighting in parts of the country.
At least one South Sudan analyst says the move to the new capital should not be a priority.
“Roads, health, education, economy and a stabilization agenda should top the list,” Augustino Ting Mayai, a researcher at the Sudd Institute in Juba.