Philippine President Duterte urges Beijing to ‘temper’ behavior in South China Sea

In a change of tone, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech late Tuesday to business entrepreneurs that China had no right to claim airspace above man-made islands. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Philippine President Duterte urges Beijing to ‘temper’ behavior in South China Sea

  • China has alarmed and angered its neighbors by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea
  • ‘You cannot create an island. It’s man-made and you say that the air above this artificial island is yours’

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has urged China to “temper” its behavior in the South China Sea in a rare criticism of the Asian superpower over its program of island-building in disputed waters.
China has alarmed and angered its neighbors by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea and building a string of artificial islands and military air bases.
But the outspoken Duterte — keen to court trade and investment from Beijing — has mostly withheld criticism.
In a change of tone, Duterte said in a speech late Tuesday to business entrepreneurs that China had no right to claim airspace above man-made islands.
Philippine officials have claimed military pilots are repeatedly warned off by Beijing as their planes approach Philippine-held Thitu island, which lies beside a Chinese air base built on top of Subi Reef.
“You cannot create an island. It’s man-made and you say that the air above this artificial island is yours,” Duterte said, according to a transcript released by the presidential palace Wednesday.
“That is wrong because those waters are what (one) would consider international sea. And the right of innocent passage is guaranteed,” said Duterte, who did not refer to any specific incident.
He added that he did not want to “quarrel” with China.
The comments follow allegations in May of Chinese harassment of Filipino troops at another South China Sea garrison.
Duterte’s national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon told reporters at the time that the Philippines could go to war “if our people are hurt there.”
There was no immediate response from the Chinese embassy in Manila.
In May China landed several combat aircraft — including the long-range, nuclear-capable H-6K — at another island airfield in the sea for the first time, triggering international concern.
Despite this, it has denied militarizing the area, through which roughly a third of all global maritime trade passes.
An international maritime tribunal ruled early in Duterte’s presidency in 2016 that China’s claims to the area have no legal basis.
The Philippines is a military ally of the US, which says it is not taking sides in the various South China Sea territorial disputes.
However, the US navy has forcefully asserted its right to freedom of navigation in the area, repeatedly sailing close to the man-made islands and drawing Chinese protests.
Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea.


Vietnam arrests 2 former ministers suspected of mismanagement

Updated 23 February 2019
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Vietnam arrests 2 former ministers suspected of mismanagement

  • Vietnamese authorities toughen their crackdown on corruption
  • The People’s Supreme Procuracy approved prosecution orders against Truong Minh Tuan and his predecessor Nguyen Bac Son

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnamese officials said Saturday that they have arrested two former information ministers suspected of mismanaging state investment capital, as the authorities toughen their crackdown on corruption.
The Ministry of Public Security said on its website that the People’s Supreme Procuracy approved prosecution orders against Truong Minh Tuan, former minister of information and communications, and his predecessor Nguyen Bac Son for “violating regulations on management and use of state investment capital causing serious consequences,” and that police were speeding up their investigation into the case. The offense carries a jail sentence of up to 20 years.
Son was information minister from 2011 to 2016 and Tuan held the post from 2016 until last year, when he was fired for mismanagement at state-owned Mobifone, one of Vietnam’s biggest mobile phone operators.
The ruling Communist Party’s Inspection Committee said earlier that it found Mobifone had overpaid to buy 95 percent of the shares of loss-making pay TV provider Audio Visual Global Joint Stock Company, in a deal worth nearly 8.9 trillion dong ($380 million).
Around 10 senior officials at the ministry and senior executives at Mobifone have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.
A former Politburo member and many other former or current officials have been jailed for corruption or economic-related crimes in the past few years.