US navy ship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade talks with Beijing

The USS McCampbell carried out a ‘freedom of navigation’ operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain. (Courtesy USS McCampbell (DDG 85) Facebook)
Updated 07 January 2019

US navy ship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade talks with Beijing

  • The USS McCampbell carried out a ‘freedom of navigation’ operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain
  • The operation was not about any one country or to make a political statement, Pacific Fleet spokesperson says

BEIJING: A US guided-missile destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea claimed by China as US officials meet their counterparts in Beijing for talks during a truce in a bitter trade war.
The USS McCampbell carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, “to challenge excessive maritime claims,” Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said in an emailed statement.
The operation was not about any one country or to make a political statement, McMarr said.
The statement comes as trade talks between China and the United States are under way in Beijing, the first round of face-to-face discussions since both sides agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled international markets.
China claims almost all of the strategic waters, and frequently lambastes the United States and its allies for freedom of navigation naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.
Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan have competing claims in the region.


Bangladesh, UNHCR to survey Rohingya regarding return to Myanmar

Updated 30 min 57 sec ago

Bangladesh, UNHCR to survey Rohingya regarding return to Myanmar

  • More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for camps in Bangladesh
  • Myanmar has cleared 3,450 people from a list of more than 22,000 refugees provided by Bangladesh

DHAKA: Bangladesh will work with the United Nations refugee agency to determine if more than 3,000 Rohingya refugees will accept Myanmar’s offer to return home, an official said on Monday, nearly a year after a major repatriation plan failed.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for camps in Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017 the United Nations has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent,” but many refugees refuse to go back, fearing more violence.
“It will be a joint exercise led by UNHCR,” Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation commissioner, told Reuters by telephone on Monday, referring to the refugee agency.
The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the latest repatriation plan behind closed doors on Wednesday at the request of France, Britain, the United States, Germany and Belgium, diplomats said.
Myanmar has cleared 3,450 people from a list of more than 22,000 refugees provided by Bangladesh, government spokesman Zaw Htay told a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw on Friday.
“We have already negotiated with Bangladesh to accept these 3,450 people on August 22,” he said, adding they would be divided into seven groups for repatriation.
A foreign ministry spokesman previously gave Reuters a figure of 3,540 refugees verified under the plan.
Zaw Htay said officials had scrutinized the list to determine whether the refugees had lived in Myanmar and whether they had been involved in attacks on the military.
The 2017 crackdown was preceded by attacks on security forces by insurgents calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which Myanmar has classified as a terrorist organization.
Previous attempts at persuading Rohingya to return to Rakhine have failed due to opposition from refugees. An effort in November sowed fear and confusion in the camps, and finally failed after refugee protests.