China, Russia rap US missile defense plan in South Korea

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 29 April 2016

China, Russia rap US missile defense plan in South Korea

BEIJING: China and Russia on Friday rapped US plans to put a missile defense system on the Korean peninsula, less than 24 hours after Pyongyang twice tested rockets thought to be capable of reaching American territory.
A series of missile tests and nuclear blasts by North Korea have pushed Seoul into talks with Washington about deploying the United States’ sophisticated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), which fires projectiles to smash into enemy missiles.
Beijing fears that the presence of more US hardware on its doorstep will further tip the balance of power in the Pacific toward Washington.
“We both are gravely concerned about the US’s likely deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a briefing with his visiting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
“The move goes beyond the actual defense needs of relevant countries,” Wang said.
“It will directly affect the strategic security of China and Russia respectively if it is deployed,” he added.
Lavrov condemned Washington for using the North’s tests as “an excuse, as a pretext” to deploy what he called Washington’s “global antiballistic missile defense.”
This week’s North Korean rocket tests failed, but Pyongyang has now made three bids in two weeks to test-fly a Musudan missile, which is capable of striking US bases on the Pacific island of Guam.
“The current situation on the peninsula is indeed in a highly dangerous period,” Wang said.
He added that proper implementation of UN resolutions barring the North from developing any ballistic missile-related technology is key to bringing the country to the negotiating table.
China is the North’s biggest trading partner and its key aid provider.
South Korean military officials say the North is desperate to register a successful launch ahead of next week’s ruling party congress, at which leader Kim Jong-Un is expected to take credit for pushing the country’s nuclear program to new heights.
In recent months, the North has claimed a series of major technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear drive — an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a warhead to targets across the continental United States.
The achievements trumpeted by Pyongyang have included miniaturising a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile, developing a warhead that can withstand atmospheric re-entry and building a solid-fuel missile engine.
Last Saturday, it successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile — a move that was promptly condemned by the UN Security Council.
Lavrov also backed Beijing’s stance that territorial disputes in the South China Sea “should not in anyway be internationalized” and should be resolved by direct negotiations between countries.
An international tribunal is expected to rule soon on a case brought by the Philippines over the issue, which has seen tensions mount between Beijing and Washington.
China claims nearly all the strategically vital sea, despite completing claims from Southeast Asian neighbors including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

Updated 53 min 2 sec ago

Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

  • Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday
  • They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia is sending 547 containers of waste back to wealthy nations after discovering they were contaminated with used plastic and hazardous materials, amid a growing backlash in Southeast Asia against being a dumping ground for the developed world’s trash.

Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday, customs director Heru Pambudi said at a news conference in Jakarta.

“Some food still remains there with liquid flowing,” Pambudi said as he showed the contents of several containers.

He said 91 other containers will be returned to Australia after administrative processes are complete.

They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries, including the US, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium and Britain, he said.

Pambudi said the government has stopped more than 2,000 containers this year in several ports in East Java, Jakarta, Tangerang and Batam near Singapore. So far it has sent back 331, which will be followed by 216 others to French, Germany, Greece, Netherlands. Slovenia, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Authorities are still investigating the rest.

The government announced in July that it had sent back nearly 60 containers of waste from Australia that were supposed to contain only paper but included household waste, used cans, plastic bottles, oil packaging, used electronics, used baby diapers and used footwear.

Pambudi said several Indonesian-owned companies that imported the waste must return it to the countries of origin within 90 days. No other sanctions were declared, although importing hazardous waste is a criminal offense with penalties of up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion rupiah ($850,000).

China banned the import of plastic waste at the end of 2017, resulting in more used plastic being sent to developing Southeast Asian nations.

A study published in June last year in the journal Science Advances that used United Nations data found other nations will need to find a home for more than 110 million tons of plastic waste by 2030 because of the Chinese ban.

Indonesia and China themselves are among the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste, which is increasingly fouling their land, seas and beaches.