China insults show Philippines is right: Aquino

Updated 11 March 2014

China insults show Philippines is right: Aquino

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday brushed off a barrage of Chinese insults that were triggered by him comparing China’s rulers with the Nazis, as the two sides traded further angry accusations over a territorial dispute.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency released a blistering commentary on Wednesday in which it labelled Aquino “amateurish,” “ignorant” and “lame.”
The commentary came a day after Aquino said China’s efforts to seize disputed parts of the South China Sea were similar to Nazi Germany’s actions before World War II, and called on global leaders not to make the same mistake of appeasement.
“Well, I thank Xinhua because they are re-affirming the validity of our position. As the saying goes, if someone cannot answer an issue, then he resorts to name-calling,” Aquino said when asked for a response to the Xinhua commentary.
“If you are intentionally insulting me, I thank you because it shows the Philippine position is correct.”
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei maintained the pressure on Friday, insisting that comparing China’s actions to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler were “inconceivable and unreasonable.”
“China is strongly dissatisfied with the relevant remark. We hope that the Philippine side will correct its mistake,” he told a press briefing.
China insists it has sovereign rights over almost all of South China Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of neighboring countries and down as far south as Borneo.
The Philippines, as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, also claim parts of the sea, and the disputes have for decades made the waters a potential trigger for military conflict in the region.
Tensions have escalated in recent years as an increasingly muscular China has built up its naval and coast guard presence in the South China Sea, drawing complaints from the Philippines of Chinese bullying.
Hong said the Philippines had created the most problems with its “illegal occupation” of islands in the South China Sea.
But Aquino said the disputes could be resolved if all countries abided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both China and the Philippines are signatories.
The Philippines launched legal action with a United Nations tribunal last year, asking it to rule if the Chinese South China Sea claim was invalid. China refused to participate in the UN process.


Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

Updated 01 April 2020

Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

  • Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown
  • Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science

WASHINGTON: The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen Wednesday despite unprecedented lockdowns, as the head of the United Nations sounded the alarm on what he said was humanity’s worst crisis since World War II.
The warning came as Donald Trump told Americans to brace for a “very painful” few weeks after the United States registered its deadliest 24 hours of the crisis.
Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown as governments struggle to halt the spread of a disease that has now infected more than 850,000 people.
Well over 40,000 are known to have died, half of them in Italy and Spain, but the death toll continues to rise with new records being logged daily in the US.
“This is going to be a very painful — a very, very painful — two weeks,” Trump said, describing the pandemic as “a plague.”
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”
America’s outbreak has mushroomed rapidly. There are now around 190,000 known cases — a figure that has doubled in just five days.
On Tuesday, a record 865 people died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, taking the national toll so far to more than 4,000.
Members of Trump’s coronavirus task force said the country should be ready for between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the coming months.
“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
America’s under-pressure health system is being supplemented by field hospitals sprouting up all over New York, including a tented camp in Central Park, a hospital ship and converted convention centers.
But even with the extended capacity, doctors say they are still having to make painful choices.
“If you get a surge of patients coming in, and you only have a limited number of ventilators, you can’t necessarily ventilate patients,” Shamit Patel of the Beth Israel hospital said. “And then you have to start picking and choosing.”
The extraordinary economic and political upheaval spurred by the virus presents a real danger to the relative peace the world has seen over the last few decades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.
The “disease ... represents a threat to everybody in the world and... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”
“The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” he said.
In virtual talks Tuesday, finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 major economies pledged to address the debt burden of low-income countries and deliver aid to emerging markets.
Last week G20 leaders said they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to head off a feared deep recession.
In the European Union, however, battle lines have been drawn over the terms of a rescue plan.
Worst-hit Italy and Spain are leading a push for a shared debt instrument — dubbed “coronabonds.”
But talk of shared debt is a red line for Germany and other northern countries, threatening to divide the bloc.
Deaths shot up again across Europe. While there are hopeful signs that the spread of infections is slowing in hardest-hit Italy and Spain, which both reported more than 800 new deaths Tuesday.
France recorded a one-day record of 499 dead while Britain reported 381 coronavirus deaths, including that of a previously healthy 13-year-old.
That came after a 12-year-old Belgian girl succumbed to an illness that is serious chiefly for older, frailer people with pre-existing health conditions.
Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science.
Researchers said China’s decision to shutter Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented three-quarters of a million new cases by delaying the spread of the virus.
“Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan” by mid-February, said Oxford University’s Christopher Dye.