China ‘might escort ships’ in Gulf under US proposal

Donald Trump has said China, Japan and other countries “should be protecting their own ships” in the Gulf region. (AFP)
Updated 06 August 2019

China ‘might escort ships’ in Gulf under US proposal

  • Donald Trump says China, Japan and other countries “should be protecting their own ships” in the Gulf region
  • The UAE and China last month signed a military and defense cooperation agreement

DUBAI: China might escort Chinese commercial vessels in Gulf waters under a US proposal for a maritime coalition to secure oil shipping lanes following attacks on tankers, its envoy to the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday.
“If there happens to be a very unsafe situation we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels,” Ambassador Ni Jian told Reuters in Abu Dhabi.
“We are studying the US proposal on Gulf escort arrangements,” China’s embassy later said in a text message.
Washington is lobbying other nations to join a maritime security coalition at a time of heightened tensions with Iran, which the United States has blamed for explosive blasts on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a charge Tehran denies.
President Donald Trump said in a June 24 tweet that China, Japan and other countries “should be protecting their own ships” in the Gulf region, where the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.
It was not clear if Washington had made an official request to Beijing, which has had to tread softly in the Middle East due to its close energy ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The United States has struggled to gain support for the coalition from European and Asian allies, who fear it would further stoke tensions with Iran.
So far only Britain has officially said it would join the mission to protect merchant ships after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.
Tension has mounted since Trump last year quit a 2015 nuclear pact under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.
France, Britain and Germany, which with Russia and China are party to the agreement, have tried to rescue the deal and reduce tensions.
China has traditionally played a small role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy despite its reliance on regional oil, but has increased its profile under President Xi Jinping.
“We have the position that all disputes should be sorted by peaceful means and by political discussions, not ... military actions,” Ambassador Ni said.
Iran says securing the Strait, the world’s most important oil artery, should be left to Tehran and other regional countries.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia, who support US policy against regional foe Iran, have called on the international community to safeguard maritime trade and security of global oil supplies.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met President Xi during a visit to Beijing last month during which the two sides signed a military and defense cooperation deal.
The ambassador said the agreement could lead to cooperation on tackling terrorism and intelligence sharing, adding that further discussions would take place.
China, which has a military base in Djibouti, has participated in regional escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast as part of a United Nations Security Council anti-piracy mandate.


First government headquarters launched in Egypt’s new administrative capital

Egyptian police guard in front of the new government district in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt May 2, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

First government headquarters launched in Egypt’s new administrative capital

  • The establishments occupy 250,000 square meters of that area, with a total building area of ​​2 million square meters and a construction rate of 20 percent

CAIRO: Egypt has launched its first ministerial headquarters in the New Administrative Capital project, in preparation for the transfer of the most prominent government headquarters in Cairo to the new location in the coming months.

During Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly’s visit to the administrative capital, he inspected the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance, which has been furnished and equipped as a model for the rest of the ministries.

According to a statement from the Egyptian Cabinet, officials confirmed that the implementation rate of the government district had reached 87 percent and that the structure and internal buildings were fully complete. So far 234 floors, roofs and basements and 2,086 service rooms have been delivered.

The prime minister listened to an explanation from Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces officials about the executive position of the government district in the New Administrative Capital, which is located on an area of ​​1.5 million square meters.

The establishments occupy 250,000 square meters of that area, with a total building area of ​​2 million square meters and a construction rate of 20 percent. The rest of the space consists of gardens and roads.

The project includes 10 ministerial complexes with a total of 34 ministries, in addition to the Cabinet Presidency building, the Parliament building and the main axis in the middle of the ministerial buildings.

The prime minister witnessed the casting of the walls of the “L 45” floor of the Iconic Tower, the highest tower in Africa, and one of the distinctive icons of the New Capital project, which rises to about 385 meters. So far it sits at a height of 220 meters, which exceeds the height of the Cairo Tower, according to the Middle East News Agency.

Madbouly explained that the central business district will become a distinctive landmark in the new capital. He instructed the Chinese company implementing the project to complete all external construction work on the towers in late October 2021.

He revealed that the government is working to implement a new city near the New Administrative Capital in the coming period. Madbouly said that the decision on the construction of the new city will be issued soon, noting that work has started in the city as commissioned by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

“The New Administrative Capital is a model for nearly 20 new cities, whose construction is being carried out at the same level, which aims to absorb the increase in population and increase the globalized area in Egypt, preceded by proper planning,” he said.