Indo-Pacific is standing up against China, US admiral says

Adm. Philip S. Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said that all nations in the region were involved in a strategic competition ‘between a Beijing-centric order and a free and open Indo-Pacific.’ (AP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Indo-Pacific is standing up against China, US admiral says

  • China has scoffed at what it calls US interference in the Asia-Pacific region
  • ‘I am optimistic that the region is now waking up to that aggressive behavior ’

CANBERRA: Countries in the Indo-Pacific region are beginning to take a stand against Chinese attempts to manipulate them through debt-trap diplomacy, coercion and bullying, a senior US naval commander said Thursday.
Adm. Philip S. Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, told a foreign policy think-tank in Sydney that all nations in the region were involved in a strategic competition “between a Beijing-centric order and a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Countries that established closer ties to China in expectation of economic growth and infrastructure development “often find themselves worse off in the end,” Davidson said.
“Through excessive territorial claims, debt-trap diplomacy, violations of international agreements, theft of intellectual property, military intimidation and outright corruption, the Communist Party of China seeks to control the flow of trade, finance, communications, politics and a way of life throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Davison said.
“The Communist Party of China uses its economic advantages to force other governments to reverse positions toward agreements that benefit China,” he added.
China has scoffed at what it calls US interference in the Asia-Pacific region and has denied linking aid to politics.
According to Davidson, more countries were now asking the United States for advice on dealing with China than they did five years ago.
“I am optimistic that the region is now waking up to that aggressive behavior, but more importantly, beginning to take a stand against it,” Davidson said.
He used Australia as an example of China’s willing to take retribution against economic partners that defy Beijing’s will.
He linked recent trade blockages at Chinese ports of Australian exports such as coal and wine to Australian government decisions to outlaw covert foreign interference in politics and to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from the 5G networks rollout.
“Beijing has shown a willingness to intervene in free markets and to hurt Australian companies simply because the Australian government has exercised its sovereign right to protect its national security,” Davidson said.
“It speaks extraordinarily ill of China and serves as a warning to all nations of the kind of economic retribution they take when they dislike another nation’s diplomatic or security response,” he said.
Davidson said Australia was rightly concerned that China could potentially use its growing influence in the South Pacific to build a military base there.
He described China’s Belt and Road Initiative to build trading infrastructure in the region as a “stalking horse to advance Chinese security concerns.”
“Beijing’s approach is pernicious. The party uses coercion, influence operations and military and diplomatic threats to bully other states to accommodate the Communist Party of China’s interests,” Davidson said.
“These actions often directly threaten the sovereignty of other nations and undermine regional stability,” he added.


At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

Updated 48 min 34 sec ago

At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

  • The Air India Express plane from Dubai had 191 passengers and crew on board when it overshot the runway
  • There were 10 infants on board

NEW DELHI: At least 16 people were killed Friday when a passenger jet overshot and skidded off the runway as it landed in southern India, breaking into two pieces, officials said.
Dozens of people were injured, 15 of them seriously, after the Air India Express Boeing 737 originating from Dubai touched down in Kozhikode in heavy rain.
The airline said more than 190 passengers and crew were on board the plane that, according to the aviation ministry, plunged 10 meters (35 feet) down a slope off the end of the raised so-called table-top runway.
Television footage showed the fuselage of the jet ripped apart and surrounded by emergency personnel working in the dark, spraying the wreckage with water although there was no sign of any fire.
Sakeen K., the district medical officer in the nearby city of Malappuram, said that 16 people had died.
“We are still ascertaining the toll,” she told AFP.
Kozhikode official Seeram Sambasiva said that the two pilots were among the dead.
Senior local policeman Abdul Karim told AFP said that another 15 passengers “have critical injuries. It is still a developing situation.”
“We have at least 89 people, many of them with serious injuries, admitted at different Kozhikode hospitals. The ambulances are still coming in,” said Sujith Das, another senior police official.
“We have been told that all those who have survived the crash also have some form of injuries.”
Aviation regulator DGCA said the plane skidded off the end of the runway and “fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces.”
Four people were still stuck inside the plane. media reports said.
One television channel reported there had been a problem with the jet’s landing gear.
Air India Express said in a statement that there was “no fire reported at the time of landing.”
It said there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft.
The plane was one of dozens in recent weeks to repatriate some of the thousands of Indians left stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic, many of them in Gulf countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
“My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest... Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected,” Modi said.
The last major plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway and burst into flames.
The crash killed 158 people and left eight survivors.
Kerala has been battered by heavy rains in recent days.
At least 15 people were killed on Friday after a landslide triggered by heavy rains flattened a row of huts elsewhere in the state.
Around 50 other people were feared trapped in the debris. The dead included two children.