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.


East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

Commuters wearing protective face masks amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus ride an elevated train in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

  • South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo

BEIJING: The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is imposing a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals, state media reported on Tuesday, as China moves to address the threat of a rise in coronavirus cases in neighboring South Korea and nearby Japan.
People with suspected virus symptoms arriving in Qingdao, a major Northeast Asian transport hub in Shandong province, should be isolated in designated hospitals, while others are required to stay at their residences or designated hotels, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The rule came into force on Monday, Xinhua added, citing a local government statement.
“Apparently 100,000 South Koreans live in Qingdao, and there are normally over 300 flights a week between Seoul and Qingdao,” Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, said on Twitter. “This is likely to be disruptive to both economies.”
Another Shandong city, Weihai, said it would quarantine arrivals from Japan and South Korea from Tuesday — the first country-specific compulsory quarantine requirement by China, which has criticized travel restrictions implemented by other countries.
The measures comes as the virus, which started in China’s Hubei province, takes hold beyond the country.
South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
Weihai is also home to a sizeable Korean expatriate community. It lies near the eastern tip of the Shandong peninsula across the Yellow Sea from South Korea, and its quarantine rules apply both to Chinese and foreign nationals arriving in the city.
They will be put up in hotels free of charge for a 14-day quarantine period, according to a notice on the city’s official Wechat account.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Qingdao imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

● Shandong city Weihai singles out S. Korea, Japan arrivals.

● S. Korea has almost 1,000 cases; Japan cases up.

People who arrived in Weihai from South Korea or Japan from Feb. 10 onwards have already been contacted by the Weihai government, the statement said, adding it had “appropriately handled” cases of fever.
The government of a third Shandong port city, Yantai, on Tuesday said all business travelers and short-term visitors should stay in designated hotels.
Further north in China’s Liaoning province, the city of Liaoning — home to both North Korean and South Korean communities — is tightening screening of inbound passengers and will check the temperature of all arrivals, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sweden’s health agency said it would not introduce airport controls that take up resources but are “ineffective” because infected people may not show symptoms.
Ukraine International Airlines onboard personnel will wear rubber gloves and masks on flights from Italy.
Meanwhile, the drugmaker Moderna has shipped a potential coronavirus vaccine for humans to government researchers for testing.
Shares of the biotech company soared, a day after the company said it sent vials to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for early-stage testing in the US.