China fires back at US over environment, South China Sea

Wang defended China’s record on reducing pollution, touting China’s promotion of new energy vehicles and creation of new forest cover. (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 September 2020

China fires back at US over environment, South China Sea

  • A document issued last week by the US cited China’s record on issues from greenhouse gas emissions to air and water and soil pollution, illegal logging and wildlife trafficking
  • China responded by saying US is the “biggest destroyer of international environmental cooperation”

BEIJING: US-China friction flared again Monday, with Beijing firing back at accusations by Washington that it is a leading cause of global environmental damage and has reneged on its promise not to militarize the South China Sea.
A document issued last week by the State Department cited China’s record on issues from greenhouse gas emissions to air and water and soil pollution, illegal logging and wildlife trafficking.
“While the Chinese people have suffered the worst environmental impacts of its actions, Beijing also threatens the global economy and global health by unsustainably exploiting natural resources and exporting its willful disregard for the environment,” the document said.
Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus followed that with a statement Sunday saying China has “pursued a reckless and provocative militarization” of disputed outposts in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, adding that China’s ruling Communist Party “does not honor its words or commitments.”
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded Monday by asking why the United States was withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, calling the US the “biggest destroyer of international environmental cooperation.”
Wang also said US military actions have made it “the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the South China Sea.”
The trading of accusations comes amid disputes over trade, technology, Hong Kong and Taiwan, spying accusations against Chinese diplomats and Beijing’s assertions of territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere that have driven the bilateral relationship to its lowest point in decades.
The State Department’s attack on China’s environmental record follows China’s announcement to the United Nations General Assembly last week that it aims to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, a pledge that won applause from environmentalists.
The State Department cited China as “the largest emitter of greenhouse gases; the largest source of marine debris; the worst perpetrators of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and the world’s largest consumer of trafficked wildlife and timber products. “
It singled out leader Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road” global infrastructure building initiative as lacking “clear environmental guidelines, safety standards, and worker protections,” and said China is saddling host countries with environmental burdens and leading them away from sustainable development.
“Tragically, the Chinese Communist Party represses civil society and a free press, slowing changes that would benefit its citizens and people all over the world,” the State Department document said.
Wang defended China’s record on reducing pollution, touting China’s promotion of new energy vehicles and creation of new forest cover.
The US is the “greatest danger to the global environment,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing. “We advise the US side to stop political manipulation and malicious slander, and to do more practical work and less trouble for the global environment.”
In her statement, Ortagus cited Xi’s pledge during a 2015 visit to the White House that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of the Spratly Islands. China’s deployment of anti-ship cruise missiles and advanced surveillance capabilities on the islands, some of them man-made, and the construction of fighter jet hangars and runways showed that it is using such outposts as “platforms of coercion to assert control over waters to which Beijing has no lawful maritime claim,” Ortagus said.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea for itself and Wang said it was entitled to proceed as it saw fit on the islands, especially when it came to exercising its right to self-defense. Infrastructure on the islands also benefits the world, he said.
“The international community and regional countries must be highly vigilant and resolutely oppose the sinister plot of some US warmongers to sow chaos in the South China Sea and East Asia,” Wang said.


Philadelphia curfew as anger boils over police killing of Black man

Updated 1 min 27 sec ago

Philadelphia curfew as anger boils over police killing of Black man

  • Thousands of people have taken to Philadelphia’s streets, with looting and violence breaking out, since police on Monday shot dead 27-year-old Walter Wallace
  • The US has seen a wave of protests and rioting since the police killing of George Floyd in May in Minnesota, when an officer was filmed pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck

PHILADELPHIA: Officials in the US city of Philadelphia announced a nighttime curfew Wednesday following two nights of unrest over the latest police killing of a Black man whose family said suffered from mental health issues.
Thousands of people have taken to Philadelphia’s streets, with looting and violence breaking out, since police on Monday shot dead 27-year-old Walter Wallace, who was carrying a knife.
Wallace’s death and the subsequent demonstrations, in which riot police have used batons and shields to push back protesters throwing bricks and other debris, have reignited a political clash between Republicans and Democrats days before the election.
Philadelphia is the biggest city in the state of Pennsylvania, which is viewed as key to winning Tuesday’s presidential vote.
“It’s a terrible thing. What I am witnessing is terrible and frankly that the mayor or whoever it is that’s allowing people to riot and loot and not stop them is also just a horrible thing,” President Donald Trump told reporters.
The US has seen a wave of protests and rioting since the police killing of George Floyd in May in Minnesota, when an officer was filmed pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he went limp.
Many of the protests have accused the police of racism and brutality, but Trump has focused on the unrest to bolster his claims to be the “law-and-order” candidate in his election battle against Joe Biden.
The Democratic challenger said it was “totally legitimate, totally reasonable” to protest peacefully.
“What I say is there’s no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence,” Biden told reporters after casting his ballot in his home state of Delaware.
Officials announced that the citywide curfew will last from 9:00 p.m. to 06:00 am (0100 to 1000 GMT Thursday).
Mayor Jim Kenney suggested other curfews may follow, telling reporters that decisions will be made daily on whether to implement one that night.
“I believe that as a certain percentage of people who abide by the curfew we’ll have less people on the street to deal with, which makes the job, and the safety of the officers better,” said Kenney, a Democrat.
More than 170 people have been arrested over the unrest, mostly for looting, according to police statistics.
Some 53 police officers have been injured, including one whose leg was broken when he was hit by a truck, while 17 police vehicles have been damaged.
Two officers shot Wallace around 4:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Monday afternoon after he refused to drop the knife as his mother tried to restrain him.
Phone video of the killing posted on social media showed Wallace push his mother away and then walk toward the police.
“Put the knife down,” one of the officers shouted in the video, which panned away as officers opened fire.
His family said he suffered from mental health problems and was on medication. Wallace’s father asked why officers did not taser him instead.
Police said they responded to a call about a domestic disturbance.
A lawyer for the family said Wallace was bipolar and the call to the emergency services was for an ambulance, not police.
Several hundred National Guard troops deployed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s office are expected to arrive in Philadelphia beginning Friday.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has launched an investigation into the shooting. The officers involved have not been identified.