Royal visit to Japan and China will lend new dimension to ties

Updated 31 August 2016
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Royal visit to Japan and China will lend new dimension to ties

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s East Asia policy is about to receive a significant push, when Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman undertakes visits to China and Japan this week.
Prince Mohammed, who is also minister of defense and chief of the influential Council of Economic and Development Affairs, plans to visit China on Aug. 29-31 and Japan for four days.
From Japan, Prince Mohammed will return to China to chair the Kingdom’s delegation to the Sept. 4-5 summit of G20 leaders in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, said a royal court statement, Sunday.
The deputy crown prince is likely to present to the G20 his economic reform plan, which envisages state spending of around SR270 billion in the next five years on projects to diversify the Saudi economy.
Speaking on the occasion of the visit of Prince Mohammed to Japan, Setsuo Ohmori, charge d’affaires at the Japanese embassy, said: “We would like to extend our wholehearted welcome to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed… he is well-known in Japan as he has launched a wide range of initiatives to bring about reforms in the Kingdom.”

This visit should be a good opportunity for Japanese leaders and businessmen to look to Saudi Vision 2030, he added.
Ohmori said that “the Kingdom and Japan would agree upon renewal of economic cooperation in different fields, such as energy, industrial development, promotion of small and medium enterprises among others.”
The visit of Prince Mohammed to Tokyo is also expected to pave the way for diversification of the bilateral ties including security cooperation and cultural exchanges, he said.
Discussions with Japan for an MOU for cooperation in the energy sector is likely to be on agenda as it was recently approved by the Saudi cabinet, according to an SPA report.
Japan, which imports about 1.2 million barrels a day, and China, about 1 million barrels a day, are not only major energy customers of Saudi Arabia but also partners on a variety of energy-related joint ventures and partnerships.
In fact, Saudi Aramco continues to seek investment in Asian refineries in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam as well as China.
On several occasions in the past, China and Saudi Arabia have discussed growth prospects and areas of cooperation and found mutual interests in crude oil storage, logistics, infrastructure, industrial development, mining, technology, energy, renewables and sovereign wealth funds.
According to a Reuters report, Saudi Arabia plans to discuss energy cooperation agreements with China and Japan.
The report has referred to a decision made by the Saudi cabinet last Monday.
The Cabinet has approved to delegate a number of ministers to discuss with the Chinese side the following projects: a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in the energy sector; an initial cooperation memorandum in the field of crude storage, said the report.
Referring to the visit of Prince Mohammed to China, Lu Kang, a spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that “at the invitation of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of the State Council, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit China from Aug. 29 to Aug. 31 and join Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli for the first meeting of the high-level committee between governments of China and Saudi Arabia.”
Prince Mohammed will also attend the 11th G20 Summit, he added.
On the expanding energy cooperation between the Kingdom and Asia, a report said that Saudi Arabia has traditionally accounted for most of the crude imports by Asia, the world’s biggest oil-consuming region.
China and Japan are the front runners in term of oil consumption.
But the Kingdom is keen to diversify its relations with these two major countries in non-oil sector within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030.


UK govt insists suspension of Parliament was not illegal

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago

UK govt insists suspension of Parliament was not illegal

  • Government says a lower court was right to rule that Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was a matter of “high policy” and politics, not law
  • Opponents argue that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament

LONDON: The British government was back at the country’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, arguing that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament just weeks before the country is set to leave the European Union was neither improper nor illegal.
It’s the second day of a historic three-day hearing that pits the powers of Britain’s legislature against those of its executive as the country’s scheduled Brexit date of Oct. 31 looms over its political landscape and its economy.
Government lawyer James Eadie argued that a lower court was right to rule that Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was a matter of “high policy” and politics, not law. Eadie called the decision to shut down Parliament “inherently and fundamentally political in nature.”
He said if the court intervened it would violate the “fundamental constitutional principle” of the separation of powers between courts and the government.
“This is, we submit, the territory of political judgment, not legal standards,” Eadie said.
The government’s opponents argue that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the “improper purpose” of dodging lawmakers’ scrutiny of his Brexit plans. They also accuse Johnson of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.
Johnson sent lawmakers home on Sept. 9 until Oct. 14, which is barely two weeks before Britain’s Oct. 31 departure from the EU. He claims the shutdown was a routine measure to enable his Conservative government to launch a fresh legislative agenda and was not related to Brexit.
Eadie rejected claims that the prime minister was trying to prevent lawmakers from blocking his Brexit plans.
He said “Parliament has had, and has taken, the opportunity to legislate” against the government, and would have more time between Oct. 14 and Brexit day. He said even if Parliament didn’t come back until Oct. 31, “there is time” for it to act on Brexit.
The prime minister says Britain must leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal. But many economists and UK lawmakers believe a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and socially destabilizing. Members of Parliament have put obstacles in Johnson’s way, including a law compelling the government to seek a delay to Brexit if it can’t get a divorce deal with the EU.
Parliament’s suspension spared Johnson further meddling by the House of Commons but sparked legal challenges, to which lower courts gave contradictory rulings. England’s High Court said the move was a political rather than legal matter but Scottish court judges ruled Johnson acted illegally “to avoid democratic scrutiny.”
The Supreme Court is being asked to decide who was right. The justices will give their judgment sometime after the hearing ends on Thursday.
A ruling against the government by the 11 Supreme Court judges could force Johnson to recall Parliament.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, meanwhile, said Wednesday that the risk of Britain leaving the EU without a divorce deal remained “very real” because Britain had not produced workable alternatives to the deal agreed upon with the EU by ex-British Prime Minister Theresa May. That deal was repeatedly rejected by Britain’s Parliament, prompting May to resign and bringing Johnson to power in July.
“I asked the British prime minister to specify the alternative arrangements that he could envisage,” Juncker told the European Parliament. “As long as such proposals are not made, I cannot tell you — while looking you straight in the eye — that progress is being made.”
Juncker, who met with Johnson on Monday, told members of the EU legislature in Strasbourg, France, that a no-deal Brexit “might be the choice of the UK, but it will never be ours.”
The EU parliament on Wednesday adopted a non-binding resolution supporting another extension to the Brexit deadline if Britain requests it.
Any further delay to Britain’s exit — which has already been postponed twice — needs the approval of the 27 other EU nations.
Johnson has said he won’t delay Brexit under any circumstances — but also says he will respect the law, which orders the government to seek an extension if there is no deal by Oct. 19. He has not explained how that would be done.