US urges Southeast Asia to shun South China Sea firms
Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (L) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C, on screen at R) are seen on monitor screens during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US Ministerial Meeting, held online due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, in Hanoi on September 10, 2020. China accused the US of becoming "the biggest driver of militarization" in the contested South China Sea, as tensions between Washington and Beijing look set to swamp a regional Asian summit.
AFP/Nhac NGUYEN
US urges Southeast Asia to shun South China Sea firms
(Agence France-Presse) - September 10, 2020 - 3:15pm

HANOI, Vietnam — Washington's top diplomat urged Southeast Asia on Thursday to cut ties with Chinese companies helping build islands in the South China Sea, weeks after the US blacklisted two dozen firms working in the disputed waters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comments came at a regional Asian summit overshadowed by the US-China rivalry over a range of issues, from trade to the coronavirus.

Tensions are also simmering over the South China Sea, with the US last month sanctioning 24 Chinese state-owned companies it said had helped Beijing's military buildup in the resource-rich waterway.

Pompeo said it was time for Southeast Asian governments to reconsider their own relationship with firms working in the sea.

"Don't just speak up, but act," he told the 10 foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during an online summit.

"Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully ASEAN coastal states in the South China Sea. 

"Don't let the Chinese Communist party walk over us and our people."

This year's ASEAN summit comes days after Beijing launched ballistic missiles in the South China Sea as part of live-fire exercises.

Vietnam, which is chairing the summit, expressed "serious concern" about recent militarisation of the sea.

"This has eroded trust and confidence, increased tension and undermined peace, security and rule of law in the region," said Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

But the Philippines already said last week it would not follow the US lead because it needed Chinese investment, even as a fresh dispute between the two nations over Scarborough Shoal -- one of the region's richest fishing grounds -- hangs over the talks.

And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid blame on the United States for tensions, claiming Washington was "becoming the biggest driver" of the waterway's militarisation.

Contested waters

China claims the majority of the South China Sea, invoking its so-called nine-dash line to justify what it says are historic rights to the key trade waterway.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all contest parts of China's declared territory in the sea.

Tensions between the US and China have also been exacerbated by concerns over Hong Kong, where Beijing recently imposed a draconian national security law in response to months of civil unrest last year.

Pompeo "joined several countries in raising concerns over... the arrests of pro-democracy students, the year-long postponement of elections, and disqualification of pro-democracy electoral candidates," according to spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

ASEAN ASEAN SUMMIT CHINA MIKE POMPEO SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

China said a US spy plane entered a no-fly zone used by the Chinese military for live-fire drills, branding it an act of provocation, state media said Tuesday.

The U-2 reconnaissance jet's flight over an area in northern China violated safety rules between the two nations, Xinhua reported, citing Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

"The US action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents," said the report, adding "that the move was an obvious provocation." — AFP

July 14, 2020 - 7:34am

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States would treat Beijing's pursuit of resources in the dispute-rife South China Sea as illegal, ramping up pressure on another front.

"We are making clear: Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them," Pompeo says in a statement.

The United States has long rejected Beijing's sweeping claims in the South ChinaSea, aligning itself with Vietnam, the Philippines and other US partners in the region. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 7:28am

The Pentagon says it is "concerned" about Chinese military exercises around a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, noting the maneuvers will "further destabilize" the region.

"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People's Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5," the Pentagon says in a statement.

The activities "further destabilize the situation" in the area claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, it says. — AFP

April 30, 2020 - 4:15pm

The Philippines says it strongly protests "the establishment of the so-called districts of 'Nansha' and 'Xisha' under the supposed administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared 'Sansha City'" which would cover parts of the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs says it has protested since 2012 the "unlawful establishment of Sansha City" that includes Philippine territory and maritime zones in the WPS, including the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc.

The Philippines also protests the dseignation of Kagitingan Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group "as adinistrative center for the so-called 'Nansha district'," saying the reef is part of the KIG and an integral part of Philippine territory.

April 27, 2020 - 1:41pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution to urge the executive branch to "exert legal and diplomatic pressure" on China over its activities in the West Philippine and to have the regional giant pay for enviromental damage in the area.

"China's sense of entitlement to our seas has caused severe and irreparable harm to our ecosystems," Hontiveros says in a statement on the filing of Philippine Senate Resolution No. 369.

Even if the Senate, the majority of which supports the Duterte administration and its foreign policy with China, adopts the resolution, it is non-binding on the executive branch.

"Hindi tayo kolonya, kaya panahon nang singilin ng gobyerno ang Tsina (We are not a colony so it's about time that we have China pay)," she also says.

In her resolution, Hontiveros says "unlawful Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea are estimated to have caused at last P33 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems within the Philippines' continental shelf and exclusive economic zone" since 2013, the year that the Philippines filed its arbitration case.

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