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PCG reveals ‘severe damage’ to disputed shoals

Philippine Senate told to probe coral reef destruction; China asked to pay

A PHILIPPINE senator has filed a resolution seeking to investigate China’s alleged destruction of corals at Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the South China Sea.

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel in Resolution 804 condemned the coral harvesting allegedly by Chinese militia vessels and urged the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

She also renewed her call for China to pay for environmental damages after the Philippine Coast Guard confirmed a military report on the destruction of corals at Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal.

The senator said the government should not tolerate the continuing harm to the environment, economy and security brought about by Chinese incursions, and should try to hold China accountable, including a claim for damages to be filed with the Permanent of Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

“We should seek payment for damages caused by China in the West Philippine Sea,” Ms. Hontiveros said in a statement, referring to areas of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. “We will get billions of pesos once China is obligated to pay,” she said in Filipino.

She accused China of robbing Filipino fishermen of their livelihood and destroying Philippine natural resources.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

The Philippines should seek an international investigation of the alleged coral harvesting by Chinese maritime militia vessels in Philippine-claimed areas of the South China Sea, geopolitical analysts said on Tuesday.

The Philippines has put itself in a good position to internationalize the ecological destruction of its maritime features through its maritime transparency policy, said Raymond Powell, project leader at Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.

“The Philippines can now appeal directly to international and transnational groups to investigate these matters and request outside intervention,” he said in a Twitter message, referring to the United Nations, Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) this week said it had conducted underwater surveys that showed “the marine ecosystem in the subject West Philippine Sea features appeared lifeless, with minimal to no signs of life.”

It said it had monitored 33 Chinese militia vessels near Iroquois Reef and 15 others near Sabina Shoal from Aug. 9 to Sept. 11. Iroquois Reef is at the southern end of Reed Bank, an area northeast of the Spratly Islands thought to be rich in oil and gas.

There was visible discoloration of the seabed, indicating activities meant to modify the terrain’s natural topography, it added.

The presence of crushed corals strongly indicates a potential act of dumping, “possibly involving the same dead corals that were previously processed and cleaned before being returned to the seabed,” it said.

The Philippine military on Sept. 14 raised concerns over the resurgence of China’s swarming tactics in Philippine areas of the disputed waterway.

Citing air patrols on Sept. 6 and 7, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said Iroquois Reef was being surrounded by 23 Chinese fishing vessels.

The tactic was also seen at Sabina Shoal, where five Chinese fishing vessels were present, and at Nares Bank, where two Chinese fishing vessels were spotted, it said in a statement.

The swarming activity has implications for the Philippines’ “maritime security, fisheries conservation, territorial integrity and the preservation of the maritime environment,” it added.

At the height of a coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Ms. Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 369 calling on the Executive to exert legal and diplomatic efforts so that China would foot the bill for its COVID-19 response.

The call came after a scientist from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute estimated that the country was losing P33.1 billion yearly from the damaged reef ecosystems at Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands due to China’s reclamation activities in the area.

The amount was determined using a baseline value of $353,429 (P20 million) per hectare per year for coral reefs based on a study conducted by Elsevier, a Dutch company specializing in scientific, technical and medical information and analytics.

“This will not be the first time for us to seek reparations,” Ms. Hontiveros said. “Japan paid our country for her destruction of Manila during World War II, and in more recent history, the United States of America also paid the Philippines P87 million after the USS Guardian damaged Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. We have the right to seek payment.”

“Our 2016 arbitral award clearly invalidated China’s sweeping and expansive claims in the West Philippine Sea,” Ms. Hontiveros said. “This is a case we won because of our dogged commitment to abide by international law and uphold the truth. It is only right that we pursue all options to make China pay.” — Norman P. Aquino and JVDO

#Philippine #Senate #told #probe #coral #reef #destruction #China #asked #pay

China urges deeper trade ties with Russia despite Western rebuke

China urges deeper trade ties with Russia despite Western rebuke

BEIJING – China on Tuesday urged increased cross-border connectivity with Russia and deeper mutual trade and investment cooperation, as both allies vowed ever closer economic ties despite disapproval from the West after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last year.

The Russian minister of economic development held “in-depth” discussions on economic cooperation with the Chinese commerce minister in Beijing on Tuesday, coinciding with a trip by China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to Moscow for strategic talks that led to the confirmation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing next month.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said in the Beijing discussions that Sino-Russian economic and trade cooperation had continued to deepen and become more “solid” under the “strategic guidance” of the two heads of state, according to a statement from his ministry.

With the war in Ukraine well in its second year and Russia under Western sanctions, Moscow has leaned on its ally Beijing for economic support, feeding on Chinese demand for oil and gas as well as grain.

In August, Chinese imports of Russian goods rose 3% from a year earlier to $11.5 billion, reversing a decline of 8% in July, the latest Chinese customs data show.

Beijing has rejected Western criticism of its growing partnership with Moscow in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine. It insists the ties do not flout international norms, and China has the prerogative to collaborate with whichever country it chooses.

On Tuesday, Group of Seven ministers reiterated its call, without naming any countries, on third parties to “cease any and all assistance to Russia’s war of aggression or face severe costs.”

The Russian Far East bordering China as well as North Korea has gained new strategic significance as a zone of cross-border trade and commerce.

Last week, Russia’s United Oil- and Gas-Chemical Co. and China’s Xuan Yuan Industrial Development agreed to build a transshipment oil complex near a railway bridge linking the Russian town of Nizhneleninskoye to China’s Tongjiang as Moscow diversifies its exports of commodities away from Europe, which it now deems politically “unfriendly”.

The Russian Far East, where about 70% of the country’s seafood is caught, also hopes to boost exports of its marine products to China after Beijing banned seafood from Japan due to the release of radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima plant into the ocean.

Chinese state media also says there is a growing “necessity” for China and Russia to step up their grain trading amid continued tight global supplies. The construction of a grain corridor linking Russia to Heilongjiang, China’s northeastern bread basket, will help bolster China’s food security.

Earlier in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that Heilongjiang should become a “pivotal” gateway for China’s opening up in the north, saying the province ought to play an active role in safeguarding national defense, food, and energy security. — Reuters

#China #urges #deeper #trade #ties #Russia #Western #rebuke

Boeing slightly raises China 20-year demand outlook to 8,560 new planes

Boeing slightly raises China 20-year demand outlook to 8,560 new planes

SHANGHAI – Boeing on Wednesday slightly increased its annual 20-year forecast for new plane deliveries to China, citing economic growth and increasing demand for domestic travel.

The US planemaker said Chinese airlines would need 8,560 new commercial planes through 2042, up from 8,485 in its previous forecast last year.

In June, the company said it remained “very bullish” on China, which would make up 20% of the global market for air travel.

Boeing, however, is still waiting to resume deliveries of its bestselling 737 MAX to Chinese airlines more than four years after they were halted following two deadly crashes and has been all but shut out of new orders from the carriers since 2017.

The US planemaker said China’s fleet would more than double to nearly 9,600 jets over the next 20 years and its domestic aviation market would be the largest in the world by the end of the forecast period, with demand for 6,470 single-aisle planes such as the Boeing 737 MAX family.

“Domestic air traffic in China has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels and international traffic is recovering steadily,” Darren Hulst, Boeing vice president for commercial marketing, said in a statement.

“As China’s economy and traffic continue to grow, Boeing’s complete line-up of commercial jets will play a key role in helping meet that growth sustainably and economically.”

Boeing has about 85 MAX jets in inventory for Chinese customers and 55 MAXs originally slated for Chinese airlines have been remarketed, the company said in July.

Reuters reported in April that China’s aviation regulator published a report that Boeing viewed as a key step for the US planemaker to resume deliveries, but none have resumed yet. — Reuters

#Boeing #slightly #raises #China #20year #demand #outlook #planes

More SE Asia companies consider US IPOs, filling void left by China peers

More SE Asia companies consider US IPOs, filling void left by China peers

SINGAPORE/SYDNEY — Several Southeast Asian companies are considering listing in the United States, banking on strong investor appetite for emerging market growth in the absence of Chinese stock offerings.

Senior executives in leading SME digital financing platform Funding Societies, Singapore-based entertainment firm Gushcloud International and Thai insurance technology firm Sunday told Reuters they were looking into New York as one of their initial public offering (IPO) venues.

This comes on top of recently announced plans by Vietnamese internet company VNG Corp and Philippine real estate company DoubleDragon Corp’s Hotel101 Global to list in the US, filling a void left by Chinese companies which hit the pause button on US IPOs after political tensions with Washington intensified, Beijing tightened scrutiny of domestic firms seeking overseas listings and China’s own economy slowed.

“China’s shadow into the ASEAN region has shrunk since the world reopened after the pandemic,” said Leif Schneider, senior legal adviser at law firm DFDL Vietnam.

“Chinese competitors have gradually been pushed to the sidelines due to homemade restrictions and the ensuing domestic economic fallout,” he added. “These factors have enabled some of their ASEAN rivals to step out into the spotlight.”

ASEAN, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, includes Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The bloc’s biggest car e-commerce platform Carsome Group has also said it was considering various global exchanges, including those in the US, for a potential listing.

Southeast Asian firms have raised about $101 million via IPOs in the US so far this year, way below last year’s $919 million, but bankers expect the pace to pick up over the next 12 months as companies hunt for new sources of capital after relying on private funds for the last few years.

In contrast, Chinese firms have raised $463.7 million via USlistings so far this year, slightly above 2022 levels but a fraction of the $12.96 billion and $12.48 billion raised in 2021 and 2020 respectively, according to LSEG data.

For investors seeking emerging market exposure, Southeast Asia fits the bill, because of the region’s strong economic growth and increasing population, analysts say.

For example, growth in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, accelerated at its highest rate in three quarters in the latest April-June period, boosted by strong household and government spending, data showed.

Some Southeast Asia companies seeking listings in the US look to raise between $300 million and $1 billion, with valuations ranging from $1.5 billion to $8 billion, bankers said, without naming any firms.

The plans by Southeast Asian firms to list in the US should also cheer Wall Street banks in Asia, who generate about a third of their revenues from equity capital market (ECM) deals which all but dried up with Chinese IPOs.

“For some of the US investors who were focused on emerging markets, their tech exposure largely came from Chinese companies because they were the biggest names listed in the US,” said Sunil Khaitan, Bank of America’s ECM head for Southeast Asia. “With the current cautious stance around China, these investors are on the lookout for some of the other emerging markets names,” he added.

For companies, the US offers several advantages.

Funding Societies’ co-founder and group CEO Kelvin Teo told Reuters the US was one of the company’s preferred options because of it would provide a deep pool of capital and global investor base.

Andrew Lim, Gushcloud’s chief financial officer, also said a US listing would expose the company to “investor familiarity with fast growing new economy companies”.

Companies in sectors including logistics, technology, mining, electric vehicles and renewable energy are most likely to seek IPOs both locally and abroad, said Deloitte Southeast Asia Disruptive Events Advisory Leader Tay Hwee Ling.

“International investors are seeing the value of portfolio diversification that Southeast Asia provides,” Tay added.

The expected pickup in Southeast Asian listings, however, could get derailed by share volatility and stringent investor scrutiny, analysts say.

Shares of Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast have jumped some 75% since its debut in August, but not without strong volatility in thin trade.

Most US investors, however, are savvy enough when it comes to due diligence.

“US investors are generally proficient and experienced in evaluating opportunities across different sectors, but it is usually helpful for Southeast Asia companies to educate investors on any country specific factors that may affect their business,” said Art Anuruk Karoonyavanich, head of capital markets at DBS based in Singapore. — Reuters

#Asia #companies #IPOs #filling #void #left #China #peers

US business optimism about China outlook falls to record low – survey

US business optimism about China outlook falls to record low – survey

 – Geopolitics and a slowing economy are fuelling pessimism among US businesses operating in China, with the proportion of firms optimistic about their five-year outlook in the country falling to a record low, a survey released on Tuesday said.

Even after the ending of COVID curbs, which weighed heavily on both revenues and sentiment in 2022, the percentage of surveyed U.S. firms optimistic about the five-year China business outlook fell to 52%, according to the annual survey published by American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai.

This was the lowest level of optimism reported since the AmCham Shanghai Annual China Business Report was first introduced in 1999.

“Frankly, if there was one thing that surprised me about the survey this year it was that number,” said AmCham Shanghai Chairman, Sean Stein. “By the time we did this year’s survey a lot of the illusions had fallen away that we would see a sustained rebound in economic growth (post-COVID).”

Geopolitics remained a major concern for many firms, with USChina tensions cited as a top business challenge by 60% of the survey‘s 325 respondents, equal to the number who pointed to China‘s economic slowdown as a top challenge.

Concern over the transparency of China‘s regulatory environment also grew, with one third reporting that policies and regulations towards foreign companies had worsened in the past year, though many respondents pointed to US government policy rather than China‘s when asked about pressure to decouple.

Companies have been at the centre of deteriorating relations between the two countries for several years. China has criticized US efforts to block China‘s access to advanced technology and US firms have expressed concern about fines, raids and other actions that make doing business in China risky.

Last month, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said during a visit to China that US companies have complained to her that China has become “uninvestible“.

Geopolitical tensions were also cited as the top risk to China‘s future economic growth in the AmCham report, with improved USChina relations the number one factor respondents said would improve their industry’s prospects in China.

AmCham’s Stein said that the survey had been conducted prior to Ms. Raimondo’s visit and, since then, he believed companies had begun to reconsider whether they had been “too pessimistic that there wasn’t any way to get out of a constant downward slide (in USChina relations)”.

A larger percentage of firms, 40%, up from 34% last year, are currently redirecting or looking to redirect investment that had been earmarked for China, mainly to Southeast Asia.

This echoed a report published by Rhodium Group last week, which said that India, Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia were receiving the vast majority of investment US and European firms were shifting away from China. – Reuters

#business #optimism #China #outlook #falls #record #survey

Taiwan urges China to stop ‘destructive’ military activities

 – Taiwan‘s defense ministry on Monday urged China to stop “destructive, unilateral action” after reporting a sharp rise in Chinese military activities near the island, warning such behavior could lead to a sharp increase in tensions.

China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has in recent years regularly carried out military drills around the island as it seeks to assert its sovereignty claims and pressure Taipei.

The ministry said that since Sunday it had spotted 103 Chinese military aircraft over the sea, a number it called a “recent high”.

Its map of Chinese activities over the past 24 hours showed fighter jets crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides until China began regularly crossing it a year ago.

Other aircraft flew south of Taiwan through the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines.

China‘s activities over the past day have caused “serious challenges” to security in the strait and regionally, the ministry said in an accompanying statement.

Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are the common responsibilities of all parties in the region, it added.

“The continuous military harassment by the Communist military can easily lead to a sharp increase in tensions and worsen regional security,” the ministry said. “We call on the Beijing authorities to take responsibility and immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions.”

China‘s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the air force incursion near Taiwan over the weekend, China last week also dispatched more than 100 naval ships for exercises in the region, including in the strategic waters in the South China Sea and off Taiwan‘s northeastern coast, a regional security official told Reuters.

The official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the activity put pressure on everyone in the region and called the scale of naval exercises the “largest in years”.

Taiwan‘s defense ministry noted last week that July to September is traditionally the busiest season for Chinese military drills along the coast.

China is bolstering its air power facing Taiwan, with a permanent deployment of new fighters and drones at expanded air bases, Taiwan‘s defense ministry said in its biennial report this month. – Reuters

#Taiwan #urges #China #stop #destructive #military #activities

China is criminalizing clothing ‘hurtful to the spirit and sentiments of the nation’ — could this mean a kimono ban?

IN AUGUST 2022 a young woman wearing a yukata — a simple, summer-weight kimono — was having her photo taken on a street in picturesque Suzhou, China, when she was accosted by a police officer. Following an angry exchange, partly captured on her phone, she was arrested for disturbing the public peace.

The Suzhou Kimono Incident, as it came to be known, sparked an internet debate over the propriety of wearing kimonos and the legality of the policeman’s actions.

This was not the first time wearing a kimono in China had caused a furor, and it would not be the last. Another broke out in March this year, after a visitor to Nanjing, site of an infamous massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1937, reported seeing a woman in a white kimono posing amidst the cherry blossoms in a Buddhist temple. He complained to the attendants but they said it was merely a matter of ethics: after all, people were free to wear what they like.

That may soon change. A new draft law on public security published online at the beginning of this month includes a clause criminalizing the wearing of clothes that might be “hurtful to the spirit and sentiments of the nation.” If the law is passed, offenders will face penalties of up to 5,000 yuan (A$1,000) and up to 15 days jail.

Draft laws, routinely posted for comment, rarely attract many responses. The response to this one has been huge, with around 100,000 submissions to date. Legal scholars in China have weighed in, pointing out the fuzziness of this clause and its openness to abuse by local law enforcers.

And as one Beijing lawyer intimated, the legislation seems directly aimed at the kimono.

Half a century ago, the target of sartorial struggle in China was “strange clothing and outlandish dress” — tight pants were the example par excellence in the 1960s, succeeded by flares in the 1970s.

Such clothing was associated with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Hong Kong, all sinkholes of decadence and natural enemies of China under Mao.

Things have changed. Soviet revisionists have morphed into Russian allies; Hong Kong has been swallowed up by the mainland; and with jeans and T-shirts now ubiquitous in China, the US is no longer open to attack on the sartorial front.

Enter Japan, with its spectacular array of distinctive cultural products, strong youth following across East Asia, and a wartime history that since the 1980s has been leveraged to foment nationalism in China.

In 1980, Japanese movie star Nakano Ryoko received a rapturous welcome when she visited China. Over the next few years, Japan inspired and provided training for the first generation of post-Mao fashion designers, who helped lay the foundations for a now-flourishing industry.

In the mid-1980s, a fully accessorized kimono as a symbol of excellence in Japanese design was perfectly acceptable for publication in a Chinese magazine.

Simultaneously, however, a “new remembering” of Japanese wartime atrocities — specifically the Nanjing massacre — was emerging, soon to be endorsed by the ruling Communist Party. By the 1990s, a history that had been buried in the Mao years was being given full play.

All this helps explain the visceral responses to young Chinese women wearing kimonos today.

In April 2009, two high-impact films about the Nanjing massacre were released. Images of Japanese soldiers raping Chinese women were fresh in people’s minds when, in September, young model Ding Beili posted a photo of herself online wearing a kimono. She attracted a storm of criticism.

“With so many countries in the world to pick from,” asked one blogger, “why did she have to pick Japan?”

Why indeed? The answer lies in something else that came to China from Japan: cosplay, popular across East Asia. The girl of the Suzhou Kimono Incident was a cosplayer, performing a role from the Japanese animé Summer Time Rendering. Naturally, cosplayers view Japanese-inspired dress differently from their critics.

Among the great occasions for Chinese cosplay until recently were Japanese-style “summer festivals,” or matsuri. It was for a matsuri in Shanghai that Ding Beili donned a kimono in 2009. Increasingly popular in China in recent years, summer festivals were canceled in at least seven cities in August 2022 under rising anti-Japanese sentiment.

The ultra-nationalist Hu Xijin, former editor of the Global Times, has dismissed the issue of the kimono in China as a matter of no consequence. “Little Japan,” in his view, is just “a lackey of the US.”

The US-Japan alliance undoubtedly exacerbates Chinese hostility towards Japan, a country that like Australia is an easier target for payback than the US. China’s response to the new tripartite agreement between Japan, South Korea, and the US was to slap a ban on Japanese seafood imports, on stated grounds of health security.

The new draft law against “hurtful” dress was posted soon after the implementation of the seafood ban, leaving observers with a distinct impression of China as a place where people can neither eat Japanese fish nor wear Japanese clothes.

Older people must be reminded of a time half a century ago, when young people wearing “strange clothing and outlandish dress” were attacked on the streets, while seafood was hardly available at all. The Conversation via Reuters Connect


Antonia Finnane is a Professor (honorary) at The University of Melbourne. She has received funding from the Australian Research Council.

#China #criminalizing #clothing #hurtful #spirit #sentiments #nation #kimono #ban

China newspaper says EU probe into EVs ‘excessive’, sparked by ‘jealousy’

China newspaper says EU probe into EVs ‘excessive’, sparked by ‘jealousy’

 – The nationalist Chinese newspaper Global Times described as “excessive” Europe’s probe into cheaper Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), and said China‘s superior offering are the envy of other automakers.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday the investigation a week after executives at Munich’s IAA mobility show said European carmakers had a fight on their hands to produce lower-cost EVs and to close the gap on China‘s lead in making cheaper, more consumer-friendly models.

Beijing has since blasted the investigation as a protectionist act aimed at shielding Europe’s own industry in the name of “fair competition”, and warned economic ties could be harmed.

“To tell the truth, when Chinese new energy vehicles shone brightly at the recent 2023 International Motor Show in Germany, we heard some envious and even jealous remarks but we didn’t expect Europe’s response to be so ‘excessive’,” the Global Times said in an editorial.

Analysts have warned that should the EU levy duties against Chinese EVs after the probe, which could take up to 13 months, China would likely impose countermeasures, hitting European industries.

“If Europe lacks the confidence and courage to win the market through fair competition, it will be impossible to establish competitiveness in the EV industry,” the newspaper wrote.

The investigation is expected to be a focus of talks when EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis visits China later this month, where he is expected to renew calls for fair competition. – Reuters

#China #newspaper #probe #EVs #excessive #sparked #jealousy

US Treasury official visits Hong Kong in bid to deepen ties with China

US Treasury official visits Hong Kong in bid to deepen ties with China

 – US Treasury official Brent Neiman visited Hong Kong on Thursday, the highest ranking Treasury official to visit the financial hub since 2019, U.S. authorities said, as Washington aims to deepen ties with Beijing despite rising tensions.

The US Department of the Treasury said on Thursday that Neiman, the department’s assistant secretary for international finance, will hold engagements in Hong Kong “building on President Biden’s direction to deepen ties between the world’s two largest economies”.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Neiman’s visit comes as China‘s economy slows, weighed by weak consumer and private business sentiment, high levels of debt and a property market downturn.

The meeting builds on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to China in July, the statement said.

During his visit to the special administrative region, Neiman will speak with “diverse audiences, including government officials, policymakers, scholars, the US business community and financial leaders”. Topics will include bilateral financial and regulatory matters as well as macroeconomic and financial developments in Hong Kong and China, the statement said. Neiman will also engage students and young professionals to deepen US-Hong Kong “people-to-people ties“.

“Neiman will stress the United States’ focus on securing and advancing our economic and national security interests, along with those of our allies and protecting human rights,” the statement said. – Reuters

#Treasury #official #visits #Hong #Kong #bid #deepen #ties #China