Sunday, 18 November, 2018

China, US sparring continues over South China Sea

US Defence Secretary James Mattis shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asean security summit in Singapore on Oct 18 President Xi meets Henry Kissinger - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Pablo Mccormick | 10 November, 2018, 10:24

Mattis responded that the USA would "fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows".

Although the rescheduling of the U.S.

China said last month the two sides had initially agreed "in principle" to hold the second round of diplomatic security talks in October but they were postponed at Washington's request amid rising tensions over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

"The United States and the worldwide communities will continue to express our concerns with respect to China's repression of religious groups - Christians, Buddhists, and 800,000 to possibly millions of Muslims - that have been denied their freedoms", Pompeo said during a joint press briefing following Friday's talks.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and Mattis warned against conflict, while comments by top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi and Pompeo underscored divisions between the world's two largest economies, now engaged in a trade war. Activists say there is evidence of torture, widespread surveillance, and signs that those being held are being forced to renounce their faith.

Yang defended China's policies in Xinjiang as measures against "ethnic separatist activities and violent terrorist crimes" but said it was a Chinese internal affair and foreign governments should not interfere.

Rick Scott, Bill Nelson spar over Broward, Palm Beach vote counting
The governor, meanwhile, filed lawsuits in both counties seeking more information on how their ballots were being tallied. Mr Gillum trails Mr DeSantis now by less than 38,000 votes, which is in recount range if the margin holds.

Washington has also been increasingly critical of Chinese treatment of religious minorities, including Uygur Muslims in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Yang said China supports direct dialogue between America and North Korea and hope that the two sides will "accommodate each other's legitimate concerns, build trust and advance denuclearisation process and the establishment of a peace mechanism in tandem".

"The US is not pursuing a cold war or containment policy with China", Pompeo said.

Calling Kissinger an old friend of Chinese people, Xi hailed the "historic contribution" he has made to China-U.S. relations.

The United States sees Taiwan as part of a network of Asian democracies, and informal Taiwan-U.S. ties have improved under U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon had previously declined to comment on a May report quoting unnamed sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports as saying that the anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems had been deployed to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in April or early May. Diplomatic sources indicate arrangements are being made for Pence to meet with Morris Chang, a retired tech guru who founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

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House Democrats will have subpoena power and will be able to investigate every facet of Trump's presidency and business career. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have always been key allies, and Trump made the country his first stop overseas as president.

The United States has for the first time urged China to remove missile systems deployed to contested man-made islands in the South China Sea, the Pentagon said Friday.

A "frank" exchange of views can be expected in top-level diplomatic and security talks between the United States and China on Friday, including on issues such as human rights and the South China Sea, the U.S. ambassador to China said.

The disputed sea is a major Asian trade route, where Beijing has landfilled areas for military infrastructure.

Fault lines between the U.S. and China were on clear display Friday as senior officials challenged each other over the South China Sea, Taiwan, religious freedom and trade just weeks before President Donald Trump is set to meet with President Xi Jinping.

But just as he was speaking, a top advisor to Trump, Peter Navarro, vowed to press China hard on trade.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asserted USA rights to freedom of navigation but also said the two sides should work together on areas of common interest.

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Shark nets at Shelly Beach and four others on the north coast were removed in May after a almost five-month NSW government trial. On Monday, a shark killed a man in a harbor in the Whitsunday Islands, where two tourists were mauled in September.

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