You've heard about Singaporean blogger Sara Lim's extravagantly-sponsored 27th birthday party held over the weekend -- we bring you the breakdown of just how much everything cost in this highlights video.
You've heard about Singaporean blogger Sara Lim's extravagantly-sponsored 27th birthday party held over the weekend -- we bring you the breakdown of just how much everything cost in this highlights video.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 25 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of Wednesday (27 January), taking the country’s total case count to 59,391.
US President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the country’s Commerce Department told senators on Tuesday that she would use punitive tariffs and export restrictions against China, but stopped short of a specific commitment to keep existing sanctions against Huawei Technologies in place. “China‘s actions have been anticompetitive, hurtful to American workers and businesses, coercive and … culpable for atrocious human rights abuses, so whether it‘s the ‘entity list’ or tariffs or countervailing duties, I intend to use all those tools to the fullest extent possible,” Gina Raimondo, currently the governor of Rhode Island, testified remotely during her confirmation hearing in the Senate. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary during the Trump administration, put Huawei on an “entity list” in May 2019, citing national security concerns, a move that prevented US suppliers from selling goods and technology to the company without a special licence.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Other Chinese companies on the list include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) and the drone maker DJI Technology. When Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican known for his strident anti-China stance, pressed Raimondo for assurances she would not remove Huawei from the list, the nominee committed only to “review the policy, consult with you, consult with industry, consult with our allies and make an assessment as to what‘s best for American national and economic security”. The response prompted an outcry from Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, who issued a statement questioning Raimondo’s stance. “This is ridiculous,” Sasse said. “Huawei didn’t change because America has a new president. Huawei is still the Chinese Communist Party’s tech puppet and a serious threat to national security. “Tough talk on China is empty if you let Huawei out of the box,” he added. However, Raimondo repeatedly emphasised to Cruz and other senators questioning her a commitment to safeguarding against possible national security threats posed by the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment. Sanctions on China likely to remain: Hong Kong’s American Chamber of Commerce “There‘s an opportunity to move forward in 5G and create great innovation and jobs, but we can’t have the Chinese or really anyone having a back door into our network and compromising in any way our national or economic security,” she said. “I will use the full toolkit at my disposal to the fullest extent possible to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference or any kind of back door influence into our network, and that’s Huawei, ZTE, or any other company.” Comments by numerous Biden administration officials less than a week into his tenure have suggested that the new president will not diverge substantially from the view that Beijing presents a threat to US national security requiring more vigilance than when Biden was vice-president during the administration of Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Antony Blinken, who was confirmed by the Senate as the new US Secretary of State on Tuesday shortly after Raimondo’s hearing, suggested during his testimony last week that he agreed with former president Donald Trump’s “tougher approach to China”. “I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy,” he said. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that Biden “will take a multilateral approach to engaging with China, and that includes evaluating the tariffs currently in place, and he wants to ensure that we take any steps in coordination with our allies and partners, and with Democrats and Republicans in Congress”. Raimondo’s position at Tuesday’s hearing is not necessarily indicative of how she will proceed towards Huawei or China generally, said Anthony Kim, research manager at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. Raimondo, he noted, is a relative newcomer in terms of foreign policy and will need to defer to Blinken and others in the Biden administration. “We should view today’s comment as her own, before the whole entire government agency coordination,” Kim said. “This is not a position of the Biden administration at this point, so I think we’ll have to wait and see. “The Commerce Department cannot and will not alone decide what the new, official policy towards China is; that will be closely coordinated with the State Department” as well as the National Security Council (NSC), he noted. Blinken — who during the Obama administration first served as Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser and then as as deputy secretary of state — and Jake Sullivan, who Biden appointed to lead the NSC, hold similar views about China. Sullivan said in a CNN interview earlier this month that the Biden administration would recognise China as a serious strategic competitor to the US. He also said Biden would work out the economic differences between the US and its European allies to improve their relations and jointly counter China on multiple fronts, from trade and technology, to the military and human rights.More from South China Morning Post:Joe Biden’s China policy should keep trade and national security apart to avoid cold war: ex-US commerce chiefChip industry group urges Biden admin to review export controls on China to create ‘level playing field’This article Joe Biden’s commerce secretary pick backs tariffs and export limits against Chinese firms first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
A Chinese corruption charge that the mother of Canadian music star Wanting Qu embezzled more than 350 million yuan (US$54 million) in her position as a Harbin housing official has been withdrawn, according to a social media post shared by Qu about the long-running case. But Zhang Mingjie, 65, remains in detention with her fate unclear more than six years after the accusations emerged. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty at Zhang’s original 2016 trial, but she has not been convicted. Qu, 36, who first found fame as a pop singer, then as the de facto first lady of Vancouver when she was the girlfriend of then-mayor Gregor Robertson, expressed confidence in the handling of the case by the “perfect and righteous” Chinese justice system in 2018.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. But last September, she decried on Weibo that there was “still no result” on the anniversary of her mother’s arrest, and she was “trying to keep faith in justice”. That prompted a fierce backlash on Chinese social media, and a rebuke for Qu in a commentary by China’s anti-corruption body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Last Wednesday, Qu shared a Weibo post written in the name of her 78-year-old aunt, Zhang Mingkun, that claimed her sister’s embezzlement charge had been withdrawn at a second hearing on March 12, 2019. It demanded that “justice be served” and questioned whether there was “something fishy going on”. “This fact alone is sufficient to prove that this particular indictment initiated by Harbin Procuratorate was wrong! So please do not mention this 350 million matter! This indictment does not exist any more!” said the post, originally written on January 14. It continued: “Zhang Mingjie was served with a Notice of Termination of Trial, but she is not allowed bail. Don’t you think something is wrong?” Wanting Qu issues update on mother’s death-penalty case A post by the same account on January 17 said interrogators had made Zhang Mingjie confess by threatening Qu. “[Investigators] said during the interrogations that Zhang Mingjie would definitely get the death sentence, and if she did not disclose everything honestly, they would arrest [her] relatives. They also forced Zhang Mingjie to admit her guilt by threatening the reputation of Wanting Qu,” it said. It also claimed that Zhang Mingjie was “tortured emotionally … humiliated, cursed and belittled” during a prolonged interrogation under spotlights. The Harbin Intermediate People’s Court did not respond to a request for information about Zhang’s case. Qu did not respond to a request for an interview that was emailed to her management. Zhang’s original trial in July 2016 was widely reported by Chinese state media, but the court has not publicly updated her status since then. China’s courts have a 99.9 per cent conviction rate, according to the China Law Yearbook. The official Xinhua news agency reported that Zhang, as deputy director of Harbin’s development and reform commission, was accused of selling state-owned farmland to a developer for far below its market value, in exchange for hundreds of millions of yuan in kickbacks. Vancouver’s mayor breaks up with pop star Wanting Qu She also allegedly failed to enforce the payment of tens of millions of yuan in compensation to displaced farmworkers who had lived in dorms on the land, the agency reported. “The court was told that Zhang had not only breached her duty as a civil servant, but also committed the crimes of embezzling public properties worth an enormous amount of money,” Xinhua reported. “Zhang was also said to have committed the crimes of bribe-taking and abusing authority, leading to a severe loss of public assets.” The Weibo account in the name of Zhang Mingkun was set up on January 10. It has since posted 14 times about Zhang Mingjie’s case. “I’ve tried to contact the chief justice, but he says ‘it’s useless to contact me’, he refused to see me in person. With no way out of this, I then had to make my voice heard on Weibo!” a post on the account said on January 21, responding to a question about why the family, including Qu, had taken so long to discuss the case. In the January 14 post, it said: “Even though I felt something was wrong a long time ago, I trusted that justice would be served. I patiently and painstakingly waited for almost seven years, but I discovered that the law enforcement people are not so just. That’s why I had to make myself heard here disclosing the truth to the public.” Chinese corruption prosecutors seek death penalty for mother of Wanting Qu Qu has never given an interview about the case, but has paid tribute to her mother in a handful of social media posts, and by releasing a single about their relationship, titled Your Girl. In March 2018, Qu said on Weibo: “It has been 3 years and 6 months since my mom was taken away on September 22, 2014. There is no point I wouldn’t feel pain, having seen the loss of my mother this way. However, each country has its own law. I believe that the court would hand down a ruling according to law.” When she posted about her mother again in January 2019, saying her “heart aches” for her, the remarks went viral; Weibo posts carrying a hashtag referring to her comments were viewed hundreds of millions of times, although the responses were overwhelmingly negative. Qu moved to Canada as a teenager. Her first album, “Everything in the World”, went platinum in China in 2012, and she sang on CCTV’s 2013 New Year’s telecast. But she is best known in Vancouver as the former partner of Robertson, now 56, who served as mayor from 2008 to 2018. They got to know each other after Qu was appointed Vancouver’s tourism ambassador to China in 2013, and went public with their relationship in early 2015. Robertson subsequently divorced his wife of more than 25 years, Amy Robertson, although a spokesman said no third party was involved in the split and the Robertsons had been separated since mid-2014. Qu and Robertson broke up in 2017.More from South China Morning Post:Pop star Wanting Qu issues update on mother’s death-penalty case, declaring Chinese law ‘perfect and righteous’Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson splits with pop star Wanting Qu, whose mother faces possible death penalty in ChinaChinese corruption prosecutors seek death penalty for mother of Wanting Qu, pop star girlfriend of Vancouver’s mayorThis article Canadian singer Wanting Qu shares claim that US$54 million Chinese corruption charge against mother is withdrawn first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
EVOLVE Fight Team members Amir Khan and Kim Kyu Sung analyse Dustin Poirier's shock UFC 257 victory over Conor McGregor.
Beijing’s state-run media has hit out at the new head of the Hong Kong Bar Association for a second day in a row, accusing him of having “lost professionalism and rationality” over remarks suggesting he would seek changes to the city’s national security law. One commentary, published in People’s Daily on Monday and titled “Do not let the political prejudice of the Bar Association ruin Hong Kong’s rule of law”, accused the body of becoming “more politicised in recent years, making use of its influence in society to abet activities that cause mayhem in Hong Kong”. The article was referring to the association’s statements issued during the 2019 social unrest that were critical of the police’s handling of protesters.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. The piece went on to say the move by the legal body was a departure from the spirit of the rule of law and a challenge to the essence of the “one country, two systems” policy. New head of top legal body wants government to amend national security law A separate commentary on China Daily on Tuesday, titled “Time for Bar Association to embrace political realism”, stated: “For any groups or parties to play a role in Hong Kong’s socioeconomic and political development, they must recognise and respect China’s sovereign powers over the region. “The Bar Association’s new chairman, Paul Harris, seems yet to realise this political reality.” The article also criticised the association for staying silent about the violence that gripped the city during the months-long anti-government protests. Harris, a long-time human rights barrister, was elected the new chairman of the association last week, succeeding Philip Dykes. Upon his election, Harris said he would explore the possibility of “getting the Hong Kong government to agree to some modifications” to the Beijing-imposed security legislation, referring to provisions he characterised as being at odds with rights guaranteed under the Basic Law. Harris said he hoped that by amending the national security law, Hong Kong could convince foreign countries to reinstate extradition agreements with the city, noting the suspension of such pacts following the law’s institution only made it easier for fugitives to move around. The People’s Daily article called Harris’ remarks “arrogant”, saying the national security law was in line with the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and flatly insisting the local government had no power to amend it. Arrest of opposition figures a ‘fairly obvious’ abuse of law, says new head of Bar Association “One also can’t help getting annoyed by such [a low] level of professionalism,” it said. Responding to the pieces, Harris reiterated that he had never condoned the violent protests of 2019, and continued to hold out hope that elements of the security law could be changed. “I have always supported demonstrations only so long as they are peaceful and am deeply opposed to violence,” he said. As for the law, he added: “I would hope that [the government] is open to dialogue with the community in Hong Kong and prepared to make proposals to the [central government] if it is itself persuaded that changes are desirable. “Of course we all understand that the final decision is for the [National People’s Congress Standing Committee].” He also addressed the accusations of politicisation in recent years, saying: “The constitution of the Bar Association requires it to defend the rule of law. Successive chairmen have always done so, from long before Philip Dykes’ tenure.” Former Bar Association chairman Ronny Tong Ka-wah, now a government cabinet member, also came to Harris’ defence. “I would have thought if he puts forward a view as to whether some law should be amended, I don’t see anything wrong with it,” he said. Outgoing Bar Association chair calls for renewing of contacts with Beijing But, Tong added: “I am worried that the [association] is drifting farther and farther away from maintaining a good relationship with its counterpart on the mainland, as the Hong Kong Bar needs to develop our practice on the mainland.” Asked if he was worried his stance could affect relations between the Bar Association and Beijing, Harris said: “I have not taken a confrontational stance. I have not opposed having a national security law. I have said some parts of it cause problems and I favoured amendment … It is the pro-Beijing media which has interpreted my mild remarks, reflecting the views of very many of my colleagues, as confrontational.” Alan Leong Kah-kit, a barrister and the chairman of the opposition Civic Party, said Harris and the Bar Association were only doing what legal practitioners should do. “We are only reminding everybody how the [Hong Kong special administrative region] is supposed to work. If issuing such reminders is political, so be it,” said Leong, who is also a former Bar Association chairman.More from South China Morning Post:New head of top Hong Kong legal body wants government to amend national security law so countries will reinstate extradition agreementsHSBC boss defends move to freeze accounts of fugitive ex-lawmaker Ted Hui, tells British MPs bank is committed to Hong KongHong Kong national security law: Pompeo, Raab and the meddling West should mind their own businessThis article National security law: Chinese state-run media blasts new Hong Kong Bar Association head for two days in a row over comments first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
The National Council of Churches Singapore said it was alarmed by news of a youth who attended church and was planning to attack two mosques in Singapore.
Relatives of Wuhan's coronavirus dead on Wednesday said Chinese authorities have deleted their social media group and are pressuring them to keep quiet while a World Health Organization team is in the city to investigate the pandemic's origins.
A man sodomised his underaged brother-in-law for over four years, starting from before he married the victim’s sister.
One week into the job, US President Joe Biden has sent a clear warning to Beijing against any expansionist intentions in East and Southeast Asia.
In an unusual and potentially groundbreaking decision, French drugmaker Sanofi said Wednesday it will help bottle and package 125 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech, while its own vaccine candidate faces delays. The announcement came as delays or production problems for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a vaccine from Britain's AstraZeneca have caused political uproar across the European Union. Sanofi's Frankfurt facilities will help with late-stage production of vaccines prepared by Germany-based BioNTech, including bottling and packaging, starting in the summer, according to a Sanofi official.
Foreigners snapping up private apartments in Singapore declined to a 17-year low in 2020 as travel restrictions and lockdowns in various countries deterred them from coming to the city-state.
The largest bank in Singapore, DBS was named the ‘World’s Best Bank’ in 2019. If you’re a loyal DBS/POSB customer and have no plans to switch banks, here are the credit cards worth your salt. As the economy grapples with the plunge in consumer spending, […] The post Loyal DBS/POSB Customers: Which Credit Card Should You Add To Your Wallet? appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
The UN human rights chief has called for an International Criminal Court investigation into Sri Lanka's Tamil separatist conflict and sanctions on military officials accused of war crimes, according to a report obtained by AFP.
Japan is expected to play a prominent role in the new US administration’s efforts to rally its allies in the Indo-Pacific region – including the South China Sea – in an attempt to counter China’s rise, according to observers. In a move that will deepen unease among Beijing policymakers, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin used his first conversation with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to its partnership with Tokyo. He also urged him to “strengthen Japan’s contribution to the role the alliance continues to play in providing security in the Indo-Pacific region”. Japan could be stabilising influence in US-China relations, says ambassador President Joe Biden’s administration is seeking to rebuild US alliances which were sorely tested by his predecessor’s America First policies.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Benoit Hardy-Chartrand, an East Asia affairs expert at Temple University in Tokyo, said Japan – which hosts the largest number of US troops in the region, as well as providing a base for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet – had a “prominent role” to play, even though the contours of Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy had yet to be determined. “President Biden himself, as well as his nominee for Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, have made it clear that the reinforcement of Washington’s alliances in the region will be a top priority for the US,” he said. “Japanese Prime Minister [Yoshihide] Suga will be happy to reciprocate, as he has vowed to maintain the foreign policy orientations of his predecessor Shinzo Abe, under whose leadership Japan has reinforced its role in the alliance with the US and become a more consequential actor in regional security.” The concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region was first introduced by Japan in 2016, before it was formalised by the US State Department in 2019. Beijing regards Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy as a move to rally regional players like India, Australia and Japan against China’s rise. Japan, which sees China as a major rival, has been carefully and steadily pushing for like-minded countries to unite in countering Beijing’s growing influence and ambitions in the region. In September, Japan and India signed a deal allowing access to each other’s military bases for logistical support. Just weeks later, Suga used his first overseas visits as prime minister to promise stronger security and economic ties with Vietnam and Indonesia. This was followed in November with the signing of a reciprocal access agreement with Australia, allowing the two armed forces to carry out joint exercises, visit each other’s countries and potentially conduct military operations together. And, late last month, in a move that is likely to have touched a raw nerve in Beijing, Kishi invited his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to send a warship to East Asia. The visit could include the South China Sea, where Beijing’s extensive claims are contested by a number of small Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. While Japan is a non-claimant in the strategically important waterway, 90 per cent of its oil and gas supplies travel through it from the Middle East, giving it deep concerns about China’s activities in the South China Sea. Last week Japan joined the US and its allies Australia, Britain, Germany and France in submitting a diplomatic note to the United Nations, rejecting Beijing’s baseline claims and condemning its efforts to restrict navigation and flyovers in the South China Sea. “Tokyo sees freedom of navigation and maritime stability as crucial to its prosperity,” Hardy-Chartrand said. “In addition, the Japanese government has drawn parallels between China’s approaches to the South China Sea and the East China Sea, where the two countries are embroiled in an increasingly bitter territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.” Hardy-Chartrand said Tokyo’s interest in the East China Sea meant it would not want to push Beijing too hard on the issue. “Japan will maintain its presence in the [South China Sea] but will likely remain cautious to avoid a strong reaction from China, as it may affect their territorial dispute in the East China Sea,” he said. Japan weighs in on South China Sea dispute, adding to pressure on Beijing Chen Xiangmiao, an associate researcher with the National Institute for South China Studies in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, said Japan would be an important part of the US push for an alliance-centred network to counter China. “That would include further cooperation on multiple fronts, from military, diplomacy, the legal sphere and politics, as well as public opinion in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, to closely coordinate with the US in its South China Sea policy,” he said. Lam Peng Er, a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute, said Japan would also be concerned that China could one day declare an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea. “China has done that in the East China Sea, but if China declared in the South China Sea, Japan would be very concerned and very upset,” he said. Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute Japan has steadily stepped up its engagement with the South China Sea claimants – drilling is expected to start this year in a joint offshore energy project between Japanese companies and Vietnam, while the Philippines has acquired coastguard vessels and radar systems from Japan. Japanese vessels have also taken part in South China Sea exercises with forces from the US and the Philippines. But, Lam pointed out, while Japan’s engagement with the South China Sea claimants had been consistent, it was restricted in any military operation by its constitution, which prevents it from settling international disputes with armed force. There was no domestic consensus that any conflict in the South China Sea posed an imminent threat to Japan, he added. Lam also said there was a significant difference between Japan and the US in their approach to the region. “The Japanese concept of the Indo-Pacific centres on multilateral economic and diplomatic cooperation in a rule-based order, whereas the US strategy … emphasises a muscular balance of power against a rising China,” he said.More from South China Morning Post:Early signs from Biden White House of more balanced China policy aheadChina-US tensions: new American defence chief calls on Japan and South Korea to team up in Indo-PacificTokyo seeks US vow of support in East China Sea, as dispute with Beijing heats upThis article Japan key to US plan to rally allies against China in Indo-Pacific, observers say first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Unfailingly calm and courteous, America's new top diplomat Antony Blinken advocates a more humble approach to build alliances but, more than his boss, has advocated military power when human rights are in question.
A Singaporean teenager planned to attack two mosques in the city-state on the anniversary of a massacre of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand, authorities said Wednesday.
Income-seeking investors should take a look at these five REITs that reported higher year on year DPU. The post 5 REITs Reporting Higher DPU in January appeared first on The Smart Investor.
Somalia is under growing pressure to explain the fate of soldiers whose families fear they were secretly deployed from training camps in neighbouring Eritrea to fight in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region.
One of the appeals of the HDB loan is the higher LTV of up to 90%. But did you know not everyone is eligible to loan the maximum amount? Read about it here.
The United States has pledged to support its allies involved in maritime disputes over both the South and East China seas – where China is locking horns with its neighbours – as the newly installed US administration is renewing alliances in Asia and Europe. On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden talked about the defence of the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, in the East China Sea, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged support to the Philippines in the event of armed attacks in the South China Sea. Blinken “reaffirmed that a strong US-Philippine alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region” in a call with Philippine foreign minister Teodoro Locsin, according to a statement from the US Department of State.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. The US secretary of state “stressed the importance of the Mutual Defence Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea”, the statement said. “Secretary Blinken also underscored that the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention,” the readout said. Blinken also pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of China’s pressure, it added. Soon after taking office on January 20, Biden’s administration was pushing the agenda to restore the US presence in multilateralism and renew ties with allies for a multilateral approach to address the rise of China. In the phone call with Suga, Biden reaffirmed US commitment to defend the Diaoyu Islands. “President Biden expressed his unwavering commitment to the defence of Japan, including the application of Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty to the Senkaku islands,” the Japanese foreign ministry said. Biden also expressed commitment to “extended deterrence”, both governments said in separate statements, a term that refers to the potential use of nuclear weapons to defend an ally. China-US relations deteriorated sharply in the tumultuous Donald Trump era, with confrontation on issues including trade, military, security and human rights. Philippine analysts say China’s coastguard law sets stage for armed conflict Beijing is closely watching Washington’s new China policy while calling for communications to restart and bilateral tensions to be reset. But military posturing in the East and South China seas from both sides has continued into the Biden administration. Blinken said last week he agreed with Trump’s hardline China strategy although he disagreed with his tactics. Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo said in July last year that the US rejected nearly all sovereign claims by China in the South China Sea, pushing tensions to boiling point. Blinken’s remarks to Southeast Asian allies indicate the hardline stance will continue for the new administration. Collin Koh, a research fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the pledge by Blinken to help the Philippines was “clear and unambiguous”, but there are uncertainties behind it. “First is whether Biden will really fulfil the pledge in the event of such an attack. Second, linked to the first issue, is how ‘armed attack’ is defined, and whether China’s use of certain types of grey-zone activities that are not so easily attributed to the Chinese government could complicate the implementation of such a pledge,” he said, referring to the use of force that was more of a civilian nature, such as coastguard vessels. And whether the Philippines would resume some bilateral military exercises and rescind the country’s earlier decision to abrogate the visiting force agreement with the US was also key, he said. “With this latest unambiguous and clear pledge made by a new US administration, which is seen as more predictable than [the] Trump administration, there might be opportunities to re-engage in dialogues on how to reinvigorate the alliance.” Philippine analysts say China’s coastguard law sets stage for armed conflict Koh said the Biden administration would also seek to back its commitments to allies and partners in the region by maintaining a US military presence. This meant American and Chinese forces would continue to come close to each other, risking future incidents. Richard Heydarian, a former Philippine government adviser, said the Philippines would be crucial to the efficacy of Biden’s China policy – eventually. “The thing though is Duterte is an unwilling ally, and on the tail end of his term. So Blinken’s focus will be securing the visiting force agreement while waiting for the next administration [of the Philippines] to upgrade the alliance in ways that the Philippines can become a more integral element of US regional policy,” he said. Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said the pledge by Blinken was merely a verbal commitment that had also been made by his predecessor Pompeo. Blinken also spoke over the phone with the Thai and Australian foreign ministers in a bid to strengthen military and security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. His diplomatic outreach also included calls with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and on Wednesday he talked with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. US-China relationship ‘arguably’ Washington’s most important, says Blinken Maas described his exchange with the US secretary of state: “Both agreed on cooperating closely on a broad range of issues such as China’s global role, the JCPoA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran nuclear deal], our joint engagement in Afghanistan and the fight against climate change.” Blinken “emphasised the US desire to work with France, our oldest ally, and other partners to address shared challenges including Covid-19, climate and China”, a separate statement by the State Department said. Additional reporting by BloombergMore from South China Morning Post:Yoshihide Suga and Joe Biden to strengthen US-Japan alliance, with eye on ChinaAntony Blinken confirmed as Joe Biden’s secretary of stateChina-US tensions: new American defence chief calls on Japan and South Korea to team up in Indo-PacificSouth China Sea: focus on oil and gas, not maritime dispute, Beijing urges PhilippinesThis article China-US tension: Biden administration pledges to back Japan and Philippines in maritime disputes first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.