Thailand braced for infections spike after detecting UK COVID-19 variant
Thailand has detected at least 24 cases of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 first identified in Britain, a government health expert said on Wednesday, its first known domestic transmission of the highly contagious variant. The SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.7 has been found in more than 100 countries and has been blamed for fuelling new waves of infections in record numbers. The UK variant was found in a cluster of 24 visitors to entertainment venues in Bangkok, which were detected at the weekend.
AdWer passt zu dir am Besten? Jetzt persönliche Partnervorschläge erhalten. 51% Frauen 49% Männer.South China Morning PostJapan feels diplomatic squeeze as US-China tensions riseChina and Japan have decades of experience in managing their regular diplomatic crises, but escalating tensions over Taiwan and territorial disputes in the East China Sea are creating a new test for Asia’s most powerful giants. Last month’s agreement between US and Japanese defence ministers to single out China as a common threat – and the earlier face-off in Alaska between senior Chinese and US diplomats – indicated rising US-China tensions were pushing Japan to side with the US because of its geographic importance in the region, experts said. US, Japan agree to work together in event of Beijing-Taiwan military clash, sources say “It’s an unusual move for Japan to join with the US to single out China as a common threat in their ‘two-plus-two’ dialogues,” said Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Japan had long refrained from commenting on Taiwan – which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be returned to the mainland, by force if necessary – instead encouraging “dialogue for a peaceful solution to cross-strait tensions”, Chang said, because of the consequences of offending a rising China. But, in a joint statement on March 17, Japanese and US defence chiefs said they had agreed to closely cooperate in the event of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait. The Kyodo news agency reported that Tokyo had been reviewing the feasibility of issuing a Self-Defence Force (SDF) dispatch order to protect US military ships and planes in the event of a crisis between mainland China and Taiwan, given the strait’s geographical proximity and the possibility that an armed conflict there would affect the safety of Japanese citizens. The statement made Japan the first member of the US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad, to declare its willingness to work with Washington over a potential Taiwan Strait emergency. Explainer | What is the Quad, and how will it impact US-China relations under the Biden administration? The grouping, which includes Australia and India, was formed in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It has been under pressure from Japan and the US to change its role since China passed a law in January allowing its coastguard to fire on foreign ships in what it regards as its maritime territory. The move intensified confrontations between the PLA and Japan’s Maritime SDF near the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. Cheung Mong, an associate professor with the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University in Japan, said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga would not let the SDF directly engage in any battles against the PLA. “The most contribution made by the SDF may be providing rear-area logistic support for their US counterpart under the commitment of the two countries’ guidelines for defence cooperation revised in 1997,” he said. “As a maritime power, Japan has remained vigilant on the development of China, a land-oriented giant, but pulls out all stops to develop blue water naval fleets. Suga understood the SDF can’t beat the PLA.” Diplomatic ties between Beijing and Tokyo hit their lowest ebb under former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, when a Chinese trawler and two Japanese coastguard patrol boats collided near the East China Sea in September 2010. Territorial tensions were alleviated after Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) came to power in 2012, with Abe visiting China in 2018. But cracks have reappeared, with Japan taking a lead role in pulling together a joint statement from the Group of Seven foreign ministers in June condemning China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy advocates. Japanese perceptions of China suffered a hit because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019 before becoming a global crisis that forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics as well as a relationship-mending trip to Japan by President Xi Jinping. A Japanese diplomat, who requested anonymity, said the Japanese public had been angered by a lack of transparency from the Chinese authorities over the disease, which has claimed more than 9,000 lives in Japan. “Japan has suffered a great setback from Covid-19, not only the postponement of Olympics, but the hope to revive the economy,” the diplomat said. Beijing is also closely watching Suga’s trip to the US on April 16, when Taiwan and Japan’s maritime disputes with China are expected to be the main items on the agenda. Beijing has already warned that foreign intervention in Taiwan is a red line issue on which it will not compromise, and that any attempt to undermine its core national interests could lead to war, in accordance with its Anti-Secession Law ratified in 2005. According to a report last year by the Rand Corporation, a US think tank, the PLA has built about 40 bases along the southeast coast to allow 1,000 fighter aircraft to operate over Taiwan. By contrast, the US navy could deploy 144 fifth-generation fighters from its carriers – making it hard to attain air and sea superiority. As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan have been busy restoring legacy alliances in the region, Shanghai-based maritime power expert Ni Lexiong said the trend would further undermine China’s influence, but give Japan more development opportunities. “Joining with the US to counter a rising China would help Japan to accelerate its military normalisation process by upgrading its offensive capability under the help of its US ally,” he said. In 2019, Japan’s cabinet approved a five-year US$240 billion arms procurement plan to strengthen its missile defence and air-strike capability as a counter to China’s growing air and sea power, as well as the missile threat posed by North Korea. A report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in March said Japan’s arms imports had increased by 124 per cent over the past five years. “It’s a good thing that Japan finally spoke its mind, meaning the PLA now should consider it as an enemy in the event of a war against Taiwan,” said Gao Haikuan, an adviser to the Beijing-based Society of Sino-Japanese Relations History. “If a war occurs, Diaoyu Island, Okinawa and other US military bases on Japanese soil will become targets.” US-China rivalry could force unwelcome choices on some countries Okinawa is the largest island in Japan’s southernmost Ryukyu chain, dubbed the “keystone of the Pacific” by the US air force and navy during World War II, and the Pentagon has maintained a large military presence there ever since. The historical status and sovereignty of Okinawa were challenged in a 2013 commentary published by People’s Daily, which called for a “reconsideration” of sovereignty over the Ryukyu island chain. Cheung, from Wasade University, said the status of the Diaoyu and Okinawa islands were the most sensitive issues in Japan, similar in status to Taiwan and Hong Kong for Beijing. “The problem is many Chinese still see the Diaoyu Islands dispute as a symbol of national humiliation from the First Sino-Japanese War [1894-95], but the Japanese believe it is a current national security affair and there is no dispute since the Japanese government bought ownership of the uninhabited archipelago from the Kurihara family in 2012 to nationalise it,” Cheung said. In addition to their territory disputes, Tokyo’s relations with Beijing have long been strained by disagreements over the history of World War II. China has focused on the memory of the 1937 Nanking massacre, when the Japanese killed 300,000 people in a city now called Nanjing, while Japan has highlighted the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Cheung said Japan had been in a nightmare about being abandoned by Washington ever since the late US president Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 without notifying Tokyo. This had pushed the “closest ally” to learn how to deal with dilemmas amid “fears of abandonment and entrapment” when dancing with the world’s most powerful country and its giant neighbour. To improve relations with Beijing, Cheung said Suga would continue his predecessor Abe’s tactical hedging policy to prevent “being abandoned” by the US and “entrapped” by a military conflict between Beijing and Taipei. “In defence, Japan has to look to the US because of their alliance, but economically, Tokyo will tend to jump on the bandwagon of China.” China took in US$141.6 billion of Japanese goods in 2020, replacing the US as its top export buyer. “There are signs the current Sino-Japanese tension is going to be eased. If both Beijing and Tokyo can manage their territory disputes properly, the current tension will be alleviated because the LDP is more skilful when dealing with China policy,” Cheung said. “The LDP has Nikai Toshihiro, a veteran politician described as the ‘most pro-Chinese’ due to his personal connections with Chinese leaders, who will be an effective channel to Beijing to help Suga heal the breach with China.” However, how to reduce the negative sentiment in Japan evoked by the Covid-19 pandemic is another serious problem ahead for the leaders of the two countries. When the International Olympic Committee announced its decision to accept China’s offer to supply Covid-19 vaccines to participants in the next Summer and Winter Games, Japan immediately responded with a cold shoulder. Instead, Tokyo joined the US, India and Australia under the Quad mechanism to pool financing, manufacturing and distribution capacity by providing 1 billion vaccine doses across Asia by the end of 2022, in a counter to Beijing’s ambitious vaccine diplomacy initiative to give free shots to developing countries. More from South China Morning Post:Japan, Germany’s first ‘2 plus 2’ dialogue shows extent of Tokyo’s outreach amid China’s rising assertiveness: analystsJapan, South Korea take different approaches to China relationsHow Japan could find itself dragged into a conflict between US and China over TaiwanChina, US send warships into disputed waters as tensions rise over Whitsun ReefChina warns Japan to not follow suit after US sanctions over Xinjiang, Hong KongThis article Japan feels diplomatic squeeze as US-China tensions rise first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
9 hours agoSouth China Sea: Beijing accuses Philippines of ‘hype’ over Chinese fleet at Whitsun ReefChina has asked Manila to “stop hyping up” the fleet of Chinese vessels moored around Whitsun Reef in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines has been protesting against the continued presence of Chinese vessels, initially numbering in the hundreds but dropping to dozens in recent days, inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at the reef in the Spratly Islands, known as the Nansha Islands in China. The Philippines says the ships are maritime militia but China insists they are civilian fishing boats “sheltering from wind” in their own traditional fishing ground. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Manila “harboured ulterior motives and hostile intentions” when calling the Chinese ships maritime militia, and reiterated that Chinese fishermen had enjoyed the right to fish and seek shelter in the area “for thousands of years”. “I don’t understand why some relevant party calls the Chinese fishermen maritime militia … This saying reflects ulterior motives and hostile intentions.” The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Monday that Manila would protest daily until China withdrew all its vessels. It also cited Manila’s 2016 victory at an international tribunal which rejected China’s claim of “historic rights” over much of the South China Sea. Philippines says Whitsun Reef dispute shows China intends to occupy more ‘features’ On Tuesday, Zhao said: “The South China Sea arbitral ruling is illegal and ineffective. The Chinese side does not accept or recognise the ruling, and oppose … the Philippine side using the illegal ruling to deny the thousand years of fishing rights of the Chinese fishermen in the area. “We urge the Philippine side to objectively and rationally view the matter, stop hyping up and stop bringing negative influence to the South China Sea situation.” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has stayed quiet and is leaving the tough talk to his defence and foreign ministers. On Sunday, defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “the continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the area reveals their intent to further occupy features in the West Philippine Sea”. The Philippines toned down the criticism on Tuesday and warned that current tension risked triggering “unwanted hostilities”. “We will continue to resolve the issues on Julian Felipe [Reef] through diplomatic channels and through peaceful means,” said a statement from Duterte read by his spokesman, Harry Roque. Duterte’s top legal counsel Salvador Panelo warned that China’s “present territorial incursions is producing an unwelcome stain in their bond and may trigger unwanted hostilities that both countries would rather not pursue”. Will the Whitsun Reef dispute come between Beijing and Manila? The Philippine leader has previously vowed to set aside the maritime disputes in exchange for economic support from China. The country continues to seek Beijing’s support to contain one of Asia’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks and secure vaccine supplies. Last week, the Philippines saw the arrival of 1 million vaccines produced by Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac. Amid the growing tensions in the South China Sea, the United States Navy confirmed on Tuesday that it had sent the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group to the South China Sea on Sunday, the second time it had entered the waters this year. More from South China Morning Post:China, US send warships into disputed waters as tensions rise over Whitsun ReefSouth China Sea: Manila gets tough on Beijing over Whitsun Reef row, earning praise from even Duterte’s criticsPhilippines sends navy on ‘sovereignty patrols’ to South China Sea amid fears Whitsun Reef is ‘Scarborough Shoal 2.0’Coronavirus: Hong Kong must stay alert to possible threat posed by Philippines Covid-19 variant, say expertsSpratly Islands: Philippines’ Locsin seeks concessions on Beijing tripThis article South China Sea: Beijing accuses Philippines of ‘hype’ over Chinese fleet at Whitsun Reef first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
a day agoSingapore Hotel Staycation Promotions During Phase 3International travel may still be out of the question for most Singaporeans, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home. On 3 July 2020, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced that it would start processing applications from hotels to accept staycation guests […] The post Singapore Hotel Staycation Promotions During Phase 3 appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save. headtopics.comRead more: Yahoo Singapore »
2 influencers face deportation from Bali over painted-on face mask prank
Being cancer-stricken and begging CPF Board to repay overdue debt; that which in any case cannot be done as the money had been commingled and funneled to private entity Temasek Holdings for Ho Ching to wager on unviable, untenable and ultimately, invariably doomed gambles