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At least 14 killed, 30 injured in Japan bus accident

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At least 14 people were killed and 30 injured in a bus accident in Japan’s Nagano prefecture early on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

The bus was headed to a popular ski resort in Nagano. The accident occurred at around 2 a.m. local time on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Police and investigators confirmed that the road conditions were not icy and investigations into the cause of the accident were underway.

The cause of the accident is not known.

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US strengthening Indo-Pacific policies against Chinese threats: Pompeo

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Accusing China of posing an “unprecedented threat” to the Indo-Pacific region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that the US was strengthening its policies there and dismissed Beijing’s maritime claims against its neighbours.

He said on Monday, “The United States champions a free and open Indo-Pacific. Today we are strengthening US policy in a vital, contentious part of that region — the South China Sea.”

“In the South China Sea, we seek to preserve peace and stability, uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce, and oppose any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes,” his statement said.

He said that Washington was making clear to Beijing that its claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea “are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them”.

Pompeo categorically dismissed all the various claims China has made in south-east Asia involving Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei.

With the failure to make progress before the November elections in the trade negotiations on which President Donald Trump had expended a lot of diplomacy and the China-originated Covid-19 economic catastrophe, Washington is on the offensive, especially because under the cover of the pandemic Beijing has become more aggressive towards its neighbours.

Pompeo has put several Chinese officials under a visa ban over Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong, human rights violations of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, interference in the South China Sea and trade restrictions.

He has launched a campaign to stop its technology inroads into countries, particularly the advanced 5G cell phone system, and warned of the dangers of its aid programmes that in reality push the recipients into a debt trap that forces them to hand over their resources.

Washington has imposed restrictions on Beijing’s access to US technology.

The US has also sent three aircraft carrier strike groups that include other ships to the Indo-Pacific zone in a show of force.

Pompeo said last week that the Chinese confrontation in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh was a part of a pattern of Beijing’s aggressiveness and said the world must unite to confront it.

In his statement on Monday, Pompeo said the 2016 decisions of the arbitration tribunal set up under the Law of the Sea Convention, which China has signed, should stand.

In recent months, China has sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat, interfered with a Malaysian exploration vessel and intrusions by Chinese boats in Indonesian maritime economic zone.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

Source: IANS

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11 more deaths take UK COVID-19 death toll to 44,830

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Saudi Arabia Coronavirus Covid 19

London, July 14 (IANS) Another 11 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Sunday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 44,830, the British Department of Health and Social Care said.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

As of Monday morning, 290,133 people have tested positive for the disease in Britain, a daily increase of 530, according to the department, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, a London-based children charity warned Monday that deep budget cuts to education and rising poverty worldwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could force at least 9.7 million children out of school forever by the end of this year.

The world is facing a hidden education emergency as COVID-19 would leave an estimated US $77 billion gap in education spending for the world”s poorest children over the next 18 months, said Save the Children in its Save Our Education report.

–IANS

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US hardens stance against China’s South China Sea resource claims

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

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WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday hardened its rejection of China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, calling it “unlawful,” a move that will further sour the already-fraught ties between the world’s largest two economies.

China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other South Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“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, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration, said in a statement.

The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, even sending U.S. warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo said.

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Beijing has built bases atop atolls in the region but says its intentions are peaceful.

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