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US undermining South China Sea stability: Foreign Ministry

Zhao stressed that China will continue to determinedly safeguard its national sovereignty and security, friendly and cooperative relations with regional countries, and the South China Sea’s peace and stability.

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Zhao Lijian

BEIJING, July 14 : The United States was undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea and intended to drive a wedge between regional countries, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said here on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday that many Chinese maritime claims over the South China Sea were illegitimate, and the United States urged relevant countries to oppose China’s maritime claims. Pompeo added that the so-called award of the South China Sea arbitration was legally binding to both China and the Philippines.

In response, spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news briefing that the U.S. statement disregarded the history and facts on the South China Sea issue, and violated its commitment of holding a neutral position on relevant territorial sovereignty disputes. It also violated and distorted international law, deliberately provoked territorial maritime disputes, and undermined regional stability and peace, he added.

The U.S. statement said the dotted line in the South China Sea was announced by China in 2009, which is completely untrue, Zhao said, adding that China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea were established throughout a long course of history.

He said China has exercised effective jurisdiction over relevant islands, reefs, and waters in the South China Sea for thousands of years, and as early as 1948, the Chinese government announced the dotted line in the South China Sea. This was under no doubt from any country for a long time, he said, adding that China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea have sufficient historical and legal basis, which is consistent with relevant international laws and practices.

China doesn’t strive to build an “empire” in the South China Sea, always treats countries surrounding the South China Sea as equals, and always maintains the utmost restraint in safeguarding the sovereignty, rights, and interests of the South China Sea, Zhao said.

“On the contrary, the United States refused to join the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), frequently pulls out of international treaties and organizations, abides by international rules that suit its purpose, and discards those that it finds obstructive. It frequently promotes militarization of the South China Sea by dispatching large-scale, advanced warships and aircraft. The United States is the destructor and troublemaker of peace and stability in the region. The international community sees this very clearly,” Zhao said.

As for the arbitration case and the award, Zhao said China’s position is consistent, clear, and firm. The arbitral tribunal expanded its power to exercise jurisdiction, and made obvious mistakes in the determination of facts and the application of laws, which was questioned by many countries.

The U.S. hyped up the South China Sea arbitration for their own political agenda, which was abusing the international law of the sea, and China would never accept it, he said.

According to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) reached by China and ASEAN in 2002, China is always committed to resolving disputes on territory and jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations with the related sovereign states, maintaining the peace and stability in the South China Sea with the ASEAN countries, Zhao told the briefing.

“With joint efforts of the relevant countries, the situation in the South China Sea remains sound and stable at the moment,” Zhao said, adding that China and the ASEAN countries not only abide by the DOC, but are also speeding up negotiations on a more binding code of conduct (COC) to safeguard the peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Now the consultations have made positive progress, and the relationships between China and the ASEAN countries have further consolidated and developed during their cooperations against COVID-19, Zhao said.

However, the United States, as a non-regional country, has repeatedly stirred up trouble regarding the South China Sea for its own selfish agenda, played off the relationships of regional countries against China, and ruined the joint efforts made by these countries, he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. statement deliberately misinterpreted the Chinese representative’s statement at the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2010. Zhao said the fact was that China’s representative said China has always advocated that all countries are equal, and relevant disputes should be settled peacefully by the direct parties concerned through negotiations and consultations.

“China expressed its strong indignation and firm opposition to the U.S. wrongdoing,” he said, urging the United States to immediately stop making trouble in this regard, and not to go further down the wrong path.

Zhao stressed that China will continue to determinedly safeguard its national sovereignty and security, friendly and cooperative relations with regional countries, and the South China Sea’s peace and stability.

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Russian Deputy PM Yury Trutnev tests positive for COVID-19

Russia registered 5,102 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 902,701, the country’s COVID-19 response centre.

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Yury Trutnev

Moscow: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev has tested positive for COVID-19.

Trutnev’s trip to the Far East as part of the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been postponed so far, Xinhua news agency.

“Before the trip, Yury Trutnev was tested for coronavirus. He showed a positive result,” he said.

Russia registered 5,102 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 902,701, the country’s COVID-19 response centre.

The death toll stood at 15,231.

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Afghanistan: 4 police officers killed in bomb attack in Western Farah Province

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Afghan Bombing
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FARAH, Afghanistan, Aug. 13 : At least four police officers were killed and 16 people wounded after a bomb explosion took place outside a provincial police station in Afghanistan’s western Farah province on Wednesday, a local official confirmed.

“Four killed and 16 wounded were admitted to a provincial main hospital following a bomb explosion in Farah city, capital of Farah province this evening,” Dr. Abdul Jabar Shahiq from provincial health directorate told Xinhua.

Those among the wounded were child and a police officer, he added.

Security forces have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures.

The blast sent a column of thick smoke into the sky and triggered panic, Muhibullah Muhib from provincial police told Xinhua, adding the explosion damaged several vehicles and buildings.

Unofficial sources said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated a tricycle, targeting a passing convey of provincial intelligence official roughly at 6:40 p.m. local time.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Since the signing of a Taliban and United States peace agreement in late February, Afghan leaders, including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, have frequently demanded the Taliban to reduce violence.

The militants, however, have intensified attacks, killing and injuring scores of combatants and civilians.

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Disaster

5.5-magnitude earthquake rattles northern Philippines

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Earthquake

MANILA, Aug. 13 : An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 shook Batanes province in the northern Philippines on Thursday, the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) said.

The institute said the quake, which struck at 6:32 a.m. local time, hit at a depth of 14 kilometers, about 49 kilometers southwest of Sabtang town.

The institute said the quake, which was tectonic in origin, will trigger aftershocks but will not cause damage.

The Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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