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Diplomacy sneaks in as Countries find new ways to stand Up to China

Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea

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South China Sea. Image source: hpr2.org
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  • Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea
  • Concern at China’s assertiveness over the vital trade route of South China Sea is deepening
  • Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein spelt out the costs to smaller regional countries if great power rivalries escalate

Several delegations were quick to respond to the idea at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, but it seemed to evolve into a form of diplomatic tag-team wrestling as a loose coalition of nations lined up to criticize China.

Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea, a dig at Beijing which has said it will not accept any ruling by a U.N.-backed court on the dispute.

Chinese officials, meanwhile, stressed Beijing’s commitment to being a peaceful, lawful and inclusive nation but said it would not be bullied.

China
U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea’s Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and Japan’s Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Edgar Su

“No one has the right to point their fingers at us,” said Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the joint staff department of China’s Central Military Commission, as he faced a string of questions at one public forum at the summit on Sunday, June 5.

“Belligerence does not make peace.”

Sun was sharing a podium with Vietnamese deputy defense minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, who said he was cutting short his own responses to allow his Chinese counterpart more time to rebut criticisms raised of Beijing.

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Concern at China’s assertiveness over the vital trade route was deepening, several envoys said on the sidelines of the summit, particularly given the prospect of Chinese military facilities on new artificial islands built by on reefs in the South China Sea.

Those concerns were forcing regional countries to band closer together to find new ways of standing up to Beijing.

Carter’s urging of greater regional efforts, particularly from China, to create his “principled security network” was underpinned by warnings that China risked isolating itself by its actions “on the seas, in cyberspace, and in the region’s airspace”.

Many militaries in the region, he said, were working closer together, both among themselves and with the United States.

Japan’s defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said Japan would seek to participate annually in naval exercises together with the United States and India, similar to drills due to take place off the Japanese port of Sasebo later this week.

“It is very meaningful from the standpoint of securing safety in the wide area of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, for Japan, the United States and India to cooperate on security and defense areas and to conduct training,” Nakatani said.

GREAT WALL OF ISOLATION

Carter’s warnings that China faced a looming “Great Wall of isolation” were rejected by Chinese officials, but some analysts said an “us versus them” divide may suit Beijing in current circumstances.

“It might sound tough talk, but my worry is that Chinese leaders will simply welcome that kind of view,” Lee Chung Min, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told Reuters.

“If its economy slows, China’s leaders might welcome the chance for the isolationist talk to stir some domestic nationalism.”

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Major General Yao Yunzhu, of China’s Academy of Military Science and prominent figure during the weekend sessions, acknowledged perceptions that some nations might be “ganging up” on China but said this did not represent “objective reality”.

“The South China Sea is not the only security issue in the region, and events like this one are not quite full reality,” she told Reuters. “Each nation has to think of its bilateral relations with China as well, and many other security issues, that pull us closer together.”

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, made clear that while the U.S. military was attempting to engage and co-operate with China’s rapidly modernizing military, it was prepared for a darker outcome.

“The bottom line is this: we want to co-operate where we can, but we just have to be ready as a military to confront them if we must,” he said.

Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein spelt out the costs to smaller regional countries if great power rivalries escalate, however.

Whatever happens between major powers must not “leave us on the beach when the tide goes out”.

-Prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from Reuters), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Fall

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the fortnight have declined

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls
Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls, flickr

Domestic petrol prices, which had hit record levels for 16 consecutive days in May, have been on the reverse trend for the last 13 days, including Monday, but the relief for consumers has been slow in coming.

The pace of decline has been less than half the rate of surge.

Percentage-wise, since May 30, when prices started to take a downturn, petrol prices have slipped 2.35 per cent in Delhi, compared to the 5.5 per cent in the previous 16 days.

In absolute terms, prices have gone down by Rs 1.85 a litre since May 30, compared to the increase of Rs 3.8 per litre in the during May 14-29. On Monday, fuel was sold at Rs 76.58 per litre in the national capital, down 20 paise from Sunday’s level, the IndianOil Corp’s website showed.

In Mumbai, where petrol prices were the highest in the country last month, the decline has been much slow at Rs 1.23 per litre so far, against the rise of Rs 3.76 a litre during May 14-29.

On Monday, petrol price in Mumbai was Rs 84.41 per litre against Rs 84.61 on Sunday. Similarly, in Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was sold at Rs 79.25 and Rs 79.48 respectively.

In Kolkata and Chennai too, the decline has been Rs 1.81 and Rs 1.65 per litre in the last 13 days, around 50 per cent of the previous rate of increase.

In tandem with petrol prices, diesel too has seen a decline, but of only around 2 per cent in all the major cities including Delhi, compared to over 5 per cent rise in the previous fortnight.

Petrol station
Petrol station, flickr

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the last 13 days have declined by Rs 1.36, and in Mumbai and Kolkata, the fall was of Rs 1.44 and Rs 1.45 per litre respectively.

Also read: Petrol price slashes by 32 paise and diesel price by 85 paise

On Monday, prices of the fuel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were at Rs 67.95, Rs 70.50, Rs 72.35 and Rs 71.73 per litre, respectively. (IANS)