Headie One – Edna Medley (Live at the BRIT Awards 2021) Lyrics

[Part I: “Know Better”]

[Intro: Headie One & Newsreader]
Some say it’s a symptom of societal failings–
It is a form of aggressive rap music known as drill
They should know better

[Part II: “Ain’t It Different”]

[Intro: Headie One & Lady Saw]
(Baby, are you up for this?)
Suh, suh, s-s-s-suh
(B-B-B-Baby, are you up for this?)

[Verse 1]
Ain’t it different? (One) I link my ting in LA
But I can’t fly to the States ‘cah I got too much convictions (Jheeze)
Apparently all I talk is prison, but I don’t know no different (No)
‘Cah I was in jail up north, runnin’ another coalition (Turn)
Fresh home, I bought coke and whipped it
I put some roses where my wrist is
You ain’t ever made a birthday cake from Digestive biscuits (Told me turm, ayy)
Will have to take lemon juice to a piss test (Piss test, s-s-s-suh)
Every day I look up to the Lord, give thanks for all this litness (Turn, turn, turn, turn)
Come home, fresh out the system, gymnast
Rollin’ with smoke on my jones
Pigs want all the camera on me, not the one from Dipset (One)
I still can’t mix pleasure with business, sorry, princess (Princess)
I come a long way from broke days (Turn, turn)
I got to work and fixed it

[Chorus: Lady Saw & Headie One]
Baby, are you up for this?
I am feeling hot tonight
Ready for the bump and grind
Wheel it back and run it one more time, yeah, yeah
Baby, are you up for this? (Ain’t it different?)
I am feeling hot tonight (Turn, turn, turn, turn)
Ready for the bump and grind
Wheel it back and run it one more time, yeah, yeah (Suh, suh, s-s-s-suh)

[Verse 2: AJ Tracey & Headie One]
Ain’t it different?
Spent like ten years grindin’
Covered in diamonds, never been minin’
Came through, man’s still shinin’
‘Cah I was in Homeford House with the pack
And now I’m in Dubai, limin’
Me and Headz landed abroad, two new kettles, perfect timin’
The new whip’s white on white, peanut butter, rose gold linin’
You can catch me in Central
Car so dumb, when I press this button, it’s gone, I don’t do rentals
Air 1’s fresher than menthol
I don’t wanna get ish lit, but the way that bro grip sticks ain’t gentle
Summer time shootouts, big big loot-outs
Get corn stuck in your dental (Turn, turn, turn, turn)

[Chorus: Lady Saw, Headie One & AJ Tracey]
Baby, are you up for this? (Ain’t it different? Let’s go)
I am feeling hot tonight (Aight, aight-a)
Ready for the bump and grind
Wheel it back and run it one more time, yeah, yeah (How we comin’? Yeah, yeah)

[Verse 3: Headie One & AJ Tracey]
Oi, Headie, what we sayin’?
Turn, turn, turn
It’s been a tough year (Facts)
But teamwork gets the dream workin’ (On God)
It’s only right that we show love to the key workers
I’m gassed up when I’m leavin’ the booth
And I rep for the kids, I don’t need an excuse
The government say “Eat out to help”
But won’t help Rashford when he’s feedin’ the yutes
What else can the drill yutes rap ’bout (What else?)
Apart from my worst days? (Facts)
You see me on stage but I was in jail three birthdays
Standin’ here at the BRITs, but we ain’t seen as British
We ain’t finished, we got more plaques for the critics

[Part III: “Princess Cuts”]

[Intro: Young T]
Woo, ayy
[Chorus: Young T, Young T & Bugsey]
Got twenty on my wrist, I’m going crazy
Canary princess cuts for my baby
Out the window, I can hear the Old Bailey
Sippin’ LOUIS XIII, I’m with a Casey
I made a wish, I got it, then I made a wish list
Bust case, was no witness
A hundred in a duffle bag, I got a big fish
Shorty, you need assistance

[Verse 1: Headie One, Bugsey & Young T]
My young boy got the stick like Moses with the Israelites (Uh)
Tellin’ them opp boys, “It’s on sight”
They ain’t outside, they stay inside
We can’t party if we can’t get the tray inside (Turn, turn, turn, turn)
Shoe cocaine white, teeth Colgate white (Told me turn, ayy)
You know what it gets like, I just gotta step– (Told me turn)
Trackie and my sliders, I got beef that I still don’t let slide (What?)
All those double C’s, I got a Chanel side (What?)
I’m really blowin’ trees in the Middle East (Ayy)
Is you from the Philippines or Vietnamese? (Suh, s-s-s-suh, What?)
I don’t dance, but I can shake a leg (Told me turn)
I one-two step, Billie Jean, Billie Jean (Turn, turn, turn, turn)

[Verse 2: Bugsey, Young T & Headie One]
Heard you want a shoulder you can cry on (Whoop)
Rely on (Ayy), and you hope that really is me
Blow chronic, my rose gold flourish
I hold no solace, sweet wet coochie on me (Turn, turn)
Boasy and my baby gorgeous
A likkle mortgage, I need them flawless
I lick my thumb and I’m runnin’ it through these commas
Louis orders, get me more of this

[Chorus: Young T, Young T & Bugsey]
Got twenty on my wrist, I’m going crazy
Canary princess cuts for my baby
Out the window, I can hear the Old Bailey
Sippin’ LOUIS XIII, I’m with a Casey
I made a wish, I got it, then I made a wish list
Bust case, was no witness
A hundred in a duffle bag, I got a big fish
Shorty, you need assistance
Shorty, you need assistance

[Outro: Headie One]
Steady, lit

Philippine diplomat apologizes for profanity toward China

Philippine diplomat apologizes for profanity toward China

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FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2020, file photo, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. gestures during a senate hearing in Manila, Philippines. Locsin apologized Tuesday, May 4,2021, after tweeting an obscene phrase demanding China get out of … more >

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines‘ foreign secretary apologized Tuesday after tweeting an obscene phrase demanding China get out of Philippine-claimed territory in the South China Sea in an outburst that annoyed the Philippine president.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. blasted China with the profanity on Monday, when the Department of Foreign Affairs announced it had protested the Chinese coast guard’s “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges” of Philippine coast guard ships patrolling and carrying out exercises from April 24 to 25 at disputed Scarborough Shoal.

Locsin also compared China to “an ugly oaf” which was “forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend.”

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Locsin said he was apologizing only to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to ensure their friendship would continue. “I won’t plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it; but if Wang Yi is following Twitter, then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings, but his alone,” Locsin tweeted.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with China and its leaders since taking office in 2016, expressed his irritation in televised remarks Monday night.

“Just because we have a conflict with China does not mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful,” Duterte said. “We have many things to thank China for the help in the past and its assistance now.”

China has donated and sold COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, which has struggled to secure enough doses to immunize up to 70 million Filipinos amid tight global supplies. Unlike Western governments, China also has not criticized Duterte’s bloody anti-illegal drug crackdown, which has left thousands of mostly petty suspects dead and alarmed human rights groups.

The Philippines has issued dozens of diplomatic protests to China over the territorial dispute. Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have also issued increasingly acerbic remarks against Chinese actions in the disputed waters, despite Duterte’s friendly overtures to Beijing.

The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in early March at Whitsun Reef. Lorenzana and Locsin demanded the vessels leave, then the government deployed navy and coast guard vessels to the area. China said it owns the reef and the Chinese vessels were sheltering from rough seas.

Many of the Chinese vessels have left Whitsun, about 175 nautical miles (325 kilometers) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, but several have remained moored in the area, part of a shallow atoll partly occupied by China and Vietnam. The Philippine government says the reef is within an internationally recognized offshore zone where Manila has exclusive rights to exploit fisheries, oil, gas and other resources.

While being careful with his pronouncements on China, Duterte blasted two respected former Philippine officials who have criticized his handling of the country’s territorial conflicts with Beijing. He used expletives and called former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio “idiotic.”

Del Rosario and Carpio were among the Philippine officials who brought the country’s conflict with China to international arbitration in 2013. The arbitration tribunal ruled largely in favor of the Philippines based on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and invalidated China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea on historical grounds. China refused to participate in the arbitration, ignored the 2016 ruling and continues to defy it.

Philippines protests `blocking’ of its patrol ships by China

Philippines protests `blocking’ of its patrol ships by China

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Monday, May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine government has protested the Chinese coast guard’s harassment of Philippine coast guard ships patrolling a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

It was the latest of dozens of recent protests by Manila’s foreign affairs department, along with increasingly acerbic remarks by the country’s top diplomat and defense chief about Chinese actions in the disputed waters. The high-profile feud has escalated despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s friendly stance toward China.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. used an obscene phrase in a tweet demanding China get out of Philippine-claimed areas. “What are you doing to our friendship?” Locsin asked. “You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend,.”

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected China’s demand that the Philippines end its patrols in the disputed region. “While we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not prevent us from defending our national interests and our dignity as a people with all that we have,” Lorenzana said in a video message late Sunday,

In the latest incident, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it “has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges by the Chinese coast guard of Philippine coast guard vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises” from April 24 to 25 near Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

Both countries claim the rich fishing area, which China effectively seized in 2012 by surrounding it with its coast guard and surveillance ships after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.

The department said it also protested “the incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones” in the disputed waters. It said hundreds of Chinese vessels have been spotted by Philippine law enforcement agencies from January to March this year in areas around Scarborough Shoal and Philippine-occupied Thitu Island, which Filipinos call Pagasa.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has asked the Philippines to respect what it calls Chinese sovereignty in the disputed waters and “stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.” China claims virtually all of the South China Sea. On Sunday, its People’s Liberation Army said a Chinese aircraft carrier group recently conducted annual exercises in the busy sea lanes.

The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in early March at Whitsun Reef. The Philippine government demanded the vessels leave, then deployed coast guard vessels to the area. China said it owns the reef and the Chinese vessels were sheltering from rough seas.

Many of the Chinese vessels have left Whitsun, about 175 nautical miles (325 kilometers) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, but several have remained moored in the area, part of a shallow atoll partly occupied by China and Vietnam. The Philippine government says the reef is within an internationally recognized offshore zone where Manila has exclusive rights to exploit fisheries, oil, gas and other resources.

The United States has said it will stand by the Philippines amid the territorial disputes.

EU joins U.S. in criticizing China provocations to the Philippines

‘Endanger peace and stability’: EU joins U.S. in criticizing China’s provocations

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Chinese vessels are moored at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea. The Philippine government has summoned the Chinese ambassador to press a demand for Chinese vessels to immediately leave the reef claimed by Manila in the disputed South China Sea and … more >

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By Guy Taylor

The Washington Times

Updated: 4:30 p.m. on
Sunday, April 25, 2021

The European Union joined the U.S. in criticizing China’s ongoing maritime provocations toward the Philippines in the South China Sea over the weekend, with Brussels accusing Beijing of making waves that “endanger peace and stability in the region.”

“The EU reiterates its strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order,” the bloc said in reference to a biting standoff near the waterway’s vital global shipping routes.

Roughly 200 Chinese vessels have been massed for weeks near an area of the South China Sea known as Whitsun Reef, which is situated within the exclusive economic zone claimed by the Philippines.

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With the Chinese ships accused of blocking the Philippines from accessing the reef, Manilla has responded by flying warplanes over the area, triggering fears in Washington of a potential escalation.

Biden administration officials have said they stand by America’s alliance with the Philippines and would regard any attack on any Philippines territory as covered under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the treaty in an early April phone call with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin. During the call, the two “shared concerns with the massing of [People’s Republic of China] maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, including at Whitsun Reef,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement at the time.

Mr. Price said they also “reiterated their calls on the PRC to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” a reference to a ruling by the United Nations-backed body known by the acronym “UNCLOS,” which disputed Chinese sovereignty claims over most of the South China Sea back in 2016.

During his early April call with Mr. Locsin, Mr. Blinken specifically “reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea,” Mr. Price said.

With that as a backdrop, Reuters has reported that the Philippines on Friday protested to China over its failure to withdraw its “threatening” boats believed to be manned by maritime militia around the disputed Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef.

The EU issued its statement Saturday, saying “tensions in the South China Sea, including the recent presence of large Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, endanger peace and stability in the region.”

Chinese officials have sharply denied that Beijing is engaged in a provocation over Whitsun. In early April, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian appeared to tell reporters that the massing of Chinese ships near the reef was normal.

“It is a customary practice running over a thousand years for Chinese fishing boats to work and shelter in relevant waters,” he said. “I don’t know why relevant sides refer to the Chinese fishermen as ‘maritime militia.’ It shows malicious intent driven by ulterior motives.”

ASEAN leaders demand Myanmar coup leaders end killings

ASEAN leaders demand Myanmar coup leaders end killings

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Police officers stand guard outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat ahead of a leaders’ meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, April 23, 2021. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations is scheduled to hold a special summit to … more >

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By NINIEK KARMINI

Associated Press

Friday, April 23, 2021

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Southeast Asian leaders demanded an immediate end to killings and the release of political detainees in Myanmar in an emergency summit with its top general and coup leader Saturday in the Indonesian capital, Indonesia‘s president said.

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also told Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing during the two-hour talks in Jakarta that a dialogue between contending parties in Myanmar should immediately start, with the help of ASEAN envoys, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.

“The situation in Myanmar is unacceptable and should not continue. Violence must be stopped, democracy, stability and peace in Myanmar must be returned immediately,” Widodo said during the meeting. “The interests of the people of Myanmar must always be the priority.”

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Daily shootings by police and soldiers since the Feb. 1 coup have killed more than 700 mostly peaceful protesters and bystanders, according to several independent tallies.

The messages conveyed to Min Aung Hlaing were unusually blunt and could be seen as a breach of the conservative 10-nation bloc’s bedrock principle forbidding member states from interfering in each other’s domestic affairs. But Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that policy should not lead to inaction if a domestic situation “jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region” and there is international clamor for resolute action.

“There is a tremendous expectation on the part of the international community on how ASEAN is addressing the Myanmar issue. The pressure is increasing,” Muhyiddin said, and added that the current ASEAN chairman, Brunei Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah, and the regional bloc’s secretary general should be allowed access to Myanmar to meet contending parties, encourage dialogue and come up with “an honest and unbiased observation.”

Such a political dialogue “can only take place with the prompt and unconditional release of political detainees,” the Malaysian premier said.

A formal statement issued by ASEAN through Brunei after the summit outlined the demands made by the heads of state in more subtle terms. It asked for the “immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar” and urged all parties to “exercise utmost restraint,” but omitted the demand voiced by Widodo and other leaders for the immediate release of political detainees. It said ASEAN would provide humanitarian aid to Myanmar.

It was not immediately clear if and how Min Aung Hlaing responded to the blunt messages.

It was the first time he traveled out of Myanmar since the coup, which was followed by the arrests of Aung San Suu Kyi and many other political leaders.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi expressed hopes on the eve of the summit that “we can reach an agreement on the next steps that can help the people of Myanmar get out of this delicate situation.”

ASEAN’s diversity, including the divergent ties of many of its members to either China or the United States, along with a bedrock policy of non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs and deciding by consensus, has hobbled the bloc’s ability to rapidly deal with crises.

Amid Western pressure, however, the regional group has struggled to take a more forceful position on issues but has kept to its non-confrontational approach.

Critics have said ASEAN’s decision to meet the coup leader was unacceptable and amounted to legitimizing the overthrow and the deadly crackdown that followed. ASEAN states agreed to meet Min Aung Hlaing but did not treat or address him as Myanmar’s head of state in the summit, a Southeast Asian diplomat told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International urged Indonesia and other ASEAN states ahead of the summit to investigate Min Aung Hlaing over “credible allegations of responsibility for crimes against humanity in Myanmar.” As a state party to a U.N. convention against torture, Indonesia has a legal obligation to prosecute or extradite a suspected perpetrator on its territory, it said.

Indonesian police dispersed dozens of protesters opposing the coup and the junta leader’s visit. More than 4,300 police fanned out across the Indonesian capital to secure the meetings, held under strict safeguards amid the pandemic.

The leaders of Thailand and the Philippines skipped the summit to deal with coronavirus outbreaks back home. Laos also canceled at the last minute. The face-to-face summit is the first by ASEAN leaders in more than a year.

Aside from Myanmar, the regional bloc is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

___

Associated Press journalists Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Kiko Rosario and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.

China denies incursion as 200 ships dock at Philippine reef

China denies incursion as 200 ships dock at Philippine reef

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By

Associated Press

Monday, March 22, 2021

BEIJING (AP) – Bad weather prompted more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels to anchor at a reef claimed by the Philippines, Beijing said on Monday, sidestepping accusations from Manila of a move by China‘s vast South China Sea maritime militia to assert control in the area.

However, China‘s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying pointedly told reporters at a briefing Monday that Whitsun Reef was part of the Spratly Islands, one of the main archipelagoes in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.

“Recently, due to the sea conditions, some Chinese fishing boats have taken shelter from the wind near the Whitsun Reef. I think it is very normal and hope all parties can look at it rationally,” Hua said at the daily briefing.

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Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called on Sunday for China to “stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory.”

The presence of the vessels was a “provocative action of militarizing the area,” Lorenzana said.

A Philippine government watchdog overseeing the disputed region released pictures from March 7 of the vessels moored side by side in one of the most hotly contested areas of the strategic waterway. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted late Sunday that the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the Chinese presence.

The reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe, is a shallow, boomerang-shaped coral region about 175 nautical miles (324 kilometers) west of Bataraza town in the western Philippine province of Palawan. It lies well within the country’s exclusive economic zone, over which the Philippines “enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources,” the government watchdog said.

For decades China, the Philippines and four other governments have been locked in a tense territorial standoff over the resource-rich South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in international trade travels annually.

China’s fishing fleets have long followed government orders to assist the coast guard and navy in asserting the country’s maritime claims. They have also been accused of massive overfishing and degrading coral reefs, backed up by a Chinese military that has built airfields and missile bases on manmade islands constructed by piling sand and concrete atop fragile marine ecosystems.

China has refused to recognize a 2016 ruling from a tribunal in The Hague that invalidated almost all of China‘s historical claims to the South China Sea, and routinely protests the presence of other countries’ navies in what are overwhelmingly viewed as international waters. China says it doesn’t restrict right of passage through the area, but has repeatedly sparred with other claimants over resource exploitation, military activities and even projects to explore ancient sea wrecks.

Philippine defense chief asks Chinese flotilla to leave reef

Philippine defense chief asks Chinese flotilla to leave reef

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In this March 7, 2021, photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard/National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, some of the 220 Chinese vessels are seen moored at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea. The Philippine government expressed concern after spotting more than … more >

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Saturday, March 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine defense chief on Sunday demanded more than 200 Chinese vessels he said were manned by militias leave a South China Sea reef claimed by Manila, saying their presence was a “provocative action of militarizing the area.”

“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement, adding without elaborating that the Philippines would uphold its sovereign rights.

A government watchdog overseeing the disputed region said about 220 Chinese vessels were seen moored at Whitsun Reef, which Beijing also claims, on March 7. It released pictures of the vessels side by side in one of the most hotly contested areas of the strategic waterway.

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Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted late Sunday the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the Chinese presence.

The reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe, is a boomerang-shaped and shallow coral region about 175 nautical miles (324 kilometers) west of Bataraza town in the western Philippine province of Palawan. It’s well within the country’s exclusive economic zone, over which the Philippines “enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources,” the government watchdog said.

The large numbers of Chinese boats are “a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to safety of navigation,” it said, although it added that the vessels were not fishing when sighted.

Chinese fishing fleets have long been suspected of being utilized as maritime militias to help assert Beijing’s territorial claims, although China has played down those claims.

Philippine military chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military’s “utmost priority remains to be the protection of our citizens in the area, particularly our fishermen, through increased maritime patrols.”

Chinese Embassy officials did not immediately issue any comment. China, the Philippines and four other governments have been locked in a tense territorial standoff over the resource-rich and busy waterway for decades.

Critics have repeatedly called out President Rodrigo Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with Beijing since taking office in 2016, for not standing up to China’s aggressive behavior and deciding not to immediately demand Chinese compliance with an international arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s historic claims to virtually the entire sea. China has refused to recognize the 2016 ruling, which it called “a sham,” and continues to defy it.

“When Xi says ‘I will fish,’ who can prevent him?” Duterte said two years ago as he defended his nonconfrontational approach, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“If I send my marines to drive away the Chinese fishermen, I guarantee you not one of them will come home alive,” Duterte said then, adding that diplomatic talks with Beijing allowed the return of Filipinos to disputed fishing grounds where Chinese forces had previously shooed them away.

Duterte has sought infrastructure funds, trade and investments from China, which has also donated and pledged to deliver more COVID-19 vaccines as the Philippines faces an alarming spike in coronavirus infections.

Philippine president fires ambassador seen assaulting staff

Philippine president fires ambassador seen assaulting staff

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In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, holds a vial containing the Sinovac vaccine from China as it arrives at the Villamor Air Base in Manila, Philippines on Sunday Feb. 28, 2021. … more >

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Monday, March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine president has dismissed his former ambassador to Brazil after she was seen on video physically abusing a Filipino member of her household staff.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night he had approved a recommendation to fire Marichu Mauro, revoke her retirement benefits and disqualify her from public office for life. The decision comes as Duterte pushes a campaign against official abuses and corruption in his last full year in power.

Mauro was recalled from Brazil in October after the video, reportedly taken from security cameras in the ambassador’s residence in Brasilia and shown by a Brazilian news agency, showed a woman attacking somebody who appeared to be a house keeper.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said at the time that the unidentified victim had returned to Philippines and that it was trying to reach her amid an investigation.

Mauro has not publicly commented on the allegations.

Duterte, whose six-year term ends next year, has been reading the names of government employees and officers implicated in graft and corruption in his TV appearances to highlight his campaign against abuses and irregularities.

But Duterte, a former government prosecutor who has threatened drug suspects with death and is known for his expletives-laden outbursts, has faced criticisms for abusive behavior himself. In his televised remarks Monday night, Duterte lashed out at Vice President Leni Robredo for criticizing the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and vaccination campaign.

“You seem to have an angel face but a devilish mind,” Duterte said, calling Robredo’s stance “idiotic” in his rambling speech.

Fuming at what he said was Robredo’s reminder that health workers should be treated well, Duterte said: “You can die, but I will never abandon the frontliners and you do not need to really be redundant about it.”

Presidents and vice-presidents are elected separately in the Philippines, resulting in candidates from rival parties like Duterte and Robredo ending up in the country’s top leadership and often colliding on policies.

Robredo has been a leading critic of Duterte’s bloody anti-drugs crackdown, which has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead and led to complaints of mass murder before the International Criminal Court.

Addressing erring government workers, Duterte threatened to slap and humiliate them. In a televised speech last week, he suggested that the hands of erring antinarcotics agents be smashed with a hammer to teach them a lesson.

“When I tell the secretary ‘leave us alone,’ you will get hit. I humiliate people, especially those who steal money from government,” Duterte said Monday.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said publicly humiliating government employees and officials who are being prosecuted for graft and corruption by reading their names on TV in a shame campaign violates their right to a presumption of innocence, due process and fair trial. Victims of Duterte’s tongue-lashing could sue him for libel when he loses his immunity from lawsuits after his presidency, he said.

“It’s really improper and it’s ironic that he’s a lawyer and he should know better,” Diokno said.

Philippines protests new China law as `verbal threat of war’

Philippines protests new China law as `verbal threat of war’

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FILE – In this July 22, 2019, file photo, protesters display a balloon with an anti-China message during a rally near the Philippine Congress in Manila, Philippines. The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorizes its coast guard … more >

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorizes its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy other countries’ structures on islands it claims, Manila’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet that the new Chinese law “is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it. Failure to challenge the law “is submission to it,” he said.

“While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one – given the area involved, or for that matter the open South China Sea – is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law,” Locsin said.

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China’s Coast Guard Law, which was passed on Friday, empowers the force to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

The law also authorizes the coast guard to demolish other countries’ structures built on reefs and islands claimed by China and to seize or order foreign vessels illegally entering China’s territorial waters to leave.

The Chinese law raises the stakes and the possibility of clashes with regional maritime rivals.

The Philippine protest is the latest strongly worded public criticism by Manila of China’s increasingly assertive actions in the disputed waters, despite cozier ties nurtured by President Rodrigo Duterte with Beijing. Last July, Locsin warned China of “the severest response” if military exercises being staged by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea spilled over into Philippine territory.

China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have been locked in territorial rivalries in the South China Sea in tense decades-long standoffs. Indonesian forces also have had confrontations with the Chinese coast guard and fishing flotillas in what Indonesian officials say are their territorial waters near the South China Sea.

The United States has no claims in the strategic waterway but its naval forces have challenged China’s territorial claims over virtually the entire sea. China has warned the U.S. to stay away from what it says is a purely Asian dispute but Washington has said it would continue to deploy its warships to the disputed region.

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, sailed into the South China Sea on Saturday to conduct “routine operations,” promote freedom of the seas and reassure America’s allies, Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo said in a statement.

Tensions flared in recent years after China transformed seven disputed reefs in the Spratlys, the most hotly contested region in the South China Sea, into missile-protected island bases, including three with military-grade runways. China and Southeast Asian nations have been negotiating a regional “code of conduct” to discourage aggression in the disputed waters but the talks have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s coast guard is also active in the vicinity of uninhabited East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Thailand, Philippines sign for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Thailand, Philippines sign for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

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James Teague, president of AstraZeneca’s in Thailand attends a signing ceremony at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Thailand on Friday signed a deal to procure 26 million doses of the trial coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical … more >

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By CHALIDA EKVITTHAYAVECHNUKUL

Associated Press

Friday, November 27, 2020

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand on Friday signed a $200 million deal to procure 26 million doses of a trial coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. It is expected to be delivered in mid-2021.

The doses would cover 13 million people in a population of about 69 million.

Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute signed a non-refundable advance market commitment contract worth 2.38 billion baht ($79 million) with AstraZeneca to reserve the supply of the vaccine candidate. Another 3.67 billion baht ($121 million) agreement for the purchase of the trial vaccine, known as AZD1222, was signed by the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department.

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“We have followed the vaccine manufacturers globally, but this group has achieved very high progress,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said at the signing. “They are likely to be able to produce the vaccine early next year. Most importantly, we have to get ourselves ready for the domestic process including packaging and logistics.”

Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said officials are still considering how to prioritize vaccine recipients. “Those who work closely with COVID-19 patients, for example, doctors and nurses, should be among the first people. But this needs further discussion,” he said.

Oxford and AstraZeneca reported Monday that their trial vaccine appeared to be 62% effective in people who received two doses, and 90% effective when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose.

They did not mention at the time, but later acknowledged, that a manufacturing issue had resulted in “a half dose of the vaccine being administered as the first dose” to some participants, a development that led to criticism that its test results were flawed.

AstraZeneca has said it plans to conduct a new global clinical trial to make a fresh assessment of the vaccine’s efficacy.

The AstraZeneca trial vaccine is regarded as having several advantages over rival vaccines being developed so far for less-developed countries, including cheaper cost and the ability to be stored at temperatures not as cold as the others.

Under a separate deal in October, the Health Ministry, Siam Bioscience Co. and the SCG business conglomerate signed a letter of intent with AstraZeneca on the manufacturing and supply of the AZD1222 vaccine candidate. It would allow Siam Bioscience to produce the vaccine at its own plant, with a starting date targeted for the middle of next year.

Siam Bioscience said that if plans proceed smoothly, Thailand would become the first country in Southeast Asia to produce the vaccine.

Thailand has had 3,961 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since January, including 60 deaths. While it has coped well with the health aspects of the crisis, the measures it has taken to combat the disease, most notably stopping tourist flights into the country, have badly hurt its economy.

In the Philippines, more than 30 companies on Friday signed an agreement to purchase at least 2.6 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca in the country’s first such deal to secure coronavirus vaccines. They plan to donate a large part of the doses to the government for its planned vaccination program and use the rest to inoculate their employees, business officials said.

Business leader Jose Concepcion III said the vaccine is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of next year and would cover about 1 million people, but did not disclose other details.

The purchase would be crucial in restoring business confidence that has been shattered by months of the pandemic and lockdowns, he said.

“We want an end to this nightmare and this is the best alternative we have,” Concepcion told an online news conference after the signing, describing it as an opportunity to open up the economy again.

The Philippine government says it’s targeting about 60 million Filipinos to be vaccinated against the coronavirus over about two years starting next year. The action, at a cost of more than 73 billion pesos ($1.4 billion) is aimed at developing immunity in a majority of the population. The Philippines has recorded 425,918 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 8,255 deaths.

—-

Associated Press correspondent Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report.

Strong typhoon slams Vietnam; at least 2 dead, 26 missing

Strong typhoon slams Vietnam; at least 2 dead, 26 missing

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An empty street is barricaded ahead of Typhoon Molave in Da Nang, Vietnam Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Typhoon Malove sank a few fishing boats as it approached Vietnam’s south central coast on Wednesday morning. (Vo Van Dung/VNA via AP) more >

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By Hau Dinh

Associated Press

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Typhoon Molave slammed into Vietnam with destructive force Wednesday, killing at least two people and sinking two fishing boats with 26 crew members in what was feared to be the most powerful storm to hit the country in 20 years.

Winds of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour killed a man by knocking him off his roof as he was trying to reinforce it in south-central Quang Ngai province. Another man was pinned to death by a fallen tree in the coastal province, the official Vietnam News Agency reported.

The navy deployed two rescue boats to search for the 26 fishermen off Binh Dinh province, according to state-run VTV network. It was not immediately clear if anyone was saved in the storm-tossed waters.

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TV footage showed ferocious wind rattling roofs and toppling trees in Quang Ngai. In the nearby coastal province of Phu Yen, key roads were littered by fallen electric posts, trees and billboards, and the wind ripped off roofs from many houses and ravaged fish farms.

At least 40,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters farther inland from coastal villages.

VTV showed displaced villagers huddled in classrooms that were converted into an evacuation center, where they spent the night.

Provincial authorities shut down offices, factories and schools and asked people to remain indoors to prevent casualties. Vietnam is still recovering from severe flooding and landslides that killed 136 people and left dozens missing in three provinces.

More than 310,000 houses were damaged or destroyed in recent floods, leaving more than a million people in severe danger and in need of shelter, food, sanitation and safe drinking water even before the typhoon hit Vietnam, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

“The people of Vietnam are tough, yet this is among the worst destruction ever seen in many areas. The relentless storms and flooding are taking a devastating human toll,” Vietnam Red Cross Society president Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu said in a statement.

“All our hard work in containing the social and economic fallout of COVID-19 is being undone by these massive storms hitting us one after the other,” she said.

At least five airports were closed as the typhoon approached Wednesday, with more than 200 flights canceled. Train services were also suspended Wednesday and will resume when the weather improves, the VTV network reported.

The typhoon left at least nine people dead in the Philippines before blowing toward Vietnam. Most of the thousands who took shelter during the storm have returned home, leaving those whose homes were destroyed remaining in evacuation camps.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

Philippines recalls ambassador who allegedly mistreated maid

Philippines recalls ambassador who allegedly mistreated maid

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Monday, October 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines‘ ambassador to Brazil has been ordered to return home to face investigation after video surfaced allegedly showing her physically mistreating her Filipino house helper, officials said Monday.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet that the diplomat, who was identified by his department as Ambassador Marichu Mauro, was recalled rapidly “to explain the maltreatment of her service staff.”

The video footage, reportedly taken from security cameras in the ambassador’s residence in Brasilia and shown by a Brazilian news agency, showed a woman mistreating somebody who appeared to be a house worker, including by pulling her hair and ear.

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There was no immediate comment from Mauro and it was unclear where she was on Monday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said in a statement that the unidentified worker left Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, on Oct. 21 and has returned to the Philippines.

“The DFA is reaching out to her to ensure her well-being and cooperation in the investigation,” the department said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a populist leader known for his brash language, has vowed to protect the welfare of Filipino workers abroad, especially domestic helpers. Still, reports of abuses remain rampant, especially in Middle Eastern countries. In past speeches, Duterte has asked returning workers to slap airport customs personnel who would try to extort money or gifts from them and vowed to punish such abusive government personnel harshly.

The Philippines is a leading source of global labor. The huge amount of income sent home by the workers – who comprise roughly 10% of the Philippines‘ more than 100 million people – has helped keep the country’s economy afloat for decades.

Many of the workers have been forced to abandon their families in search of better opportunities abroad and to escape crushing poverty at home. But the abuses some have suffered have been horrific.

In 2018, a Filipino housemaid’s body was found stuffed in a freezer in a house in Kuwait, sparking an uproar in the Philippines and prompting the Duterte administration to temporarily halt the deployment of Filipino workers to the oil-rich nation.

Mixed Philippine reaction on pope nod on gay civil unions

Mixed Philippine reaction on pope nod on gay civil unions

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Models on the catwalk during a wedding fashion show with same-sex couples, dubbed “The rainbow wedding fashion show,” part of a “wedding fair” taking place in Rome, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first … more >

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions drew mixed reactions Thursday in the Philippines, Asia’s bastion of Catholicism, with a retired bishop saying he was scandalized by it while an LGBT group welcomed the pontiff’s remarks with relief.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said the Philippine leader has long expressed support to same-sex civil unions but added it needed to pass through Congress.

Retired Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said he “had very serious doubts about the moral correctness” of the pontiff’s position. He said it ran against long-standing church teachings, which explicitly permit only the union of man and woman whether in civil, legal or church sacramental unions.

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“This is a shocking statement coming from the pope,” Bastes told reporters in a cellphone message. “I am really scandalized by his defense of homosexual union, which surely leads to immoral acts.”

At least three other bishops expressed disbelief, saying they would verify if it’s the Vatican’s official position and if the pontiff was accurately quoted in context in a documentary, where he made the remarks.

“It is just a documentary film so it is not official and should first be verified,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said, adding there could have been editing alterations or the documentary was “just for propaganda so that it could be talked about or patronized.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the largest group of bishops in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, has yet to issue any reaction.

LGBTQ group Bahaghari told ABS CBN News that the pontiff’s position was a “huge thing” and should lead to changes in the Philippine family code to recognize such unions.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte has long supported same-sex civil unions and the papal endorsement may finally convince legislators to give their approval. In the past, such proposals have been opposed or avoided by conservative legislators or those who feared earning the ire of influential church leaders.

“With no less than the pope supporting it, I think even the most conservative of all Catholics in Congress should no longer have a basis for objecting,” Roque said.

Philippines warns China of ‘severest response’ over drills

Philippines warns China of ‘severest response’ over drills

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Friday, July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine foreign secretary warned China on Friday of “the severest response” if ongoing Chinese military exercises in the disputed South China Sea spill over into Philippine territory.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said China’s People’s Liberation Army has been staging exercises off the Paracel Islands since July 1 and Chinese maritime officials have prohibited all vessels from navigating within the area of the maneuvers.

After checking the coordinates of the Chinese-declared no-entry zone where the maneuvers were being staged, Locsin said the waters off the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam, “do not impinge on Philippine territory” but it was still a concern.

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“Should the exercises spill over to Philippine territory, then China is forewarned that it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate,” Locsin said in a statement, without elaborating.

The Philippine warning to China over their territorial conflicts is the strongest so far this year and comes despite an improvement in relations since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also raised alarm on Thursday over the Chinese military exercises. “If they are doing it in the contested areas, that will sound the alarm bells for all the claimants here in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana told an online news forum.

Vietnam protested in April after a Chinese coast guard ship rammed and sank a boat with eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. The Philippines backed Vietnam and protested two new territorial districts announced by China in large swaths of the sea, adding that China’s assertive actions were taking place while the region was intensely preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic.

Locsin said those territorial districts in the disputed waters were “null and void” because they were devoid of basis in international law. China has claimed virtually the entire waterway, one of the world’s busiest, on historical grounds but its claim was invalidated by an international tribunal in a 2016 ruling based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“This is the problem with playing fast and loose with historical narratives and historical names,” Locsin said. “They open themselves to error; unless the real purpose is to excuse unchallenged mistakes that may over time harden into rights.”

China, like any other power, can invoke freedom of navigation while carrying out military exercises, Locsin said, but added that such passages should be done in a straight and uninterrupted voyage.

“We continue to look to China, as our nearest and biggest trading partner,” Locsin said, adding that its participation is essential to the success of any post-coronavirus economic recovery.

But he called on “the erring parties to refrain from escalating tension and abide by the responsibilities under international law” and exercise self-restraint in taking actions that could escalate disputes, especially during the pandemic.

South China Sea disputes again putting spotlight on Beijing

South China Sea disputes again putting spotlight on Beijing

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FILE – In this March 6, 2020, file photo, a woman protester wearing a protective mask holds a slogan during a rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines against the planned military exercises between the Philippines and US under … more >

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By

Associated Press

Sunday, June 7, 2020

BEIJING (AP) – A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. The waters are a major shipping route for global commerce and are rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.

US-PHILIPPINE PACT STANDS

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The Philippines has decided not to suspend a defense pact with the U.S., avoiding a major blow to one of America’s oldest alliances in Asia.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday that the Philippines is delaying its decision to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement by at least six months.

The alliance is seen as having deterred aggressive Chinese actions in the disputed South China Sea, including possible construction of structures in Scarborough Shoal, a disputed fishing area off the northwestern Philippines that China effectively seized after a tense standoff in 2012.

___

CAMBODIA SAYS BASE OPEN TO ALL

Cambodia’s leader says China has not been given exclusive rights to use a naval base on the country’s southern coast, and that warships from all nations, including the United States, are welcome to dock there.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week repeated denials that the Ream naval base on the Gulf of Thailand had been handed over to close ally and financial benefactor China for 30 years. Such a move would allow the Chinese navy to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships.

Many analysts believe basing rights in Cambodia would extend Beijing’s strategic military profile considerably and tilt the regional balance of power in a manner that would pressure adjacent countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations whose security concerns traditionally have been aligned more closely with the United States.

___

US REJECTS CHINA MARITIME CLAIMS

The U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations has fired back at Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Ambassador Kelly Craft’s note weighs in on Malaysia’s behalf in its bid to reject China-imposed limits on its continental shelf allowing it rights to resources.

“The United States rejects these maritime claims as inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention,” Craft’s note said.

China in December issued a rejection of Malaysia’s petition to extend its continental shelf. Beijing ignored a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that invalidated most of China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea.

The U.S. does not officially take a stand on sovereignty issues in the area, but maintains its military has the right to fly, sail and operate in all areas open to international navigation.

___

INDIA-AUSTRALIA TO STRENGTHEN TIES

India and Australia are strengthening defense ties and cooperation on Indo-Pacific maritime issues, at a time when both countries are facing increased tensions with China.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on Thursday agreed to give each other access to their military bases.

India accuses China of starting the latest standoff along their undefined border in the Himalayas.

China and Australia are at loggerheads over trade, China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, and most recently, Australia’s push for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s response to it.

___

Associated Press writers across Asia contributed to this report.

Typhoon hits Philippines as some places see pandemic relief

Typhoon hits Philippines as some places see pandemic relief

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A man drives his tricycle along a road as strong winds caused by Typhoon Vongfong hit Catbalogan City, Western Samar province, eastern Philippines, Thursday, May 14, 2020. A strong typhoon slammed into the eastern Philippines on Thursday after authorities evacuated … more >

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By Elaine Kurtenbach and Vanessa Gera

Associated Press

Thursday, May 14, 2020

BEIJING (AP) — A typhoon that slammed into the Philippines on Thursday forced a risky evacuation for tens of thousands of people during the coronavirus pandemic, while New Zealand and Japan were among countries to relax restrictions as the virus is brought under control in some places.

Typhoon Vongfong added the threat of flooding and landslides to the further spread of COVID-19 as people in the eastern Philippines were evacuated into shelters. Officials were seeking to open up more shelter space so people could create more physical distance from themselves, something that was a clear challenge as fierce rains and winds battered the region.

As the pandemic restrictions across the globe inflict damage on economies, several governments promised relief. New Zealand’s government said it plans to borrow and spend vast amounts of money as it tries to keep unemployment below 10%.

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“We face a global economic and health crisis not seen since the Great Depression,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

In Italy, one of the worst-hit countries, Premier Giuseppe Conte promised a massive package of tax cuts and other financial aid to help businesses and families.

“Your cry of alarm didn’t escape us,” Conte said late Wednesday.

His government also promised to legalize the status of foreigners, many of them illegal migrants who are crop-pickers, baby-sitters and caretakers.
The world’s public health measures continue to provoke conflict between officials and the public.

In Ethiopia, police said they arrested over 1,000 people for refusing to wear face masks in public, while in Greece a spat broke out over a government plan to install cameras in high school classrooms. The idea is to provide live-streaming to allow for reduced classroom attendance when schools reopen next week. But a privacy watchdog and a left-wing opposition party called cameras a serious privacy risk.

In many parts of the world, communities and individuals were finding inventive ways to cope with what many view as a “new normal.”

Apartment dwellers in Rio de Janeiro were getting some much-needed entertainment from children’s movies projected onto screens set up outside their buildings, similar to a drive-in theater.

Cesar Miranda Ribeiro, president of city-owned RioFilme company, said the effort, called “Cinema in the Windows,” is aimed at “trying to take care of the mental health of the people.”

Chinese people looking for some stay-at-home retail therapy have tuned into livestream shopping.

Others seeking spiritual support and human connections are worshipping remotely via online religious services, including from the Vatican to village churches.

“People in general, I think, are looking for more meaning and spirituality in the midst of all this,” said Omar Suleiman, an Islamic leader in Irving, Texas, whose Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research has been uploading YouTube videos. “So I think there’s just a general increase in religiosity and consumption of religious content.”

For most leaders, though, the focus was a far more worldly one: how to get back to business and revive economies reeling from record numbers of job losses and chilling uncertainty.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday announced the lifting of an ongoing state of emergency in most parts of the country ahead of schedule.
Abe lifted the measure for 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, effective immediately, while keeping the measure in place for eight others, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido, where risks still remain high.

“Today is the new beginning for our daily lives, a new normal,” Abe said, but also warning of the risk of a resurgence of the disease.

In New Zealand, malls, retail stores and restaurants reopened Thursday and many people returned to their workplaces as the nation of 5 million people ended most of its coronavirus lockdown restrictions. But most gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines will remain in place.

The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far: 1.39 million infections and more than 84,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 4.3 million people and killed some 297,000. Experts say the actual numbers are likely far higher.

A top U.S. immunologist who says he lost his government job because he warned the Trump administration to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic said he was ready to tell Congress that America faces its “darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus.

Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony due Thursday follows this week’s warning by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, that rushing to lift store-closing and stay-at-home restrictions could “turn back the clock,” seeding more suffering and death and complicating efforts to get the economy rolling again.

But the pressure is on to staunch job losses after the U.S. unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression.
The fallout from the pandemic includes heightened political tensions between nations.

In China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, criticized the United States, saying authorities there have failed to effectively fight the global coronavirus pandemic and “abused American people’s trust.”

Zhao appeared to be firing back against accusations from the Trump administration that China mishandled or deliberately delayed releasing information about the outbreak, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Zhao said the U.S. should “focus more on fighting the epidemic and safeguarding the lives and health of the American people, and stop playing such buck-passing game.”

Australia said it will push for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus even if it hurts trade relations with China. Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been accused of playing “deputy sheriff” to the United States after calling for the inquiry.

Morrison brushed off the criticism, telling reporters: “We have always been independent, we have always pursued our national interests, and we always will.”

___

Vanessa Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Philippines rejects China’s territorial label on island

Philippines rejects China’s territorial label on island

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By JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Thursday, April 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines protested on Thursday China’s designation of a disputed South China Sea reef, which it has turned into a heavily fortified island base, as a Chinese “administrative center.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement objecting to what it called China’s “illegal designation” of Fiery Cross Reef as a regional administrative center in the hotly contested Spratly archipelago.

It’s the latest in a series of disagreements in the sea as Asian nations grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China last week of taking advantage of widespread distraction over the pandemic to advance its territorial claims.

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“The Philippines calls on China to adhere to international law,” the department said, reminding Beijing of a 2002 agreement that urged governments with rival claims in the sea to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that would escalate the disputes and undermine regional stability.

The Philippine government has protested China’s self-declared territorial zones in the waters starting in 2012, with what it said was Beijing’s “unlawful establishment” of a Sansha City covering much of the South China Sea. It said it “does not recognize Sansha nor its constituent units nor any subsequent acts emanating from them.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs cited a July 2016 international arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds. China refused to participate in the arbitration case, which was initiated by the Philippines, and refused to recognize the ruling.

Last week, the Philippines protested China’s establishment of two districts to administer two disputed groups of islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

One district reportedly covers the Paracel islands and the other has jurisdiction over the Spratlys, where China has turned seven reefs, including Fiery Cross, into missile-protected island bases, including three with runways.

The Philippines has a presence on at least nine islands and islets in an area it claims in the Spratlys.

The U.S.-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, which monitors the territorial conflicts, said Fiery Cross has been developed into one of China’s most advanced island bases in the waters with missile shelters, structures with retractable roofs, radars and a runway.

The Philippines also lodged a protest last week over a Chinese navy ship’s aiming of its weapons control radar at a Philippine navy ship in mid-February. The radar locks weapons on a target prior to an actual attack, although the Chinese navy ship did not fire.

China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, have been locked for decades in an increasingly tense conflict over mostly barren islands, reefs and atolls and rich fishing waters in the South China Sea.

Virtual summit: SE Asia leaders meet by video on pandemic

Virtual summit: SE Asia leaders meet by video on pandemic

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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, background, addresses ASEAN leaders during the Special ASEAN summit on COVID-19 in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, April 14, 2020. ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea hold the summit online to … more >

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By HAU DINH and JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic, Southeast Asian leaders linked up by video Tuesday to plot a strategy to overcome a crisis that has threatened their economies and kept millions of people in their homes under lockdowns.

The 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held further talks later in the day, also through video conferencing, with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea, who expressed support in helping ASEAN fight the coronavirus. Vietnam, ASEAN’s leader this year, has postponed an in-person gathering tentatively to June.

“It is in these grim hours that the solidarity of the ASEAN community shines like a beacon in the dark,” Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in an opening speech.

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Containment efforts have placed the pandemic “actually under control,” he said, warning against complacency, with a number of member countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, fearing spikes in infections after large-scale testing is conducted.

Founded in 1967 in the Cold War era, ASEAN – a diverse bloc representing more than 640 million people – has held annual summits of its leaders and top diplomats with ceremonies steeped in tradition, protocol and photo-ops. Derided as a talk shop by critics, the bloc is known largely for photographs of its leaders locking arms at annual meetings in a show of unity despite often-thorny differences.

Diplomats say that unity is now crucial as the region battles COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. All of ASEAN’s member states have been hit by infections, with the total number of confirmed cases reaching more than 20,400, including over 840 deaths, despite massive lockdowns, travel restrictions and home quarantines.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the pandemic has had a severe impact on the global economy, but he told fellow leaders that their countries have jointly confronted past crises and have braced for contingencies. “The battle against COVID-19 has made us more aware that we are in a community with a shared future,” Li said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will help Southeast Asia fight the outbreak, including by the establishment of an ASEAN center for infectious diseases.

South Korea, among the Asian nations battered by the pandemic early, “confronted numerous challenges head-on” and is now gradually heading into a “phase of stabilization,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

Intensive testing and tracing, public cooperation and transparency “have proven to be indispensable in our fight,” he said.

“The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis like no other in the past, not just in its potential calamitous scale but in the hope to contain and stop it by unstinting cooperation and fullest trust between all countries,” said the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs. “If any of us fails, the rest will follow.”

The World Health Organization called on Southeast Asian countries last month to aggressively ramp up efforts to combat the viral outbreak as infections spread. Several visiting participants of a large religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late February reportedly tested positive for the virus after attending the event.

But Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said ASEAN had responded to the outbreak quickly, with his country, as the bloc’s current leader, calling for the need for region-wide action in mid-February, followed by a series of ministerial meetings and consultations with China, the United States and the WHO.

Tuesday’s summit included discussions on a regional stockpile of medical equipment for emergencies and establishing a regional fund for combating the pandemic.

With travel restrictions and lockdowns across the region, many industries have been hit hard, including the tourism and retail sectors, and growth targets have been revised downward. The overall economic impact of the pandemic on the region will “likely be broad and deep,” according to an ASEAN assessment.

Hard-hit China, where the virus was first detected in December, is one of the largest trading partners and sources of tourists for Southeast Asia.

ASEAN holds about 1,500 meetings a year, but around 230 have been postponed to later this year due to the pandemic, including lower-level meetings with China on a proposed nonaggression pact in the disputed South China Sea.

The territorial disputes, which involve China and five other claimants, including ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, are not part of the formal summit agenda. But the disputes have cast a shadow on the summit after a Vietnamese fishing boat with eight men on board was hit by a Chinese coast guard ship and sank recently near the Paracel islands. All the fishermen were rescued.

The other ASEAN members are Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

___

Gomez reported from Manila, Philippines. Associated Press journalists Edna Tarigan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Preeyapa Khunsong, Grant Peck and Kiko Rosario in Bangkok and Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report.

Musicals – Chess – One Night In Bangkok lyrics

[Verse 1]
Bangkok! Oriental setting
And the city don’t know what the city is getting
The crème de la crème of the chess world in a
Show with everything but Yul Brynner

[Verse 2]
Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
Since the Tyrolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change, but don’t you know that when you
Play at this level it’s no ordinary venue

[Hook]
It’s Iceland or the Philippines or
Hastings or this place!

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls aren’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

[Verse 3]
One town’s very like another
When your head’s down over your pieces, brother

It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city.

Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town…

Tea, girls, warm and sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite

Get Thai’d! You’re talking to a tourist
Whose every move’s among the purest.

I get my kicks above the waistline, Sunshine.

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

[Verse 4]
Siam’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha.

Thank God I’m only watching the game, controlling it.

[Verse 5]
I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you.

So you better go back to your bars, your
Temples, your massage parlours…

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me.

[Outro]
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

The Oemons – Mister King Kebabu lyrics

A long time ago dating back for centuries
Travelling men from afar were searching for a place to be
The siblings, Mister and King were the fruits of the royal family (Kebab)
They tagged along Ababu and formed their angry little posse called

Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Is my home

One day, an idea just came up something that would make some money
They would swim to the Philippines and sell their food that were spicy
They huddled to come up with a name something that would be so catchy
They thought the locals were that lame
So they named the place stereotypically

Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Is my home

The only mystery for me something that I can’t see
Why the white stuff makes food so tasty How could this be?
It could be mystic gypsy dust, a secret recipe
It could be love juice from the cock of the Great Khali

Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Mister! King Kebabu
Is my home

Chess In Concert – One Night In Bangkok lyrics

[Verse 1]
Bangkok! Oriental setting
And the city don’t know what the city is getting
The crème de la crème of the chess world in a
Show with everything but Yul Brynner

[Verse 2]
Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
Since the Tyrolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change, but don’t you know that when you
Play at this level it’s no ordinary venue

[Hook]
It’s Iceland or the Philippines or
Hastings or this place!

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls aren’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

[Verse 3]
One town’s very like another
When your head’s down over your pieces, brother

It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city.

Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town…

Tea, girls, warm and sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite

Get Thai’d! You’re talking to a tourist
Whose every move’s among the purest.

I get my kicks above the waistline, Sunshine.

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

[Verse 4]
Siam’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha.

Thank God I’m only watching the game, controlling it.

[Verse 5]
I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you.

So you better go back to your bars, your
Temples, your massage parlours…

[Chorus]
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me.

[Outro]
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me