Saturday, October 31, 2015
China naval chief says minor incident could spark war in South China Sea
China's naval commander told his U.S. counterpart that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if the United States did not stop its "provocative acts" in the disputed waterway, the Chinese navy said on Friday.
Admiral Wu Shengli made the comments to U.S. chief of naval operations Admiral John Richardson during a video teleconference on Thursday, according to a Chinese naval statement.
The two officers held talks after a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing's man-made islands in the contested Spratly archipelago on Tuesday.
China has rebuked Washington over the patrol, the most significant U.S. challenge yet to territorial limits China effectively claims around its seven artificial islands in one of the world's busiest sea lanes.
"If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war," the statement paraphrased Wu as saying.
"(I) hope the U.S. side cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and U.S. navies that has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again," Wu said.
Speaking earlier, a U.S. official said the naval chiefs agreed to maintain dialogue and follow protocols to avoid clashes.
Scheduled port visits by U.S. and Chinese ships and planned visits to China by senior U.S. Navy officers remained on track, the official said.
"None of that is in jeopardy. Nothing has been cancelled," said the official.
Both officers agreed on the need to stick to protocols established under the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
"They agreed that it's very important that both sides continue to use the protocols under the CUES agreement when they're operating close to keep the chances for misunderstanding and any kind of provocation from occurring," the U.S. official said.
Indeed, Wu said he believed the Chinese and U.S. navies had plenty of scope for cooperation and should both "play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea".
A U.S. Navy spokesman stressed Washington's position that U.S. freedom of navigation operations were meant to "protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law".
Chinese warships followed the USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, as it moved through the Spratlys on Tuesday. The U.S. Navy is operating in a maritime domain bristling with Chinese ships.
While the U.S. Navy is expected to keep its technological edge in Asia for decades, China's potential trump card is sheer weight of numbers, with dozens of naval and coastguard vessels routinely deployed in the South China Sea, security experts say.
China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
Next week, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Vietnam and Singapore, while Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan will attend a meeting of Southeast Asian defence ministers in Malaysia that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is also due to attend.
Separately, China suffered a legal setback on Thursday when an arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled it had jurisdiction to hear some territorial claims the Philippines has filed against Beijing over the South China Sea.
The court said additional hearings would be held to decide the merits of the Philippines' arguments. China has not participated in the proceedings and does not recognise the court's authority in the case.
Manila filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
China, facing international legal scrutiny for the first time over its assertiveness in the South China Sea, would neither participate in nor accept the case at the arbitration court, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on Friday.
Liu told reporters the case would not affect China's sovereign claims in the seas.
The Philippine government welcomed the court decision.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Manila chief's lawyer in the case, said the ruling represented a "significant step forward in the Philippines' quest for a peaceful, impartial resolution of the disputes between the parties and the clarification of their rights under UNCLOS".
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Michael Martina and Wini Zhou in Beijing, Andrea Shalal, David Brunnstrom and Yegenah Torbati in Washington, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam and Manuel Mogato in Manila; Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by Paul Tait)
Top Chinese military officer to visit
Thu Oct 29, 2015
BEIJING (Reuters) - One of China's most senior military officers will visit Pakistan and India next month, China's defense ministry said on Thursday, making trips to neighboring rivals which have very different relations with Beijing.
China and Pakistan describe each other as "all weather friends" and have tight links, and while Chinese and Indian relations have improved considerably since a brief border war in 1962, the two remain locked in a messy territorial dispute and deep suspicions persist.
Fan Changlong, one of the vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission which controls the Chinese armed forces and is headed by President Xi Jinping, will visit in the middle of November, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a regular news briefing.
The trip is to boost friendly exchanges and help "jointly maintain regional peace and security", Yang said, without elaborating.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard)
China faces mounting int’l
pressure over maritime claims
November 1st, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Husky Energy has cut 1,400 jobs and mulls selling assets in ‘fundamental shift’ of the global oil market-This will shake China
Husky Energy has cut 1,400 jobs
and mulls selling assets in
‘fundamental shift’ of the global
BloombergHusky Energy Inc. is considering selling assets after cutting 1,400 jobs to weather an oil-price slump.
Husky Energy Inc. plans to keep cutting jobs after eliminating 1,400 positions, the most disclosed by a Canadian energy company in the oil-price slump.
Job cuts have represented 80 per cent contractors and 20 per cent employees and will continue, Husky said in a statement Friday, reporting its biggest-ever quarterly loss. The Canadian producer and refiner controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing also outlined plans to pay its dividend in stock, consider asset sales and extend a companywide salary freeze started at the end of 2014. The shares fell 5.5 per cent to $19.16 at 9:36 a.m. in Toronto.
Energy companies are eliminating workers, shelving projects and selling assets to withstand a rout in oil prices that has extended 16 months. Husky disclosed the job cuts following reductions by other Canadian producers this week, including Athabasca Oil Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and Meg Energy Corp. Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s biggest oil producer, said in July that it had cut about 1,300 workers, making Husky’s total the largest disclosed to date.
“It is evident that the global oil dynamic has experienced a fundamental shift, driven by the resilience in supply,” Husky Chief Executive Officer Asim Ghosh said in the release. “We are fortifying the business for today and for the long term.”
The nation’s energy industry has shed at least 36,000 positions in the downturn, according to an estimate earlier this month by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Husky, based in Calgary, posted a loss of $4.09 billion in the third quarter, compared with a profit of $571 million in the same period last year, after taking charges and impairments including a writedown in the value of oil and gas assets in Western Canada due to a lower long-term price outlook. U.S. crude is trading below $50 a barrel, down more than half from its peak in June 2014.
The company said it may divest of certain oil and natural gas properties outside its heavy crude and oil-sands businesses in Western Canada and is assessing whether to sell third-party royalty interests representing the equivalent of 2,000 barrels of oil a day.
Husky plans to lower the amount of capital it spends on sustaining operations by 15 to 20 per cent next year, to a range of $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion. The company has cut almost $600 million in supply and procurement costs in 2015.
In another move to preserve cash, Husky will pay its quarterly dividend in shares starting in January. This allows the company to keep paying a dividend while also giving it financial flexibility, according to the statement.
Husky shares are expected to lag behind peers Friday because of mixed quarterly results, the plan to pay the dividend in stock and the potential to sell assets, Greg Pardy, an analyst at RBC Dominion Securities Inc. in Toronto, wrote in a note.
European Union sides with United States on South China Sea incident
Fri Oct 30, 2015
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union sided with Washington on Friday over a U.S.-Chinese patrolling incident in the South China Sea, in a move that may affect Brussels' discussions with Beijing at next week's Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of foreign affairs ministers.
On Tuesday, a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing's man-made islands in the contested Spratly archipelago, triggering a sharp reaction from China.
"The U.S. are exercising their freedom of navigation," a senior EU official said at a briefing, chiming with the U.S. line.
A U.S. Navy spokesman had said that the patrol was part of the U.S. freedom of navigation operations meant to "protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law".
The EU is concerned about Beijing's plans to build new islands in contested waters, the EU official said, a statement that may be welcomed by other Asian nations opposing China's claims to almost the entire South China Sea.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei contest China's sovereignty over parts of one of the world's busiest sea lanes.
"Whilst not taking a position on claims, the EU is committed to a maritime order based upon the principles of international law, in particular as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," an EU foreign affairs spokesman said in a statement.
The EU has been nursing relations with Beijing, hoping to attract Chinese funds to relaunch the bloc's sluggish economy and has been negotiating a bilateral investment and trade deal.
In defiance of Washington, EU governments have also decided to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
European and Asian foreign affairs ministers gather in Luxembourg next week for ASEM, a regular event that brings together all 28 EU countries and 21 Asian nations, including China, Vietnam and the Philippines.