Wednesday briefing: South China Sea tensions cross a line | ET REALITY

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The underwater cutting of a section of rope by a diver in the South China Sea, as shown in a short video clip this week, may seem too simple an act to qualify as a serious international incident.

But that diver was with the Philippine Coast Guard, and the rope was part of a barrier put up by Chinese forces to keep Philippine ships away from an area where they had the legal right to fish. At that time, the Philippines took one of the most forceful steps yet to contest China’s growing territorial claims, which have moved ever closer to the Philippine Islands.

“The barrier represented a danger to navigation, a clear violation of international law,” the Philippines said in a statement, adding that the action came on the direct order of Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr., the country’s president. Marcos has signaled that he wants a more forceful foreign policy toward China, which until now has been mostly rhetoric.

Apprehension is growing about the risk of a direct confrontation between China and the Philippines and its allies, including the US Navy fleet patrolling the region. But many analysts say China is likely to stop short of taking military action to avoid provoking the United States.

Quotable: “It’s natural to feel afraid because if there is a conflict, we will be the first to feel it,” said Leonardo Cuaresma, president of the fishermen’s association in a Philippine municipality near where the barrier rope was cut.

Answer: Yesterday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson sharply dismissed the Philippines’ official statement. “We advise the Philippines not to provoke or cause trouble,” he said. After the rope was cut and the Philippines lifted the anchor that had held it in place, China removed the barrier.

In China, The country wants to make its industrial heartland in the northeast more productive in the hope of avoiding an economic crisis. But Beijing is resorting to policies that some economists say are outdated.


Ukraine’s military said it was “clarifying” whether Admiral Viktor Sokolov, commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, had been killed in a recent missile attack on Moscow’s naval headquarters in Crimea, acknowledging uncertainty after Russia published a video that appeared to show the commander at a meeting of senior defense officials.

The authenticity and timing of the video, released by Russia’s Defense Ministry, could not immediately be verified, but Russian state media said the meeting took place yesterday.

In Odessa, Ukraine, Young sailors are largely stuck ashore as Russian warships control the coast, mines line the waterways and almost all civilian ship movement remains prohibited.

In the USA, The government is shipping munitions made from depleted uranium to Ukraine, raising concerns about the material’s possible health and environmental effects.


Armenia’s Health Minister said yesterday that at least 68 people had died and 105 were still missing after an explosion on Monday at a fuel depot in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

The cause of the explosion, which produced a large fire that lit up the night sky near the region’s capital, Stepanakert, was not immediately clear. Witnesses reported that the explosion occurred while people were queuing to refuel their cars.

More than 28,000 people have fled the region for Armenia in the past week, after a sudden military offensive returned the enclave to Azerbaijani control on Sunday.

Millions of years ago, Peru’s Ocucaje Desert was a gathering place for fantastical sea creatures: researchers have found evidence of walking whales, walrus-faced dolphins, aquatic sloths and the world’s heaviest animal. Now, humans are arriving rapidly and unplanned development is threatening this reward.

American artist Kehinde Wiley rose to fame in 2018 with an unconventional presidential portrait: Barack Obama seated against a bright, flowery background. Now, Wiley is breaking the mold again with portraits of 11 current and former African presidents in “A Labyrinth of Power,” which opened Monday in Paris.

“I’m trying to see the African presidency in pictures, because there’s no tradition to it,” Wiley said. “There is no story surrounding it. The story surrounds the hegemony and cultural domination of Western Europe.”

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