Category: WORLD NEWS

China issues ‘stern’ warning to the US after destroyer sails close to islands which it claims in disputed South China Sea as trade talks get underway

China has made ‘stern representations’ to the US after an American destroyer sailed through waters claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese officials spoke to their US counterparts as they arrived in Beijing for talks aimed at deescalating an ongoing trade war.

China has long claimed territorial rights over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but the US argues it is international waters.

To that end, America carries out what it calls ‘freedom of navigation operations’ by sailing within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by the Chinese – but which also have rival claims from other nations, including US allies.

The U.N. defines territorial waters as being within 12 nautical miles of a country’s coastline.

On Monday the USS McCampbell, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands ‘to challenge excessive maritime claims’ by China, Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said.

China has controlled the islands since seizing control of them from Vietnamese forces in 1974, but Vietnam and Taiwan still lay claim to them.

Daily mail report

Michelle Obama takes ‘most admired woman’ title

Former US first lady Michelle Obama has ended Hillary Clinton’s 17-year run as America’s most admired woman.

Mrs Clinton, ex-presidential candidate, secretary of state and first lady, came third in the annual Gallup poll, with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in second.

The Queen finished in the top 10 for the 50th time, Gallup said.

Former President Barack Obama was most admired man for the 11th year in a row. President Donald Trump finished second for the fourth consecutive year.

The poll has been carried out every year since 1946, with the exception of 1976.

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The 1,025 adults surveyed were asked to name the man and woman living anywhere in the world whom they admire the most.


Most Admired Woman

Michelle Obama – 15%

Oprah Winfrey – 5%

Hillary Clinton – 4%

Melania Trump – 4%

Queen Elizabeth II – 2%


Most Admired Man

Barack Obama – 19%

Donald Trump – 13%

George W Bush – 2%

Pope Francis – 2%

Bill Gates 1%


Figures: Gallup

Mrs Clinton, a former US Democratic senator and secretary of state who ran for the White House in 2016, has come top of the list 22 times including the past 17 years in a row.

Although Oprah Winfrey has never finished top she has been second on 14 occasions.

If Mr Obama comes top again next year he will tie with the record holder – former president Dwight Eisenhower who won the most admired man title 12 times, Gallup said.

Mr Trump is, so far, one of only two presidents not to have won the title while in office, the other being Gerald Ford.

Gallup said the survey, which was carried out between 3-12 December, had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

BBC reports

Ma Jian: China’s ex-intelligence chief jailed for life

The BBC news reports that China’s ex-intelligence chief Ma Jian has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes including taking bribes and insider trading, a court says.

Ma had been put under investigation in 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party one year later.

He pleaded guilty and would not appeal, a court in the north-eastern Liaoning province said.

Many high-ranking officials have been toppled as part of President Xi Jinping’s vast anti-corruption drive.

Ma Jian was vice-minister in the powerful ministry of state security, which oversees foreign and counterintelligence operations.

His case is linked to that of one of China’s most-wanted fugitives, exiled property tycoon Guo Wengui, who has published a series of allegations of corruption among top members of the Communist Party.

Ma used his position to help Guo Wengui, who now lives in New York, further his business interests, the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement.

He took more than 100m yuan (£11.4m; $14.5m) in bribes and profited by trading stocks based on insider information, it added.

“The defendant Ma Jian’s bribery amount was extremely large, and the national and people’s interests suffered a particularly heavy loss, which seriously infringed on the integrity of civil servants.”

Ma Jian and Guo Wengui could not be reached for comment.

More than one million officials have been punished in the anti-corruption drive started by Mr Xi when he took power in 2012, the government says.

The campaign has been described by some as a massive internal purge of opponents, on a scale not seen since the days of Mao Zedong, in whose Cultural Revolution many top officials were purged.

$1trn paid in bribes, $2.6trn stolen annually – UN

The UN says one trillion dollars are paid in bribes annually, while another 2.6 trillion are stolen, all due to corruption.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while counting the costs of corruption, said values and economic development were under assault, as trillions of dollars were lost.

He said every year, trillions of dollars – equivalent to more than five per cent of global Gross Domestic Product – are paid in bribes or stolen through corruption.

Guterres deemed corruption “an assault on the values of the United Nations,” highlighting the pervasive crime.

He said corruption “robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources”.

The United Nations is fighting the global scourge, which affects both rich and poor countries, through initiatives like the global campaign launched jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The campaign recognised corruption as one of the biggest impediments to achieving the SDGs, or 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all nations of the world in 2015, to advance the whole of humankind.

UN said government officials, civil society, the private sector, and anti-corruption advocates could reference the 2018 anti-corruption campaign’s ‘Call to Action Matrix’, which offers recommendations for strategies to stand against corruption.

Additionally, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in 2003, exists as the only legally-binding, universal anti-corruption instrument.

The Convention’s far-reaching approach covers the full spectrum of corruption, and 186 Member States are parties to the Convention.

Guterres called the Convention a “primary tool” for advancing the fight, and highlighted the positive outcomes made possible through its implementation.

“Through the Convention’s peer review mechanism, we can work together to build a foundation of trust and accountability,” the UN chief said. (NAN)