LONDON, July 24 -- Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister-designate, said his government would be very “pro-China”, in an interview with a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language broadcaster shortly before he was chosen to succeed Theresa May on Tuesday.
Speaking to Phoenix TV, Johnson backed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s infrastructure-based Belt and Road Initiative and said his government would maintain an open market for Chinese investors in Britain. “We are very enthusiastic about the Belt and Road Initiative. We are very interested in what President Xi is doing [for the plan],” he said. The Brexit campaigner also vowed to keep Britain as “the most open economy in Europe” for Chinese investments. “Don’t forget [we are] the most open international investment [destination], particularly [for] Chinese investment. We have Chinese companies coming in to do Hinkley, for instance, the big nuclear power plant.” Boris Johnson, Britain’s next prime minister, has said he is “very pro-China” in an interview with an international Chinese language broadcaster. Photo: ReutersBoris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister-designate, said his government would be very “pro-China”, in an interview with a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language broadcaster shortly before he was chosen to succeed Theresa May on Tuesday. Speaking to Phoenix TV, Johnson backed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s infrastructure-based Belt and Road Initiative and said his government would maintain an open market for Chinese investors in Britain. “We are very enthusiastic about the Belt and Road Initiative. We are very interested in what President Xi is doing [for the plan],” he said.
The Brexit campaigner also vowed to keep Britain as “the most open economy in Europe” for Chinese investments. “Don’t forget [we are] the most open international investment [destination], particularly [for] Chinese investment. We have Chinese companies coming in to do Hinkley, for instance, the big nuclear power plant.” Johnson also stressed that Britain was the first Western country to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a move that angered its major ally, the US. Britain became a founder-member of the AIIB – the first Asia-based international bank to be independent from the Western-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund – with a US$50 million contribution to its special project fund in 2015.
BEIJING, July 24 -- Chinese armed forces stationed in Hong Kong can be deployed to maintain public order at the request of the city's government, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has said.
PLA spokesman Wu Qian said at a press conference on Wednesday (July 24) that China's military has been closely watching the demonstrations in Hong Kong, especially the protests last Sunday (July 21) that saw Beijing's representative office in the special administrative region being defaced. "We are closely following the developments in Hong Kong, especially the violent attack against the central government liaison office by radicals on July 21," Senior Colonel Wu said at the briefing to introduce China's new defence white paper. "Some behaviour of the radical protesters is challenging the authority of the central government and the bottom line of 'one country, two systems', and that is absolutely intolerable."
Responding to a question on how the Chinese military will handle the Hong Kong situation, Col Wu said "Article 14 of the garrison law has clear stipulations", without further elaboration. The Article in Hong Kong's Garrison Law states that the city's government can ask the central government for assistance from the PLA's Hong Kong garrison to maintain public order and for disaster relief. Should Beijing approve, the garrison would send the troops to carry out the specified tasks, and then immediately return to their station. The troops would be under the command of the garrison's highest commander, or an officer authorised by the commander with arrangements made by the Hong Kong government. Col Wu's remarks mirrored earlier comments made by other officials such as the head of Beijing's Liaison Office Wang Zhimin and the Chinese foreign ministry, which said on Tuesday that the "extreme, illegal violence...seriously challenged the bottom line of 'one country, two systems'".
It has featured transgender women as showgirls from the beginning, and Alisa was always concerned about the mistreatment they receive from society. "Back then, our transgender showgirls were always perceived with prejudice. In a tourist town like Pattaya, our girls had to carry their staff ID card whenever they went out to protect themselves, to prevent people and the authorities from mistaking them for prostitutes. They were mistreated. And this affected us because, as the executives, we need to be able to take care of them both inside and outside the theatre," said Alisa. "I have always questioned why people have to take issue with someone's gender. And so the idea goes from just staff management to the point where we ask what we can also do about society. Miss Tiffany's Universe was then born to put transgender women in the spotlight."
After the pageant's inaugural year was successfully hosted at the theater, Alisa pushed for a live broadcast of the event in the following year to raise society's awareness about transgender women and their existence. The pageant was first broadcast nationally on ITV channel in 1999. There was no other stage for transgender women at the time. "It was a big hit, as it was something that has never happened before in the country. It really made a stamp that we were the real deal," Alisa recalled. "At the same time, it was very difficult to find sponsors because no one wanted to attach their products to people of the 'third gender'." Miss Tiffany's Universe continued to build its name in two decade-long stages. Alisa said she devoted the first 10 years of the pageant to make people understand who transgender women are, and how different they are from gay men. "And when we reached a certain point, people began to realise who we are and that our girls are gorgeous. But we also want to go beyond that simple acknowledgment. We spent the next 10 years opening doors and opportunities, to send a message that men, women and transgender people are all equally capable. It's not necessary at all to push transgender people to be only make-up artists and showgirls when they have the ability and the desire to do so many other things."
Prior to the show, we went backstage to meet some of this year's contestants. Each of them came to Miss Tiffany's with hopes and dreams, some of which were quite unexpected. Contestant No.16 Nutchuda Lumphun, 25, said she wishes to become a member of parliament to represent and develop her hometown in Nakhon Phanom province. "On my own, I'm just a small person. But now as one of the Top 30 contestants, I consider myself a success. And if I can go even further, I'll have a bigger voice to speak for my province," said Nutchuda, who works as an actress and MC. Contestant No.22 Sasipichaya Pakdee said she's also here in hopes of making her voice louder. Onstage, she publicly advocated a law that would allow transgender people to legally change their gender and title. This is her second time at the pageant.
TOKYO, July 24 -- Nissan Motor Co. plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs globally as part of efforts to turn around its business, company sources said Tuesday.
The number, which represents around 10 percent of its global workforce, is much bigger than an earlier estimate. In May the Japanese carmaker said it would cut 4,800 jobs. Nissan's group net profit hit a nine-year low in the year through March, hit by weak sales of its cars in the U.S. market, and the Japanese automaker has projected it will nearly be halved in fiscal 2019. Also, since the arrest in November of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misdeeds, Nissan has been struggling to restructure its management team and ties with Renault SA, its biggest shareholder. The additional reduction in workforce, including through early retirement options, is expected to be announced by the Yokohama-headquartered automaker on Thursday, when it releases earnings figures for the April to June period of this year.
Some factories in South America and other regions where Nissan has low profitability are likely to be subject to the reduction plan, while it may try to streamline output in Japan. As of March this year, Nissan and its group companies had about 139,000 employees, according to its financial report. Nissan has acknowledged it was overstretching to meet numerical targets, such as by relying on incentives, in the U.S. market. It has been reviewing the expansionist business strategy spearheaded by Ghosn, who built the three-way alliance also involving Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and led an auto group that was the world's second largest last year in terms of vehicle sales. In fiscal 2018, Nissan saw its global vehicle sales fall 4.4 percent to 5.52 million units, including a 9.3 percent decline in the United States to 1.44 million units and a 14.9 percent drop in Europe to 643,000 units.
BANGKOK, July 23 -- Racing team Scuderia Toro Rosso, part of the Red Bull Formula 1 network, will have the help of PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR) in supporting the Thai-British driver Alex Albon Ansusinha.
Jiraphon Kawswat, president and chief executive of OR, which sponsors Alex, and Matthew Strachan of Scuderia Toro Rosso made the announcement at PTT headquarters on Tuesday. Alex becomes the sole Thai national currently competing in Formula 1 and only the second Thai ever to have competed, the first being Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, who gained global fame among racing fans as “Prince Bira” back in the 1950s. PTT Lubricants, an OR brand, has been sponsoring Alex since he started in Formula 2 last year. Thanks to outstanding performance, he’s been selected for Scuderia Toro Rosso’s F1 team this year. Jiraphon said OR hopes its sponsorship deal gives Alex the chance to show off his skills at the world’s leading racing events and put Thailand back on the global F1 map. “I’m really grateful to PTTOR and PTT Lubricants and look forward to representing them around the world,” Alex said. “To be able to count on their support moving forward is really significant and I’m relishing the chance to work closely with them in the future. I’m incredibly honoured and happy to welcome PTTOR to the Toro Rosso family.
Albon is currently in 12 position in the F1 standings after 10 of the 21 races for the season, scoring points in Bahrain (9th place 2 pts), China (10th place 1 pt) and Monaco (8th place 4 pts). His next race will be the German GP at on July 29-29. Jiraphon said OR aims to help earn Thai products recognition as global brands and has been supporting various national and international motorsport events, providing opportunities for Thai drivers to gain experience at high-profile competitions on the global stage. Events supported by OR include the Thailand Super Series and BRIC Superbike by PTT Station.
Since last year, OR and PTT have also been the main official sponsors of MotoGP, dubbed the world’s most challenging motorbike race and currently called PTT Thailand Grand Prix.
SEOUL, July 23 -- South Korean jets fired warning shots after a Russian military plane violated South Korea's airspace on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the countries.
Three Russian military planes initially entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its east coast before one of them entered the country's territorial sky, the South's Defense Ministry said. South Korean fighter jets then scrambled to the area to fire warning shots, a ministry official said, requesting anonymity due to department rules. The Russian plane left the area but it returned and violated the South Korean airspace again later Tuesday, the ministry official said. He said the South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots again. Each time, the Russian plane didn't return fire, the official said. It was the first time a Russian military plane violated South Korean airspace, according to South Korean officials.
The airspace the Russian plane violated was above a group of South Korean-held islets roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan that has been a source of territorial disputes between them. Russia isn't a party in those disputes. The three Russian planes had entered the South Korean air defense identification zone with two Chinese military planes. But it wasn't immediately known whether the two countries deliberately did so, according to the South Korean official. Before their joint flights with the Russian planes, the Chinese planes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its southwest coast earlier Tuesday, according to the South Korean official. Chinese planes have occasionally entered South Korea's air defense identification zone in recent years. South Korea's Defense Ministry said it plans to summon Russian and Chinese Embassy officials later Tuesday to register formal protests.
BANGKOK, July 22 -- The section of the Yom River that runs through the Sam Ngam district has run dry following months without rain, local officials said.
The river has been reduced into a narrow and shallow waterway in the middle with sand dunes clearly visible along both banks. The remaining water is so shallow that the locals can walk across. Sam Ngam is located in the upper part of the province in an area that has suffered from drought for several months.
TAIPEI, July 22 -- Taiwan's foreign minister on Monday (July 22) called for "genuine" democratic elections to be held in Hong Kong after the city was rocked by fresh political violence, comments that will likely infuriate Beijing.
Hong Kong has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history by weeks of marches and sporadic violent confrontations between police and pockets of hardcore protesters. The initial protests were lit by a now-suspended Bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. But they have since evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, universal suffrage and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters on Sunday night, the seventh weekend in a row that the city has witnessed political violence. Separately masked men wielding sticks beat up anti-government protesters at a subway station, putting dozens in hospital. In a tweet on Monday, Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu said it was time for the city's leaders to grant universal suffrage, a core demand of protesters. "It's sad to see the rule of law eroding and the divide between the people and the government widening in Hong Kong," Wu said as he accompanied President Tsai Ing-wen in a stopover in Denver on their way back from a visit to diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. "The way forward is genuine democratic elections, not violence in the streets & MTR stations. The freedom and human rights of the people must be protected!" he added.
PHNOM PENH, July 22 -- China will be able to place armed forces at a Cambodian naval base under a secret agreement the two nations have reached, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, although Cambodian officials denied such a deal had been struck.
The agreement, reached this spring but not made public, gives China exclusive access to part of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, the Journal reported, citing US and allied officials familiar with the matter. Such an arrangement would give China an enhanced ability to assert contested territorial claims and economic interests in the South China Sea, challenging US allies in Southeast Asia. Chinese and Cambodian officials denied such an agreement existed.
Earlier this month, the US Defence Department suggested China may be attempting to gain a military foothold in Cambodia. China will be able to place armed forces at a Cambodian naval base under a secret agreement the two nations have reached, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, although Cambodian officials denied such a deal had been struck. The agreement, reached this spring but not made public, gives China exclusive access to part of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, the Journal reported, citing US and allied officials familiar with the matter. Such an arrangement would give China an enhanced ability to assert contested territorial claims and economic interests in the South China Sea, challenging US allies in Southeast Asia. Chinese and Cambodian officials denied such an agreement existed, according to the Journal.
“This is the worst ever made up news against Cambodia,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told the pro-government news site Fresh News on Monday. “No such thing could happen because hosting foreign military bases is against the Cambodian constitution.”
HONG KONG, July 22 -- At least 45 people were injured in unprecedented late-night violence at a Hong Kong railway station on Sunday, as a rampaging mob of men in white T-shirts attacked black-clad protesters and passengers indiscriminately.
No police officer was in sight as dozens of men, who witnesses suggested were triad gangsters, stormed into Yuen Long MTR station at around midnight by forcing open closed entrances. They hurled objects at protesters and travellers alike, and assaulted members of the public, including journalists. Some people protected themselves with umbrellas, while others tried to fight back by hurling helmets at them. By the time riot police arrived, local residents were furious and accused them of deliberately letting the assailants run wild. By 2.30am, at least 45 people had been sent to one of three nearby hospitals or had sought treatment there themselves, according to the Hospital Authority. Trains had been bypassing the station since 11pm because of a previous rampage by the same or similar mob of men in white T-shirts attacking protesters returning from another anti-government mass march opposing the now-suspended extradition bill in the heart of the city’s financial district.
While protesters in Wan Chai, Central and Sheung Wan were facing off with riot police, at around 10.30pm, the attackers ran onto trains, using rods to attack passengers and chase after anyone wearing black, witnesses said. The government condemned the attacks in statement released after midnight.
The statement said: “In Yuen Long, some people congregated at the platforms of the MTR station and train compartments, attacking commuters. It led to confrontations and injuries.” It continued: “This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law. The [government] strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions.