Jackie Chan’s Trip To Vietnam Cancelled Over China Sea Row

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 12, 2019, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan attends a press conference promoting the release of his new solo album “I Am Me” in Taipei.

 

Martial-arts film star Jackie Chan’s planned visit to Vietnam for a charity has been cancelled following an online backlash related to Beijing’s expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea.

The Hong Kong-born actor was set to visit Hanoi on November 10 to support Operation Smile, a charity that gives free surgery to children with facial disfigurements.

But the plans were scrapped after thousands of angry Facebook users flooded the charity’s official page when his visit was announced last week.

Some of their comments claimed Chan had spoken in support of China’s so-called nine-dash line — its historic justification for its territorial claims in the resource-rich sea.

However, Chan has not explicitly expressed public support for the controversial maritime assertion.

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Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have competing claims in the waterway that overlap with China’s — long a source of tension in the region.

Issuing a mea culpa Friday for failing “to predict the reaction” of the Vietnamese public, the charity asserted that their work is “non-political”.

“We are very sorry… Operation Smile will not organise any activities with (Chan’s) involvement” in Vietnam, they said.

Vietnam is one of Beijing’s most vocal critics over the flashpoint South China Sea issue.

The foreign ministry on Thursday repeated its usual proclamation on the sea, citing the country’s “full legal basis and true evidence to affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty”, deputy spokesperson Ngo Toan Thang told AFP.

Chan has in the past been accused of siding with China over Hong Kong’s democracy protests after calling the unrest in his hometown “sad and depressing”.

The comment sparked ire in Hong Kong but was warmly received by many in China where he has a massive fan base.

Earlier this month Hanoi pulled the DreamWorks film “Abominable” from theatres over a scene featuring a map showing the nine-dash line.

Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea through the vague delineation, which is based on maps from the 1940s as the then-Republic of China snapped up islands from Japanese control.

“Abominable” is not being shown in Malaysia either after its distributor refused to cut the offending scene, while the Philippines also filed complaints.

The US this week accused Beijing of intimidating smaller countries in the South China Sea, a key global fishing route.

China has built military installations and manmade islands in the area, and for several weeks earlier this year sent a survey ship to waters claimed by Vietnam.

African Leaders To Meet Over DR Congo Vote Dispute

The president of DR Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo announces the provisional results of the presidential election in Kinshasa on January 10, 2019.  Junior D. KANNAH / AFP

 

Continental leaders will gather at the African Union this week to discuss the disputed election in DR Congo, a spokeswoman for the body said Wednesday.

The DR Congo election commission last Thursday declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the December 30 vote with 38.57 percent of the tally against chief rival Martin Fayulu’s 34.8 percent.

Fayulu has appealed the result, saying it was an “electoral coup” forged in backroom dealings between Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001.

The dispute has raised fears that the country’s political crisis, which erupted two years ago when Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional term in office, could worsen.

The Thursday meeting at AU headquarters in Ethiopia was called by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, chairman of the body until next month, spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

“The initiative is part of the African-led efforts to assist the DRC political stakeholders and people to successfully conclude the electoral process,” she told AFP.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his attendance on Twitter, though it remained unclear which other leaders would join him.

The summit comes as allegations of fraud mount.

The influential Roman Catholic Church, which says it deployed 40,000 observers to monitor the elections, has said the official outcome does not reflect the true result while holding back from saying who it thinks won.

Thousands of electoral documents, leaked to international media including the Financial Times and Radio France Internationale (RFI), backed Fayulu’s claim to be the true election winner.

Vast and unstable, DR Congo has never had a peaceful transition of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960.

It became a battlefield for two regional wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003, and the last two presidential elections, in 2006 and 2011, were marked by bloody clashes.

Now the country’s top court has eight days from when Fayulu’s appeal was lodged on January 11 to render a verdict.

AFP

Russia, Japan Meet In Moscow To Resolve WWII Dispute

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Moscow on January 14, 2019. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

The foreign ministers of Russia and Japan met in Moscow on Monday pushing ahead with efforts to strike a peace deal and end a decades-old dispute over four strategic islands.

Meeting his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resources for cooperation were “truly inexhaustible” and should be used to work towards a peace agreement.

Japan and Russia have never signed a treaty ending World War II. The USSR invaded the far-eastern Kuril chain in the final days of the war and Japan refuses to give up its claim to them although the United Nations formally recognises them as Russian territory.

“It’s a difficult issue, we have to deal with the legacy of World War II, whose outcomes have been codified in the UN charter and Allied documents,” Lavrov said.

In November, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate talks on a peace agreement which would build on a 1956 Japan-USSR declaration which restored diplomatic ties.

The joint declaration said that the USSR agreed to hand over two of the islands — Habomai and Shikotan — to Japan following a peace deal. Japan however demanded sovereignty over all the disputed islands, which include Iturup and Kunashir and peace talks stalled.

In remarks before the Monday meeting, Japan’s Kono said the two countries must use the great potential for cooperation.

He said, in remarks translated into Russian, that they should “speed up (peace) negotiations, going beyond the boundaries of previous positions,” without elaborating.

The Kuril islands had been neglected by Moscow for decades, however, in recent years it increased its military presence there, to a furious reaction from Japan.

Ceding any islands to Japan is unlikely to go down well in Russia, where a wave of patriotic sentiment has been whipped up by the Kremlin since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.

The governor of the Russian island of Sakhalin, who also administers the Kurils, last week said locals oppose territorial changes. Hundreds protested recently against any handover.

“The Kuril islands are Russian soil, that is clear. The issue of handing over the Kuril islands is not on the agenda,” governor Valery Limarenko told Gazeta.Ru news website.

AFP