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- China woos ASEAN with $10B in infra loans
Under international pressure to stop its land reclamation in the South China Sea, China sought to appease Southeast Asian leaders by offering them $10 billion in infrastructure loans. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made the pledge to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a summit between the regional bloc and Beijing here on Saturday, November 21. Li also proposed cooperation on railway and production capacity, saying ASEAN and China should hasten upgrading economic ties. China made the $10 billion offer as it faced repeated criticism over its island-building spree in the South China Sea during the regional summit. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and US President Barack Obama called on Beijing to stop reclamation, and to comply with international law. Other Asian leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also raised the maritime dispute during the ASEAN summits this weekend. The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims to the South China Sea, a rich fishing ground believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas. It is a crucial shipping route for global commerce. Li sought to downplay the row, reiterating China’s line that it does not hinder freedom of navigation in the sea. The Chinese premier also said that Beijing was “willing to quickly conclude” a legally-binding deal with ASEAN “on the basis of consensus.” Li though did not give a timeframe for the pact after 13 years of delay. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin also said in a statement that China’s construction activities are meant to ‘better serve commercial ships, fishermen, and provide more public services’ and would benefit other countries with claims to the resource-rich waters.
More about China’s offers to the ASEAN nations.
- Daniel Padilla and other celebs endorse Mar Roxas
Teen idols Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, who form the popular love team “KathNiel,” will endorse Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas for president in the 2016 elections. Padilla previously appeared in a video with Mar, posted last November 6. On Saturday, November 21, a video featuring Padilla and other Roxas celebrity endorsers was flashed on screen before a gathering of youth supporters in Cubao, Quezon City. Mar’s wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez-Roxas later posted a photo of the 4 on her Instagram account.
More about Kathniel’s endorsement of Roxas.
Who are the Roxas celebrity endorsers? Find out.
- ASEAN single market community launched
With the symbolic bang of a drum, Southeast Asian leaders in Kuala Lumpur declared the establishment of a single market and production base. The 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the declaration establishing the ASEAN Community, calling it a “historic milestone” for the regional bloc. Set to formally take effect on December 31, 2015, the AEC aims to facilitate the free flow of goods, services, capital and labor across the region, with some observers comparing it to the European Union. The goal is for investors to tap easier logistics to enter the regional market. It will be Asia’s first sub-regional community. Analysts though said that not much will change when the AEC takes effect by year-end. Challenges to economic integration include non-tariff and protectionist barriers, infrastructure, multiple and contrasting rules, and improving workers’ skills. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, this year’s ASEAN chairman, said that the group has a lot of work left to do despite the declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Read about the launch of the ASEAN Community.
Learn about the challenges to regional integration and the potentials impact of the ASEAN Community.
- Healthy seas indicator: 900th whale shark found in the Philippines
A team of researchers from the Large Marines Vertebrate (LAMAVE) Project found the 900th whale shark recorded in the world on November 15, 2015 in waters off Southern Leyte. The team verified the find by taking a photo of the spot pattern on animal’s left side and uploading it to whaleshark.org, the online photo-identification library of whale sharks. Reaching the 900th whale shark is a milestone for a species that many had thought had dwindled in 1998. Sally Snow, Media Director of LAMAVE, said a government law (Fisheries Administrative Order no. 193 of 1998) to ban the hunting of whale sharks and manta rays led many to believe that the killing of whale sharks in the Philippines – known locally as butanding and balilan – was on the rise. However, starting in 2006, Snow said researchers started seeing more of the whale sharks, a sign that the species has begun recovering; and identifying the 900th whale shark indicated that they continue to recover. According to Snow, whale sharks are a “brilliant indicator” of the seas’ health, so knowing that there have been 900 identified and more possibly roaming the waters means good news for conservationists.
More about the whale sharks in the Philippines.
- Obama, Xi, Putin condemn Mali hotel attack
In separate interviews, US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the jihadist hostage siege in Mali that left at least 27 people dead. Obama, during a visit to Malaysia, called the Mali attack “appalling” and added that “This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge.” China Central Television quoted Xi as saying that “China will strengthen cooperation with international society to resolutely fight violent terrorist activities that hurt innocent lives, to maintain world peace and tranquillity.” Meanwhile, in a statement released by the Kremlin on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “The inhuman crime committed in Mali’s capital again confirms that terrorism knows no borders and is a real danger for the whole world.” He added: “People of different nationalities and beliefs become its victims, and it is only possible to confront this threat with the broadest international cooperation.” The attack left 27 dead, among them an American, 3 Chinese nationals and 7 Russians.
Statements by Obama, Xi condemning the Mali hostage siege.
- Crunch issues at the Climate summit
On November 30, some 120 heads of government and state will kick off a high-stakes negotiation to curb global warming and help poor countries cope with its impacts. The parlay runs until December 11. The objective: the first-ever universal climate deal to include all of the 195 nations under the umbrella of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dozens of issues have stymied the negotiations, now into their third decade.
This story highlights the key points of contention.
- PH-Japan pact puts end to double enrollment in pension plans
Japan and the Philippines both agreed to put an end to the burden of double enrollment in pension plans by expatriate workers, the Japanese embassy announced on Friday, November 20. In a statement, Japan said Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa both signed on Thursday the Philippines-Japan Social Security Agreement. Under it, expatriate workers in the Philippines and Japan who are temporarily dispatched for a period of 5 years or less to the other country “will be, in principle, covered only by the pension system of the country from which employees are dispatched.” This means that they will no longer be required to pay pension premiums in both countries. However, the agreement “will also enable establishment of eligibility to receive pension in each country by totalizing the periods of the coverage in both countries.” The social security agreement was formalized in the presence of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who met at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on Thursday.
Read about the newly signed PH-Japan pact.
- Understand the science behind SALt’s saltwater lamp
Sustainable Alternative Light or SALt’s “saltwater” lamp received widespread attention in the recent Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), with the start-up’s co-founder Engr. Aisa Mijeno sharing the stage with US President Barack Obama and Alibaba founder Jack Ma. In this piece, Joey Ocon, who heads the UP Diliman Laboratory of Electrochemical Engineering, explains what makes the lamp work.
Read: Deconstructing SALt’s saltwater lamp.
- Japanese micro-device products manufacturer to invest P1.73B in Batangas
Japanese firm Citizen Finedevice Philippines Corporation is investing P1.73 billion ($36.82 million) for the production of electronics products in Batangas. The company, located at the First Philippine Industrial Park II in Sto. Tomas will produce crystal blank devices, component parts for products such as watches, mobile phones, IT products, home appliances and automobiles. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) registered project is expected to employ 530 workers. Once operational, it is expected to produce $12.3 million (P577.8 million) worth of exports. Japan’s Citizen Finedevice is noted for its expertise in mass producing ultra-compact quartz crystal blank devices tailored to customer’s requirements. These devices can be found in optical devices, ceramic devices, FA systems, precision machining (cutting, pressing), surface treatment (coating), heat treatment, product assembly, measuring instruments etc.
More about the Citizen Finedevice Philippines Corporation investment.
- #AlDub: My Bebe Love trailer released online
Here’s something for #AlDub fans. The trailer for the film My Bebe Love has been released online. The movie stars Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai delas Alas. Joining the two veteran stars are Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza, aka AlDub. This is the first movie team-up for the two, following the massive success of their TV love team created last July in Eat Bulaga’s Kalyeserye. Alden and Maine shed their kalyserye characters here to play lovers in a different setting. In the trailer, Dondi (Alden) and Anna (Maine) are caught in between the feud of Dondi’s aunt (Ai-Ai) and Anna’s dad (Vic). Will their blossoming relationship be the key to settling the feud?
Watch the trailer of ‘My Bebe Love’