This Is What The U.S. Needs To Make Sure Kim Jong Un Understands

 

 

We all know that there are a lot of tensions and banter going on right now between North Korea’s insane Dictator Kim Jong Un and the massively ignorant American President Donald ‘Fake News’ Trump. They flap their lips like a couple of sixth graders from two different schools acting as if nothing can happen to them because of their crowing. I believe that President Trump is simply a person that wants to win everything he touches, so that he can brag about it, regardless of the cost to other people. Here in the U.S. we at least have some checks and balances built into our political and military system, North Korea does not have any such thing. In North Korea there are no organizations to check the balance of military or political power that Kim Jong Un has garnered unto himself. This idiot, just like his father and grandfather before him think that they are living Gods. This is pure stupidity seeing that dear old Dad and Grandpa are dead and Kim Jong Un and the North Korean people know this.

 

Are you familiar with the term ‘cutting off the head of the snake’? There is one thing that President Trump and our top Diplomats need to make absolutely factual to Kim Jong Un and this is that if he attacks any American lands or the lands of any of our Allies like South Korea, Japan or the people of Guam that he personally will be dead before that day is over. The North Korean military Generals need to be given that same message, if they attack anyone that they personally are dead men walking. We the people of the world are seeing two men (I am using that term very loosely) with massive ego’s who do not know how to shut up, no matter how many millions of people who may die because of their ignorance. People like Kim Jong Un only care about themselves, this is why it is imperative that he understands that if he attacks, he personally will die that same day. I believe that if we cannot get this reality through the thick skull of this lunatic very soon (the one in North Korea) millions of innocent people may end up being murdered.

Kim Jong Un Is Threatening To Strike Guam With His Missiles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Hong Kong (CNN) US President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” against North Korea couldn’t come at a worse time for China.

One of North Korea’s closest diplomatic partners, China has long attempted to avoid conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, calling for both sides to make concessions.
In a statement Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said parties should “avoid remarks and actions that could aggravate conflicts and escalate tensions.”
“China calls on all relevant sides to uphold the broad direction of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through political means,” the statement said.
Tong Zhao, associate at the Carnegie Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told CNN the recent tensions come at a time when Beijing is keen to promote stability ahead of the 19th Communist Party National Congress, China’s twice a decade handover of power scheduled for later this year.
“China has other regional crises as well, the border dispute with India, the South China Sea … it’s really bad timing for another real crisis to emerge in North Korea,” Zhao said.
Speaking at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey Tuesday, the US president said North Korea would face might “like the world has never seen” if it continued to make threats.

Gary Samore: Korea de-nuclearization unrealistic

Gary Samore: Korea de-nuclearization unrealistic 06:07
Within hours of Trump’s statement, North Korea issued a statement warning of a possible strike on areas around the US territory of Guam.
Any armed conflict between the two adversaries would be “the worst case scenario” for China, Zhao added, saying there was no indication yet how Chinese President Xi Jinping would react to any hostilities.

Military action on Korean Peninsula?

In recent months, there have been some hints of preparations by China in case the worst should happen and war breaks out in North Korea.
In July, military and government reports showed the country’s northern border region, which includes the 880 mile (1,415 kilometer) North Korean-Chinese border, was being reinforced with extra Chinese troops.
But Zhao said even China is unsure who it would support in the event of any armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“There are too many uncertain variables — who initiates it? Who bears more responsibility? How will the war affect the economy? Too much uncertainty and I don’t think China can give a simple answer about how it will respond,” he said.
Part of the problem is the strict silence imposed on Chinese media and academics by Beijing, according to Zhao, making it harder to discern what discussions are taking place behind closed doors.
“China has been very secretive about North Korea so it’s hard to tell, hard to find those signs,” he said.
A potential conflict between North Korea and the United States isn’t the only military threat hanging over China’s head.
An ongoing border dispute between China and India has escalated in recent weeks, with one military officer declaring in July China would preserve its “sovereign territory … at any cost.
“It’s possible that military conflict could break out with India,” Zhao said.

China seeks calm before congress

China is determined to present a stable and powerful image in advance of the 19th Party Congress. Held by the country’s ruling Communist Party every five years, it’s when Beijing unveils the new leadership team for the next half decade.
For months President Xi Jinping has been carefully preparing the ground for the meeting, where he is expected to solidify his power over China’s government.

US rips China after N. Korean missile test

US rips China after N. Korean missile test 02:09
Xi likely to use the event to fill the country’s powerful Politburo and Standing Committee with his allies, making the autumn congress effectively a coronation confirming the president as easily the most powerful man in one of the world’s most powerful countries.
But Zhao said an increasingly erratic North Korea is now threatening to overshadow the Communist Party’s big day.
Beijing has maintained a clear and consistent position on North Korea for months, calling on multiple occasions for Pyongyang to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US and South Korea holding off on military drills.
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, says there has been no indication of a change in policy from Beijing.
“(But) the problem is having essentially bet his credibility on a tweet back in January … it is hard for Trump to restore it without escalating to a military solution. That obviously would be the latest worry in Beijing,” he said.
But Graham added despite the difficult position China found itself in, there was one silver lining to the North Korean cloud.
“The sanctions bill which went through the UN recently didn’t target Chinese entities directly … they’ll actually be relieved they’re not being directly targeted by the US as many have feared,” he said.

After Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis, Worries Shift to Virgin Islands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Lindbergh Bay beach in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Memorial Day weekend.CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I. — The United States Virgin Islands is best known for its powdery beaches and turquoise bays, a constant draw for the tourists who frequent this tiny American territory.

Yet away from the beaches the mood is ominous, as government officials scramble to stave off the same kind of fiscal collapse that has already engulfed its neighbor Puerto Rico.

The public debts of the Virgin Islands are much smaller than those of Puerto Rico, which effectively declared bankruptcy in May. But so is its population, and therefore its ability to pay. This tropical territory of roughly 100,000 people owes some $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors.

Now, a combination of factors — insufficient tax revenue, a weak pension system, the loss of a major employer and a new reluctance in the markets to lend the Virgin Islands any more money — has made it almost impossible for the government to meet its obligations. In January, the Virgin Islands found itself unable to borrow and nearly out of funds for basic government operations.

The sudden cash crunch was a warning sign that the financial troubles that brought Puerto Rico to its knees could soon spread. All of America’s far-flung territories, among them American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, appear vulnerable.

“I don’t think you can say it’s a crisis, but they have challenges — high debt, weak economies and unfunded pensions,” said Jim Millstein, whose firm, Millstein & Company, advised Puerto Rico on its economic affairs and debt restructuring until this year and has reviewed the situation in Guam and the Virgin Islands. He called the combination of challenges in the territories “a recipe for trouble in the future.”

Gov. Kenneth Mapp, left, walking in the Memorial Day parade in St. Thomas. CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

For decades, these distant clusters of islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific have played critical roles as American listening posts, wartime staging grounds, practice bombing ranges and even re-entry points for astronauts splashing down in the Pacific.

The military presence buoyed their small economies, and a federal tax subsidy made it relatively easy for them to issue bonds. Over the years, they have collectively borrowed billions of dollars to build roads, run schools, treat drinking water and fund hospitals.

Congress has generally relied on the Government Accountability Office to monitor the financial health of the territories, but it did not intervene over the years when the auditors brought back reports of “formidable fiscal challenges” or “serious internal control weaknesses” on the islands. Not, at least, until Puerto Rico went over the edge.

Now the G.A.O. auditors are back, re-examining the debt and repayment ability of each territory, amid concerns that other crushing debt burdens may have escaped notice. An agency spokesman, Fuller O. Griffith, said it would report by the end of the year on “federal options to avert the future indebtedness of territories.” It is not clear what those options will be.

“Washington can’t appropriately manage its relationship with the states, much less the territories,” said Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics.

Even the states are not immune, despite their legal status as sovereigns. Illinois, stuck in political gridlock, is just days from entering its new fiscal year without a balanced budget, in violation of its own constitution. The ratings agencies warn that Illinois’s bond rating is in peril of being downgraded to junk. Once that happens, as the territories show, hedge funds move in and economic management becomes a series of unpleasant choices.

American Samoa, one of the smallest territories, lost one of the biggest engines of its economy in December when a big tuna cannery closed after being required to pay the federal minimum wage. Moody’s Investors Service then put the territory’s debt under negative outlook, citing its fragile economy.

After a bond sale fell through this year, the Virgin Islands could not buy fuel for its power plants, like this one on St. Thomas. CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

In the Northern Mariana Islands, the depleted public pension fund was wreaking such fiscal havoc in 2012 that the territory declared it bankrupt, but the case was thrown out. The government then tried cutting all retirees’ pensions 25 percent, but the retirees have been fighting the cuts, and the fund is nearly exhausted anyway.

Even Guam, which enjoys the economic benefit of several large American military installations, has been having qualms about its debt after Puerto Rico’s default.

“Puerto Rico’s troubles provide a teachable moment for Guam,” said Benjamin Cruz, the speaker of the legislature, who recently helped defeat a proposal to borrow $75 million to pay tax refunds. “Spending borrowed money is too easy.”

But the debt dilemma is now most acute in the Virgin Islands — the three main islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John — where the government has been struggling ever since a giant refinery closed in 2012, wiping out the territory’s biggest nongovernment employer and a mainstay of its tax base.

Its troubles began to snowball last July, when Puerto Rico defaulted on most of its debts.

Last August, Fitch downgraded the Virgin Islands’ debt to junk, citing the territory’s chronic budget deficits and habit of borrowing to plug the holes, like Puerto Rico.

More downgrades followed, and in December, Standard & Poor’s dealt the territory a rare “superdowngrade” — seven notches in one fell swoop — leaving it squarely in the junk-bond realm. That scared away investors and forced it to cancel a planned bond offering in January.

The failed bond deal meant there was not enough cash to pay for basic government operations in February or March. As a stopgap, the territory diverted its workers’ pension contributions.

Coreen Lloyd-Adams and Shenika Freeman, registered nurses, preparing a bed in the labor and delivery unit at the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas. When federal money has fallen short, the Virgin Islands has had to borrow to keep its hospitals running. CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

The Virgin Islands’ governor, Kenneth E. Mapp, said he had no intention of defaulting on any bonds.

“I didn’t ask anybody for debt relief, so don’t put me in the debt-relief boat,” Mr. Mapp said in an interview at Government House, the ornate seat of the territorial government, perched on a hillside overlooking the lush palms and bougainvillea of the capital, Charlotte Amalie, located on St. Thomas.

Still, Mr. Mapp is contending with many of the same problems that proved too much for Puerto Rico, driving it in May to seek bankruptcylike protection under a new law for insolvent territories, known as Promesa. Puerto Rico is now embroiled in heated negotiations over how to reduce its roughly $123 billion in debts and unfunded pensions.

When Congress drafted the Promesa law last year, it made it possible for the other American territories to seek the same kind of help.

Now, even though the Virgin Islands maintains it has no intention of defaulting on its debts — and has even given creditors new protections — the mere prospect of bankruptcy has spooked the markets, putting borrowed money beyond the territory’s reach and greatly limiting its options.

In something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, by giving territories the option to declare bankruptcy, Congress seems to have made such an outcome more likely.

“That innocuous provision, when sent to the bond market, said, ‘Here’s an escape valve for your debt obligations,’” said Mr. Mapp. “That changed the whole paradigm.”

The territory’s pension system made loans to companies, like the inter-island airline Seaborne, that could not borrow elsewhere. CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

The problem is that in Puerto Rico, Promesa is turning out to shred the many legal mechanisms that governmental borrowers use to make their debts secure. These include liens and allowing creditors access to the courts.

“Under Promesa, all the security structures are dissolving,” Mr. Fabian said.

Investors who thought they were secured creditors before now find themselves holding moral obligation pledges, which are not enforceable.

After the Virgin Islands’ bond offer fell through in January, the fuel supplier to its electric authority stopped shipments, saying it had not been paid; the authority was already in court with its previous fuel supplier, which had not been paid either.

Then came the House of Representatives’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Mapp saw the federal money that the Virgin Islands relies on for its public hospitals going up in smoke.

Mr. Mapp scrambled. He reactivated a five-year economic plan that had been languishing and pushed higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and soft drinks through the legislature. He fought for a permanent electric rate increase. He got $18 million in new federal funds for health care. He struck a deal to tax Airbnb rentals.

He hired collection agents to go after delinquent property and income taxes. He scheduled auctions for delinquent properties. He hired a team to work on the pension system, which is in severe distress, with only about six years’ worth of assets left.

Until recently, the pension system was chasing high returns by investing in high-risk assets, like a $50 million placement in life viaticals — an insurance play that is, in effect, a bet that a selected group of elderly people will die soon. It also made loans to an insolvent inter-island airline, a resort that went bankrupt, and a major franchisee of KFC restaurants. The territory’s inspector general has declared the loans illegal.

The Government Employees Retirement System building in St. Thomas. The pension system does not have enough money to pay the $4.5 billion due to retirees. CreditMireya Acierto for The New York Times

Mr. Mapp said he hoped to start restructuring the pension system in the fall. Already, he said, the government had stopped diverting the workers’ pension contributions, as residents began filing their tax returns and payments in April. The tax payments eased the immediate liquidity crisis.

Recently, he met with the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, to discuss possible incentives to attract tech business to the Virgin Islands. And he hopes to return to the capital markets.

“The fact that we didn’t complete the sale in January gives the impression that our market access is constrained,” said Valdamier O. Collens, the territorial finance commissioner.

Investors have nothing to worry about, said the governor. For decades, the Virgin Islands has used a lockbox arrangement that makes default all but impossible.

Merchants collect sales taxes and send the money to a trustee for the bondholders. Not a cent goes to the territorial government, including the pension fund, until the bond trustee gets enough to make all scheduled bond payments for the coming year.

“We have no access to the moneys before the bondholders are paid,” Mr. Mapp said. “These moneys are taken out of the pie before the pie is even in the oven. Our debt has never been in jeopardy.”

But in Puerto Rico, such lockbox arrangements have turned out to be one of the thorniest disputes of the bankruptcy proceedings. And Mr. Collens, the finance commissioner, is all too aware that the same dynamic could upend the Virgin Islands, too.

“We know that there has been a contagion effect with Puerto Rico,” Mr. Collens said. “The market saw that by the stroke of a pen, Congress could create a Promesa for the rest of the territories.”

Who Knew: Birds And B-52 Bombers, Don’t Mix Well Together

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TASK & PURPOSE)

The wreckage of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber after crashing in Guam.

NEWS
How A Flock Of Birds And Mechanical Failure Downed A B-52 Stratofortress Bomber In Guam?

on April 24, 2017

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Nearly one year after a B-52H Stratofortress bomber crashed shortly after takeoff at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Air Force has finally identified the culprit: a flock of goddamn birds.

Well, sort of. An investigation by Air Force Global Strike Command concluded that the crash, which took place during a routine training mission on May 19, 2016, was caused by a mechanical failure during an aborted takeoff, military officials announced Monday. But the initial release by the Accident Investigation Board initially attributed the crash to a “bird sighting,” stating that the pilot had “analyzed visual bird activity and perceived cockpit indications as a loss of symmetric thrust required to safely attain flight.”

Crew members’ accounts of the incident in the full Global Strike Command paint a distinctly more “Miracle on the Hudson” picture. From Air Force Times:

An accident investigation board found that the accident began when the pilot of the B-52 — which was assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing’s 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron — saw birds ahead at wing level as the plane was conducting a “high-speed, heavy-weight” takeoff during a routine training mission. The co-pilot then heard and felt a ” ‘couple of thuds’ that sounded like something hitting the aircraft,” the report said.

The pilot and co-pilot then saw three of the plane’s four engines on the right wing “quickly spooling back” and losing thrust necessary to safely get off the ground. The oil pressure spiked on the wing’s fourth engine — which suggested to the pilot that it was also about to fail — and the plane experienced a “noticeable left-to-right yawing motion,” according to the report.

An aborted takeoff is worrying on its own, but this is where things actually got out of control. According to Air Force Times, the B-52’s drag chute failed to inflate, leaving the aircraft to exceed the upper limit of its brakes and skid off the runway. After coming to a halt 300 feet beyond the runway, the fuselage quickly burst into flames, prompting the crew to bail.

Only one of the seven crew members aboard the B-52H suffered minor injuries, but the resulting fire completely destroyed the $112 million aircraft, one of 102 that entered service starting in May 1961. Boeing produced 744 total B-52s for the Pentagon starting in 1955.

Despite the proximity of the bird sighting and “thuds” reported by the co-pilot, the AFGSC report determined that birds likely didn’t actually strike the B-52. The investigation found “no evidence of any organic material being processed through the engine,” so far that “all of the debris found in the engine consisted of pieces of coral, dirt, and grass that was processed through the engines when they contacted the ground.”

“I don’t think they found any evidence, but the plane was burned up,” Global Strike Command spokeswoman Carla Pampe told ABC News, assuring them that the various mechanical issues surrounding the aircraft’s drag chute and brakes “do not indicate any larger issues among the B-52 fleet.” (Good thing the Pentagon’s fleet of Vietnam-era B-52s is slated for a much-needed modernization plan.)

We look forward to watching Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the incident.

NORTH KOREA IS ANGRY AT CHINA FOR INCREASING SANCTIONS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NORTH KOREAN OFFICIAL NEWS AGENCY ‘YONHAP’)

NORTH  KOREA IS ANGRY AT CHINA FOR INCREASING SANCTIONS

2017/04/22

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) — North Korea has apparently asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of “catastrophic consequences” in their bilateral relations.

Pyongyang issued the warning through commentary written by a person named Jong Phil on its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which was released Saturday.

It’s rare for Pyongyang’s media to level criticism at Beijing, though the KCNA didn’t directly mention China in the commentary titled “Are you good at dancing to the tune of others” and dated Friday.

The commentary instead called the nation at issue “a country around the DPRK,” using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Not a single word about the U.S. act of pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a war after introducing hugest-ever strategic assets into the waters off the Korean peninsula is made but such rhetoric as ‘necessary step’ and ‘reaction at decisive level’ is openly heard from a country around the DPRK to intimidate it over its measures for self-defense,” the commentary’s introduction in English read.

“Particularly, the country is talking rubbish that the DPRK has to reconsider the importance of relations with it and that it can help preserve security of the DPRK and offer necessary support and aid for its economic prosperity, claiming the latter will not be able to survive the strict ‘economic sanctions’ by someone.”

Then, the KCNA commentary warned that the neighbor country will certainly face a catastrophe in their bilateral relationship, as long as it continues to apply economic sanctions together with the United States.

“If the country keeps applying economic sanctions on the DPRK while dancing to the tune of someone after misjudging the will of the DPRK, it may be applauded by the enemies of the DPRK, but it should get itself ready to face the catastrophic consequences in the relations with the DPRK,” it said.

North Korea watchers here say the commentary appears to be Pyongyang’s response after Chinese experts and media have recently called for escalating sanctions against the North, including the suspension of oil exports, in case of its sixth nuclear test.

[email protected]

(END)

Recent Developments Surrounding The South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BANGKOK — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

___

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

___

PHILIPPINES DOESN’T WANT TO BE USED FOR U.S. FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION MISSIONS

The Philippines has again thumbed its nose at the U.S., its longtime defense ally, saying it won’t be used as a springboard for U.S. ships and planes conducting operations that challenge China in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippines will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for U.S. patrols — a possible departure from the current policy that allows U.S. aircraft, ships and submarines access to designated Philippine military bases under a 2014 defense agreement.

Lorenzana said U.S. ships and planes can use Guam or Okinawa in Japan for South China Sea missions. But he said they can still refuel and resupply in the Philippines after conducting such maneuvers, not before.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said she could not comment on Lorenzana’s remarks as she hadn’t seen them, but added: “Our adherence to freedom of navigation is well known. You know, we will fly, we will sail anywhere within international waters and we will continue that.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the commander of the U.S. Army’s I Corps who leads international military exercises in the Pacific, said that the U.S. military was prepared to change next year’s joint exercises with the Philippines to humanitarian and disaster relief training.

“If we change the training, we would probably look at putting a different force and a different capability in the Philippines versus the initial one that had been planned to go there,” he told Voice of America, referring to the initial focus on the Philippines’ territorial defense.

President Rodrigo Duterte has reached out to China to try to smooth over the territorial disputes. He also said he wants to scale back the Philippines’ military engagements with the U.S., including scuttling a plan to carry out joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the disputed waters, which he said China opposes.

But Manila still continues to rely on Washington. On Friday, the Philippine navy took delivery of a third frigate decommissioned from the U.S. Coast Guard.

___

US, CHINA REACT TO VIETNAM’S REPORTED ISLAND DREDGING

The United States has called on Vietnam and other claimants to refrain from reclamation and militarization activities in contested South China Sea waters following reports that Hanoi has carried out dredging on one of the features it occupies in the Spratlys.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the U.S. is aware of the reports.

“We have consistently warned that reclamation and militarization in contested areas of the South China Sea will risk driving a destabilizing and escalatory trend. We encourage all claimants to take steps to lower tensions and peacefully resolve differences,” she said.

Vietnam’s government has not commented on satellite imagery purportedly showing dredging activities inside a channel on Ladd Reef, about 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers) west of Spratly Island where Hanoi recently began extending a runway and building hangers. It wasn’t clear if the latest activity was meant as repair or construction work.

Ladd Reef, which is submerged at high tide, has a lighthouse, which also serves as quarters for Vietnamese troops.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged Vietnam to “respect China’s sovereignty and rights, stop illegal invasion and construction activities, and not to take actions that could complicate the situation.”

He repeated Friday that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

___

CHINA WARNS BRITAIN AGAINST SOUTH CHINA SEA PATROLS

China has reacted angrily to Britain’s announcement that its four Typhoon fighter jets on a training visit to Japan will patrol the skies over the East and South China sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with neighbors.

The British ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, also said last week that his government plans to conduct freedom of navigation operations involving its newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, when it becomes operational in 2020. He said that Britain “absolutely shares” the U.S. objective to protect freedom of navigation in what it considers international waters despite China’s claiming virtually the entire South China Sea as its territory.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, in an opinion piece, said Darroch was perhaps trying to impress his Japanese colleague and that his remarks create the impression that London may soon deviate from “a largely aloof attitude” toward the South China Sea issue and start to meddle like the U.S. and Japan.

“Should a British warplane embark on a so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ mission in the South China Sea, it would only serve to further complicate the issue and weigh on thriving China-Britain ties,” Xinhua said.

It says China has never denied any legitimate passage of ships or planes in the area.

___

CHINA ADDS SECOND CRUISE IN THE PARACELS

China is adding a second cruise ship to the Paracel Islands, a tropical paradise of pristine beaches and little else.

The new cruise ship called Nanhai Zhi Meng will start its maiden four-day voyage in late December from Sanya, a port on southern Hainan Island, to Yinyu, Quanfu and Yagong islands in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The first cruise was launched in April 2013 and so far has attracted 23,000 Chinese tourists.

The tours only serve islands with no military installations and are only open to Chinese nationals. Unlike the largest island in the Paracels, Woody Island, which is also an administrative center founded in 2012, the coral reefs on the cruise tour have no accommodation or any significant infrastructure.

Prices range from $580 to $1,450 per person.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

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