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MQM members reach Sindh Assembly to submit resignations

August 12, 2015 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Dutch royal palace renovation bill almost doubles to €60m

Renovating the royal family’s Huis ten Bosch palace is set to cost almost €60m, well over the original estimate of €35m, according to broadcaster RTL news.

Location The Hague, Netherlands Address Haagse Bos 10 Current tenants Queen Beatrix Construction started 	2 September 1645

Location The Hague, Netherlands
Address Haagse Bos 10
Current tenants Queen Beatrix
Construction started 2 September 1645

RTL bases its claims on sources close to the cabinet.

King Willem-Alexander and his family will eventually move to the palace when the work has been completed in 2018. It is the first time substantial work has been carried out on the building since 1981.

When the figure was first announced last year, prime minister Mark Rutte said he understood €35m is a lot of money but that it is a ‘normal’ price for renovating a 17th century villa.

MPs are now demanding the government explain the overspend. ‘€35m was ridiculous and this is doubly ridiculous,’ Socialist MP Ronald van Raak told news agency ANP.

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May 28, 2015 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Minister delays decision on Wadden Sea island oil drilling for a year

terschelling-1

Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said on Wednesday he will not decide if a new oil company can drill for oil and gas off the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling until next year.

‘We are first going to amend the mining law which will also increase the role of landscape and nature in the decision making process,’ Kamp said in a briefing.

A majority of MPs oppose granting a licence to drill close to the island. They point out that not only is the Wadden Sea area unique and has Unesco world heritage status, but the entire island council has voted against the plan.

Kamp said earlier he wanted to decide what to do about the Tulip Oil request before the summer. The gas field under the island was first identified 20 years ago.

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May 28, 2015 Posted Under: News update   Read More

US-China war ‘inevitable’ unless Washington drops demands over South China Sea

26 May 2015

Warning from state-run China newspaper as Beijing reveals plans for development of disputed South China Sea islands

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China’s armed forces are to extend their operations and its air force will become an offensive as well as defensive force for the first time, in a major shift in policy that will strengthen fears of accidental conflict.

A policy document by the state council, or cabinet, said China faced a “grave and complex array of security threats”, justifying the change.

The People’s Liberation Army, including its navy and air force, will be allowed to “project power” further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air in order to safeguard its maritime possessions, the white paper stated.

The navy will add “open seas protection” to a traditional remit of “offshore waters defence”, it said.

The posture risks escalating the tension over disputed islands in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Pacific, where the United States is determined to protect the interests of allies like Taiwan and the Philippines.

Only last week, a US aircraft ignored repeated warnings from the Chinese military to fly a reconnaissance mission over the islands.

Global Times, a tabloid newspaper run by the Communist Party, said that China might have to “accept” there would be conflict with the United States.

“If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea”, said the paper, which is often seen as a mouth-piece of hardline nationalists in the government in Beijing.

State media reported on Tuesday that Beijing had begun building two lighthouses on reefs in the Spratly Islands, a smattering of outcrops that are claimed by an array of countries including not only China but also Vietnam and the Philippines.

Last month, satellite imagery revealed the Chinese had almost completed an air strip on another reef – Fiery Cross – while they are turning another rock, Mischief Reef, into a full island through land reclamation.

The Global Times article described the construction of runways, harbour facilities and buildings on the disputed Spratly Islands as the nation’s “most important bottom line”.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry, dismissed international criticism of China’s policies in the South China Sea, claiming the work was the same as building roads and homes on mainland China and that it would benefit “the whole of international society”.

“From the perspective of sovereignty, there is absolutely no difference”, he said, adding that “some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs”.

SouthCHina_is

Analysts say neither Washington nor Beijing appear to be in the mood to back down and that there is a serious risk of a minor incident in airspace around the islands escalating rapidly.

“I think the concern has to be that China misjudges the situation”, said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Japan campus of Temple University.

“Neither party wants a war if it can be avoided, but there are red lines for both sides”, he said. “I worry whether Beijing considers the US to be a declining power and assumes that Washington will back down if it shoots down a US observation aircraft”.

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Washington chose to “de-escalate” a major crisis that blew up after a Chinese fighter collided with a US Navy intelligence-gathering aircraft off Hainan Island in April 2001.

However, Prof. Dujarric said there would be a different response if a similar incident were to occur in what Washington insists is international air space over the South China Sea.

Recent developments have provoked new concerns in the region, with Ma Ying-jeou, the president of Taiwan, calling for the different nations laying claim to the South China Sea to put their differences aside and carry out joint development of natural resources.

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May 28, 2015 Posted Under: News update   Read More