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VFA: The Philippines says it will not end the US military access agreement amid tensions in the South China Sea

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Why it matters who owns the seas

President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to maintain the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) “in connection with political and other developments in the region,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a social media post Tuesday.

The agreement, signed in 1988, gave US military planes and ships free entry to the Philippines and relaxed visa restrictions for US military personnel.

The Philippine government gave 180 days notice to the US to end the agreement in February, indicating that Manila needs to rely on its own resources for its defense. On Tuesday, the US welcomed a change of heart.

“Our old alliance has benefited the two countries, and we hope to continue close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Manila.

The Philippines was once home to two of America’s largest military bases outside the US: Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.

Although it no longer became a US base in the early 1990s, US forces still have access to them under the VFA and Manila maintains strong military relations with Washington.

But over the past few years, Duterte has tilted his historical ties with the US and towards China, which has offered closer economic ties with Manila.

“I need China. More than anyone at this time, I need China,” Duterte said before flying to China in April 2018.

Compared with his predecessors, Duterte saw the ongoing Philippine disputes in the South China Sea as being more negotiable.

Both the Philippines and China are among several countries with overlapping sea claims, or parts of it. China claims almost all 1.3 million miles of the South China Sea as its own even though other complainants have borders that are much closer to disputed waters.

Last year, Duterte said he had been offered a controlling stake in a joint energy deal by Chinese President Xi Jinping in return for ignoring international arbitration in favor of Manila in the South China Sea.
In 2016, a court in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute, concluding that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights over much of the South China Sea.

China, however, has increased its military presence on islands also claimed by Manila.

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In the past two months, the People’s Liberation Army has moved an advanced anti-submarine war and reconnaissance aircraft to Fiery Cross Reef, known as Kagitingan in the Philippines, in the Spratly Islands chain.

Beijing also made Fiery Cross a part of the southern Hainan province, creating two new administrative districts including the South China Sea headquartered in the Paracel Islands, another island group with disputed claims.

In addition, China has maintained the presence of maritime militia ships around Thitu Island, the largest Philippine occupation island in the Spratly islands, for more than a year, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

An average of 18 Chinese ships have traveled the island every day, according to an AMTI satellite analysis published in March, hampering Philippine efforts to build infrastructure there.

On Wednesday, Locsin indicated that the Philippines saw the US playing a role in the region for some time to come.

“We look forward to continuing our strong military partnership with the United States, even as we continue to reach out to our regional allies in building shared defense towards sustainable stability, peace and continued economic progress and prosperity in our part of the world,” he said.

Sophie Jeong from CNN contributed to this report.

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Portuguese TV project ‘O Último Lobo’ wins 2 awards in Spain

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Portuguese TV project 'O Último Lobo' wins 2 awards in Spain

“BUT SPi introduced [na Conecta, que decorreu entre terça-feira e hoje em Toledo,] two of his upcoming art projects, “Code 632” and “O Último Lobo”, the latter of which is one of the finalists of the “pitching” session and received the RTVE award, the event’s highest award, which means an agreement between the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and the ACORDE award” , the Portuguese producer said in a statement released today.

The Last Lobo, an eight-episode co-production between SPi and Caracol Studios and written by Bruno Gascon, is “a crime drama that tells the story of Lobo, one of Europe’s biggest drug dealers.”

“Code 632”, a co-production of RTP and Globoplay, is a six-episode series based on the book “O Code 632” by José Rodrigues dos Santos.

Recording for this series will begin in July and will be split between Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. According to RTP, in a statement released this week, the book adaptation for the series is being handled by Pedro López and directed by Sergio Graciano.

“Based on authentic historical documents, Codex 632 focuses on a cryptic message found among the papers the old historian left behind in Rio de Janeiro before he died,” recalls RTP.

The cast included Portuguese and Brazilian actors and starred Paulo Pires and Deborah Secco.

SPi, part of the SP Televisão group, produced the Netflix series Gloria and co-produced Auga Seca for HBO Portugal, among others.

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Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT

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Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT

Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (KTM) finished the first two free practices of the MotoGP Grand Prix in Assen in 16th place.

Oliveira finished the day with a time of 1.34.676 minutes, 1.402 seconds behind the best rider of the day, Italy’s Francesco Banagia (Ducati). Spaniard Aleix Espargaro (April) was second with 0.178 seconds and French champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was third with 0.305 seconds.

After the first session in the rain, in which the rider from Almada was sixth fastest, the rain stopped before the start of the second session.

The riders started with intermediate tires, but as the track in Assen in the Netherlands, considered the “cathedral” of motorsport, dried up, they installed dry tires (slicks).

Under these conditions, Miguel Oliveira was losing ground in the table, ending the day in 16th place, despite an improvement of about nine seconds from the morning’s record, in rain, in which Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) was the fastest. , fifth in the afternoon.

On Saturday there will be two more free practices and qualifications.

The 10 fastest in the set of the first three sessions go directly to the second stage of qualification (Q2), and the remaining 14 “brawl” in Q1, resulting in the two fastest qualifying to the next stage.

Fabio Quartararo enters this 11th round of the season leading the championship with 172 points, while Miguel Oliveira is in 10th place with 64 points.

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Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a “natural partner” of the European Union at the moment – Observer

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Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a "natural partner" of the European Union at the moment - Observer

This Thursday, Portugal’s foreign minister said that at a time when the European Union (EU) seeks to diversify suppliers and markets, MERCOSUR is a natural partner whose importance cannot be “underestimated”.

For Portugal, “the current delicate context makes us appreciate even more the mutual advantages of the Agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR,” João Gomes Cravinho said, without directly referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“At a time when the EU is seeking to diversify suppliers and markets in order to ensure greater strategic autonomy, MERCOSUR is a natural partner, whose importance we cannot underestimate“, the minister added at a conference entitled “Brazil and Portugal: perspectives for the future”, which takes place from Thursday to Friday at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) is a South American economic bloc created in 1991, whose founding members are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

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But still, within the framework of the European Union, Joao Gomes Cravinho believed that EU strategic partnership with Brazil left ‘untapped’.

The Minister stressed that in the context of the EU, Portugal “always knew how to use its position in favor of strengthening relations with Brazil.”

Therefore, it was during the Portuguese presidency, in 2007, that a “strategic partnership with Brazil” was established, he stressed.

However, according to the head of Portuguese diplomacy, this is “a partnership that has clearly not been used for a variety of reasons and which still retains the ability to position Brazil as Europe’s great interlocutor for South America.”

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With regard to bilateral relations between the two countries, the minister emphasized that “in this context of global turmoil, the wisdom of the central characteristic common to the foreign policy of Brazil and Portugal, which is active participation in many multilateral structures, in recognition of the indispensability of multilateralism, international cooperation and global rules based order.

Portugal meets with Brazil in all areas of Portuguese foreign policy. We are Atlantic, we are Ibero-American and Portuguese-speaking,” he said.

In the Atlantic dimension, “Portugal and Brazil are united by an ocean, which we recognize as growing in importance in the context of new, complex and truly existential issues,” he said.

According to João Gomes Cravinho, “Some of these problems can be answered in the Atlantic Center, co-founded by Portugal and Brazil”, and “the other part of the huge ocean problems will be addressed in detail at the great Summit.” Oceans”, which will be held in Lisbon next week.

“In any of the areas, new prospects are opening up for Portuguese-Brazilian relations,” he stressed.

With regard to Ibero-America, the minister believes that Portugal and Brazil share “an enormous strategic space with the Castilian-speaking countries, where a joint Portuguese-Brazilian reflection is undoubtedly recommended on the potential to exploit opportunities and create synergies”.

“Value of CPLP [Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa] is gaining more and more recognition at the international level – and the evidence of this is the growing number of states that become associate observers” of the organization, he believes.

“Because they want to engage with us and reinforce the value of the linguistic, cultural and historical ties that unify lusophony and create a unique dynamic for relationships with third parties,” he stressed.

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But even at this level, he argued that there was an urgent need to find a “convergence of visions and desires” that “allows us to enhance” our “separate realities.”

The minister also mentioned that “despite the break caused by the pandemic”, Portugal has a “real air bridge” with Brazil, consisting of more than 74 weekly TAP flights, which is a cause and effect of “a dynamic that is being updated and reinvented”. relations between the two countries.

This dynamic, according to Gomes Cravinho, is also reflected in economic and commercial relations.

Thus, “Brazil is the first Latin American export market for Portuguese merchandise and is already the fourth largest merchandise export destination (outside the EU).

“However, the conviction remains that the potential is far from being realized, and that nostalgia for the future entails a vision of a different profile of our exchanges, a technological, creative profile that corresponds to global geo-economic transformations,” he defended. .

At this stage, João Gomes Cravinho also underlined the potential of the port of Sines, “whose strategic importance, which has long been noted, takes on new importance in the troubled times that we are going through.”

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