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FILE PHOTO: China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi listens during a meeting in Manila, Philippines January 16, 2021. Francis Malasig/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo - 


China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting Cambodia, where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials to discuss COVID-19 and other regional issues.

Cambodia's foreign ministry said Wang's meetings on Sunday (Sep 12) and Monday would include discussions of trade and security as well.

Wrapping up a visit to neighboring Vietnam on Saturday, Wang said China planned to donate 3 million vaccine doses to the country, which is under a lockdown to contain a COVID-19 surge.

China is Cambodia’s biggest investor and closest political partner. Beijing’s support allows Cambodia to disregard Western concerns about its poor record in human and political rights, and in turn Cambodia generally supports Beijing’s geopolitical positions on issues such as its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

In recent months, the United States has expressed concern about their ties and urged Cambodia's leaders to maintain an independent and balanced foreign policy that would be in its people's best interests.

The concerns partly have focused on China’s construction of new facilities at Ream Naval Base in Cambodia and the potential for its military to have future basing rights there.

Ream faces the Gulf of Thailand that lies adjacent to the South China Sea, and holding basing rights in Cambodia would extend Beijing’s strategic military profile considerably//CNA



FILE PHOTO: Taro Kono, Japan's vaccination programme chief and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker, attends a news conference as he announces his candidacy for the party's presidential election in Tokyo, Japan, September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato - 


Japan's minister in charge of vaccines, Taro Kono, led a public opinion poll on who should succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Kono had 27 per cent support in the poll by the Nikkei newspaper and TV Tokyo that asked who would be "the right person" to lead the party and become the next prime minister.

The results of the Sep 9 to 11 poll were released on Saturday (Sep 11).

Former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba was next with 17 per cent, and ex-policy chief Fumio Kishida was third with 14 per cent. Former Interior Minister Sanae Takaichi was fifth with 7 per cent.

Kono, who also serves as minister of administrative reform, announced his candidacy on Friday, the third to make his intention official after Kishida and Takaichi.

Ishiba may not run for the party's leadership and instead will likely support another candidate, the Jiji news service said Saturday, citing sources close to him.

Suga, in a surprise move, said on Sep 3 he would step down, marking an end to a one-year tenure that was marred by plunging public support and dissatisfaction with his coronavirus response.

That set the stage for a Sep 29 leadership vote among grassroots LDP members and lawmakers. The winner is virtually assured the premiership because the LDP has a majority in parliament's lower house.

Following the LDP leadership vote, Japan will likely hold a general election in the first half of November, Kyodo reported citing ruling party lawmakers.

The Nikkei-TV Tokyo poll follows earlier ones showing strong public support for Kono, 58, to succeed Suga//CNA



Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine - 


Australia has purchased an additional 1 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine from the European Union, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as the country accelerates its inoculation programme to fight record high infections.

The purchase is a boost for Australia's A$2 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) economy, which is at risk of slipping into its second recession in as many years as a result of lockdowns of the country's two most populous cities, Sydney and Melbourne.

These lockdowns will remain until 70 per cent of the country's near 26 million population are fully vaccinated, which is not expected until late October.

But Morrison said the million doses will arrive later this week. Australia has ordered 25 million vaccines from Moderna.

"Some good news today. A family-sized dose of hope for our vaccination programme," Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

The purchase comes as Australia struggles to contain an outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant, with daily infections on Saturday (Sep 11) topping 2,000 cases for the first time.

Australia has recorded 73,610 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic begun. The death toll rose by 7 to 1,091.

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reported on Sunday 1,262 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 1,599 infections recorded a day earlier.

Neighbouring Victoria reported 392 COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, down slightly from the 450 cases recorded in the state the day before.

Meanwhile, Queensland, Australia's third most populous state, said on Sunday it does not need to order a lockdown after it detected zero COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours.

The state on Saturday reported five cases of COVID-19, with state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warning that a lockdown could be needed to stop the spread of the virus.

However, the state said testing had yet to detect any further cases, avoiding the need for such a measure.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but this is the best result we could have hoped for at this point in the outbreak," Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles told reporters in Brisbane//CNA


Japan's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, speaks to the members of the media after he inspected the British Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier at the US naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan on Sep 6, 2021. (Photo: AP/Kiyoshi Ota) - 


Japan can now give defence equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed on Saturday (Sep 11), as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China's growing military influence.

Japan's Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates their defence partnership “to a new level” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defence ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, will be worked out in subsequent talks, the ministry said.

Kishi’s meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Phan Van Giang, in Hanoi coincided with a two-day visit to the Vietnamese capital by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He wrapped up his visit by saying China plans to donate 3 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Vietnam.

The agreement comes two weeks after the US Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Vietnam to strengthen ties with the Southeast Asian nation. During the tour, Harris urged countries to stand up against “bullying” by China in the South China Sea.

Japan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement that Kishi and Giang agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as cooperation in various defence areas including cybersecurity.

Tokyo regularly protests the Chinese coast guard's presence near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu. Japanese officials say Chinese vessels routinely violate Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing boats.

During the talks, Kishi expressed Japan's strong opposition to "any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tensions”, referring to China’s increasingly assertive activity in the East and South China Sea, but without identifying any country by name.

Vietnam is the 11th nation with which Japan has signed a defence equipment and technology transfer deal. Tokyo is looking to expand military cooperation beyond its longtime ally the United States, and has signed similar agreements with Britain, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia//CNA