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China continues ‘steady pattern’ of militarisation in South China Sea: Experts

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Recent satellite imagery appears to show China is completing structures intended to house surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) on a series of artificial islands in the South China Sea, a Washington think-tank said on Thursday (Feb 23). According to images published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), the structures are being installed on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands. The AMTI, which is part of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said China appears to have begun construction on the buildings between late September and early November 2016.

“This indicates they are not reactions to the political cycle in Washington, but rather part of a steady pattern of Chinese militarisation,” the group wrote.

China has already installed HQ-9 SAMs on Woody Island, but these are only covered by camouflage netting, AMTI said. The new structures would provide the SAMs with better protection from seawater and the elements. Beijing has created seven islets in the Spratly Islands in recent years, built up from smaller land protuberances and reefs.

Although Beijing insists it does not wish to militarise the contested waters of the South China Sea, ongoing satellite imagery has shown the installation of military equipment and longer runways.

In December, AMTI released images showing a series of hexagonal structures in place on each of the seven islets – apparently housing large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems.

Allianz PNB Life: Filipino families need to close P1.17-million ‘protection gap’

THE recent GDP growth results and its optimistic growth projections for the country in the coming year continue to bolster the Philippines s reputation as one of the region s economic tigers. With the administration set to present its socioeconomic blueprint, Allianz PNB Life Insurance Inc. CEO Olaf Kliesow said the country s growth momentum should be supported by investments in adequate financial protection.

With the Philippines expected to maintain its position as the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia, it is even more imperative that families have the adequate financial support and protection they need. Families in the Philippines continue to face the threat of substantial financial hardship should the breadwinner pass away, which we refer to as the protection gap , Kliesow said. In the Philippines this protection gap is estimated to be at P24 trillion [$480 billion], or P1.17 million per household. This financial instability is worrisome, as it makes Filipino families vulnerable to life events, such as critical illnesses. Allianz PNB Life Insurance currently offers various protection solutions, which include:

  • Diversify Peso a regular-pay, whole-life policy that allows investors to invest in funds while enjoying the security of insurance protection worth at least five times the basic annual regular premium;
  • Optimum Gold a peso-denominated, single-pay whole life unit-linked plan; and
  • Optimum Green a US Dollar-denominated single-pay whole-life unit-linked plan.

Kliesow said Allianz PNB Life Insurance Inc. is looking into expanding its portfolio to include more health and microinsurance products to help Filipinos reduce the protection gap. He said such measures are crucial for Filipinos to sustain their financial gains.

Despite the positive macroeconomics, only one in three Filipinos have a bank account. Filipino families need to be able to acquire viable alternatives for protection, sustaining them through key milestones or unexpected events, Kliesow said. Through our partnership with PNB, we hope our life and health-insurance expertise and their knowledge of the Philippine market would help us provide more Filipinos with the knowledge and tools they need to secure a better future for their families.

Allianz PNB Life Insurance Inc. (Allianz PNB Life) has been in Philippines since 2001. After a series of acquisitions and renaming, the new joint-venture company was renamed Allianz PNB Life following Allianz s acquisition of 51 percent in PNB Life Insurance Co. The company has been ranked among the top 10 life-insurance companies by new business each year from 2011 to 2014 and is a leading provider of investment-linked insurance plans, complemented by a suite of individual- and group-protection products. Allianz PNB Life currently has over 100 employees and 400 financial advisors and sales managers with 10 sales offices nationwide.

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