Connect with us

News

China halts climate, military ties with US over Pelosi Taiwan visit

China halts climate, military ties with US over Pelosi Taiwan visit

China on Friday said it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on a range of issues from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The measures, which come amid cratering relations between Beijing and Washington, are the latest in a promised series of steps intended to punish the U.S. for allowing the visit to the island it claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary. China on Thursday launched threatening military exercises in six zones just off Taiwan’s coasts that it says will run through Sunday.

Missiles have also been fired over Taiwan, defense officials told state media. China opposes the self-governing island having its own contacts with foreign governments, but its response to the Pelosi visit has been unusually vociferous.

The Foreign Ministry said dialogue between U.S. and Chinese regional commanders and defense department heads would be canceled, along with talks on military maritime safety.

Cooperation on returning illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, illegal drugs and climate change will be suspended, the ministry said.

China said Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships have taken part in the live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the past two days, while announcing mainly symbolic sanctions against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her family over her visit to Taiwan earlier this week.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called “joint blockage operations.”

The military’s Eastern Theater Command also fired new versions of missiles it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.”

The Rocket Force also fired projectiles over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major ratcheting up of China’s threats to attack and invade the island.

The drills, which Xinhua described as being held on an “unprecedented scale,” are China’s most strident response to Pelosi’s visit. The speaker is the highest-ranking U.S. politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

Dialogue and exchanges between China and the U.S., particularly on military matters and economic exchanges, have generally been halting at best. Climate change and fighting trade in illegal drugs such as fentanyl were, however, areas where they had found common cause, and Beijing’s suspension of cooperation could have significant implications for efforts to achieve progress in those issues.

China and the United States are the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 climate polluters, together producing nearly 40% of all fossil-fuel emissions. Their top climate diplomats, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, maintained a cordial relationship that dated back to the Paris climate accord, which was made possible by a breakthrough negotiated among the two and others.

China under Kerry’s prodding committed at last year’s U.N. global climate summit in Glasgow to working with the U.S. “with urgency” to cut climate-wrecking emissions, but Kerry was unable to persuade it to significantly speed up China’s move away from coal.

On the Chinese coast across from Taiwan, tourists gathered Friday to try to catch a glimpse of any military aircraft heading toward the exercise area.

Fighter jets could be heard flying overhead and tourists taking photos chanted, “Let’s take Taiwan back,” looking out into the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan island, a popular scenic spot in Fujian province.

Pelosi’s visit stirred emotions among the Chinese public, and the government’s response “makes us feel our motherland is very powerful and gives us confidence that the return of Taiwan is the irresistible trend,” said Wang Lu, a tourist from neighboring Zhejiang province.

China is a “powerful country and it will not allow anyone to offend its own territory,” said Liu Bolin, a high school student visiting the island.

His mother, Zheng Zhidan, was somewhat more circumspect.

“We are compatriots and we hope to live in peace,” Zheng said. “We should live peacefully with each other.”

China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and its threat to use force to bring it under its control have featured highly in ruling Communist Party propaganda, the education system and the entirely state-controlled media for more than seven decades since the sides were divided amid civil war in 1949.

Taiwan residents overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island unify with the mainland under Communist control.

On Friday morning, China sent military ships and war planes across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said, crossing what had for decades been an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan.

Five of the missiles fired by China since the military exercises began Thursday landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan’s main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said Japan protested the missile landings to China as “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry later said they believe four other missiles fired from China’s southeastern coast of Fujian flew over Taiwan.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a “grave problem” that threatens regional peace and security.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China’s actions were in line with “international law and international practices,” though she provided no evidence.

“As for the Exclusive Economic Zone, China and Japan have not carried out maritime delimitation in relevant waters, so there is no such thing as an EEZ of Japan,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.

In Tokyo, where Pelosi is winding up her Asia trip, she said China cannot stop U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan. Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and her congressional delegation, said the missile launches need to be “stopped immediately.”

China said it summoned European diplomats in the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the European Union criticizing the Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan.

Its Foreign Ministry on Friday said Vice Minister Deng Li made “solemn representations” over what he called “wanton interference in China’s internal affairs.”

Deng said China would “prevent the country from splitting with the strongest determination, using all means and at any cost.”

The ministry said the meeting was held Thursday night but gave no information on which countries participated. Earlier Thursday, China canceled a foreign ministers’ meeting with Japan to protest the G-7 statement that there was no justification for the exercises.

Both ministers were attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.

China has promoted the overseas support it has received for its response to Pelosi’s visit, mainly from fellow authoritarian states such as Russia, Syria and North Korea.

China had earlier summoned U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi’s visit. The speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen and holding other public events. She traveled on to South Korea and then Japan. Both countries host U.S. military bases and could be drawn into a conflict involving Taiwan.

The Chinese exercises involve troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistic support force, according to Xinhua.

They are believed to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms and the closest in proximity — within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the island.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called the drills a “significant escalation” and said he has urged Beijing to back down.

U.S. law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “grave concern.”

The drills are an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996.

Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defense drills, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and fishermen have remained in port to avoid the Chinese drills.

In the northern port of Keelung, Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim Thursday, saying he wasn’t worried.

“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” Lu said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

seventeen + 14 =

News

Ondo Rep offers N50m scholarship to 1000 students

Ondo Rep offers N50m scholarship to 1000 students

A member of the House of Representatives from Ondo State, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has launched a N50 million scholarship scheme for 1000 indigent students, who are indigenes of Akoko area of the state.

The lawmaker, representing Akoko North-East/North-West Federal Constituency, said the scheme was to assist the indigent students who were in tertiary institutions across the country.

In a statement made available to our correspondent on Monday, Tunji-Ojo, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Niger-Delta Affairs, said the gesture was part of his efforts to contribute to the educational development of his constituency and state in general.

According to the statement, the registration for the scholarship scheme, which had commenced on Monday, was for indigent students who were from the Federal Constituency.

The statement read, “This is in fulfillment of my education support drive which has seen me facilitate several blocks of classrooms, computer sets, educational materials, free Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination forms and coaching for 2,000 students and other notable interventions in the education sector.

“The education support drive is to help reduce the burden of education on the parents and also ensure that no child is denied access to quality education.”

“The registration form is totally free and can be obtained from presidents of students’ bodies in each community in the Federal Constituency. This is to ensure that nobody is denied access to the form.”

Continue Reading

News

US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported Monday, amid talks between the U.S. and Russia that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she plays during the U.S. league’s offseason.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying the appeal was filed, as was expected, but the grounds for it weren’t immediately clear.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said that in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a charge that Russia has sharply rejected.

Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn’t elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “Merchant of Death.”

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said talks about an exchange have been conducted.

“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, told state news agency Tass. “These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals.”

Continue Reading

News

China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

China announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to renew tensions between Beijing and Washington after a similar recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.

Pelosi was the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. In those drills, Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and sent warplanes and navy ships across the waterway’s midline, which has long been a buffer between the sides that split amid civil war in 1949.

The latest trip began Sunday with little notice ahead of time. The delegation was due to leave late Monday.

China accuses the U.S. of encouraging the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and engagement between U.S. politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains that the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully — but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.

“China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday, after Beijing announced new drills in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan. “A handful of U.S. politicians, in collusion with the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, are trying to challenge the one-China principle, which is out of their depth and doomed to failure.”

The new exercises were intended to be “resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” the Defense Ministry said earlier.

It was not clear if the new drills had already started since the ministry gave no details about where and when they would be conducted, in contrast to previous rounds.

The U.S. lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and legislators, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy on the island.

At their meeting, Tsai said her administration was working with allies to ensure stability in the Taiwan Strait and maintain the status quo — a reference to the island’s self-governance, separate from Beijing.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year has shown the threat that authoritarian nations pose to the global order,” Tsai said.

Markey responded by saying Washington and Taipei had a “moral obligation to do everything we can to prevent an unnecessary conflict and Taiwan has demonstrated incredible restraint and discretion during challenging times.”

The senator also highlighted legislation intended to boost political and economic ties with Taiwan, especially in the critical semiconductor industry. Taiwan is a crucial provider of computer chips for the global economy, including China’s high-tech sectors, and beyond the geopolitical risks of rising tensions in the region, an extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait could have major implications for international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing disruptions and uncertainty.

Markey is one of the few members of Congress still serving who voted for the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that ensured continued relations with the island following the switch of U.S. diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, but its recent saber rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by military force. The earlier drills appeared to be a rehearsal of a blockade or attack on Taiwan that would force the cancellation of commercial flights and disrupt shipping to Taiwan’s main ports as well as cargo passing through the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

The exercises prompted Taiwan to put its military on alert, but were met largely with defiance or apathy among the public used to living in China’s shadow.

The American “visit at this time is of great significance, because the Chinese military exercise is (intended) to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting Taiwan,” Lo Chih-cheng, the chair of the Taiwan legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, said after meeting with the U.S. lawmakers.

“Their visit this time proves that China cannot stop politicians from any country to visit Taiwan, and it also conveys an important message that the American people stand with the Taiwanese people,” Lo said.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region.

“China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on a call with reporters on Friday.

Campbell said the U.S. would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan that he said the U.S. intends to announce in the coming days.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending