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Nuclear submarines will not deter China from conflict with Taiwan

Taiwan

Nuclear submarines will not deter China from conflict with Taiwan, but Australia has an alternative arsenal

Six days after China applied to join the CPTTP, Taiwan submitted its own application.

For an emerging superpower prone to petulant outbursts and coercive retaliation, China’s initial response to the recent announcement of the new three-way security pact between Australia, the United States and Britain seemed surprisingly tepid.

Hours after the trio unveiled their “forever partnership”, known as Aukus, China formally requested that it be allowed to join an 11-member Asia-Pacific trade grouping, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

This was an odd move by China, whose application requires the consent of the grouping’s members, which include Australia. In recent years, China has responded to previous perceived slights from Canberra by imposing economic sanctions worth $20bn and freezing ministerial contacts.

Now, it was effectively seeking a favour from Canberra, even though Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had just announced plans to buy nuclear submarines and signalled that he was seriously preparing for the possibility that US-China tensions will spill into war.

But China’s application to join the trade pact was carefully timed. It allowed China to demonstrate its commitment to global free trade and to contrast its approach with that of the US, which withdrew from the grouping.

More significantly, China’s application was primarily designed to head off a long-awaited bid by Taiwan to join. China, which regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, regularly tries to prevent other states dealing with Taiwan at an official level.

Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng told reporters: “If China joins first, Taiwan’s membership case should be quite risky. This is quite obvious.”

This wrangling over the CPTTP attracted less attention than the Aukus announcement, but it highlights a crucial feature of the frightening rise in tensions between China and the US.

China, in its quest for “reunification” with Taiwan, is playing on two separate battlefields.

First, and most blatantly, it is expanding its military at a frantic pace and using its air force and navy to intimidate Taiwan. In the past week, for instance, China has set an almost daily record for its fighter jet interventions into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

Last Friday, on China’s national day, it sent 38 planes towards Taiwan; on Saturday, it was 39; on Monday, it was 56. The US, a close backer and arms supplier of Taiwan, described China’s flights as “provocative”.

But China is also operating on a separate front. It is trying to isolate Taiwan on the world stage and to ensure that Taiwan’s status is downgraded in international diplomatic and economic arenas. So, as Morrison was still speaking to the Australian media about Aukus and submarines, the Chinese commerce minister wrote to the New Zealand government – which holds formal documents relating to the CPTTP – to join the group.

The lesson for Australia is that, as US-China ties deteriorate, it needs to avoid picking the wrong battlefield.

As the gap between China’s military and Australia’s widens, it is unlikely that Australia’s capability – even with a fleet of nuclear submarines, supplied by its Aukus partners – will determine the balance of military power in the Indo-Pacific.

Despite being the world’s 12th biggest-military spender, Australia’s annual defence budget is now just 10% of China’s.

Australia plans to have the first of its eight nuclear submarines in the water by the late 2030s. China, which has the world’s largest navy, currently has a fleet of about 62 submarines, including 12 that are nuclear-powered.

By 2040, it is due to have 26 nuclear submarines. The US currently has 68 submarines; all are nuclear-powered. Australia’s submarines and other forces can be used for a variety of purposes, including defence of the Australian mainland – but, in the terrifying case of a standoff over Taiwan, they will not be decisive.

Yet, on the other battlefield, Australia’s capabilities are more imposing. In the arena of international trade and diplomacy, Australia, which is the world’s 13th largest economy and – historically – a committed supporter of strong international institutions, has genuine clout.

Australia has worked to create and strengthen bodies such as Apec, which includes China and Taiwan, and the G20, which includes China only.

The CPTTP exists largely because Australia, along with Japan, worked to save it after Donald Trump pulled out in 2017. Now China is seeking to join.

The Chinese embassy – which famously released a 14-point list of grievances with Canberra – has written to the Australian parliament to make its case, saying China’s membership would “yield large economic benefits”.

Australia responded hesitantly, insisting that China should not be allowed to join the CPTPP until it meets its international trade obligations and lifts its current sanctions on Australian exports such as beef, wine and barley.

Australia will hold further sway as it considers whether Taiwan should be allowed entry. China says Taiwan should not be allowed to join the grouping or any other official organisation.

Australia should deploy its clout in the international arena carefully. It can try to encourage an easing of US-China tensions and to discourage provocations.

Taiwan is warning that war is looming. But Australia will be able to do little to alter the course of an actual conflict.

Instead, it can join others to deliver a strong message to China about the potential cost of an attempt to take Taiwan by force.

Australia’s yet-to-be-commissioned submarines will not dissuade Beijing from military intervention, but it has an alternative arsenal that currently seems to be more successful in demanding China’s attention.

Jonathan Pearlman is editor of Australian Foreign Affairs.

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Osun Transport Masterplan to Be Ready Soon-Governor Adeleke

Governor Ademola Adeleke has announced his administration’s plan to release to the public the Osun State Transport Master Plan to facilitate integrated connectivity for the Osun economy.

The Governor made the announcement on Thursday while commissioning the Osun State Computerised Vehicle Inspection Testing Center at Osogbo.

The Governor who narrated a series of ongoing reforms being delivered by his government said “The test center right here is the first of its kind among other interventions of our administration to reposition the State’s Transportation sector

According to the State Governor, “Our government is pursuing reforms across the transport sector. We ensure that Commercial Motorcycle operators across the State are registered under a database with a rider’s jacket and identification card for safety purposes. Mini-buses, popularly known as (Korope) have also been registered and numbered for easy identification and security.

“We have introduced single ticketing to all commercial drivers in the State through the Osun State Transport Management System (OSTMS) to guide against leakage of revenue.

“It is equally my pleasure to inform the public that our administration is working on a Transportation Master plan for Osun state. We are focused on a multimodal plan that will integrate all modes of transportation within the state. It will lay our objectives and strategic agenda for land, air, and water transportation.

“The plan is to regulate, plan, and develop an efficient and well-integrated transport system that will serve the public interest, enhance mobility, and deliver a secure and environmentally friendly Public Transportation System in different areas across Osun.

“The plan is central to our five-point agenda as it focuses on connectivity within and outside the state. Osun is centrally located in the heart of Yorubaland.

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Adeleke speaks on collapse of OAU amphitheatre

Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun has promised to pay the medical bills of students injured in the Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU), Ile-Ife, Amphitheatre roof collapse.

The affected students are receiving treatment at the University Health Centre and the Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.

Adeleke, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Dipo Eluwole, sympathised with the management of the University and parents of the affected students on the unfortunate incident.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr Abiodun Olarewaju, in Ile-Ife on Saturday.

The commissioner was conducted round the scene of the incident by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Simeon Bamire, and other principal officers of the University, and visited the two health facilities where the students are receiving treatment.

He expressed happiness that the affected students are responding to the treatment.

Eluwole lauded the university management for its quick response to the emergency and prompt medical attention given to the students.

Speaking to the four students being treated at the University Health and Medical Centre, the commissioner commended their bravery and wished them quick recovery.

At the Neurological ward of the University Teaching Hospital where two other students are being treated, Eluwole pleaded with their parents to see what happened as a natural occurrence.

He, thereafter, informed the vice chancellor that the Gov. Adeleke pledged to bankroll all medical expenses that may be incurred in the course of the treatment of the students.

Responding, the vice-chancellor thanked the governor for being so kind and loving, stressing that his fatherly role to the students and the good people of Osun is commendable.

A torrential rain on Thursday morning, accompanied with a whirlwind affected a part of the ceiling of the Amphitheatre as it fell off and injured some students.

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Woman burns stepchildren’s hands for eating rice prepared for their father

The Adamawa State Police Command has arrested one Rachel Geoffrey, a 23-year-old woman and resident of Federal Housing Estate, Girei, for allegedly setting fire to the hands of her stepchildren.

The children, Genesis Geoffrey, seven years old: and Idadai Geoffrey, three years old, now have their affected hands bandaged.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Suleiman Nguroje, said in a statement that Rachel intentionally inflicted severe physical injuries on her stepchildren.

In the statement released Saturday, the police image maker said the incident occurred on Tuesday, May 14.

He said the children suffered several calculated acts of cruelty and human rights violations from their stepmother.

He explained that the children faced the wrath of the woman over a plate of rice she cooked and kept for her husband.

“The kids, because of hunger, ate their father’s food and that angered her. She then tied their hands with a handkerchief and set fire to them, resulting in the severe injuries they sustained,” Nguroje explained.

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