World Inside

China starts biggest military drills around Taiwan

Publish: 12:08 PM, 04 Aug, 2022


China is kicking off its biggest-ever military exercises in the seas around Taiwan following US politician Nancy Pelosi's visit.

The live fire drills began at 12:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and in several areas were due to take place within 12 miles of the island.

Taiwan said China was trying to change the status quo in the region.

Ms Pelosi made a brief but controversial visit to Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province.

The drills are Beijing's main response, although it has also blocked some trade with the island.

The exercises are due to take place in busy waterways and will include long-range live ammunition shooting, Beijing says.

Taiwan says it amounts to a sea and air blockade while the US said the drills were irresponsible and could spiral out of control.

Analyst Bonnie Lin told the BBC that the Taiwanese military would react cautiously but there was still a risk of confrontation.

"For example, if China decides to fly planes over Taiwan's airspace, there is a chance that Taiwan might try to intercept them. And we could see a mid-air collision, we could see a lot of different scenarios playing out," she said.

Taiwan said it scrambled jets to warn off Chinese warplanes on Wednesday and its military fired flares to drive away unidentified aircraft over the Kinmen islands, located close to the mainland.

Several ministries have suffered cyber-attacks in recent days, the Taiwanese government said.

Taiwan has also asked ships to take different routes and is negotiating with Japan and the Philippines to find alternative aviation routes.

Japan has also expressed concern to China over the areas covered by the military drills, which it says overlaps with its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In response, Chinese government spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing did not accept the "so-called" Japan EEZ.

On Wednesday, China detained a suspected Taiwanese separatist in the coastal Zhejiang province on suspicion of endangering national security, according to local media reports.

Meanwhile China's Ambassador to France Lu Shaye told French TV that after "reunification" with Taiwan, Beijing would focus on "re-education".

China has previously used the term "re-education" to refer to its detention of Mostly-Muslim minorities in its north-western Xinjiang region, where human rights groups say more than a million people have been incarcerated.

These drills are unprecedented

In the Taiwanese capital the situation remains calm but Taiwan is being forced to reroute a huge amount of air and sea traffic around the exclusion zones declared by Beijing.

Meanwhile a US aircraft that can track ballistic missiles in flight has taken off from Japan and is heading towards Taiwan.

Analysts say one scenario is that China is preparing to fire ballistic missiles - to splash down in the exclusion zones, very close to Taiwan's coast. That is what China did back in 1996, the last time tensions between Beijing and Taipei got this bad. But this time the exclusion zones are much closer to Taiwan.

There is also concern that one of the exclusion zones is to the east of Taiwan in the Pacific Ocean. Analysts say it is possible China is preparing to fly a missile over the top of Taiwan - to splash down in that zone. That would be considered a major violation of Taiwan's airspace.

Mrs Pelosi, the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, made the trip as part of a wider Asian tour.

China had warned her not to travel to the island.

Accusing the US of "violating China's sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished."

In a statement after the visit, Ms Pelosi said China cannot "prevent world leaders or anyone from travelling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration".

After leaving Taiwan, Ms Pelosi travelled to South Korea, where she met her counterpart Kim Jin-pyo. She is due to visit the Joint Security Area near the border between the two Koreas, patrolled by the US-led UN command and North Korea.

The US walks a diplomatic tightrope with its Taiwan policy. On the one hand, it abides by the "One China" policy, which recognises only one Chinese government, giving it formal ties with Beijing and not Taiwan.

On the other, it maintains a "robust unofficial" relationship with the island, which includes selling weapons for Taiwan to defend itself.


World Inside

Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to 6 years prison in corruption cases

Publish: 04:21 PM, 15 Aug, 2022


A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to six years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty in four corruption cases, a source with knowledge of the proceedings said.

Suu Kyi, 77, was convicted of misusing funds from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation - an organisation she founded promoting health and education - to build a home, and leasing government-owned land at a discounted rate.

- Reuters


World Inside

Russian forces pound Ukraine's Donetsk region

Publish: 10:07 AM, 15 Aug, 2022


Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk that have become a key focus of the near six-month war, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.

The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front - particularly the Kherson region, mainly controlled by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.

Much attention has been focused on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine amid fears of a catastrophe over renewed shelling in recent days that Russia and Ukraine blame on each other.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe's largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a "special target" of Ukrainian forces.

The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have come under intense bombardment from the Russian-held side.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which seeks to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless the fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant's spent fuel pools or reactors.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine had many times proposed different formats to the Russian leadership for peace talks, without progress.

"So we have to defend ourselves, we have to answer every form of terror, every instance of shelling - the fierce shelling which does not let up for a single day," he said in video remarks late on Sunday.

Fighting in east, south

Kyiv has said for weeks it is planning a counteroffensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighbouring Kherson province, the largest part of the territory Russia seized after its Feb 24 invasion and still holds.

Ukraine's military command said early on Sunday that Russian soldiers had continued unsuccessfully to attack Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka, which, since 2014, has become one of the outposts of Ukrainian forces near Donetsk. 

Ukrainian Military Expert Oleg Zhdanov said the situation was particularly difficult in Avdiivka and nearby towns, such as Pisky.

"We have insufficient artillery power in place and our forces are asking for more support to defend Pisky. But the town is basically under Ukrainian control," he said in a video posted online.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" its smaller neighbour. The war has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to a low point, with Russia warning it may sever ties.

While Russia has been largely isolated on the global diplomatic stage, North Korean state media on Monday said Russian President Vladimir Putin told leader Kim Jong Un the two countries would expand "comprehensive and constructive" ties. 

In July, North Korea recognized as independent states the Russian-backed breakaway "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk, and officials raised the prospect of its workers being sent there to help in construction and other labour.

Ukraine immediately severed ties with Pyongyang over the move.

Grain ships

Amid the fighting, more ships carrying Ukrainian grain left or prepared to do so as part of a late July deal to ease a global food crisis.

An Ethiopia-bound cargo, the first since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was getting ready to leave in the next few days, while sources said the first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a UN deal was nearing Syria. 

"The world needs the food of Ukraine," Marianne Ward, the deputy country director of the World Food Program, told reporters. "This is the beginning of what we hope are normal operations for the hungry people of the world," she added.

The relief agency bought more than 800,000 tons of grain in Ukraine last year.

- Reuters


World Inside

More US lawmakers visit Taiwan 12 days after Pelosi trip

Publish: 09:27 AM, 15 Aug, 2022


A delegation of American lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, just 12 days after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that prompted China to launch days of threatening military drills around the self-governing island that Beijing says must come under its control.

The five-member delegation, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials, as well as members of the private sector, to discuss shared interests including reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and investments in semiconductors.

China responded to Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit by sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan for several days afterward. The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments, particularly with a high-ranking congressional leader like Pelosi.

A Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a U.S. government plane landing about 7 p.m. Sunday at Songshan Airport in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. Four members of the delegation were on the plane.

Markey met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol earlier Sunday in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan on a separate flight at Taoyuan International Airport, which also serves Taipei. Markey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, and members of the delegation will reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan.

The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democratic House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

Chinese warplanes have continued crossing the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis even after the conclusion of the military exercises last Wednesday, with at least 10 doing so on Sunday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.

The 10 fighter jets were among 22 Chinese military aircraft and six naval ships detected in the area around Taiwan by 5 p.m. on Sunday, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said late 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 President Joe Biden, said on a call with reporters.

“It has sought to disregard the centerline between the P.R.C. and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature,” he said, using the acronym for the country’s full name, the People’s Republic of China.

China accuses the U.S. of encouraging independence forces in Taiwan through its sale of military equipment to the island and engaging with its officials. The U.S. says it does not support independence for Taiwan but that its differences with China should be resolved by peaceful means.

China’s ruling Communist Party has long said that it favors Taiwan joining China peacefully but that it will not rule out force if necessary. The two split in 1949 during a civil war in which the Communists took control of China and the losing Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.

Campbell, speaking on Friday, 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.



World Inside

Salman Rushdie on ventilator, may lose eye

Publish: 03:27 PM, 13 Aug, 2022


Booker-winning author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed on stage during a lecture, has been put on ventilator support. He is unable speak.

Salman Rushdie's official Andrew Wylie said in a statement that his health condition is not very well and Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, may lose an eye.

Earlier, Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the US. He was speaking at an event at the Shitokoya Institute in New York on Friday (August 12). An attacker stabbed him in the neck during his speech. He was later rushed to the hospital by air ambulance. The local police arrested a suspect named Hadi Matar (24) in connection with the stabbing.

Police say the assailant climbed onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and his interviewer. Rushdie was stabbed several times in the neck. Later, the police caught the attacker and took them into custody.

Andrew Wylie said, 'Salman may lose an eye. The nerve in his arm was severed and his stomach was damaged.'

The then supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, issued a death warrant in the name of this novelist on February 14, 1989 for writing the book 'The Satanic Verses'. He had to stay in hiding for 9 years for this book.

Rushdie was attacked in Milan, Italy in the 1990s because of the same book. Not only that, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of 'The Satanic Verses', was stabbed to death in a university in Tokyo.

The Indian-origin novelist rose to fame with Midnight's Children in 1981. It sold over a million copies in the UK alone.

Salman Rushdie   Author   Attack   The Satanic Verse  


World Inside

FBI recovers ‘top secret’ documents from Trump’s house

Publish: 02:26 PM, 13 Aug, 2022


The FBI has seized 11 sets of documents that were labeled as ‘top-secret’ documents after raiding former US president Donald Trump's Florida home.

Regarding the seizure of documents, the former president said he did not commit any crime. There is nothing hidden in the documents. He would have willingly given anything if they asked him.

The documents were recovered during a search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach on Friday (August 12). A list of documents is provided.

A federal judge released the seven-page document Friday afternoon. Then the list of documents was published.

Earlier on Thursday (August 4), the United States Department of Justice requested the judge to disclose the contents of the search warrant. Based on that warrant, the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago last Monday (August 8).

The media said that the operation of the FBI in the house of a former president in the United States is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, sees this search operation as political revenge. In a statement on his Truth social platform, he said the recovered items were "all declassified" and stored safely.

Donald Trump   Search   Secret Documents   FBI   US