‘No one can exclude possibility’ of China attacking Taiwan, island state’s leader says

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen believes one day her country would be able to produce its own submarines, an item Taipei has long pressed for to face China’s navy. (Reuters)
Updated 23 January 2018
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‘No one can exclude possibility’ of China attacking Taiwan, island state’s leader says

TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that she does not exclude the possibility of China attacking the self-ruled island, amid heightened tensions between the two sides including an increasing number of Chinese military drills near Taiwan.
Beijing has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, since the election two years ago of Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.
In recent months, China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan, alarming Taipei. China says the exercises are routine, but that it will not tolerate any attempt by the island to declare independence.
“No one can exclude this possibility. We will need to see whether their policymakers are reasonable policymakers or not,” Tsai said in an interview on Taiwan television broadcast late on Monday, when asked whether China could attack Taiwan.
“When you consider it (Taiwan-China relationship) from a regional perspective, any reasonable policymaker will have to very carefully deliberate as to whether launching war is an option,” Tsai said.
“When our government faces resistance and pressure from China, we will find our method to resist this. This is very important,” she added.
“In terms of China circulating around Taiwan or carrying out other military activities, our military is carefully following every action and movement in the scope of its monitoring,” Tsai said. “Our military is very confident to face these situations.”
China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.
Taiwan and China have also traded accusations this month about China’s opening of new civilian aviation routes close to Taiwan-controlled islands in the Taiwan Strait.
Although China has cut off a formal dialogue mechanism with Taiwan, Tsai acknowledged that both sides currently have a method for communications to avoid misunderstanding.
Taiwan has been pressing for the US, its main source of arms, to provide more advanced equipment, but has also been trying to bolster its own weapons programs, to avoid what Tsai termed “certain political difficulties” that come with buying weapons overseas in the teeth of Chinese opposition.
Tsai said she believed one day Taiwan would be able to produce its own submarines, an item Taipei has long pressed for to face China’s navy.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tsai’s remarks.


France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

Updated 24 May 2018
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France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

  • France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris
  • More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally

PARIS: France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in June to assess humanitarian needs for the country and possibly contribute to reviving U.N.-backed peace talks.
A Saudi-led coalition backed by the West has carried out air strikes against the armed Houthi movement in a war since 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the UN says.
"We are currently working on how to organise this conference with our various partners, Yemen and the United Nations," France's foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing on Wednesday.
"This conference should take stock of humanitarian needs, evaluate the assistance provided and the response mechanisms which need to be improved and define humanitarian actions to improve the situation of civilian populations."
The French president's office said the conference would take place at the end of June. A source aware of the plans said it was scheduled for June 27.
Von der Muhll declined to say whether Paris intended to invite representatives of the Iran-aligned Houthis.
"This work, which we want to be collective, can help to recreate the conditions for a resumption of political discussions under the auspices of the United nations," Von der Muhll said in a statement on Tuesday.
It is unclear how this would fit into the UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths' efforts. He said in April he wanted to present a plan for negotiations within two months to end the conflict, but warned that any new military offensives could "take peace off the table."
Three rounds of UN-backed peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, with the last held in Kuwait in August 2016, ended without success. Griffiths began his term in March in a bid by the U.N. to revive the stalled peace process.