China urges US to ‘correct mistake’ on Taiwan

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018
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China urges US to ‘correct mistake’ on Taiwan

BEIJING: China has called on the United States to “correct its mistake” after President Donald Trump approved new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taipei counterparts.
US representatives can already travel to democratic Taiwan and Taiwanese officials occasionally visit the White House, but meetings are usually low profile to avoid offending China.
The “Taiwan Travel Act,” which Trump signed on Friday following its passage in the US Congress, encourages visits between US and Taiwanese officials “at all levels.”
Washington cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of Beijing under the “one China” policy. But it maintains trade relations with the island and sells it weapons, angering China.
China sees Taiwan as a renegade province and has long stated its desire for reunification.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the bill’s clauses, while not legally binding, “severely violate” the one China principle and send “very wrong signals to the ‘pro-independence’ separatist forces in Taiwan.”
“China is strongly opposed to that,” Lu said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“We urge the US side to correct its mistake, stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way,” he said.
The new US law describes Taiwan as “a beacon of democracy” in Asia, and states that “Taiwan’s democratic achievements inspire many countries and people in the region.”
Trump’s signature, announced late on Friday — when the White House usually tries to bury news — comes amid increasing tensions between the mainland and the self-ruled island.
Beijing has cut off official communications with Taipei because President Tsai Ing-wen refuses to acknowledge the democratic island as part of “one China.”
The travel act also comes amid trade tensions between the United States and China as Trump mulls fresh measures that have raised fears of a tit-for-tat trade war.


Rohingya Muslim group fleeing India to Bangladesh stuck on ‘zero line’

Updated 7 min 13 sec ago
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Rohingya Muslim group fleeing India to Bangladesh stuck on ‘zero line’

  • The stranded Rohingya, including women and children, had been living in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir
  • Many hundreds of thousands of members of mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine Sate

DHAKA: Bangladesh has denied entry to 31 Rohingya Muslims trying to enter from India and they are stuck in no-man’s land on the border, Bangladesh authorities said on Monday, as India cracks down on members of the community.
The stranded Rohingya, including women and children, had been living in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to a Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) official who said he had seen some of their identity cards issued by the UN refugee agency in India.
The 31 had been stuck on Bangladesh’s border with northeast India since Friday, said the BGB commander in the area, Golam Kabir.
“We stopped them as they were crossing the border,” Kabir told Reuters by telephone.
“They’ve been on the zero line since the 18th of this month,” he said, referring to the border.
Two rounds of talks on what to do with the 31, with India’s Border Security Force on Sunday, had “ended without any conclusive decision,” Kabir said.
Many hundreds of thousands of members of mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine Sate over the decades, most fleeing military crackdowns and discrimination.
Many have sought shelter in Bangladesh — where nearly 1 million live — but others have ended up in India, Southeast Asia and beyond.
An Indian border force officer in Tripura state told reporters on Sunday that they were providing food and clothing to the Rohingya, 16 of whom were children.
The force could not be reached for comment on Monday.
India estimates that 40,000 Rohingya are living in scattered settlements in various parts of the country.
But its Hindu nationalist government regards them as illegal aliens and a security threat, and has ordered that they be identified and repatriated.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has issued about 16,500 Rohingya in India with identity cards that it says can help “prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and deportation.” India does not recognize the cards.
Hundreds of Rohingya families have left India for Bangladesh since seven Rohingya men were deported to Myanmar in October. This month, India sent a Rohingya family of five to Myanmar.
The United Nations says conditions are not conducive for Rohingya to return to Myanmar.
In August, the United Nations accused the Myanmar military of mass killings and rapes of Rohingya with “genocidal intent” in a 2017 military operation that drove more than 700,000 of them into Bangladesh, according to UN agencies.
Myanmar has denied the accusations, saying its military launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Muslim terrorists.