China’s aircraft carrier sails by Taiwan as tensions rise

The aircraft carrier Liaoning — a second-hand Soviet-built ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the strait in January last year in what was seen as a show of strength by Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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China’s aircraft carrier sails by Taiwan as tensions rise

TAIPEI: China’s sole aircraft carrier has passed through the Taiwan Strait, the island’s defense ministry said Wednesday, as Beijing warned against any move to “separate the country.”
The Liaoning and accompanying vessels entered Taiwan’s air defense zone on Tuesday and left around noon Wednesday, the ministry said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a blistering nationalist speech on Tuesday, warning against what he called any attempts to split China.
“All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history,” Xi said in an address ending the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
China still sees Taiwan as its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war and have been ruled separately ever since.
Ties have turned frosty since Taiwan’s Beijing-skeptic President Tsai Ing-wen came to power. Her government refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of “one China.”
Tsai has warned against what she called China’s military expansion — the increase in air and naval drills around the island since she took office in May 2016.
The aircraft carrier — a second-hand Soviet-built ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the strait in January last year in what was seen as a show of strength by Beijing.
It returned in January this year.
“We are monitoring the whole process of the Liaoning’s cross-region drill,” Defense Minister Yeh De-fa told parliament Wednesday when asked to comment on its latest moves.
The defense ministry said in a statement that it sent aircraft and vessels to conduct surveillance. “No unusual activities have been spotted and we urge the public to rest assured,” it said.


Dhaka says no ‘security threat,’ in response to new US travel advisory

Updated 4 min 42 sec ago
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Dhaka says no ‘security threat,’ in response to new US travel advisory

DHAKA: Officials in Bangladesh have denied that there are any new security threats to US citizens in Bangladesh.
The US State Department on Friday issued a new travel advisory for Bangladesh, urging US citizens to reconsider travel to Dhaka due to crime and terrorism. The advisory put Bangladesh at Level 2, which means “exercise increased caution.”
Hayatul Islam Khan, deputy commissioner, Diplomatic Security Division of Bangladesh Police, told Arab News that they were not aware so far of any threats. “We don’t have any information of a security threat to US citizens.”
The latest US travel advisory says, “There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in urban areas despite the heavy police presence.”
In the advisory, the State Department urged its citizens to “exercise increased caution” while visiting Bangladesh.
Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Abdur Rasid, a well-known security analyst, said that whenever one country puts out this type of security alert, other countries soon follow. Bangladesh experienced such an alert two years ago during the Holy Artisan Bakery attack in the Gulshan area in Dhaka.
“In recent times, our law enforcement agencies have carried out many successful operations against extremist groups. Sometimes we receive intelligence information from neighboring countries such as India, but not from Western countries who give public security alerts before sharing it with the host countries,” added Rashid.
Hayatul Islam said that the US Embassy in Dhaka had not informed the Bangladesh police of any new security threat. “We have not been notified,” he said.