Taiwan president leaves for US, warns of threat from ‘overseas forces’

President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly called for international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy in the face of Chinese threats. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019
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Taiwan president leaves for US, warns of threat from ‘overseas forces’

  • China has called on the United States not to allow Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to transit there on her overseas tour
  • US State Department say there had been no change in its “one-China” policy

TAOYUAN: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen left for the United States on Thursday on a trip that has angered Beijing, warning democracy must be defended and the island faced threats from “overseas forces,” in a veiled reference to China.
China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and views it as a wayward province, has called on the United States not to allow Tsai to transit there on her overseas tour.
She is spending four nights in the United States in total, two on the way there and two on the way back on a visit to four Caribbean allies. Tsai will go to New York on her way there, and then is expected to stop in Denver on the way back.
Tsai’s time in the United States will be unusually long, as normally she spends just a night at a time on transit stops.
The US State Department has said there had been no change in the US “one-China” policy, under which Washington officially recognizes Beijing and not Taipei, while assisting Taiwan.
Speaking at Taipei’s main international airport at Taoyuan, Tsai said she would share the values of freedom and transparency with Taiwan’s allies, and she was looking forward to finding more international space for Taiwan.
“Our democracy has not come easily, and is now facing threats and infiltration from overseas forces,” Tsai said, without naming any such force.
“These challenges are also common challenges faced by democracies all over the world. We will work with countries with similar ideas to ensure the stability of the democratic system.”
Tsai, who faces re-election in January, has repeatedly called for international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy in the face of Chinese threats.
Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on drills in the past few years.
Tsai last went to the United States in March, stopping over in Hawaii at the end of a Pacific tour.
Seeking to bolster Taiwan’s defenses, the United States this week approved an arms sale worth an estimated $2.2 billion for Taiwan, despite Chinese criticism of the deal.
Taiwan has been trying to shore up its diplomatic alliances amid pressure from China, which has been whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies, especially in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Aside from the United States, Tsai will be visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Haiti.
Taiwan now has formal ties with only 17 countries, almost all small nations in Central America and the Pacific.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 13 min 42 sec ago
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.