Taiwan not intimidated by Chinese military drills: president

President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday that Taiwan ‘will not make any compromise on our territory for even one inch.’ (Reuters)
Updated 16 April 2019

Taiwan not intimidated by Chinese military drills: president

  • China’s People’s Liberation Army said its warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft had conducted ‘necessary drills’ around Taiwan on Monday
  • Taiwan scrambled jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces

TAIPEI: Taiwan is not intimidated by China’s military drills this week, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, after the latest Chinese military maneuvers were denounced by a senior US official as “coercion” and a threat to stability in the region.
China’s People’s Liberation Army said its warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft had conducted “necessary drills” around Taiwan on Monday, though it described them as routine.
“We will not make any compromise on our territory for even one inch. We always hold on tight to our democracy and freedom,” Tsai told reporters at an event to mark Taiwan-US ties in Taipei, adding US arm sales to Taiwan would help reinforce the capability of Taiwan’s Air Force.
Tsai was speaking at a forum co-hosted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark the 40th anniversary of Taiwan-US ties, following Washington’s decision to ditch formal recognition of Taiwan in favor of China in 1979.
Taiwan scrambled jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces on Monday, its defense ministry said, accusing Beijing of “trying to change the status quo of the Taiwan Strait.”
China has repeatedly carried out what it calls “island encirclement patrols” in the past few years.
A delegation led by former US speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is in Taipei to mark 40 years since the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act, which governs US-Taiwan relations, and to reaffirm Washington’s commitment.
Ryan said the United States considers any military threat to Taiwan a concern and urged China to stop, saying the moves were counterproductive.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.
China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan. Beijing suspects Taiwan’s president is pushing for the island’s formal independence, a red line for China which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.
The visit by US officials comes just weeks after Tsai said the United States was responding positively to Taipei’s requests for new arms sales to bolster its defenses in the face of growing pressure from China.
Last month, Washington sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the narrow strait separating the island from the mainland, part of an increase in the frequency of US movement through the strategic waterway to show support for Taipei.


Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

Updated 18 min 16 sec ago

Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

  • EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson played down hopes Sunday of a breakthrough in his last-ditch bid to strike an amicable divorce deal with the European Union.
Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of proposals to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday.
They have very little time left to succeed.
EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away.
The 27 would ideally like to have a full proposal to vote on by then.
But the sides are trying to achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier called the weekend negotiations “constructive” enough to keep going for another day.
“A lot of work remains to be done,” Barnier stressed in a statement to EU ambassadors.
“Discussions at technical level will continue (Monday).”
Downing Street said Johnson also told his cabinet to brace for a cliff-hanger finish.
He reiterated “that a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
Johnson rose to power in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time this year — even for a few weeks.
Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that most predict for the coming months.
Johnson is under parliamentary orders to seek a extension until January 31 of next year if no deal emerges by Saturday.
He has promised to both follow the law and get Britain out by October 31 — a contradiction that might end up being settled in court.
Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British politics were getting more difficult to decipher than the riddle of an “Egyptian sphinx.”
“If the British ask for more time, which they probably will not, it would in my view be a historical nonsense to refuse them,” Juncker told Austria’s Kurier newspaper.
Ireland’s Varadkar hinted on Thursday that he could support the talks running on up to the October 31 deadline if a deal seemed within reach.
The few details that have leaked out suggest a compromise around the contentious Irish border issue Britain’s Northern Ireland partially aligned with EU customs rules.
Whether such a fudge suits both Brussels and the more ardent Brexit backers in parliament who must still approve a deal should become clearer by the end of the week.
Britain will only avoid a chaotic breakup with its closest trading partners if the agreement is also passed by the UK parliament — something it has failed to do three times.
Johnson heads a minority government and must rely on the full backing of not only his own fractured Conservatives but also Northern Ireland’s small Democratic Unionist Party.
DUP’s parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds warned Johnson that “Northern Ireland must remain entirely in the customs union of the United Kingdom” and not the EU.
“And Boris Johnson knows it very well,” Dodds told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
The comments do not necessarily rule out DUP support.
UK media are presenting Johnson’s mooted compromise as a “double customs” plan that could be interpreted to mean that Northern Ireland is leaving EU rules.
Yet details are still under discussion and the prime minister’s allies are urging lawmakers to give the British leader a chance.
Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn signalled Sunday that he would wait for the outcome of the EU summit before trying to force an early election.
But he added that there was “a strong possibility” that those polls would come before the Christmas break.