Canadian warship HMCS Ottawa sails through Taiwan Strait

The HMCS Ottawa’s current deployment is consistent with past Royal Canadian Navy practice and international law, Canada’s de facto embassy in Taipei said in a statement. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Canadian warship HMCS Ottawa sails through Taiwan Strait

  • China views any passing through the strait as a breach of its sovereignty
  • But the US and many other nations see the route as international space

TAIPEI: A Canadian frigate was passing through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, Taiwanese and Canadian authorities said, in the latest of a string of such voyages likely to provoke Beijing.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it was closely monitoring as the Canadian warship sailed through the narrow waterway separating the island and the Chinese mainland in a “freedom of navigation” operation.
China views any passing through the strait as a breach of its sovereignty — while the US and many other nations see the route as international space.
“The HMCS Ottawa’s current deployment is consistent with past Royal Canadian Navy practice and international law,” Canada’s de facto embassy in Taipei said in a statement.
It added that sailing through the strait is “the most practical route” between South Korea’s Pyeongtaek and the Thai capital Bangkok.
Taiwan has been run as a de facto independent nation for the last seven decades but Beijing sees as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
In June, a Canadian frigate and its supporting vessel also sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since December when police in Vancouver detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant.
Days after her arrest, China detained two Canadians — a former diplomat and a businessman — and accused them of spying in what is seen as a tit-for-tat move.
China has also blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars.
Taiwan had called the June voyage a “freedom of navigation” operation, but Canada’s military said the journey was “not related to making any statement.”
Last month, a US military plane flew over the Taiwan Strait, just days after one of its navy ships sailed through the waters and the latest arms sale between Taipei and Washington.
Beijing threatened to sanction US firms involved in the sale of the fighter jets, at a time when relations are already strained by a punitive trade war.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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