Taiwan president says drills show China is threat to whole region

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the military drills were ‘no help to China’s international image’. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 September 2020

Taiwan president says drills show China is threat to whole region

  • Exercises took place as US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach was in Taipei
  • ‘China’s existence is indeed aggressive and will bring a definite threat’

TAIPEI: The last two days of Chinese aircraft approaching Taiwan demonstrate that Beijing is a threat to the entire region and have shown Taiwanese even more clearly the true nature of China’s government, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday.
Multiple Chinese aircraft flew across the mid line of the Taiwan Strait and into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Friday and Saturday, causing Taiwan to scramble jets to intercept. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.
At a news conference in Beijing on Friday about China’s UN peacekeeping efforts, China announced combat drills near the Taiwan Strait and denounced what it called collusion between the island and the United States.
The exercises took place as US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach was in Taipei, the most senior State Department office to come in four decades.
Speaking to reporters, Tsai denounced China’s drills.
“I believe these activities are no help to China’s international image, and what’s more have put Taiwan’s people even more on their guard, understanding even better the true nature of the Chinese Communist regime,” she said.
“Additionally, other countries in the region also have a better understanding of the threat posed by China,” Tsai added. “The Chinese Communists must restrain themselves, and not provoke.”
China’s air force on Saturday put out a video showing its nuclear capable H-6 bombers, which have been involved in many Chinese fly-bys of Taiwan, exercising.
One montage shows a simulation of an H-6 attack against an air base which appears by its runway layout to be the main US air force base on Guam.
Asked about that footage, and China’s decision to release it while Krach was in Taiwan, Tsai said China’s recent activities where a threat broader than just to Taiwan.
“China’s existence is indeed aggressive and will bring a definite threat.”
In comments carried by Chinese state media from a forum on relations with Taiwan in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, the head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Sunday made no direct mention of the current tensions.
Meeting young Taiwanese, Liu Jieyi said it was inevitable that the two sides would grow closer.
“Only when cross-strait relations are good can the interests and well-being of Taiwan compatriots be fundamentally guaranteed,” Liu said.
But further friction seems likely as Taiwan and the United States further deepen relations, with Taiwan angling for a free trade agreement.
Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said on Sunday they were planning to hold a formal economic dialogue with the United States, after having what she called informal talks with Krach and his team on issues like supply chain restructuring.


Venezuelans ‘dying slowly’ in rat- and roach-infested homes

Updated 16 sec ago

Venezuelans ‘dying slowly’ in rat- and roach-infested homes

CARACAS: Sunlight cannot penetrate, the air is fetid and fellow residents include rats and cockroaches — but that’s how 14 families are “dying slowly” in government accommodation in Venezuela’s capital Caracas.
They live on the ground floor of a ministry building a stone’s throw from the Miraflores presidential palace.
“Here, we’re dying slowly. It’s shameful that humans” have to live this way, resident Johan Medina told AFP, as his skinny arms rested on the wheelchair he’s used since an accident seven years ago damaged his spine.
There are hundreds of families living in state-supplied shelters in crisis-wracked Venezuela.
Many lost their homes to flood damage, although six years of economic meltdown under President Nicolas Maduro has also left millions in abject poverty, while basic services have been paralyzed.
They’re hoping for state aid from the socialist government that boasts of having delivered three million homes since launching a massive housing plan in 2011 under the late president Hugo Chavez — figures disputed by the opposition.
At the entrance to the building that houses the women’s ministry, among other state institutions, there are pictures of Chavez and his successor Maduro.
Signs on the walls read: “No more Trump,” and “Vote Chavez.”
With no services such as running water, residents like Medina are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic — but that’s the least of the 31-year-old’s worries.
“Why bother using a mask?” he said bitterly, pointing to filth and stagnant water around him.
It’s mandatory to wear face masks in the country of 30 million that has registered 86,000 cases and 736 deaths, according to official figures.
The first residents were brought to the ministry building by a socialist organization called the Popular Organized Anti-Corruption Interpellation that has an agreement allowing it to use state facilities for free.
The group, which did not reply to AFP requests for comment, organizes assemblies and then puts up participants that have come from afar for the night on mats.
At some point, “people started living” there after being told they would be rehoused, said Norelis, a 40-year-old teacher living with her daughter.
Conditions worsened, and now “it’s like a sewer;” but Norelis, who declined to give her surname, still hopes to be moved to “a dignified site.”
Government officials come and go in the 11-story building constructed in 1956.
“They pass in front of your face all day long,” said Medina, who arrived five years ago after a friend told him he could get help there.
He was run over by a motorcycle in April 2013 just hours after voting in Maduro’s first presidential election.
With no alternative housing options materializing, Medina and Norelis fear they will be turned out onto the streets. Their accommodation was never meant to be permanent.
“We feel marginalized,” said Norelis.
Lacking ventilation, the building can provoke respiratory problems among inhabitants.
“My daughter completely lost her sense of smell about a year ago,” Carla, who declined to give her full name, told AFP.
“We live in a room that was meant to be a bathroom. When the plumbing is flushed, imagine the smell,” added the agroecology expert, who currently works as a waitress.
She’s put up blinds and mosquito nets to try to keep out the cockroaches. She also has to deal with rats.
Carlos, who has lived in the shelter the longest, insists that everyone there is waiting to be rehoused as part of the “Housing Mission” launched almost a decade ago.
A strict curfew is imposed by authorities.
“At 7:00 p.m. they close it up with a padlock and if you’re outside, you stay outside. At 6:00 am, they reopen,” said Carlos, 49, who also withheld his surname.
“It’s like a day release prison.”