Taiwan will not be forced to bow to China, president says

Taiwan will not be forced to bow to China, president says
President Tsai Ing-wen said that ‘there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure’ in a speech outside the presidential office in central Taipei. (AFP)
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Updated 10 October 2021

Taiwan will not be forced to bow to China, president says

Taiwan will not be forced to bow to China, president says
  • Taiwan has come under growing military and political pressure to accept Beijing’s rule
  • China has offered a ‘one country, two systems’ model of autonomy to Taiwan

TAIPEI: Taiwan will keep bolstering its defenses to ensure nobody can force the island to accept the path China has laid down that offers neither freedom nor democracy, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday, in a strong riposte to Beijing.
Claimed by China as its own territory, Taiwan has come under growing military and political pressure to accept Beijing’s rule, including repeated Chinese air force missions in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, to international concern.
Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Saturday to realize “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and did not directly mention the use of force. Still, he got an angry reaction from Taipei, which said only Taiwan’s people can decide its future.
Addressing a National Day rally, Tsai said she hoped for an easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and reiterated Taiwan will not “act rashly.”
“But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure,” she said in the speech outside the presidential office in central Taipei.
“We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us,” Tsai added.
“This is because the path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.”
China has offered a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy to Taiwan, much like it uses with Hong Kong, but all major Taiwanese parties have rejected that, especially after China’s security crackdown in the former British colony.
Tsai repeated an offer to talk to China on the basis of parity, though there was no immediate response from Beijing to her speech.
Beijing has refused to deal with her, calling her a separatist who refuses to acknowledge Taiwan is part of “one China,” and does not recognize Taiwan’s government.
Tsai says Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name, and that she will not compromise on defending its sovereignty or freedom.
Still Taiwan’s goodwill will not change, and it will do all it can to prevent the status quo with China from being unilaterally altered, she said.
Tsai warned that Taiwan’s situation is “more complex and fluid than at any other point in the past 72 years,” and that China’s routine military presence in Taiwan’s air defense zone has seriously affected national security and aviation safety.
She is overseeing a military modernization program to bolster its defenses and deterrence, including building its own submarines and long-range missiles that can strike deep into China.
The armed forces were a major part of the National Day parade Tsai oversaw, with fighter jets roaring across the skies above the presidential office and truck-mounted missile launchers among other weaponry passing in front of the stage where she sat.
Taiwan stands on the frontlines of defending democracy, Tsai added.
“The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China. So I want to remind all my fellow citizens that we do not have the privilege of letting down our guard.”


Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana
Updated 4 sec ago

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana

KABUL: A roadside bomb blast in the Afghan capital of Kabul caused at least five casualties, television station Ariana News said on Tuesday.
The target of the attack appeared to have been an open-backed vehicle like a Toyota Hilux, it added, but there were no further details and no official confirmation of the figures.


Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant
Updated 40 min 17 sec ago

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant
  • ‘This is a prudent thing to do for now, when we are faced with a major uncertainty’

SINGAPORE: Singapore will hold off on further reopening measures while it evaluates the omicron COVID-19 variant and will boost testing of travelers and frontline workers to reduce the risk of local transmission, authorities said on Tuesday.
“This is a prudent thing to do for now, when we are faced with a major uncertainty,” Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told a media briefing on Tuesday, adding the variant had not yet been detected locally.


Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT
Updated 28 min 46 sec ago

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT
  • Drugmaker CEO warns of “material drop” in vaccine effectiveness, mutations mean existing vaccines likely need modifying

SYDNEY: The head of drugmaker Moderna said COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been previously, sparking fresh worry in financial markets about the trajectory of the pandemic.
“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times.
“I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good.’“
Vaccine resistance could lead to more sickness and hospitalizations and prolong the pandemic, and his comments triggered selling in growth-exposed assets like oil, stocks and the Australian dollar.
Bancel added that the high number of mutations on the protein spike the virus uses to infect human cells meant it was likely the current crop of vaccines would need to be modified.
He had earlier said on CNBC that it could take months to begin shipping a vaccine that does work against omicron.
Fear of the new variant, despite a lack of information about its severity, has already triggered delays to some economic reopening plans and the reimposition of some travel and movement restrictions.

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Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s preferred successor quits presidential race

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s preferred successor quits presidential race
Updated 30 November 2021

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s preferred successor quits presidential race

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s preferred successor quits presidential race
  • Making the ‘supreme sacrifice for the good of the country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders’

MANILA: Philippine Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the preferred successor of Rodrigo Duterte, said on Tuesday he was withdrawing his candidacy for presidency.
Go, President Duterte’s long-time aide, had recently hinted he may drop out of the race and his withdrawal leaves the administration without a presidential candidate. It was not clear yet who Duterte will now support. “I and President Duterte are ready to support whoever will truly serve and can continue and protect Duterte’s legacy toward a more comfortable and safe and prosperous life for our children,” Go said in a short speech streamed on Facebook.
Go said he was making the “supreme sacrifice for the good of the country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders.” Duterte’s daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for the deputy post alongside the son of late Philippine dictator and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has emerged as an early frontrunner. The Southeast Asian nation of 110 million people holds elections in May 2022 for positions from president down to governors, mayors and local officials.
Duterte, 76, is barred by the constitution from seeking re-election but he will run for a seat in the senate next year.


Myanmar court defers verdicts in Suu Kyi trial to Dec. 6

 Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
Updated 30 November 2021

Myanmar court defers verdicts in Suu Kyi trial to Dec. 6

 Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
  • Suu Kyi now appears most weekdays at the junta courtroom, with her legal team saying last month the hectic schedule was taking a toll on the 76-year-old’s health

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: A court in military-ruled Myanmar deferred on Tuesday verdicts in the trial of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to Dec. 6, a source familiar with the proceedings said.
The court had been due to rule on charges of incitement and violations of a law on natural disasters, accusations that Suu Kyi has rejected.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give a reason for the deferral.
The Nobel laureate has been detained since the generals ousted her government in the early hours of February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief democratic interlude.
More than 1,200 people have been killed and over 10,000 arrested in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi faces three years in prison if found guilty of incitement against the military — although analysts say it is unlikely she will be taken away to jail on Tuesday.
Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi’s lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.
The courtroom will remain off-limits to reporters for the verdict, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun recently said.
Days after the coup Suu Kyi was hit with obscure charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, and for violating coronavirus restrictions during elections her National League for Democracy (NLD) won in 2020.
The junta has since added a slew of other indictments, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud.
Suu Kyi now appears most weekdays at the junta courtroom, with her legal team saying last month the hectic schedule was taking a toll on the 76-year-old’s health.
Suu Kyi’s long spells of house arrest under a previous junta were spent at her family’s colonial-era mansion in Yangon, where she would appear before thousands gathered on the other side of her garden fence.
Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has confined her to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.
At her first court appearance, she used them to send a message of defiance, vowing the NLD would endure and asking the party faithful to remain united.
But in October her team were hit with a gag order after they relayed vivid testimony from deposed president Win Myint describing how he rejected a military offer to resign to save himself during the coup.
In recent weeks the trials of other ranking members of Suu Kyi’s NLD have wrapped up, with the junta doling out harsh sentences.
A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail earlier this month, while a close Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20.