China: Military drills near Taiwan a ‘just’ move to protect peace

China: Military drills near Taiwan a ‘just’ move to protect peace
Above, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location. China mounted four straight days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone that began Oct. 1. (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)
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Updated 13 October 2021

China: Military drills near Taiwan a ‘just’ move to protect peace

China: Military drills near Taiwan a ‘just’ move to protect peace
  • Beijing also said the exercises are aimed at interference by external forces
  • China mounted four straight days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone

BEIJING/TAIPEI: Chinese military drills near Taiwan are targeted at forces promoting the island’s formal independence and are a “just” move to protect peace, China said on Wednesday, as Taiwan’s president reiterated her government would not bend to pressure.
Beijing also said the exercises are aimed at interference by external forces.
Military tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defense minister said last week, adding China will be capable of mounting a “full scale” invasion by 2025.
He was speaking after China mounted four straight days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone that began Oct. 1, part of a pattern of what Taipei views as stepped up military harassment by Beijing.
Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the cause of current tensions was Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “collusion” with foreign force and “provocations” over seeking Taiwan’s independence.
Chinese drills are aimed at this collusion — a veiled reference to US support for Taiwan — and separatist activities, protecting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, he added.
“They are absolutely just actions,” Ma said.
“The DPP authorities’ hyping of the so-called ‘military threat’ of the mainland is to completely invert right and wrong, and a bogus accusation,” he added.
“If the DPP authorities obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way, and do not know how to draw back from the edge, it will only push Taiwan into a more dangerous situation.”
Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name, and will defend its freedom and democracy.
Despite Ma’s comments, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen made relatively conciliatory speeches at the weekend, even as Xi vowed to bring Taiwan under its control and Tsai said they would not be forced to bow to China.
Xi did not mention a desire for peace and dialogue with China.
Tsai, speaking at a regular party meeting later on Wednesday, reiterated that the government has never “slacked off” when presented with China’s military threats but has also never “advanced rashly.”
“I also want to repeat that we will never succumb to pressure. Strengthening national defense by ourselves is the government’s top priority,” she added.


Solomon Islands PM says riots ‘orchestrated’ to remove him

Solomon Islands PM says riots ‘orchestrated’ to remove him
Updated 6 sec ago

Solomon Islands PM says riots ‘orchestrated’ to remove him

Solomon Islands PM says riots ‘orchestrated’ to remove him
SYDNEY: The prime minister of the riot-hit Solomon Islands vowed Sunday to defy pressure to resign, saying violence that swept the capital had been orchestrated by a few people with “evil intention” to topple him.
“It is very clear that the recent events were well planned and orchestrated to remove me as the prime minister for unsubstantiated reasons,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said in an address broadcast to the Pacific island nation.

Iranian, Chinese and Russian diplomats meet ahead of nuclear talks

Iranian, Chinese and Russian diplomats meet ahead of nuclear talks
Updated 15 min 50 sec ago

Iranian, Chinese and Russian diplomats meet ahead of nuclear talks

Iranian, Chinese and Russian diplomats meet ahead of nuclear talks
  • Bilateral and trilateral meetings were held in Vienna ahead of a resumption in nuclear talks to revive a 2015 agreement between Iran and major powers

DUBAI: Iran’s negotiating team, led by Ali Bagheri Kani, held bilateral and trilateral meetings in Vienna on Sunday, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, ahead of a resumption in nuclear talks to revive a 2015 agreement between Iran and major powers.
“The Iranian team arrived on Saturday in Vienna and started meetings which continued on Sunday at an expert level with the heads of the Russian and Chinese negotiating teams, as well as the EU Coordinator Enrique Mora,” Iranian diplomat Mohammadreza Ghaebi told ISNA.


Australia detects first COVID Omicron infections

Australia detects first COVID Omicron infections
Updated 28 November 2021

Australia detects first COVID Omicron infections

Australia detects first COVID Omicron infections
  • Both passengers came from southern Africa and arrived in Australia
  • Another 12 passengers from southern Africa in the same flight did not test positive for COVID-19 but have been placed in quarantine

SYDNEY: Health officials in Australia said Sunday they had detected the COVID-19 Omicron strain for the first time after testing two passengers from southern Africa who flew into Sydney.
The eastern state of New South Wales’ health authority said it had conducted urgent genomic testing and confirmed the new strain was present in two passengers who landed in Sydney on Saturday.
Both passengers came from southern Africa and arrived in Australia on a Qatar Airways flight via Doha, NSW Health said in a statement.
They tested positive for Covid shortly after arriving, leading to an urgent analysis for possible infection by the heavily mutated Omicron strain.
“The two positive cases, who were asymptomatic, are in isolation in the special health accommodation. Both people are fully vaccinated,” NSW Health said.
Another 12 passengers from southern Africa in the same flight did not test positive for COVID-19 but have been placed in quarantine, it said.
About 260 passengers and crew on the plane have also been told to isolate, the health authority said.


Pakistan says militants kill 2 soldiers near Afghan border

Pakistan says militants kill 2 soldiers near Afghan border
Updated 28 November 2021

Pakistan says militants kill 2 soldiers near Afghan border

Pakistan says militants kill 2 soldiers near Afghan border
  • No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Militants targeted a Pakistani military post in the northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, killing two soldiers in a firefight, the army said in a statement.
The Pakistani army’s media wing said late Saturday that militants attacked a post in the Datta Khel area of the district of North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The area is a former militant stronghold.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
During an intense exchange of gunfire two soldiers were killed, the military said, adding that a search of the area was being carried out to find the militants. It gave no indication of the identity of the attackers.
North Waziristan for years served as a safe haven for militants until the military carried out massive operations to try to clear the area. That forced the militants either to escape across the border into Afghanistan or hide in other mountainous areas near the border. Still, militants often strike against security forces.
Pakistan is holding talks with Islamic militants known as the Pakistani Taliban with the help of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. There is a temporary cease-fire in place.


China study warns of ‘colossal’ COVID outbreak if it opens up like US, France

China study warns of ‘colossal’ COVID outbreak if it opens up like US, France
Updated 28 November 2021

China study warns of ‘colossal’ COVID outbreak if it opens up like US, France

China study warns of ‘colossal’ COVID outbreak if it opens up like US, France
  • China’s daily new cases would reach at least 637,155 if it adopted the United States’ pandemic strategy, the report said

BEIJING: China could face more than 630,000 COVID-19 infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance policies by lifting travel curbs, according to a study by Peking University mathematicians.
In the report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the mathematicians said China could not afford to lift travel restrictions without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatments.
Using data for August from the United States, Britain, Spain, France and Israel, the mathematicians assessed the potential results if China adopted the same pandemic control tactics as those countries.
China’s daily new cases would reach at least 637,155 if it adopted the United States’ pandemic strategy, the report said.
And daily cases would hit 275,793 if China took the same approach as Britain and 454,198 if it imitated France, it said.
“The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly induce an unaffordable burden on the medical system,” the report said.
“Our findings have raised a clear warning that, for the time being, we are not ready to embrace ‘open-up’ strategies resting solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination advocated by certain western countries.”
The mathematicians cautioned that their estimates were based on basic arithmetic calculations and that more sophisticated models were needed to study the evolution of the pandemic if travel restrictions were lifted.
China has maintained a zero-tolerance policy toward COVID-19, saying the importance of containing local cases when they are found outweighs the disruptions caused by efforts to trace, isolate and treat the infected. China reported 23 new confirmed coronavirus cases for Nov. 27, down from 25 a day earlier, its health authority said on Sunday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday designated a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa with a large number of mutations as being “of concern,” prompting some countries to impose travel curbs.