China fires missiles in largest ever drills in waters off Taiwan

Update China fires missiles in largest ever drills in waters off Taiwan
Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province on Aug. 4, 2022, ahead of massive military drills. (AFP)
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Updated 04 August 2022

China fires missiles in largest ever drills in waters off Taiwan

China fires missiles in largest ever drills in waters off Taiwan
  • The last time China fired missiles into waters around Taiwan was in 1996
  • China is conducting drills on the busiest international waterways and aviation routes

TAIPEI: China fired multiple missiles around Taiwan on Thursday as it launched unprecedented military drills a day after a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as its sovereign territory.

Soon after the scheduled start at 0400 GMT, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said the drills had begun and would end at 0400 GMT on Sunday. It said the exercises, the largest ever by China in the Taiwan Strait, would include live firing on the waters and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command said it had completed multiple firings of conventional missiles on waters off the eastern coast of Taiwan as part of the planned exercises.

The last time China fired missiles into waters around Taiwan was in 1996.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said several Dongfeng missiles had been fired in waters to the northeast and southwest of the island.

Two missiles were also launched by China near Taiwan’s Matsu islands, which lie off the coast of China, at around 2 p.m. local time (0600 GMT) in the direction of drill zones announced by China, according to an internal Taiwan security report seen by Reuters and confirmed by a Taiwan security source.

Taiwan officials have said the drills violate United Nations rules, invade Taiwan’s territorial space and are a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation.

China is conducting drills on the busiest international waterways and aviation routes and that is “irresponsible, illegitimate behavior,” Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party said.

Taiwan’s cabinet spokesman, expressing serious condemnation of the drills, said also that websites of the defense ministry, the foreign ministry and the presidential office were attacked by hackers.

Chinese navy ships and military aircraft briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line several times on Thursday morning, a Taiwanese source briefed on the matter told Reuters.

By midday on Thursday, military vessels from both sides remained in the area and in close proximity.

Taiwan scrambled jets and deployed missile systems to track multiple Chinese aircraft crossing the line.

“They flew in and then flew out, again and again. They continue to harass us,” the Taiwanese source said.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and reserves the right to take it by force, said on Thursday its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal affair.

“Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, external forces is reasonable, lawful,” China’s Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational” act by the United States, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Wang, speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, said China had made the utmost diplomatic effort to avert crisis, but would never allow its core interests to be hurt.

The foreign ministers in a statement had earlier warned that volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced with a locator map circulated by China’s official Xinhua news agency earlier this week — a factor that for some analysts and scholars shows the need to play to both domestic and foreign audiences.

On Thursday, the top eight trending items on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service were related to Taiwan, with most expressing support for the drills or fury at Pelosi.

“Let’s reunite the motherland,” several users wrote.

In Beijing, security in the area around the US Embassy remained unusually tight on Thursday as it has been throughout this week. There were no signs of significant protests or calls to boycott US products.

“I think this (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” said a man surnamed Zhao in the capital’s central business district. “It gives us an opportunity to surround Taiwan, then to use this opportunity to take Taiwan by force. I think we should thank Comrade Pelosi.”


Chinese president’s Saudi visit to boost investment in China-Pakistan corridor project: Experts

Chinese president’s Saudi visit to boost investment in China-Pakistan corridor project: Experts
Updated 07 December 2022

Chinese president’s Saudi visit to boost investment in China-Pakistan corridor project: Experts

Chinese president’s Saudi visit to boost investment in China-Pakistan corridor project: Experts
  • Xi Jinping scheduled to meet other Arab leaders while visiting Kingdom
  • $65bn CPEC project an economic corridor in Pakistan connecting China to Arabian Sea

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will benefit from stronger Saudi-China relations, experts said on Wednesday, as the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom was expected to bring in more investment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Xi arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for a three-day visit aimed at bolstering trade ties and expected to lead to a “strategic agreement” between the regional powers.

The Chinese leader was due to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other heads of state from Gulf Arab nations when Saudi Arabia hosts China-Gulf and China-Arab summits in its capital.

Saudi Arabia and China were expected to sign more than 20 initial agreements worth more than $29.3 billion during Xi’s trip. The two countries were also discussing a plan to harmonize the implementation of Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

CPEC, a $65 billion economic corridor in Pakistan that connects China to the Arabian Sea and is part of Beijing’s infrastructure initiative, was also expected to feature in Xi’s meetings with the crown prince.

“Saudi Arabia is interested in becoming part of CPEC by investing heavily in it and also interested in BRI and this visit will improve things in this regard as China is the main initiator of both mega projects,” Pakistan’s former ambassador to China, Naghmana Hashmi, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia, alongside the UAE and Germany, is among countries that have expressed interests in investing in CPEC. In 2019, the Kingdom announced plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

CPEC is a sprawling package that includes everything from road construction and power plants to agriculture. In the South Asian nation, it has been billed as a massive development program that will bring new prosperity, where the average citizen lives on just $125 a month.

“The growing friendship between China and Saudi Arabia will benefit Pakistan as the country has very good relations with both, and both are pillars of strength for us,” Hashmi said.

International relations expert Zafar Jaspal told Arab News that the visit would have a “constructive and positive impact on CPEC” and “open the way for Saudi investment.”

Xi’s trip to Riyadh could serve as a “great convergence point” between Pakistan, China, and Saudi Arabia, according to Dr. Huma Baqai, an international relations expert and rector of the Millennium Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship in Karachi.

“The visit can give the requisite push and momentum to the intended Saudi investment in the flagship project of the BRI,” she told Arab News.


Ukraine conflict intrudes on UN biodiversity summit

Ukraine conflict intrudes on UN biodiversity summit
Updated 07 December 2022

Ukraine conflict intrudes on UN biodiversity summit

Ukraine conflict intrudes on UN biodiversity summit
  • The broadsides by the European Union and New Zealand came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of "ecocide"
  • Russia fired back that the meeting was an inappropriate forum and accused its critics of attempting to sabotage a new global deal for nature

MONTREAL: The Ukraine conflict cast a shadow over a high-stakes UN summit on biodiversity in Montreal on Wednesday, as Western nations slammed the environmental destruction brought about by Russia’s invasion.
The broadsides by the European Union and New Zealand — which spoke on behalf of other countries, including the United States — came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of “ecocide” and of devastating his country’s dolphin population.
Russia fired back that the meeting was an inappropriate forum and accused its critics of attempting to sabotage a new global deal for nature.
“The war brings about pollution and long-term environmental degradation, destroying protected areas and natural habitats,” Hugo Schally, an EU representative at the meeting, known as COP15, said.
“While the war rages on, it blocks much needed action on nature conservation and restoration,” he added.
New Zealand’s Rosemary Paterson, speaking for the JUSCANZ group that includes Japan, Australia and the United States, added: “The widespread environmental destruction and transboundary harm caused by Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine cannot go unnoticed in this forum.”
Invoking a right-of-reply, Russian delegate Denis Rebrikov said: “We resolutely refute allegations against us as being outside the scope of this COP on biodiversity.”
He added that conflicts of the recent past — such as those in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria — were not brought up at environmental summits, despite the harms done to ecosystems.
“It’s hard to avoid the impression that these countries are deliberately trying to sabotage the adoption of a global framework” on biodiversity, added Rebrikov.
Earlier in the day, President Zelensky of Ukraine said tens of thousands of dead dolphins had washed up on the Black Sea and accused Russia of “ecocide.” Ukrainian scientists have blamed military sonar used by Russian warships for the disaster.
Delegates from across the world have gathered from December 7 to 19 in Canada to try to hammer out a new deal for nature: a 10-year framework aimed at saving the planet’s forests, oceans and species before it’s too late.
Draft targets include a cornerstone pledge to protect 30 percent of the world’s land and seas by 2030, eliminating harmful fishing and agriculture subsidies and tackling invasive species and reducing pesticides.


Suicide bombing at Indonesian police station kills officer, injures at least 10

Suicide bombing at Indonesian police station kills officer, injures at least 10
Updated 07 December 2022

Suicide bombing at Indonesian police station kills officer, injures at least 10

Suicide bombing at Indonesian police station kills officer, injures at least 10
  • Attacker was affiliated with Daesh-inspired JAD group, police say
  • Dozens of notes protesting Indonesia’s new criminal code found around crime scene

JAKARTA: A convicted bombmaker who was released from prison last year attacked a police station in Indonesia’s main island of Java on Wednesday, killing an officer and wounding at least 10 others, officials said.
The attacker entered the Astana Anyar police station in Bandung, West Java at around 8:20 a.m. with a motorcycle, detonating one of two bombs he was carrying as officers gathered for a morning assembly. The other explosive was defused.
“This morning a suicide bomb attack took place and the perpetrator died,” National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters when he visited the station in the afternoon.
The injured comprised mostly police officers with at least one civilian wounded, he said.
“He is affiliated with Jamaah Ansharut Daulah group in Bandung or West Java, and at this time our team is continuing work to solve the incident that has occurred.”
Footage taken from the scene showed body parts near the damaged lobby of the station and people running out of the building as white smoke engulfed the facility.
Prabowo identified the attacker as Agus Sujatno and said dozens of notes were found at the crime scene with messages of protests against Indonesia’s new criminal code.
Also known by his alias Abu Muslim, he was released from the Nusakambangan prison island last year after completing a four-year sentence on charges of terrorist funding and making explosives used in a 2017 attack that also took place in Bandung.
“While in prison, he was not cooperative and was still hard-line,” Irfan Idris, deradicalization director at the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, told Arab News.
JAD, which had pledged allegiance to Daesh, was responsible for several other deadly suicide bombings in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
This includes the 2018 church attacks in Surabaya that involved three families carrying out suicide bombings, killing nearly 30 people including the attackers themselves.
Stanislaus Riyanta, security and terrorism analyst from the University of Indonesia, said the attack was triggered by the new criminal code passed on Tuesday.
“They are looking for momentum. When they get it, such as with the passing of the new criminal code, they will use it,” Riyanta told Arab News.
Riyanta said Indonesian authorities should be cautious not only because the new criminal code was recently passed, but also ahead of Christmas and New Year holidays.
“This is a group with their own ideology, an ideology of violence, and they are anti-government, anti-democracy,” he added. “When there is a right moment, they will carry out their attacks.”


UN General Assembly adopts four draft resolutions to boost ‘lagging’ relief system

UN General Assembly adopts four draft resolutions to boost ‘lagging’ relief system
Updated 07 December 2022

UN General Assembly adopts four draft resolutions to boost ‘lagging’ relief system

UN General Assembly adopts four draft resolutions to boost ‘lagging’ relief system
  • One of them focuses on assistance for the Palestinian people and urges the international community to push ahead with reconstruction efforts in Gaza
  • The others call for the improvement of disaster-preparation systems, properly structured responses to such disasters, and improved protection of humanitarian workers

LONDON: The UN General Assembly adopted four draft resolutions on Tuesday intended to strengthen its relief system, which it noted is struggling to assist nearly 400 million people facing severe crises around the globe.

One of the resolutions focuses on “Assistance to the Palestinian People.” It underscores the importance of emergency and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip, and the need to move forward with reconstruction efforts. It urges the international community to provide urgently needed assistance and services to alleviate the difficult humanitarian situation confronting Palestinian women, children and families, and to assist in the reconstruction and development of Palestinian institutions.

The resolution “Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of the United Nations” encourages the international community to provide assist to member states in preparing for disasters. It also promotes the creation of multi-hazard warning systems and recognizes the accomplishments of the Central Emergency Response Fund.

In adopting “International Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance in the Field of Natural Disasters, From Relief to Development,” the General Assembly recognized the link between emergency responses, rehabilitation and development, along with the importance of facilitating a smooth transition between these three stages.

The fourth resolution, “Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel and Protection of United Nations Personnel,” strongly condemns all acts of violence, attacks and threats directed against humanitarian workers, as well as the UN and its affiliates. It urges states to investigate all such incidents and expand their procedures to improve the systematic monitoring, reporting and investigation of attacks on humanitarian aid workers and medical personnel.

 


Ukraine’s Zelensky named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’

Ukraine’s Zelensky named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’
Updated 07 December 2022

Ukraine’s Zelensky named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’

Ukraine’s Zelensky named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’
  • The former comedian rallied his compatriots in broadcasts from the capital and traveled across his war-torn nation
  • On Tuesday, Zelenskiy visited Ukrainian troops near the front lines in eastern Ukraine

DUBAI: Time magazine named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky 2022’s “Person of the Year” on Wednesday, saying he inspired Ukrainians and won global accolades for his courage in resisting Russia’s devastating invasion.
Refusing to leave Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv at the outbreak of the war as Russian bombs rained down, the former comedian rallied his compatriots in broadcasts from the capital and traveled across his war-torn nation, the publication noted in bestowing its annual title.
On Tuesday, Zelensky visited Ukrainian troops near the front lines in eastern Ukraine.
“Zelensky’s success as a wartime leader has relied on the fact that courage is contagious. It spread through Ukraine’s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, as everyone realized the president had stuck around,” Time wrote in acknowledging the 44-year-old leader.
Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk was named Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2021, a year that saw his electric car company become the most valuable carmaker in the world. Time began this tradition in 1927.