China’s Xi says nobody can stop ‘family reunion’ with Taiwan

China’s Xi says nobody can stop ‘family reunion’ with Taiwan
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that ‘external interference cannot stop the historical trend of reunion of the country and family.’ (AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2024
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China’s Xi says nobody can stop ‘family reunion’ with Taiwan

China’s Xi says nobody can stop ‘family reunion’ with Taiwan
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping: ‘There is no rancour that cannot be resolved, no problem that cannot be discussed, and no force that can separate us.’

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping told former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday that outside inference could not stop the “family reunion” between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and that there are no issues that cannot be discussed.
Since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists, no serving Taiwanese leader has visited China.
Ma, president from 2008 to 2016, last year became the first former Taiwanese leader to visit China, and is now on his second trip to the country, at a time of simmering military tension across the strait.
Ma had been widely expected to meet Xi this time around, having first met Xi in Singapore in late 2015 for a landmark summit shortly before the current Taiwan president, Tsai Ing-wen, won election.
Meeting Ma in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where foreign leaders normally hold talks with top Chinese officials, Xi said that people on both sides of the strait are Chinese.
“External interference cannot stop the historical trend of reunion of the country and family,” Xi said, in comments reported by Taiwanese media.
Xi did not elaborate but in Chinese terminology referring to external interference over Taiwan is generally aimed at the support Taipei gets from Western countries like the United States, especially arms sales which infuriate Beijing.
People on both sides of the strait are Chinese, Xi said.
“There is no rancour that cannot be resolved, no problem that cannot be discussed, and no force that can separate us..”
China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically-governed Taiwan under its control, and has ramped up military and political pressure to assert its sovereignty claims.
Ma told Xi that tensions have caused unease for many Taiwanese.
“If there is a war between the two sides, it will be unbearable for the Chinese people,” Ma said, using a term that refers to people who are ethnically Chinese rather than their nationality.
“Chinese on both sides of the strait absolutely have enough wisdom to handle all disputes peacefully and avoid heading into conflict.”
Responding to the meeting, Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council said it deeply regretted that Ma did not publicly convey Taiwan’s people’s insistence on defending the sovereignty and democratic system of the Republic of China, which remains Taiwan’s formal name.
Beijing should stop intimidating Taiwan and resolve its differences with Taipei through respectful, rational dialogue, it added.
MR. MA YING-JEOU
Xi called Ma “Mr. Ma Ying-jeou” rather than former president, given neither the Chinese nor Taiwanese governments formally recognize the other. Ma called Xi by title as head of the Communist Party — general secretary.
Tsai and her government reject China’s territorial claims, saying only the island’s people can decide their future.
China says it will only talk to Tsai if she accepts that both sides of the strait are part of “one China,” which she has refused to do.
Xi has only rarely made public remarks about Taiwan in recent months.
Speaking to US President Joe Biden in early April, Xi urged Washington to translate “Biden’s commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence’” into concrete actions.
Xi has also not commented publicly on Taiwan’s January presidential election, won by current Vice President Lai Ching-te, viewed by Beijing as a dangerous separatist and who takes office on May 20.
Ma remains a senior member of Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), which in January lost the presidential election for the third time in a row, but has no official party position.
The KMT advocates close ties with China and dialogue, but strongly denies being pro-Beijing.


How cockroaches spread around the globe to become the pest we know today

How cockroaches spread around the globe to become the pest we know today
Updated 7 sec ago
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How cockroaches spread around the globe to become the pest we know today

How cockroaches spread around the globe to become the pest we know today
  • Study confirms German cockroach species found worldwide actually originated in southeast Asia
  • Cockroaches may have stowed away with people to travel to Middle East, Europe, says study

DALLAS: They’re six-legged, hairy home invaders that just won’t die, no matter how hard you try.

Cockroaches are experts at surviving indoors, hiding in kitchen pipes or musty drawers. But they didn’t start out that way.

A new study uses genetics to chart cockroaches’ spread across the globe, from humble beginnings in southeast Asia to Europe and beyond. The findings span thousands of years of cockroach history and suggest the pests may have scuttled across the globe by hitching a ride with another species: people.

“It’s not just an insect story,” said Stephen Richards, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine who studies insect genes and was not involved with the study. “It’s an insect and humanity story.”

Researchers analyzed the genes of over 280 cockroaches from 17 countries and six continents. They confirmed that the German cockroach — a species found worldwide — actually originated in southeast Asia, likely evolving from the Asian cockroach around 2,100 years ago. Scientists have long suspected the German cockroach’s Asian origins since similar species still live there.

The research was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The cockroaches then globe-trotted via two major routes. They traveled west to the Middle East about 1,200 years ago, perhaps hitchhiking in soldiers’ breadbaskets. And they may have stowed away on Dutch and British East India Company trade routes to get to Europe about 270 years ago, according to scientists’ reconstruction and historical records.

Once they arrived, inventions like the steam engine and indoor plumbing likely helped the insects travel further and get cozy living indoors, where they are most commonly found today.

Researchers said exploring how cockroaches conquered past environments may lead to better pest control.

Modern-day cockroaches are tough to keep at bay because they evolve quickly to resist pesticides, according to study author Qian Tang, a postdoctoral researcher studying insects at Harvard University.
 


9 Egyptians go on trial in Greece over deadly shipwreck, as rights groups question process

9 Egyptians go on trial in Greece over deadly shipwreck, as rights groups question process
Updated 4 min 52 sec ago
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9 Egyptians go on trial in Greece over deadly shipwreck, as rights groups question process

9 Egyptians go on trial in Greece over deadly shipwreck, as rights groups question process
  • International human rights groups argue the defendants’ right to a fair trial is being compromised as they face judgment before an investigation is concluded
KALAMATA: Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations.
The defendants, most in their 20s, face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges over the sinking of the “Adriana” fishing trawler on June 14 last year.
International human rights groups argue that their right to a fair trial is being compromised as they face judgment before an investigation is concluded into claims the Greek coast guard may have botched the rescue attempt.
More than 500 people are believed to have gone down with the fishing trawler, which had been traveling from Libya to Italy. Following the sinking, 104 people were rescued — mostly migrants from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt — and 82 bodies were recovered.
Early Tuesday, police in riot gear clashed with members of a small group of protesters gathered in front of the courthouse and detained two people.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece as “horrific.”
The sinking renewed pressure on European governments to protect the lives of migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach the continent, as the annual number of people traveling illegally across the Mediterranean continues to rise.
Lawyers from Greek human rights groups are representing the nine Egyptians, who deny the smuggling charges.
“There’s a real risk that these nine survivors could be found ‘guilty’ on the basis of incomplete and questionable evidence given that the official investigation into the role of the coast guard has not yet been completed,” said Judith Sunderland, an associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch.
Authorities say the defendants were identified by other survivors and the indictments are based on their testimonies.
The European border protection agency Frontex says illegal border detections at EU frontiers increased for three consecutive years through 2023, reaching the highest level since the 2015-2016 migration crisis — driven largely by arrivals at the sea borders.

France begins its first war crime trial of Syrian officials

France begins its first war crime trial of Syrian officials
Updated 11 min 22 sec ago
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France begins its first war crime trial of Syrian officials

France begins its first war crime trial of Syrian officials
  • The Paris Criminal Court will try the three officials for their role in the deaths of two French Syrian men

PARIS: The first trial in France of officials of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad is to begin on Tuesday, with three top security officers to be tried in absentia for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Paris Criminal Court will try the three officials for their role in the deaths of two French Syrian men, Mazzen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, arrested in Damascus in 2013.
“For the first time, French courts will address the crimes of the Syrian authorities, and will try the most senior members of the authorities to ever be prosecuted since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011,” said the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
The war between Assad’s regime and armed opposition groups, including Daesh, erupted after the government repressed peaceful pro-democracy protests in 2011.
The conflict has killed more than half a million people, displaced millions, and ravaged Syria’s economy and infrastructure.
Trials into the abuses of the Syrian regime have taken place elsewhere in Europe, notably in Germany.
But in those cases, the people prosecuted held lower ranks and were present at the hearings.
Ali Mamlouk, former head of the National Security Bureau, Jamil Hassan, former director of the Air Force intelligence service, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, former head of investigations for the service in Damascus, are subject to international arrest warrants and will be tried in absentia.
Scheduled to last four days, the hearings will be filmed.
War crimes
At the time of the arrest, Patrick Dabbagh was a 20-year-old student in his second year of arts and humanities at the University of Damascus. His father Mazzen worked as a senior education adviser at the French high school in Damascus.
The two were arrested in November 2013 by officers who claimed to belong to the Syrian Air Force intelligence service.
“Witness testimony confirms that Mazzen and Patrick Abdelkader were both taken to a detention center at Mezzeh Military Airport, which is run by Syrian Air Force Intelligence and notorious for the use of brutal torture,” the International Federation for Human Rights said, stressing that the pair were not involved in protests against the Assad regime.
They were declared dead in 2018. The family was formally notified that Patrick died on 21 January 2014. His father Mazzen died nearly four years later, on 25 November 2017.
In the committal order, the investigating judges said that it was “sufficiently established” that the two men “like thousands of detainees of the Air Force intelligence suffered torture of such intensity that they died.”
During the probe, French investigators and the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), a non-governmental organization, collected accounts of torture and mistreatment at the Mezzeh prison, including the use of electric shocks and sexual violence, from dozens of witnesses including former detainees.
Lawyer Clemence Bectarte, who represents the Dabbagh family and the International Federation for Human Rights, said the trial was a new reminder that “under no circumstances” should relations with the Assad regime be normalized.
“We tend to forget that the regime’s crimes are still being committed today,” she said.


France backs ICC after prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu

France backs ICC after prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu
Updated 28 min 6 sec ago
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France backs ICC after prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu

France backs ICC after prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu
  • If such warrants are issued, members of the court, could be put in a diplomatically difficult position

PARIS: France backs the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ‘fight against impunity’, its foreign ministry said after the court’s prosecutor sought an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others for alleged war crimes.
On Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he had requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, his defense chief Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders, including its chief, Yahya Sinwar.
If such warrants are issued, however, members of the court, which includes nearly all countries of the European Union, could be put in a diplomatically difficult position.
“France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday.
While US President Joe Biden called the legal step against Israeli officials “outrageous,” the French foreign ministry took a different stance.
It reiterated both its condemnation of Hamas’s ‘anti-Semitic massacres’ on Oct. 7 as well as its warnings over possible violations of international humanitarian law by Israel’s invasion of the Gaza strip.
“As far as Israel is concerned, it will be up to the court’s pre-trial chamber to decide whether to issue these warrants, after examining the evidence put forward by the prosecutor ... ,” the ministry said.


Protest at Greek parliament before trial of shipwreck that killed several migrants, including Pakistanis

Protest at Greek parliament before trial of shipwreck that killed several migrants, including Pakistanis
Updated 21 May 2024
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Protest at Greek parliament before trial of shipwreck that killed several migrants, including Pakistanis

Protest at Greek parliament before trial of shipwreck that killed several migrants, including Pakistanis
  • Adriana fishing trawler sank off a Greek coast in June 2023 carrying hundreds of migrants from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt
  • Protest held in support of nine Egyptian survivors on board migrant boat who are charged with causing incident, human smuggling

Dozens gathered outside the Greek parliament on Monday (May 20) for a protest ahead of the trial of nine Egyptian men facing smuggling charges in connection with the migrant shipwreck last year.

On June 14, 2023, the Adriana fishing trawler, carrying between 500 and 700 migrants from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt sank off the southern town of Pylos, in international waters, on its way from Libya to Italy. Some 104 men survived and only 82 bodies have been recovered.

The protest was held in support of the nine Egyptian survivors who were on board the migrant boat and who have been charged with causing the incident, participating in a criminal organization, and migrant smuggling.

They have denied any wrongdoing.

The circumstances of the sinking of the Adriana in June remain a source of dispute between the Greek authorities and groups supporting the rights of survivors and migrants — meaning the trial could be the first opportunity to officially hear the accounts of some of those present at the time.

Survivors have accused the Greek coast guard of capsizing the boat. The authorities, which monitored Adriana for hours, say it overturned when a coast guard vessel was about 70 meters away. The coast guard service has denied any wrongdoing.

It remains unclear what happened in the time between the coast guard being alerted to the presence of the vessel and when it capsized.