Astronomers Uncover Dozens of Previously Unknown Ancient and Massive Galaxies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASTRONOMY TODAY)

 

Astronomers Uncover Dozens of Previously Unknown Ancient and Massive Galaxies

For decades, astronomers have been trying to see as far as they can into the deep Universe. By observing the cosmos as it was shortly after the Big Bang, astrophysicists and cosmologists hope to learn all they can about the early formation of the Universe and its subsequent evolution. Thanks to instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to see parts of the Universe that were previously inaccessible.

But even the venerable Hubble is incapable of seeing all that was taking place during the early Universe. However, using the combined power of some of the newest astronomical observatories from around the world, a team of international astronomers led by Tokyo University’s Institute of Astronomy observed 39 previously-undiscovered ancient galaxies, a find that could have major implications for astronomy and cosmology.

The team behind the discovery included members from Tokyo University’s Institute of Astronomy, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Anhui Normal University in China, the University of Ludwig-Maximilians in Munich, the National Astronomical Observatories of China, and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in Taiwan. Their research appeared in the Aug. 7th issue of Nature.

Artist impression of galaxies detected by ALMA as they appear in the very early, very distant universe. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello

Spotting the “Invisible”

To put it simply, the earliest possible galaxies in the Universe have remained invisible until now because their light is very faint and occurs at long wavelengths that are undetectable by Hubble. The team therefore turned to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array(ALMA), whose telescopes are optimized for viewing this kind of light.

The discovery that resulted was not only unprecedented, but the discovery of this many galaxies of this type defies current cosmological models. As Tao Wang, a researcher from the AISAA and a co-author on the study, explained:

“This is the first time that such a large population of massive galaxies was confirmed during the first 2 billion years of the 13.7-billion-year life of the universe. These were previously invisible to us. This finding contravenes current models for that period of cosmic evolution and will help to add some details, which have been missing until now.”

These galaxies, though they were the largest in existence at the time, were still very difficult to spot. Much of the reason has to do with the extent to which their light has been stretched by the expansion of the Universe. In everyday astronomy, this phenomena is known as redshift, where the expansion of space (the Hubble Constant) causes the wavelength of light to become elongated, shifting it towards the red end of the spectrum.

This allows astronomers to not only tell how distant an object is, but what that object looked like in the past. But when looking to the very earliest epoch of the Universe (over 13 billion years ago) the immense distance stretches the wavelength of visible light to the point where it is no longer in the domain of visible light and becomes infrared.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this stunning infrared image of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, where the black hole Sagitarrius A resides. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Another reason these galaxies are difficult to spot is that larger galaxies tend to be shrouded in dust, especially when they are still in the early parts of their formation. This tends to obscure them more than their smaller galactic counterparts. For these reasons, there was some suspicion that these galaxies were not as old as the team suggested. As Wang indicated:

“It was tough to convince our peers these galaxies were as old as we suspected them to be. Our initial suspicions about their existence came from the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared data. But ALMA has sharp eyes and revealed details at submillimeter wavelengths, the best wavelength to peer through dust present in the early universe. Even so, it took further data from the imaginatively named Very Large Telescope in Chile to really prove we were seeing ancient massive galaxies where none had been seen before.”

What Does This Mean for Astronomy?

Since the discovery of these galaxies defies our current cosmological models, the team’s findings naturally have some significant implications for astronomers. As Kotaro Kohno, a professor with the Institute of Astronomy and a co-author on the study, explained:

“The more massive a galaxy, the more massive the supermassive black hole at its heart. So the study of these galaxies and their evolution will tell us more about the evolution of supermassive black holes, too,” added Kohno. “Massive galaxies are also intimately connected with the distribution of invisible dark matter. This plays a role in shaping the structure and distribution of galaxies. Theoretical researchers will need to update their theories now.”

Ancient galaxies from the study are visible to ALMA (right) but not to Hubble (left). Credit: Wang (et al.) 2019

Another interesting find was the ways in which these 39 ancient galaxies differ from our own. For starters, these galaxies had a higher density of stars than the Milky Way does today; which means that if our galaxy were similar, stargazers would be seeing something very different when they looked up at the night sky.

“For one thing, the night sky would appear far more majestic. The greater density of stars means there would be many more stars close by appearing larger and brighter,” said Wang. “But conversely, the large amount of dust means farther-away stars would be far less visible, so the background to these bright close stars might be a vast dark void.”

Since this is the first time that a galactic population of this kind has been discovered, astronomers are looking forward to what else they might find. As it stands, even ALMA is not sophisticated enough to investigate the chemical compositions and stellar populations of these galaxies. However, next-generation observatories will have the resolution for astrnomers to conduct these studies.

These include the James Webb Space Telescope, which is currently slated for launch in 2021. Ground-based observatories like the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) are also likely to play a vital role.

It’s an exciting time for astronomers and cosmologists. Ever so slowly, they are peeling back another layer of the Universe to see what secrets lurk beneath!

Further Reading: University of Tokyo

Hong Kong: The Next Bloodbath

Hong Kong: The Next Bloodbath

 

I very much fear that Hong Kong is going to be the next Tienanmen Square except on a much larger scale. The Communist government in Beijing have used the financial muscle generated in Hong Kong to build their country and their military power ever since England turned it back over to them. Now the Chinese government is facing a quandary of sorts. If they do nothing and the protesters continue to stay united against the intrusions of Beijing then the government would have to either back down which would make them look weak or use their military to stop the protesters. Personally I believe that the government will use force to end the peoples blockades of government buildings, stores, and the streets. I can’t help but wonder how many people will be murdered by China’s military in this process. How many protesters will sacrifice their lives in hoping that the West will come to their aid? Personally I do not believe that the U.S. nor the UN will do anything accept talk and issue sanctions which will save no lives in Hong Kong. This is just as I believe that Beijing will totally get away with attacking the legitimate government of China that resides on Taiwan as the world sits back and wrings their hands and whine. Obviously this is just my opinion but this is how I honestly see these events playing out.

 

 

Taiwan: 30 Years, and the CCP STILL UNREPENTANT ABOUT TIANANMEN MASSACRE

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TAIWAN SENTINEL NEWS)

 

Thirty Years On, The CCP is Still Unrepentant About the Tiananmen Massacre


Chinese FM urges US not to ‘play with fire’ on Taiwan-related issues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Chinese FM urges US not to ‘play with fire’ on Taiwan-related issues

Xinhua
Chinese FM urges US not to 'play with fire' on Taiwan-related issues

AFP

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a joint press conference with Hungarian Trade and Foreign Minister on July 12, 2019 in Budapest.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday urged the United States to correctly handle Taiwan-related issues, and not “play with fire.”

Wang made the remarks here when meeting the press with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

The US government, ignoring China’s solemn position and firm opposition, recently approved arms sales to Taiwan, he said, noting that China has lodged solemn representations with the US side.

China is seriously concerned about Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen’s “transit” in the United States, and firmly opposes any official contact between the United States and Taiwan in any form, added the Chinese top diplomat.

Wang noted that “Taiwan independence” separatist activity is against the trend of history and interests of the people across the Taiwan Strait.

It has neither a future nor a way out, and is doomed to fail, he added.

The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affairs and allows no outside interference, Wang said, adding that no one or any force can stop the historical process of reunification between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait, nor should they underestimate the firm will of the Chinese government and people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China urges the US side to fully recognize the seriousness of Taiwan-related issues, honor its commitment to the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques with action, and correctly handle Taiwan-related issues in accordance with the important consensus, reached by heads of state of the two countries, on advancing bilateral ties based on coordination, stability, and cooperation, he said.

China urges the United States not to send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces or make any more wrong moves, and not even to “play with fire” on Taiwan-related issues, said the Chinese foreign minister.

Washington would “lift a rock only to drop it on its own feet” if it attempts to make new difficulties and troubles for the China-US relations, he said.

Taiwan President Risks Infuriating China With U.S. Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Taiwan President Risks Infuriating China With U.S. Visit

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan arriving at a hotel in New York on Thursday.Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times
ImagePresident Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan arriving at a hotel in New York on Thursday.
Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times

The leader of Taiwan, the self-governing island of 24 million claimed by China, visited the United States on Thursday and said her people would “never be intimidated,” risking China’s wrath and a further fraying of ties between Beijing and the Trump administration.

The visit by President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which includes stopovers in New York and Denver, is happening over the objections of China, which urged the United States government not to permit it.

Ms. Tsai made the trip in the midst of a protracted trade disputebetween China and the United States, and just a few days after the Defense Department approved a $2 billion arms sale to Taiwan, a deal that China regards as especially provocative.

While Ms. Tsai has visited the United States before, this was her first trip as president to New York, where Taiwan maintains a large unofficial consular and trade office just a few blocks from the United Nations. Taiwan is not a United Nations member and has no representatives, but 17 countries in the world body continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Ms. Tsai’s two-day New York itinerary, which required the Trump administration’s approval, included a summit of Taiwan and American business representatives and a dinner banquet with members of the Taiwanese-American community.

Her entourage, protected by federal agents and New York police officers, arrived at the midtown Grand Hyatt to a raucous welcome by hundreds of pro-Taiwan demonstrators, waving Taiwanese and American flags and screaming “Zongtong hao!” (“Hello president!”) She shook hands and posed for selfies.

Across the street, a smaller but equally passionate group of pro-Beijing protesters was denouncing the visit. Some were heard shouting, “Down with Taiwan!” and “Unify China!” A Reuters photographer witnessed a brawl between members of the rival demonstrations that was broken up by the police.

Later Thursday at a reception held in Taiwan’s consular offices nearby, Ms. Tsai welcomed United Nations ambassadors from the countries, mostly in Latin America and islands in the Pacific Ocean, that recognize Taiwan despite pressure from China.

ImagePolice officers monitoring pro-China and pro-Taiwan demonstrators outside the hotel in New York where Ms. Tsai arrived on Thursday.
Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times

She thanked them for helping to ensure that Taiwan’s voice is “heard around the world.” And in a pointed reference to China, Ms. Tsai said: “I want to reiterate that Taiwan is not and will never be intimidated.”

The United States broke formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s government in 1979, ending what was known as the two-China policy, in order to establish relations with China’s Communist government in Beijing. But the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan and has provided it with defensive weapons meant to deter a Chinese attack.

The Chinese Communist authorities in Beijing have long claimed Taiwan as China’s territory and have threatened to unify it with the mainland by force.

Ms. Tsai’s visit, which has been planned for months, was partly aimed at reinforcing her government’s ties with the Caribbean nations that recognize Taiwan. Her 12-day itinerary included stopovers at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Haiti.

“Freedom, democracy and sustainability are the Taiwanese values we want to share with all our good friends in the world,” Ms. Tsai said in a speech before her departure from Taiwan.

Taiwan’s tensions with China, with which it has developed expansive commercial ties, have grown under Ms. Tsai, who has been president since 2016. A member of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, she has stressed what she has called the need to strengthen the country’s military defenses. She faces an election in January.

Ms. Tsai toughened her rhetoric on China in April after Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China and Taiwan, for the first time since 1999. Taiwan jets scrambled and repelled their Chinese counterparts, which came within 115 miles of the island’s coast.

“These actions by China are not only unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo, even more, they are a brazen provocation to regional security and stability,” Ms. Tsai said afterward.

Ms. Tsai’s pro-independence politics, and Taiwan’s ties with the United States, have led to criticism from China.

In denouncing the Pentagon’s decision to allow the arms sale to Taiwan, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, Ma Xiaoguang, said Tuesday that Ms. Tsai’s party should not rely on foreign strength, which would “draw fire against yourself” and require her to “pay a price.”

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 6 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Visit Risks Beijing’s Fury For President Of Taiwan. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

Beijing says U.S. approval of $2.2 billion in military sales harms its national security

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, shown here in June, arrived in the U.S. on Thursday. PHOTO: RITCHIE B TONGO/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

China will sanction U.S. firms that participate in arms sales to Taiwan, after Washington approved sales of $2.2 billion in tanks, missiles and related military hardware, Beijing said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the arms sales “harmed China’s sovereignty and national security” and that the sanctions were necessary to safeguard its national interests.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, part of the United States Defense Department, notified Congress on Monday of proposed arms sales including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, Hercules armored vehicles, heavy equipment transporters and Stinger antiaircraft missiles.

The proposed sales risk further testing relations between the U.S. and China, already strained by protracted trade tensions. They swiftly drew the ire of Beijing, which sees such sales as interference in its sovereignty claims over the self-ruled island.

It coincided with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s arrival in the U.S. on Thursday, as part of a visit to four Caribbean allies, a trip that has also prompted anger from Beijing.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the U.S. to immediately withdraw the sale and said it had lodged “stern representations.” The official China Daily said Ms. Tsai was “playing a game of brinksmanship” by building up Taiwan’s military defense.

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The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

china militaryJon Woo/Reuters
  • The US military recently called Taiwan a country, something that China routinely threatens to go to war over.
  • China thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province with a democratic government that’s an existential threat to the Communist party.
  • No US president for decades has been so supportive of Taiwan, and the US and China now find themselves in uncharted territory.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has engaged China in a trade war that has global markets holding their breath, but his administration recently challenged Beijing on an issue Chinese officials have promised to go to war over.

The US military’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy paper, published on June 1, goes further than perhaps any US document ever issued in potentially provoking China’s rage over what it sees as the most sensitive issue.

Buried in the paper, which charts China’s efforts to build up a military fortress in the South China Sea and use its growing naval might to coerce its neighbors, is a reference to Taiwan as a “country.”

“As democracies in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Mongolia are reliable, capable, and natural partners of the United States. All four countries contribute to US missions around the world and are actively taking steps to uphold a free and open international order,” the strategy reads.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway island province that has its own, democratic government. Beijing sees this as an existential threat and the factor most likely to upset the Communist Party’s absolute hold on power in the mainland.

In July 2018, China threatened to blacklist airlines that referred to Taiwan as a country. US airlines fell in line, but the White House protested the strong-arm tactic as “ Orwellian nonsense.”

But now the US itself has clearly said it: Taiwan is a country, and the US will treat it as such.

“The Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs”

Trump Bolton
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 9, 2018.
 NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In another unprecedented step, a high-ranking Taiwanese minister was allowed to meet with Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, in May. This move predictably enraged China.

At the Shangri La Dialogue, the top defense summit in Asia, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe made clear the stakes of China’s Taiwan problem.

“Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure. If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs,” Wei said, according to Channel Asia News.

Taiwan is “the hot-button issue” in US-China relations, John Hemmings, the director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, told Business Insider.

China has always maintained that it would prefer to reunify with Taiwan peacefully but will do so by force if needed. Additionally, China’s navy has increasingly patrolled the waters around the island and flown nuclear-capable bombers nearby.

But the US has also sailed warships through the narrow strait separating China and Taiwan and has gotten allies to pitch in.

The arms are already moving

Marine Corps Abrams tank Arrow 19 Finland
A US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, during Arrow 2019 at the Pohjankangas Training Area near Niinisalo, Finland, May 12, 2019.
 US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins

The US’s rhetorical escalation follows the Trump administration normalizing arms sales to Taiwan and the news that it will sell $2 billion in tanks, anti-tank weapons, and air defenses to the island.

According to Hemmings, these weapons have a clear purpose: To fight back against a Chinese invasion of the island.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider that the US had now entered “uncharted territory” by acknowledging Taiwan.

The US under Trump has been the most pro-Taiwan administration in decades, Hemmings said. Trump demonstrated this when he had a call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen before Trump even took office.

Taiwan military exercise invasion artillery Han Kuang
Women soldiers from an artillery unit during the live-fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China’s People’s Liberation Army invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan, May 30, 2019.
 REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

For years, China has slowly stepped up pressure on the US in areas like forcing companies to transfer technology, building up military sites on artificial islands in the South China Sea, and naval challenges.

Hemmings referenced a popular anecdote in China, where a frog is cooked by putting it in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize it’s getting cooked until it’s too late. China’s gradual pressure campaign against the US has been compared to this practice.

With the US now quietly acknowledging Taiwan in a strategy document, it may have found its own small way to turn up the heat on Beijing.

More: China Taiwan Military Defense

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

Media caption Tensions flared up with some lawmakers jumping over tables

Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms.

But authorities say they need to make the change so they can extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker called it “a sad day for Hong Kong”.

Pro-democracy lawmaker James To originally led the session on the controversial extradition bill but earlier this week those supportive of the new law replaced him as chairman.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday, with politicians swearing and jumping over tables amid a crowd of reporters as they fought to control the microphone.

Scuffles broke out in Hong Kong's legislature over proposed changes to extradition lawsImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Opponents and supporters of the bill clashed in the legislature
Gary Fan stretchered out after clashes between opponents and supporters of Hong Kong's proposed extradition law changesImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan was taken out on a stretcher

Pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher, while one pro-Beijing legislator was later seen with his arm in a sling.

Why change the extradition laws?

Under a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

But Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam earlier this year announced plans to change the law so suspects could be extradited to Taiwan, Macau or mainland China on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie LamImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some critics say Carrie Lam has “betrayed” Hong Kong over the law change

Ms Lam has cited the case of a 19-year-old Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan before fleeing home.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they cannot help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Why object to the switch?

The proposed change has generated huge criticism.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

Even the normally conservative business community has objected. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has “gross inadequacies” which could mean people risk “losing freedom, property and even their life”.

And Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told the government-funded broadcaster RTHK last month the proposal was “an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The head of Foxconn Technology Group, having announced plans to step away from day-to-day operations at the world’s largest electronics provider, said Tuesday that he is mulling a run for president of Taiwan.

Terry Gou said he would make a decision “in a day or two” on a possible presidential bid, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency. He said that if he decided to run, he would take part in the opposition Nationalist Party primary rather than mount an independent bid.

The Nationalists favor closer ties with Beijing, a policy that accords with Gou’s massive business interests in China. Any candidate is expected to face a crowded field in the 2020 polls, in which President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party says she will seek a second four-year term.

Gou told reporters Monday at an event in Taipei that he would step back from daily operations at Foxconn. He said he wants to work on a book about his management philosophy honed over 45 years and prepare a younger generation to eventually take over operations at the company.

Foxconn counts Apple, Google and Amazon as customers and has said it will build a manufacturing facility in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

“The major direction of the company will still be guided by me. But I will gradually step back from the front-line operations,” the 69-year-old Gou said.

“I feel that I should tone down my personal influence … let young people learn sooner in order to take my position as soon as possible so that I can have more free time to work on long-term planning for the company’s future.”

Foxconn announced in 2017, to much fanfare, that it planned to invest $10 billion in Wisconsin and hire 13,000 people to build an LCD factory that could make screens for televisions and a variety of other devices.

The company said last year that it was reducing the scale of what was to be made in Wisconsin, from what is known as a Gen 10 factory to Gen 6. Those plans now appear to be in flux, although the company says its Wisconsin campus will house both an advanced manufacturing facility and a center of “technology innovation for the region.”

Foxconn earlier this year cited a changing global market as requiring a move away from making LCD panels in Wisconsin. Apple is Foxconn’s main manufacturing customer and it has forecast a drop in revenue from the Chinese market due to decreasing demand for iPhones.

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Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘QUARTZ NEWS’)

 

AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH
United Nations who?
NOT THE WORLD’S COP

Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

By Heather Timmons

Donald Trump signed a proclamation today (March 25) recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel, overturning 50 years of US precedent and defying international law on sovereign borders.

That means that the world’s most powerful military has decided to support Israel’s 1967 occupation and 1981 annexation of a region that the rest of the world and the United Nations recognize as belonging to Syria. “Aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel,” Trump said, explaining the move.

By ignoring the United Nations charter pledge to refrain from “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” Trump is putting the future of other long-disputed territory in jeopardy, foreign policy experts say. “It sets a terrible precedent,” said Edward Goldberg, a professor with New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. “If the US doesn’t recognize international law as the ‘cop,’ then who does?,” he said.

“What if China goes into Taiwan tomorrow, isn’t that the same thing?,” Goldberg said, “or Pakistan into Kashmir?”

Beijing considers Taiwan part of China, despite the fact that the island nation has an indigenous population, is self-governing, and has conducted independent democratic elections since the 1990s. Most other democracies around the world don’t recognize Taiwan as an independent country, in deference to China, and it is barred from the United Nations. While the United States has recently partnered with Taiwan officials to fight intellectual property theft, this January Chinese president Xi Jinping warned that Beijing could retake the island by force.

The Kashmir region between India and Pakistan has been disputed for more than 70 years, a legacy of the Partition that accompanied Britain’s withdrawal from India in 1947. Tensions rose in the volatile region in recent weeks, after India conducted a “pre-emptive strike” in Pakistan-controlled territory, and Pakistan captured an Indian fighter pilot. The mostly Muslim residents of the India-administered Kashmir Valley view the national government as an occupying force, and Pakistan officials support their self-government.

So far there are no signs that the Trump administration is interested in inserting itself into the long-simmering Pakistan-India dispute. However, the US Navy has increased its presence in the Taiwan Strait, most recently on March 24, responding to Beijing’s circling of the island in recent drills.

Trump made the unprecedented Golan Heights decision in a bid to boost prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of national elections April 9. Netanyahu has been charged in several corruption cases, although he still maintains an edge in polls. He applauded as Trump signed the proclamation, while secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Mike Pence looked on:

Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United Nations immediately condemned Trump’s proclamation, and the UN declared Israel’s annexation of the area “null and void.” As president, Trump has pulled the US out of international agreements, including the Paris Climate Accord and the TransPacific Partnership, but the Golan Heights decision is being specifically criticized as breaking international law.

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