U.S. Sails Two Navy Ships Through The Taiwan Straight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait on Monday, the body of water separating China and Taiwan, the island nation that China considers a breakaway province.

The transit could increase tensions between the U.S. and China as both countries are involved in a trade dispute and as the U.S. voices concerns over China’s militarization of the South China Sea.

“USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on Oct. 22, in accordance with international law,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, Deputy Spokesman, US Pacific Fleet. ”

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

A similar transit by two U.S. destroyers occurred in July, the first time the Navy had carried out a mission like that in more than a year.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.

“The Ministry of National Defense said today that two US ships have sailed from the south to the north through the Taiwan Strait,” said a translation of the statement.

“The Ministry of National Defense pointed out that the US ship routinely passed the international waters of the Taiwan Strait, and the relevant details were explained by the US government,” it added.

While the U.S. and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the U.S. and China have engaged in a trade war.

There are also tensions between the two countries over China’s growing military presence on man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month a Chinese Navy ship came within 45 yards of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Decatur as it carried out a freedom of navigation passage through international waters close to those islands.

Another irritant in the U.S.-China relationship continues to be U.S. support for Taiwan. The U.S. continues to sell military weapons to the island nation even though it does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province and not an independent nation.

At least 18 dead and 178 injured in Taiwan train derailment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

At least 18 dead and 178 injured in Taiwan train derailment

The derailed train in Yilan County, Taiwan, on Sunday.

Beijing, China (CNN)At least 18 people were killed and 178 others injured when a train derailed in Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan, according to an update from the island’s transport ministry.

Initially, the ministry said 22 people died, but it later revised the number.
The train was traveling between the cities of Shulin and Taitung when it derailed Sunday on a coastal line reportedly popular with tourists.
The train was carrying 366 passengers when the accident occurred just before 5 p.m. local time, the transport ministry said.
All eight train carriages derailed in the incident, with five of those overturning, the ministry said.
A 43-year-old American woman was among those injured, according to the ministry. She has been sent to a local hospital, which said she suffered bruises.
The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

Communist Mainland Is Mad About U.S. Selling $330 Million In Arms To Taiwan China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Getty Images
Aerial of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC, with I-395 freeway on the left, and the Air Force Memorial up middle.

China has reacted with anger to the news that the United States is ready to approve a $330 million arms sale to neighboring Taiwan.

The contract was confirmed in a Pentagon news release on Monday that detailed an inventory of spare parts and repairs to be bought from the U.S. for Taiwanese military aircraft.

At a daily press conference on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, expressed anger over the deal and said China had already made its feelings clear to U.S. representatives.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in its statement that the proposed sale would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient.”

The statement added that Taiwan continues to be “an important force for political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”

One China Policy

What is the ‘One China Policy’?  

Senior politicians in Beijing view Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be reclaimed as part of the mainland. China has used its growing economic power to ask nations it trades with to accept this “one China” view.

However, many Taiwanese want their island to be considered a separate nation and other global powers, including the United States, have wrestled with diplomatic language to try and satisfy both sides.

Under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, military deals with Taiwan had become less frequent as Washington attempted to improve its relationship with Beijing.

If approved by Congress, this latest sale would mark the second arms deal between Taiwan and the U.S. during the tenure of President Donald Trump.

The first, and much bigger deal, was carried out in June 2017 when the U.S. agreed to sell missiles, torpedoes and an early warning system to Taiwan for $1.4 billion. At that time, a Chinese ambassador said the deal damaged trust between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last November.

Artyorn Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images
President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last November.

Relations between Trump and Xi are already under severe strain thanks to an ongoing trade war between the two countries.

On Tuesday, China released a paper that accused the U.S. of “trade bullyism practices.” The Trump administration levied tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods on Monday, while Beijing retaliated by targeting roughly $60 billion worth of U.S. imports.

China’s Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a news conference on Tuesday that on trade, the U.S. was putting a “knife to China’s neck.”

Beijing Says That Taiwan Politicians Are Undermining ‘Status Quo’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI SHINE NEWSPAPER)

(THERE IS ONLY ONE CHINA AND THAT IS TAIWAN, IT IS THE ILLEGAL COMMUNIST PARTY ON THE MAINLAND THAT IS UPSETTING THE STATUS QUO IN THAT THEY HAVE NO LEGAL RIGHTS TO EVEN EXIST!)

Taiwan political force in power undermining cross-Strait ‘status quo’: Chinese FM

Xinhua

It is the Taiwan political force which has not given up the proposition of “Taiwan independence” that is “undermining the status quo of cross-Strait relations,” said visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday.

Wang made the remarks during a joint press conference with Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas when he commented on questions from reporters.

One put forward that recently some countries and some public opinion claimed that the establishment of diplomatic relations between countries like Dominican Republic and China is “unilaterally changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait” and is not conducive to the stability and development of the region.

Wang said there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, which is both a basic fact and an important consensus of the international community.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and countries like the Dominican Republic has followed both historical and international trend, and standing together with most countries in the world is undoubtedly a correct choice and also in full compliance with the fundamental and long-term interests of the country and people of the Dominican Republic, said Wang.

As for the so-called “changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang said, what he wants to make clear is that the administration now in Taiwan is a political force that has not given up the proposition of “Taiwan independence.”

It is precisely what the Democratic Progressive Party administration has been doing that is undermining the “status quo” that both sides of the strait belong to the same country and cross-Strait relations are not country-to-country relations, he said.

What they have been doing not only hinders the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, but also erodes regional peace and stability, Wang added.

The Dominican Republic cut ties with the Taiwan authorities and drew a clear line with them, which is maintaining the international consensus of one-China principle and plays a positive role in the peace across Taiwan Strait, said Wang.

Wang said that sovereign independent countries such as the Dominican Republic, can completely decide their own foreign policy, which, according to the United Nations Charter, other countries have no right to and should not interfere with.

The Dominican Republic’s establishment of diplomatic relations with China does not target any third-party, does not affect respective foreign policy, and will not harm the traditional influence and legitimate rights of other countries in the region.

Wang is on his first stop during his official visits to the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Suriname from Thursday to Sunday.

China Shows Military Muscle In Warning Too It’s Neighbors

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

China: Air Force Channel Flight

CHINESE bombers, fighters and early warning and aerial refueling aircraft yesterday flew through the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines heading for exercises in the Western Pacific.

The air force described the exercises as part of normal, annual, planned drills.

“This move is to raise the air force’s abilities via training, to meet the needs to maintaining national sovereignty, protecting national security and guaranteeing peaceful development.”

The air force will organize regular exercises that fly past the “first island chain,” it said, referring to an area that includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.

U.S. Recalls Top Diplomats From Latin America as Worries Rise Over China’s Influence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

U.S. Recalls Top Diplomats From Latin America as Worries Rise Over China’s Influence

Image
Jean Manes, ambassador to El Salvador, is one of three diplomats in Latin America who have been recalled to Washington.CreditCreditSalvador Melendez/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States has recalled three chiefs of mission from Latin American nations that cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China.

The move comes as American officials have expressed growing unease over China’s rising influence in the region.

The diplomats, who represent the United States in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama, will meet with leaders in Washington “to discuss ways in which the United States can support strong, independent, democratic institutions throughout Central America and the Caribbean,” a spokeswoman for the State Department, Heather Nauert, said in a written statement on Friday.

For decades, Taiwan and China have competed for recognition. In 1979, the United States switched its support and officially established sovereign relations with China, and many other countries followed. But Washington has supported any decisions by nations to continue recognizing Taiwan, a self-governing island that China wants to bring under Communist Party rule.

In recent years, China has had success in courting Taiwan’s diplomatic partners. Only 17 nations recognize Taiwan; outside the Vatican and Swaziland, they are all islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean or countries in Latin America.

American officials have expressed growing concern over the shift. The United States sells arms to Taiwan and maintains a diplomatic presence there, called the American Institute in Taiwan, now housed in a new $250 million compound. American officials see Taiwan’s de facto independence as an important hedge against Chinese dominance in the Asia-Pacific region — what the United States now calls the Indo-Pacific as it tries to strengthen ties with South Asian nations to balance against China.

Last month, El Salvador severed ties with Taiwan, prompting the White House to accuse China of “apparent interference” in El Salvador’s domestic politics. American officials fear that the four nations in Central America that still recognize Taiwan — Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — could soon follow. Last May, Burkina Faso switched recognition to China, leaving Swaziland as the lone holdout in Africa.

In June 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan, which surprised the United States government. The American ambassador to Panama at the time, John Feeley, said he learned about the switch from the president, Juan Carlos Varela, only an hour or so before Mr. Varela announced it, and only because he had called Mr. Varela to discuss an unrelated matter.

Mr. Feeley, who left his post in March and is now a consultant for Univision, said in an interview on Saturday that the recall of top American diplomats was significant.

The diplomats returning to Washington are Robin Bernstein, ambassador to the Dominican Republic; Jean Manes, ambassador to El Salvador; and Roxanne Cabral, the chargé d’affaires in Panama. A State Department official said they would return to their posts by Sept. 14.

Wang Yi, center, China’s foreign minister, and Hugo Martinez, right, El Salvador’s foreign minister, at a conference in Santiago, Chile. Last month, El Salvador severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China.CreditIvan Alvarado/Reuters

The move “is an appropriate and serious signal by the U.S. government to those three countries and to the Chinese government that it is now reviewing the implications of the diplomatic switch and is worried that U.S. interests could be jeopardized,” Mr. Feeley said.

“My sense is that they will be most focused on the issue of industrial and commercial espionage and the possibility of Beijing using its embassies to expand that activity in those countries and the Caribbean Basin,” he added.

China is now the world’s second-largest economy and is expected to overtake the United States as the largest one in 10 to 15 years.

It is difficult for any nation, especially a small one, to decide not to recognize the sovereignty of China.

China and Taiwan have long engaged in what some observers call “checkbook diplomacy” to woo countries by offering aid or other incentives. China’s financial packages have increased in recent years, especially as it has promoted infrastructure projects abroad and related loans and contracts as part of what it calls its Belt and Road Initiative.

Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, said on Saturday that the recall was “heavy handed.” The United States should not be surprised as Latin American governments push back against American requests, he added, when President Trump has continued to alienate the people of Latin America.

“Trump has openly and systematically offended Latin American countries and their people,” Mr. Guajardo wrote in an email. “He labels us as rapists and criminals, has never traveled to the region as president, has deported and separated families, and threatened to cut all sort of aid. China comes with an offer of friendship and economic development (albeit one that I don’t think will pan out). Why the surprise?”

The United States has yet to fill some ambassador posts in the region, including those in Mexico and Panama, Mr. Guajardo noted, whereas China has assigned ambassadors in all Latin American nations with which it has diplomatic relations.

“Save a few countries in Latin America, the region as a whole has a historical preference for the U.S. as the main ally,” he said. “This changed when Trump assumed the presidency. It was his call, his choice, to turn away from the region.”

China has grown more strident over the issue of Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen, a strong critic of Beijing, became president of Taiwan in May 2016. Chinese officials have worked to erase any recognition by corporations of Taiwan’s sovereignty. For example, they successfully pressured international airlines this summer, including those in the United States, to list just “Taipei,” a city designation, in their booking systems rather than phrases that included “Taiwan,” as was the case for decades.

Last month, Ms. Tsai made state visits to Belize and Paraguay to try to strengthen ties with those nations.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Recalls 3 Envoys From Latin America Over Taiwan Reversals. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Reading the political winds: The case for Taiwanese discretion

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE)

 

Reading the political winds: The case for Taiwanese discretion

Ryan Hass 

Taipei Times

Editor’s Note:Even as Taiwan faces increasing pressure, the realities of U.S. domestic politics mean Taipei should be prudent about appealing publicly to the Trump administration for support. This piece originally appeared in The Taipei Times.

In recent months, global events have unfolded at a dizzying pace. The annual tradition of NATO summits may be suspended. Transatlantic ties are buckling under stress. The G7 has unraveled. The global trading system is undergoing a fundamental reordering, as the United States withdraws from the center and no other country is prepared to take its place. U.S.-China relations are veering in an adversarial direction. And democracies around the world are being buffeted by populist waves and outside interference in electoral processes.

What ties all of these events together? In one way or another, each of these developments reflects the unwinding of the rules-based international order. Increasingly, relative power — not common rules of the road — is defining international relations.

The world has seen this dynamic before. Seventy years ago, in the wake of two catastrophic world wars, Roosevelt, Churchill, and others set out to build structures and systems to maintain global political stability. They diagnosed the conditions that enabled the outbreak of World War I and World War II as unbridled strategic competition between major powers, economic protectionism, and the rise of tyrants.

To forestall the re-emergence of global conflict, these leaders promoted the adoption of democracy, the expansion of trade liberalization, and the emergence of the United Nations as a body to debate and adjudicate interstate disputes. The United States committed to help rebuild Japan and Germany. Washington also planted American troops in Europe and Asia to help keep the peace and prevent any country from pursuing domination.

While the succeeding 70 years continued to be scarred by war, those tragedies were, by and large, limited enough to enable a period of historic human progress. More people in more places — including Taiwan — gained a say in their governance. An unprecedented number of people were lifted out of extreme poverty. And although the world veered close to catastrophe for several weeks in October 1962, there were no world wars. Sustaining conducive conditions for such rapid human progress during this period required a heavy and constant exertion of American power and leadership.

But as the veterans of world wars passed from the scene and the fears of the Cold War faded, the American people became less convinced in the value of sustaining the international system. They began to ask why the United States needed to solve “other people’s” problems. Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama each in their own way pushed back against such protectionist and isolationist impulses. They warned that disorder abroad would eventually lead to disruption at home, and that it was better to tackle problems at their root than to let them spread to America’s shores. Donald Trump did not share this worldview, though. Instead, he argued that the American people deserved a leader who would put “America first.”

President Trump understood instinctively that many Americans are ambivalent about keeping the peace abroad and more worried about their challenges at home. He recognized that America is going through a period of destabilizing transition, as the demographic profile of the country shifts for the first time toward majority non-Caucasian, the economy whirls through a technological transformation every bit as disruptive as the industrial revolution, and many people are fearful about their own and their children’s job prospects. Against this backdrop of discontent, President Trump promised he would put the interests of Americans ahead of the demands of others. He committed not to send America’s sons and daughters to fight “other people’s” wars. He said he would require allies and partners to contribute more to their own defense. And he vowed to fight for hard-working Americans by renegotiating trade deals that were generating trade deficits and “ripping off” the United States.

While it is reasonable to question the wisdom of President Trump’s actions, it would be a mistake to doubt whether he believes what he says. President Trump has been making similar complaints to anyone who would listen for the past four decades. His views are not poll-tested positions to maximize voter support. Rather, they are authentic grievances about how he believes America has been mistreated in the world.

None of this diminishes the challenge Taiwan faces as pressure intensifies from the mainland. Nor does “America first” mean Taiwan alone. Washington recognizes Beijing’s increased efforts to squeeze Taiwan and is undertaking efforts to push back. Taiwan still enjoys deep support on a bipartisan basis throughout the U.S. government. And the United States maintains a fundamental interest in cross-strait peace and stability, and continues to act accordingly.

But the realities of U.S. domestic politics do mean Taipei should be prudent about appealing publicly to the Trump administration to do more for Taiwan. It would not benefit Taiwan to become associated in parts of the American public consciousness with other “needy” partners who expect the United States to solve their problems.

Taiwan has invested decades in building relationships with American lawmakers and policymakers. Taiwan also has some of the best diplomats in Washington. It should rely on those professional channels to identify ways to strengthen ties where possible, and solve problems when necessary. Now is not the time for Taiwan to employ megaphone diplomacy to press the United States to do more on its behalf. The more Taiwan draws public attention to its appeals, the less it might like the response it receives.

Paracel Islands: The Truth And History Of The Vietnamese Islands That China Stole

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Paracel Islands

Introduction The Paracel Islands are surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by potential oil and gas reserves. In 1932, French Indochina annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island; maintenance was continued by its successor, Vietnam. China has occupied the Paracel Islands since 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands. China built a military installation on Mischief Reef in 1999. The islands are claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
History From 1460 – 1497, under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, Vietnamese began to organize the exploitation of both the Truong Sa and the Hoang Sa Archipelago farther to the north.This exploitation consisted of harvesting valuable sea-products and conducting salvaging operations to collect cargoes from vessels shipwrecked in the treacherous waters of the Truong Sa.
From 1680 – 1705, Do Ba Cong Dao issued Route Maps from the Capital to the Four Directions This is the first Vietnamese documentation of formal exercise of authority over the Hoang sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly)
In 1700s, State-sponsored occupation of the islands can also be traced to the reign of the Nguyen lords. Salvaging operations became formalized with the establishment of the Hoang Sa detachments or brigades, units of 70 men from the village of An Vinh, the recruitment and organization of which were regulated by the Vietnamese government.Portuguese and Dutch maps drawn by navigators in the early 17th century identify the islands as Vietnamese.
From 1802,During the reign of the Nguyen emperors, documentation was produced that distinguished the Truong Sa archipelago from the Hoang Sa Islands and identified both as Vietnamese possessions.
In 1816,the Vietnamese flag was planted in a formal ceremony on the Paracels
In 1836, emperor Minh Mang received a report from his Ministry of Public Works that recommended a comprehensive survey of all the East Sea islands because of their “great strategic importance to our maritime borders.”
In 1838,Phan Huy Chu published the “Detailed Map of the Dai Nam. The map “expressly mentioned the Paracel and Spratlys, under the name Hoang sa , Van Ly Truong Sa , as part of Vietnamese territory. Also in thí year, Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd published the ” Map of Great Annam” (Annam Dai Quoc Hoa Do) confirmed Paracel -Bai Cat Vang – Hoang sa as part of Vietnamese territory.
During 1800s,the Nguyen dynasty continued to exercise jurisdiction over the Truong Sa Islands without protest from any country until the French protectorate was established over Vietnam in 1884.
1932, Paracel Islands was placed on the map of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty. The Paracel were controlled by Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam.[citation needed]
In 1932, French Indochina and Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island.
In 1939, Empire of Japan invaded and occupied from the French. Ironically, the official reason for the Japanese invasion was that the islands were Chinese territory.
After World War II, the Republic of China government reaffirmed the Chinese sovereignty over the islands like other islands in the South China Sea, and dispatched patrol force to the islands, but this was challenged by the French. However, the dispute was only political and diplomatic as both sides attempted to gain US backing.
In the latter half of 1940s, French reclaimed the Paracel Islands. The Republic of China has never accepted the French claims.
In 1951, at the San Francisco Conference on the Treaty of San Francisco with Japan, which formally nations are sovereign over these islands, Vietnam’s representative claimed that both the Paracel and Spratly Islands are territory of Vietnam, and was met with no challenge from the nations at the conference. However, neither the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China were invited. They were busy fighting a civil war, and both considered the claim was a violation of Chinese sovereignty and neither had accepted it. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands politically and diplomatically.
After the fall of the nationalist regime in China, the Chinese controlled eastern half of the Paracel islands also fell into the communist hands. Several small clashes occurred between the French and the communist Chinese naval forces during this period but was eventually settled along the actual line of control with the Chinese occupying Woody Island and the Macclesfield Bank while the remainder were held by Franco-Vietnamese forces. Although,there had been no recognition of any country about China claim of the island.
After the French left in 1956, South Vietnam replaced the French in controlling the islands. Again, both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China politically and diplomatically condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands. Although the South Vietnamese inherited the same French claim over the entire Paracel Islands, the period was marked by the peace and both sides held on what was in their control without venturing into other’s domain. At the same time, the maps and other official documents of the North Vietnam government during this period had shown that the islands belong to China, mainly due to the fact that China was the largest backer of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
The political and diplomatic dispute became an armed conflict on January 20, 1974 in the Battle of Hoang Sa 1974 when the South Vietnamese Government unilaterally declared its intention to survey the island territory for petroleum extraction in early January 1974. During the same time, the South Vietnamese Navy sent a fleet of frigates to the area and positioned the fleet over the line of control. The South Vietnamese fleet fired at and killed several Chinese fishermans operating in the area at the time, as well as firing at patrolling Chinese ships and injuring Chinese Navy personnel. In response, Chinese Naval forces departed from China under order on January 20, 1974 for the Paracel Islands and swiftly overran the South Vietnamese positions on the islands in addition to the defending surface fleet. With the ensuing civil war embroiling South Vietnam’s attention, no military attempt was made to retake the islands from the People’s Republic of China following its defeat, and has been administered by the People’s Republic of China since.
Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, group of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, about one-third of the way from central Vietnam to the northern Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 16 30 N, 112 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: NA sq km
land: NA sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 518 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: tropical
Terrain: mostly low and flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Rocky Island 14 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: typhoons
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: composed of 130 small coral islands and reefs divided into the northeast Amphitrite Group and the western Crescent Group
People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered Chinese garrisons
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Paracel Islands
Economy Economy – overview: China announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism.
Transportation Airports: 1 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: small Chinese port facilities on Woody Island and Duncan Island being expanded
Military Military – note: occupied by China
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: occupied by China, also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam

Truck drivers strike across China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TAIWAN NEWS)

 

Truck drivers strike across China, shout ‘overthrow the CPC’

Truck drivers demand lower gas prices and no more police harassment

 

By Scott Morgan,Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Truckers block road in protest (Screenshot from RFA YouTube video)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Mass protests have erupted across 9 provinces and municipalities in China as truck drivers voice their anger over high costs, decreasing wages and police harassment.

Some truck drivers shouted “overthrow the CPC”, reports said.

The strike began on Thursday June 8 in Xiushui County (修水县), Jiangxi Province (江西省) and quickly spread to Shandong Province (山东省).

Truck drivers are angry about high gasoline prices, excessive highway tolls, changing government policies and police harassment.

The protesters demand lower gasoline prices, higher freight fees and a fair go from traffic police, who regularly harass and fine the truck drivers, reported Liberty Times.

Drivers also want better working conditions.


(Video from Radio Free Asia)

Reports suggest strikes are still underway in Anhui (安徽), Guizhou (貴州), Hubei (湖北), Jiangxi (江西), Shandong (山東) and Zhejiang (浙江) provinces.

Strikes are also underway in Chongqing (重慶) and Shanghai municipalities (上海), according to Voice of America.

Protestors are meeting on national highways and in parking lots.

China’s roads are highly congested with strikes having the potential to cause significant delays and to interrupt supply chains.

Official Chinese media or government departments are yet to comment.


(Video from Guo Wengui’s (郭文贵) YouTube channel)

The US may sail a warship around Taiwan in an attempt to back up China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

The US may sail a warship around Taiwan in an attempt to back up China

US Navy uss lassen
The USS Lassen (DDG 82) patrolling the eastern Pacific Ocean.
US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Huey D. Younger Jr.
  • The United States is considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, US officials say.
  • A US warship passage, should it happen, could be seen in Taiwan as a fresh sign of support by President Donald Trump after a series of Chinese military exercises around the self-ruled island.
  • China has alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait.

WASHINGTON — The United States is considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, US officials say, in a move that could provoke a sharp reaction from Beijing at a time when Sino-US ties are under pressure from trade disputes and the North Korean nuclear crisis.

A US warship passage, should it happen, could be seen in Taiwan as a fresh sign of support by President Donald Trump after a series of Chinese military exercises around the self-ruled island. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

US officials told Reuters that the United States had already examined plans for an aircraft carrier passage once this year but ultimately did not pursue them, perhaps because of concerns about upsetting China.

The last time a US aircraft carrier transited the Taiwan Strait was in 2007, during the George W. Bush administration, and some US military officials believe a carrier transit is overdue.

Another less provocative option would be resuming the periodic, but still infrequent, passages by other US Navy ships through the strait, the latest of which was in July.

The Pentagon declined to comment on any potential future operations, and it was unclear how soon a passage might take place.

Speaking in Beijing, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, urged the United States to prudently handle the Taiwan issue so as to avoid harming bilateral ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait region.

“We have repeatedly emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue in the China-US relationship,” she said at a daily news briefing on Tuesday.

Trump, who in 2016 broke protocol as president-elect by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s president, has toned down his rhetoric about Taiwan in recent months as he seeks China’s aid in the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

The United States and China are also trying to find their way out of a major trade dispute that has seen the world’s two economic heavyweights threaten tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion.

China has alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait separating it from Taiwan.

“They’re turning up the heat,” a fourth US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the US’s view of Chinese activities around Taiwan.

Separately, it now appears unlikely the United States will send top officials to a June 12 dedication ceremony for the new American Institute in Taiwan, America’s de facto embassy in Taiwan. Washington does not have formal ties with Taipei.

US officials told Reuters that the date clashed with the planned June 12 summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but added that there would be another opportunity to commemorate the institute’s unveiling in September.

Case-by-case arms sales

Since taking office, Trump has approved a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan and angered Beijing by signing legislation encouraging visits by senior US officials to Taiwan. Trump also named John Bolton, known as a strong Taiwan supporter, as his national security adviser.

The fourth US official told Reuters that Washington aimed to change the way it approaches arms sales requests from Taiwan to address them on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to bundling them together.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers at the US-Taiwan Business Council trade association said that moving away from bundling — a practice in place for a decade — would be better for Taipei’s defense needs, treating it more like a regular security partner.

“We get into difficulty when we treat Taiwan differently, which opens the door for the politicization of the [arms sales] process,” Hammond-Chambers said.

Military experts say that the balance of power between Taiwan and China has shifted decisively in China’s favor in recent years and that China could easily overwhelm the island unless US forces came quickly to Taiwan’s aid.

The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it is unclear whether Washington would want to be dragged into war with China over the island.

Asked about US obligations to Taiwan, Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, noted that Washington had sold Taiwan more than $15 billion worth of weaponry since 2010.

“We have a vital interest in upholding the current rules-based international order, which features a strong, prosperous, and democratic Taiwan,” Logan said.

SEE ALSO: US disregards Beijing’s nonsense, says it can take down South China Sea islands

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