H5N6 avian influenza: China reports 1st case of 2022


by NEWS DESKJanuary 8, 2022AsiaHeadlines1 Commenthttps://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-9825040603912618&output=html&h=60&slotname=1776764197&adk=1805778011&adf=3565383471&pi=t.ma~as.1776764197&w=468&lmt=1641839638&psa=1&format=468×60&url=http%3A%2F%2Foutbreaknewstoday.com%2Fh5n6-avian-influenza-china-reports-1st-case-of-2022%2F&flash=0&wgl=1&dt=1641842431669&bpp=35&bdt=42506&idt=4438&shv=r20220106&mjsv=m202112060101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D9feea2896430e7dd-227557ec14d00067%3AT%3D1641840252%3ART%3D1641840252%3AS%3DALNI_MZCld77W5E2F6_QkPpuE22rb-qHkQ&prev_fmts=1123×280&correlator=5759090885871&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=1237739700.1641840235&ga_sid=1641842435&ga_hid=1856989333&ga_fc=1&u_tz=-480&u_his=1&u_h=640&u_w=1139&u_ah=607&u_aw=1139&u_cd=24&u_sd=1.2&adx=172&ady=686&biw=1123&bih=487&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=31062931&oid=2&pvsid=2039425346710798&pem=325&tmod=930&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&eae=0&fc=640&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1139%2C0%2C1139%2C607%2C1139%2C504&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CoEebr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=0&bc=23&ifi=2&uci=a!2&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=D391es6WJi&p=http%3A//outbreaknewstoday.com&dtd=4601

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After reporting a record 31 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in 2021, Chinese health officials are reporting the first case of 2022 in Guangdong Province.

Image by Dsndrn-Videolar from Pixabay

According to the Guangdong Provincial Health and Health Commission, the patient is a 43-year-old female from Zhongkai District, Huizhou City.  The patient is currently in critical condition and is being admitted to a designated hospital in Huizhou. Health authorities were notified of the case on January 7.

Animal Viruses and Humans, a Narrow Divide: How Lethal Zoonotic Viruses Spill Over and Threaten Us

Experts believe that the cases that appear this time are sporadic cases, and the risk of transmission of the virus is low at this stage. Experts remind: the public should continue to remain vigilant and take the following measures to prevent H5N6 and other bird flu.

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  • Wash hands frequently: wash hands after touching birds, before meals and after toileting.
  • To be cooked: Poultry and eggs should be cooked before eating.
  • Seek medical treatment early: If you have respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, general malaise, etc., seek medical treatment at the nearest medical and health institution as soon as possible. If you have been in contact with birds before, you should take the initiative to tell your doctor.
  • Do not eat dead poultry.
  • Do not buy poultry products from unknown sources.
  • Avoid going to live poultry markets as much as possible.

This is the 58th human H5N6 avian influenza case reported in China since 2014.

What Will Drive China to War?

A cold war is already under way. The question is whether Washington can deter Beijing from initiating a hot one.By Michael Beckley and Hal Brands


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About the authors: Michael Beckley is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his research focuses on U.S.-China competition, and is an associate professor at Tufts University. Hal Brands is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies US foreign policy and defense strategy, and is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

President xi jinping declared in July that those who get in the way of China’s ascent will have their “heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel.” The People’s Liberation Army Navy is churning out ships at a rate not seen since World War II, as Beijing issues threats against Taiwan and other neighbors. Top Pentagon officials have warned that China could start a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait or other geopolitical hot spots sometime this decade.

Analysts and officials in Washington are fretting over worsening tensions between the United States and China and the risks to the world of two superpowers once again clashing rather than cooperating. President Joe Biden has said that America “is not seeking a new cold war.” But that is the wrong way to look at U.S.-China relations. A cold war with Beijing is already under way. The right question, instead, is whether America can deter China from initiating a hot one.

Beijing is a remarkably ambitious revanchist power, one determined to make China whole again by “reuniting” Taiwan with the mainland, turning the East and South China Seas into Chinese lakes, and grabbing regional primacy as a stepping-stone to global power. It is also increasingly encircled, and faces growing resistance on many fronts—just the sort of scenario that has led it to lash out in the past.

The historical record since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 is clear: When confronted by a mounting threat to its geopolitical interests, Beijing does not wait to be attacked; it shoots first to gain the advantage of surprise.

In conflicts including the Korean War and clashes with Vietnam in 1979, China has often viewed the use of force as an educational exercise. It is willing to pick even a very costly fight with a single enemy to teach it, and others observing from the sidelines, a lesson.

Today, Beijing might be tempted to engage in this sort of aggression in multiple areas. And once the shooting starts, the pressures for escalation are likely to be severe.

Numerous scholars have analyzed when and why Beijing uses force. Most reach a similar conclusion: China attacks not when it feels confident about the future but when it worries its enemies are closing in. As Thomas Christensen, the director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University, writes, the Chinese Communist Party wages war when it perceives an opening window of vulnerability regarding its territory and immediate periphery, or a closing window of opportunity to consolidate control over disputed areas. This pattern holds regardless of the strength of China’s opponent. In fact, Beijing often has attacked far superior foes—including the U.S.—to cut them down to size and beat them back from Chinese-claimed or otherwise sensitive territory.

Examples of this are plentiful. In 1950, for instance, the fledgling PRC was less than a year old and destitute, after decades of civil war and Japanese brutality. Yet it nonetheless mauled advancing U.S. forces in Korea out of concern that the Americans would conquer North Korea and eventually use it as a base to attack China. In the expanded Korean War that resulted, China suffered almost 1 million casualties, risked nuclear retaliation, and was slammed with punishing economic sanctions that stayed in place for a generation. But to this day, Beijing celebrates the intervention as a glorious victory that warded off an existential threat to its homeland.

In 1962, the PLA attacked Indian forces, ostensibly because they had built outposts in Chinese-claimed territory in the Himalayas. The deeper cause was that the CCP feared that it was being surrounded by the Indians, Americans, Soviets, and Chinese Nationalists, all of whom had increased their military presence near China in prior years. Later that decade, fearing that China was next on Moscow’s hit list as part of efforts to defeat “counterrevolution,” the Chinese military ambushed Soviet forces along the Ussuri River and set off a seven-month undeclared conflict that once again risked nuclear war.

In the late ’70s, Beijing picked a fight with Vietnam. The purpose, remarked Deng Xiaoping, then the leader of the CCP,  was to “teach Vietnam a lesson” after it started hosting Soviet forces on its territory and invaded Cambodia, one of China’s only allies. Deng feared that China was being surrounded and that its position would just get worse with time. And from the ’50s to the ’90s, China nearly started wars on three separate occasions by firing artillery or missiles at or near Taiwanese territory, in 1954–55, 1958, and 1995–96. In each case, the goal was—among other things—to deter Taiwan from forging a closer relationship with the U.S. or declaring its independence from China.

To be clear, every decision for war is complex, and factors including domestic politics and the personality quirks of individual leaders have also figured in China’s choices to fight. Yet the overarching pattern of behavior is consistent: Beijing turns violent when confronted with the prospect of permanently losing control of territory. It tends to attack one enemy to scare off others. And it rarely gives advance warning or waits to absorb the initial blow.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

For the past few decades, this pattern of first strikes and surprise attacks has seemingly been on hold. Beijing’s military hasn’t fought a major war since 1979. It hasn’t shot at large numbers of foreigners since 1988, when Chinese frigates gunned down 64 Vietnamese sailors in a clash over the Spratly Islands. China’s leaders often claim that their country is a uniquely peaceful great power, and at first glance, the evidence backs them up.

But the China of the past few decades was a historical aberration, able to amass influence and wrest concessions from rivals merely by flaunting its booming economy. With 1.3 billion people, sky-high growth rates, and an authoritarian government that courted big business, China was simply too good to pass up as a consumer market and a low-wage production platform. So country after country curried favor with Beijing.

Britain handed back Hong Kong in 1997. Portugal gave up Macau in 1999. America fast-tracked China into major international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization. Half a dozen countries settled territorial disputes with China from 1991 to 2019, and more than 20 others cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan to secure relations with Beijing. China was advancing its interests without firing a shot and, as Deng remarked, “hiding its capabilities and biding its time.”

Those days are over. China’s economy, the engine of the CCP’s international clout, is starting to sputter. From 2007 to 2019, growth rates fell by more than half, productivity declined by more than 10 percent, and overall debt surged eightfold. The coronavirus pandemic has dragged down growth even further and plunged Beijing’s finances deeper into the red. On top of all this, China’s population is aging at a devastating pace: From 2020 to 2035 alone, it will lose 70 million working-age adults and gain 130 million senior citizens.

Countries have recently become less enthralled by China’s market and more worried about its coercive capabilities and aggressive actions. Fearful that Xi might attempt forced reunification, Taiwan is tightening its ties to the U.S. and revamping its defenses. For roughly a decade, Japan has been engaged in its largest military buildup since the Cold War; the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is now talking about doubling defense spending. India is massing forces near China’s borders and vital sea lanes. Vietnam and Indonesia are expanding their air, naval, and coast-guard forces. Australia is opening up its northern coast to U.S. forces and acquiring long-range missiles and nuclear-powered attack submarines. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are sending warships into the Indo-Pacific region. Dozens of countries are looking to cut China out of their supply chains; anti-China coalitions, such as the Quad and AUKUS, are proliferating.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Globally, opinion polls show that fear and mistrust of China has reached a post–Cold War high. All of which raises a troubling question: If Beijing sees that its possibilities for easy expansion are narrowing, might it begin resorting to more violent methods?

China is already moving in that direction. It has been using its maritime militia (essentially a covert navy), coast guard, and other “gray zone” assets to coerce weaker rivals in the Western Pacific. Xi’s government provoked a bloody scrap with India along the disputed Sino-Indian frontier in 2020, reportedly out of fear that New Delhi was aligning more closely with Washington.

Beijing certainly has the means to go much further. The CCP has spent $3 trillion over the past three decades building a military that is designed to defeat Chinese neighbors while blunting American power. It also has the motive: In addition to slowing growth and creeping encirclement, China faces closing windows of opportunity in its most important territorial disputes.

China’s geopolitical aims are not a secret. Xi, like his predecessors, desires to make China the preponderant power in Asia and, eventually, the world. He wants to consolidate China’s control over important lands and waterways the country lost during the “century of humiliation” (1839–1949), when China was ripped apart by imperialist powers. These areas include Hong Kong, Taiwan, chunks of Indian-claimed territory, and some 80 percent of the East and South China Seas.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The Western Pacific flash points are particularly vital. Taiwan is the site of a rival, democratic Chinese government in the heart of Asia with strong connections to Washington. Most of China’s trade passes through the East and South China Seas. And China’s primary antagonists in the area—Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines—are part of a strategic chain of U.S. allies and partners whose territory blocks Beijing’s access to the Pacific’s deep waters.

The CCP has staked its legitimacy on reabsorbing these areas and has cultivated an intense, revanchist form of nationalism among the Chinese people. Schoolchildren study the century of humiliation. National holidays commemorate foreign theft of Chinese lands. For many citizens, making China whole again is as much an emotional as a strategic imperative. Compromise is out of the question. “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors,” Xi told James Mattis, then the U.S. secretary of defense, in 2018.

Taiwan is the place where China’s time pressures are most severe. Peaceful reunification has become extremely unlikely: In August 2021, a record 68 percent of the Taiwanese public identified solely as Taiwanese and not as Chinese, and more than 95 percent wanted to maintain the island’s de facto sovereignty or declare independence. China retains viable military options because its missiles could incapacitate Taiwan’s air force and U.S. bases on Okinawa in a surprise attack, paving the way for a successful invasion. But Taiwan and the U.S. now recognize the threat.

President Biden recently stated that America would fight to defend Taiwan from an unprovoked Chinese attack. Washington is planning to harden, disperse, and expand its forces in the Asia-Pacific by the early 2030s. Taiwan is pursuing, on a similar timeline, a defense strategy that would use cheap, plentiful capabilities such as anti-ship missiles and mobile air defenses to make the island an incredibly hard nut to crack. This means that China will have its best chance from now to the end of the decade. Indeed, the military balance will temporarily shift further in Beijing’s favor in the late 2020s, when many aging U.S. ships, submarines, and planes will have to be retired.

This is when America will be in danger, as the former Pentagon official David Ochmanek has remarked, of getting “its ass handed to it” in a high-intensity conflict. If China does attack, Washington could face a choice between escalation or seeing Taiwan conquered.

More such dilemmas are emerging in the East China Sea. China has spent years building an armada, and the balance of naval tonnage currently favors Beijing. It regularly sends well-armed coast-guard vessels into the waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku Islands to weaken Japan’s control there. But Tokyo has plans to regain the strategic advantage by turning amphibious ships into aircraft carriers for stealth fighters armed with long-range anti-ship missiles. It is also using geography to its advantage by stringing missile launchers and submarines along the Ryukyu Islands, which stretch the length of the East China Sea.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Japan alliance, once a barrier to Japanese remilitarization, is becoming a force multiplier. Tokyo has reinterpreted its constitution to fight more actively alongside the U.S. Japanese forces regularly operate with American naval vessels and aircraft; American F-35 fighters fly off of Japanese ships; U.S. and Japanese officials now confer routinely on how they would respond to Chinese aggression—and publicly advertise that cooperation.

For years, Chinese strategists have speculated about a short, sharp war that would humiliate Japan, rupture its alliance with Washington, and serve as an object lesson for other countries in the region. Beijing could, for instance, land or parachute special forces on the Senkakus, proclaim a large maritime exclusion zone in the area, and back up that declaration by deploying ships, submarines, warplanes, and drones—all supported by hundreds of conventionally armed ballistic missiles aimed at Japanese forces and even targets in Japan. Tokyo then would either have to accept China’s fait accompli or launch a difficult and bloody military operation to recapture the islands. America, too, would have to choose between retreat and honoring the pledges it made—in 2014 and in 2021—to help Japan defend the Senkakus. Retreat might destroy the credibility of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Resistance, war games held by prominent think tanks suggest, could easily lead to rapid escalation resulting in a major regional war.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

What about the South China Sea? Here, China has grown accustomed to shoving around weak neighbors. Yet opposition is growing. Vietnam is stocking up on mobile missiles, submarines, fighter jets, and naval vessels that can make operations within 200 miles of its coast very difficult for Chinese forces. Indonesia is ramping up defense spending—a 20 percent hike in 2020 and another 16 percent in 2021—to buy dozens of fighters, surface ships, and submarines armed with lethal anti-ship missiles. Even the Philippines, which courted Beijing for most of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, has been increasing air and naval patrols, conducting military exercises with the U.S., and planning to purchase cruise missiles from India. At the same time, a formidable coalition of external powers—the U.S., Japan, India, Australia, Britain, France, and Germany—are conducting freedom-of-navigation exercises to contest China’s claims.

From Beijing’s perspective, circumstances are looking ripe for a teachable moment. The best target might be the Philippines. In 2016, Manila challenged China’s claims to the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration and won. Beijing might relish the opportunity to reassert its claims—and warn other Southeast Asian countries about the cost of angering China—by ejecting Filipino forces from their isolated, indefensible South China Sea outposts. Here again, Washington would have few good options: It could stand down, effectively allowing China to impose its will on the South China Sea and the countries around it, or it could risk a much bigger war to defend its ally.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Get ready for the “terrible 2020s”: a period in which China has strong incentives to grab “lost” land and break up coalitions seeking to check its advance. Beijing possesses grandiose territorial aims as well as a strategic culture that emphasizes hitting first and hitting hard when it perceives gathering dangers. It has a host of wasting assets in the form of military advantages that may not endure beyond this decade. Such dynamics have driven China to war in the past and could do so again today.

If conflict does break out, U.S. officials should not be sanguine about how it would end. Tamping or reversing Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific could require a massive use of force. An authoritarian CCP, always mindful of its precarious domestic legitimacy, would not want to concede defeat even if it failed to achieve its initial objectives. And historically, modern wars between great powers have more typically gone long than stayed short. All of this implies that a U.S.-China war could be incredibly dangerous, offering few plausible off-ramps and severe pressures for escalation.

The U.S. and its friends can take steps to deter the PRC, such as drastically speeding the acquisition of weaponry and prepositioning military assets in the Taiwan Strait and East and South China Seas, among other efforts, to showcase its hard power and ensure that China can’t easily knock out U.S. combat power in a surprise attack. At the same time, calmly firming up multilateral plans, involving Japan, Australia, and potentially India and Britain, for responding to Chinese aggression could make Beijing realize how costly such aggression might be. If Beijing understands that it cannot easily or cheaply win a conflict, it may be more cautious about starting one.https://7bde9848e52ee813493e8d8134e663c8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Most of these steps are not technologically difficult: They exploit capabilities that are available today. Yet they require an intellectual shift—a realization that the United States and its allies need to rapidly shut China’s windows of military opportunity, which means preparing for a war that could well start in 2025 rather than in 2035. And that, in turn, requires a degree of political will and urgency that has so far been lacking.

China’s historical warning signs are already flashing red. Indeed, taking the long view of why and under which circumstances China fights is the key to understanding just how short time has become for America and the other countries in Beijing’s path.Michael Beckley is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his research focuses on U.S.-China competition, and is an associate professor at Tufts University.Hal Brands is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies US foreign policy and defense strategy, and is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

US Military Interests Are Promoting a Culture of Fear With China

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley listens to a question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on September 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley listens to a question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on September 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

BYDaniel FalconeTruthoutPUBLISHEDNovember 5, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley recently called China’s testing of a hypersonic missile designed to evade U.S. nuclear defenses “very close” to a “Sputnik moment” for the United States. The comments underscore an ongoing pattern on the part of the U.S. government and corporate media structure that reinforces and instigates dangerous preexisting geopolitical tensions with China, a rhetorical theme unnecessarily produced by a Sinophobic bipartisan U.S. political elite.

In this interview, international relations scholar Richard Falk provides the historical context of Sputnik and summarizes U.S. interests in promoting a culture of fear with China. Falk also outlines how prospects for a new Cold War could ultimately subside due to increased focuses about the climate emergency and COVID, thus rendering geopolitics less relevant, which is both fortunate and unfortunate for its own sets of reasons.

Daniel Falcone: On Bloomberg Television, Gen. Mark Milley referred to China’s hypersonic weapons test as close to a “Sputnik moment” that has our attention. Can you comment on the meaning of this language and provide historical context?

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Richard Falk: I interpret General Milley’s remark as primarily intended to raise security concerns relating to the deepening geopolitical rivalry with China, or perhaps as a reflection of these. To call the hypersonic weapons test by China “close to a Sputnik moment” was suggesting that it was posing a systemic threat to American technological supremacy directly relevant to national security and the relative military capabilities of the two countries. The reference to a Sputnik moment was a way of recalling an instance when the geopolitical rival of the day, which in 1957 was of course the Soviet Union, suddenly caught the U.S. by surprise, becoming the first sovereign state with the capacity to send a satellite into space with an ability to orbit the Earth, and possibly in the future by this means dominate the political life of the entire planet.

This capacity was not in of itself a threat but was taken to mean that the Soviet Union was more technologically sophisticated than was understood by the public, and apparently even by the U.S. intelligence. It was politically used as a spur to increased investment in space technology, and it led some years late to a triumphant moment for the United States when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, enabling the U.S. to reclaim the lead in the space dimension of the Cold War rivalry and to indirectly recover confidence in its military prowess. In retrospect, the actual relevance of the Sputnik moment was in the domain of symbolic geopolitics without real relevance to the course or outcome of the Cold War.

Supposedly the aim of the Chinese test is to develop a supersonic missile capable of encircling the Earth with a spatial orbit and a flexible reentry capability, which is perceived as having the ability to evade radar and existing defense systems currently in use to intercept incoming missiles. In that sense, Milley’s pronouncement in the course of the Bloomberg interview can best be understood as an intensification of the slide toward geopolitical confrontation with China, a set of circumstances that already possesses many features of a second Cold War, although occurring under radically different historical circumstances than the rivalry with the Soviet Union.

It will likely become the beginning of agitation and a campaign to increase the bloated defense budget still further, which is as always likely to find a receptive and gullible bipartisan audience in the U.S. Congress. No recent statement by a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has enjoyed such success as Milley in setting off national security alarm bells, uncritically highlighted by mainstream media.

What I found surprising, yet in keeping with the mobilization of anti-China public opinion, was the failure of both Milley and the commentary to suggest a different twist to this news. It could have been presented a dangerous and expensive technological threshold that calls for mutual restraint and possibly agreements limiting further developments. President Joe Biden or Secretary of State Antony Blinken could have used the occasion to declare that the world at this stage could not afford such costly and risky distractions, as an all-out arms race in space.

It seems that this Sputnik moment by an imaginative military leader could have turned to an opportunity for peace rather than a threat of future war. It might have provided a dramatic moment to embark upon a path of reconciliation with China that would benefit not only the two countries but humanity in general. Of course, such a turn would be viciously attacked by the militarists in both parties as weakness instead of strength. Remember the derision heaped on President Barack Obama for daring “to lead from behind” in the 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention in Libya. Given the mess resulting from that military operation, there is reason to view Obama’s reluctance as a show of strategic wisdom as well as prudence.

Is this a political statement in your estimation, or a sober comment by high-ranking official?

I do consider Milley’s statement, made without qualifications and accompanying comments, as providing the basis for two possible lines of response: a geopolitical reflex of alarm and heightened tensions in keeping with the confrontational character of recent American foreign policy, or a measured reaction that urged mutual restraint and a search for a cooperative framework with respect to the militarization of space in the interests of world peace, but also with respect to the avoidance of an expensive and highly uncertain extensions of arms competition.

The fact this “road not taken” was not even mentioned by Milley as an alternative is deeply disappointing, although in keeping with the prevailing mood in Washington. As well, the feverish media reportage of his provocative sounding of Sputnik alarm bells suggests that public policy debate is taking place in an atmosphere of ideological closure if the issue involves China. This should be deeply worrying.

President Biden recently participated in a CNN “town hall” and again instigated China. China does not seem to be intimidated by the United States. Can you elaborate on how that reality impacts heads of state overall?

We are witnessing once again a superpower interaction that threatens to dominate international politics — this time in a global setting still trying to recover from the COVID pandemic and faced with dire warnings in the form of a consensus from climate experts that if more is not done with a sense of urgency to address climate change, catastrophic harm will result. In this new configuration of global social, political and ecological forces, if rationality prevails, geopolitics will be moved to the sidelines so as to focus on challenges that cannot be ignored any longer. It is unfortunate that that political will in the U.S. remains mainly geared toward addressing real and imagined traditional security threats stemming from conflict and nothing else when it comes to foreign policy.

Some advocates for peace are worried that a failed or stalled infrastructure legislative package will force liberal Democrats into more hawkish positions in order to show “resolve.” Can you comment on the validity of this concern?

A persisting shadow hovering over American politics is the sobering realization that there seems to be no down side for hawkishness by a politician when it comes to embracing the warped logic of geopolitical rivalry or military spending. Whether this will have an impact upon the bargaining component of the search for sufficient support in Congress to fund a domestic infrastructure program is not knowable at this time, but it would come as no surprise. Many liberal Democrats do not depart from the bipartisan mainstream if the issues at stake are defense, Israel and now China, especially when a favored domestic program seems in jeopardy.

NPR has reported on how “Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on countries to support Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations. The self-governed island has not been a member of the body since October 1971, when the U.N. gave Beijing a seat at the table and removed Taiwan.” What are the regional implications of the Taiwan factor regarding Biden’s and Milley’s remarks? How is this pertinent and what is happening here?

It was a most unfortunate departure from the Shanghai Communique of 1972 establishing relations between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to speak in favor of giving Taiwan a more active role in the UN system. First, it seemed contrary to the spirit of what was agreed upon with respect to Taiwan in 1972, centering on an acceptance by Washington of a “One China” policy. As Henry Kissinger has argued, the language used deliberately avoided endorsing the PRC view of “One China,” leaving open the interpretation followed by Washington that Beijing could only extend its territorial sovereignty to Taiwan by way of a diplomatic agreement with Taiwan (formerly, the Republic of China, which had lost the right to represent China at the UN).

Despite efforts by Taiwan to gain diplomatic recognition as a separate political entity, it has only managed to secure a favorable response from 15 countries, and not one “important” country among them, with even the United States refraining. At one point, Taiwan did attempt to become a member of the UN, but the effort was firmly rejected by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, relying on UN General Assembly Resolution 2756, which set the terms of Chinese representation in 1971, relegating Taiwan (what had been represented by China at the UN until that time as the Republic of China) as “the province of Taiwan” within the larger reality of China. A strenuous U.S. effort in 1971 to retain the Republic of China as a participant in UN activities was rejected, leaving the PRC as the sole representative of China.

What makes the Blinken comment doubly inflammatory is that it occurred in the midst of increasing overall U.S.-China tensions with a growing focus on the security of Taiwan. With China apparently testing the nerves of Taiwan and the resolve of the United States by a naval buildup and air intrusions, for Blinken to choose this moment to support an increased independent status for Taiwan is either misguided or clearly meant to be provocative. Such irresponsible talk was further amplified by Biden’s implications that the U.S. would defend Taiwan if attacked rather than calling for a tension reducing diplomatic conference. Then comes General Milley’s “Sputnik moment” remark, as if the Chinese security challenge has crossed a threshold of strategic threat to the United States that it dares not ignore. Further signals of hostility were sent to China by activating the QUAD informal alliance (U.S., Japan, India and Australia) some months ago, and more recently establishing the AUKUS alliance, which included Australian development of nuclear-powered submarines.

There are two lines of structural threat that seem to be creating an atmosphere of pre-crisis confrontation: firstly, the so-called Thucydides Trap by which a hitherto dominant power faces an ascending challenger and opts for war while it still commands superior military capabilities rather than waiting until its rival catches up or gains the upper hand; the Milley comment and reaction must be viewed in this light. And secondly, the insistent belligerent assertion that what is at stake with Taiwan is the larger ideological struggle going on in the region and world between those governments that are democracies and those that are authoritarian. The Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, in a recent article in Foreign Affairs stridently articulated this theme, and so imparted larger meaning to what was at stake by keeping Taiwan safe and independent.

From a longer temporal perspective, the right-wing of the political class in Washington has never gotten over the trauma of “losing China” as if it were the U.S.’s to lose! It is the persistence of this geopolitical hubris that edges Taiwan tensions ever closer to an armed encounter, with true losers on both sides. A further reason to favor diplomatic de-escalation while there is still time is the apparent realization that the U.S. cannot match China in the South China Sea by relying on conventional weapons and can only avoid defeat by having recourse to nuclear weaponry. This is not alarmism. It has been openly declared by leading voices in the Pentagon.

This geopolitical context should not lead the world or the region to overlook the well-being of the 23.5 million people of Taiwan. Given what is at stake, the best approach would be to restore the “constructive ambiguity” that was deliberately written into the Shanghai Communique, and work for an atmosphere where Taiwan and the PRC can negotiate their futures on the basis of common interests. Although the recent experience in Hong Kong suggests that this, too, is a treacherous path, but less so than flirting with a geopolitical flare-up that could easily get grotesquely out of hand.

Navy investigation finds that US nuclear-powered submarine hit uncharted underwater mountain

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

Updated 12:41 AM ET, Tue November 2, 2021


Washington (CNN)A US nuclear-powered submarine that struck an underwater object in early October had hit an uncharted underwater mountain, an investigation found, forcing it to head from the South China Sea to Guam for repairs.The USS Connecticut had been operating in the contested waterway when it struck the object on October 2, but it was unclear at the time what it had hit.”The investigation determined USS CONNECTICUT grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region,” a 7th Fleet spokesperson told CNN in a statement. US 7th Fleet operates in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

Though the Seawolf-class submarine suffered some injuries to crew members and some damage, the Navy said the nuclear propulsion plant was not damaged in the accident. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

The command investigation for the USS Connecticut has been submitted to Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, the commander of 7th Fleet, for his review, according to the statement. Thomas will decide whether “follow-on actions, including accountability, are appropriate.”

USNI News was the first to report the findings of the investigation.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog

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Sign up for CNN What Matters NewsletterEvery day we summarize What Matters and deliver it straight to your inbox.Sign Me UpNo ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.The collision came at a particularly sensitive time in US-China relations, as the Chinese military was sending waves of aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone. On the day of the crash, China flew 39 aircraft into the Air Defense Identification Zone. Two days later, China flew a record 56 aircraft into the zone in a 24-hour period.

China reiterates firm opposition to US-Taiwan military contact in response to CNN interview

China reiterates firm opposition to US-Taiwan military contact in response to CNN interviewThough the number of incursions ebbed for a short period, they have since begun again. On Sunday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said eight People’s Liberation Army aircraft entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, with another six flying in on Monday.Meanwhile, the tensions between Washington and Beijing have increased. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for Taiwan to have “meaningful participation” at the United Nations, calling Taiwan’s participation “not a political issue, but a pragmatic one.”The statement drew an angry rebuke from Beijing, which views unification with the independently ruled island as one of its primary objectives and adamantly opposes Taipei’s participation in international forums.”Should the US side choose to continue playing the ill-advised ‘Taiwan card,’ it would inevitably pose seismic risks to China-US relations, seriously undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and gravely harm the interests of the US itself,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said a day after Blinken’s statement.Zhao also said that Taipei’s current policy is “the greatest realistic threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

On Thursday, Taiwan’s defense minister openly acknowledged that US military personnel are training Taiwanese troops.”The US military is only assisting in training (our troops), but they are not based here,” Chiu Kuo-cheng said, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.


Ahead of Glasgow climate conference, India and China dim hopes for reaching sweeping deal

Yahoo News

David Knowles·Senior EditorThu, October 28, 2021, 1:51 PM·3 min read

The hope that world leaders will reach a broad-reaching climate change accord in Glasgow, Scotland, to keep global temperatures from crossing 1.5 degrees Celsius of rise over preindustrial levels has continued to dim in recent days. 

China, by far the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases, announced Thursday that it would not go beyond previous commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060 and to reach peak levels of carbon emissions by 2030. That means that at a time when scientists have warned that nations must commit immediately to reducing greenhouse gas emissions or suffer devastating extreme weather consequences, the world’s biggest atmospheric polluter plans to continue apace for nine more years. 

China’s defiance ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, comes days after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres issued a personal appeal to President Xi Jinping to bolster the commitments made in Paris in 2015.

“I commend President Xi Jinping for announcing at the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly that China will end financing of coal-fired power plants abroad and direct support to green and low-carbon energy,” Guterres said. “We must do everything possible to keep the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement alive. I appeal for China’s presentation of an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution in the run-up to COP-26 in Glasgow.”

A heating plant in China
A heating plant in Jilin, China. (Reuters)

On Wednesday, India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, flatly rejected calls to set a deadline to achieve net-zero emissions.  

“It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net zero that is more important,” Indian Environment Secretary R.P. Gupta told reporters. 

While the U.S., Britain and the European Union have all pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the devil is in the details. Meanwhile, the fate of the climate change measures contained in President Biden’s infrastructure and spending bills remained in doubt as he left for Europe on Thursday. 

Story continues: https://news.yahoo.com/ahead-of-glasgow-climate-conference-india-and-china-dim-hopes-for-reaching-sweeping-deal-205142051.html

What’s behind the China-Taiwan divide?

Published26 MayShare


Flag of Taiwan

Whether it’s a bluff or a genuine threat of invasion, the increase in Chinese military activity in Taiwan over the last few months has caused global concern.

At the heart of the divide is that the Chinese government sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will, eventually, be part of the country again.

Many Taiwanese people disagree. They feel they in effect have a separate nation – whether or not independence is ever officially declared.


What is the history of this tension?

Going back to the beginning – the first known settlers in Taiwan were Austronesian tribal people, who are thought to have come from modern day southern China.

The island seems to have first appeared in Chinese records in AD239, when an emperor sent an expeditionary force to explore the area – something Beijing uses to back its territorial claim.

After a relatively brief spell as a Dutch colony (1624-1661), Taiwan was administered by China’s Qing dynasty from 1683 to 1895.https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/cacheableShow?aid=tYOkq7qlAI&templateId=OTBYI8Q89QWC&templateVariantId=OTV0YFYSXVQWV&offerId=fakeOfferId&experienceId=EXAWX60BX4NU&iframeId=offer_0e763acc7b457c03340a-0&displayMode=inline&widget=template

Map of Taiwan

From the 17th Century, significant numbers of migrants started arriving from China, often fleeing turmoil or hardship. Most were Hoklo Chinese from Fujian (Fukien) province or Hakka Chinese, largely from Guangdong. The descendants of these two migrations are now by far the largest demographic groups on the island.

In 1895, Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War, and the Qing government had to cede Taiwan to Japan. After World War Two, Japan surrendered and relinquished control of territory it had taken from China. The Republic of China – one of the victors in the war – began ruling Taiwan with the consent of its allies, the US and UK.

But in the next few years a civil war broke out in China, and the then-leader Chiang Kai-shek’s troops were beaten back by Mao Zedong’s Communist armies.

1938: Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek (1887 - 1975), speaking at a rally in Hangkow.
Image caption,Chiang Kai-shek, once the leader in China, fled with his supporters to Taiwan

Chiang and the remnants of his Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan in 1949. This group, referred to as Mainland Chinese and then making up 1.5m people, dominated Taiwan’s politics for many years – even though they only account for 14% of the population.

Having inherited an effective dictatorship, facing resistance from local people resentful of authoritarian rule and under pressure from a growing democracy movement, Chiang’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, began allowing a process of democratisation.

President Lee Teng-hui, known as Taiwan’s “father of democracy”, led constitutional changes towards a more democratic political layout, which eventually led to the election of the island’s first non-KMT president, Chen Shui-bian, in 2000.


What about recent hostility?

Relations between China and Taiwan started improving in the 1980s. China put forward a formula, known as “one country, two systems”, under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification.

This system was established in Hong Kong to be used as something of a showcase to entice Taiwanese people back to the mainland.

Taiwan rejected the offer, but it did relax rules on visits to and investment in China. In 1991, it also proclaimed the war with the People’s Republic of China on the mainland to be over.

There were also limited talks between the two sides’ unofficial representatives, though Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan’s Republic of China (ROC) government is illegitimate meant government-to-government meetings couldn’t happen.

The President of Taiwan, Chen Shu-bian (L) speaks during an interview with the international press in Panama City, 02 November 2003.
Image caption,Chen Shui-bian was a backer of independence for Taiwan from China

And in 2000, when Taiwan elected Chen Shui-bian as president, Beijing was alarmed. Mr Chen had openly backed “independence”.

A year after Mr Chen was re-elected in 2004, China passed a so-called anti-secession law, stating China’s right to use “non-peaceful means” against Taiwan if it tried to “secede” from China.

Mr Chen was succeeded by Ma Ying-jeou, who, after taking office in 2008, sought to improve relations with China through economic agreements.

Eight years later, in 2016, Taiwan’s current president Tsai Ing-wen was elected. She leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which leans towards eventual official independence from China.

Tsai Ing-wen
Image caption,Under Ms Tsai, cross-Straits relations soured again

After Donald Trump won the 2016 US election, Ms Tsai spoke to him on the phone – a break with US policy set in 1979, when formal relations were cut.

Despite the lack of formal ties, the US has pledged to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons and has stressed any attack by China would cause “grave concern”.

Throughout 2018, China stepped up pressure on international companies, forcing them to list Taiwan as a part of China on their websites and threatening to block them for doing business in China if they failed to comply.

Ms Tsai won a second term in 2020. By that time Hong Kong had seen months of unrest, with protesters demonstrating against the mainland’s increasing influence – a development many in Taiwan were watching closely.

Later that year, China’s implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong was widely seen as yet another sign that Beijing was becoming more assertive in the region.

At the same time, the US has been intensifying its outreach to Taiwan and reassuring Taipei of its continued support. Last September, Washington sent the highest-level state department official in decades to visit the island.

Beijing strongly criticised the meeting, warning the US “not to send any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ elements to avoid severe damage to China-US relations”. During the controversial visit, China conducted a live-fire military exercise in the waterway that separates the island from the mainland.

This year, President Joe Biden’s administration has said its commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid”.

In the first few days of Mr Biden’s presidency, Taiwan reported a “large incursion” by Chinese warplanes over two days. Then on 12 April, the Taiwanese government said China flew the largest number of military jets into its air defence zone for a year.

In response, US Admiral John Aquilino, head of the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific command, warned that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan “is much closer to us than most think”.


So who recognises Taiwan?

There is disagreement and confusion about what Taiwan is.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to retake, by force if necessary. But Taiwan’s leaders say it is clearly much more than a province, arguing that it is a sovereign state.

It has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China (ROC) government, which fled the mainland to Taiwan in 1949, at first claimed to represent the whole of China, which it intended to re-occupy. It held China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council and was recognised by many Western nations as the only Chinese government.

But in 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing and the ROC government was forced out. Since then the number of countries that recognise the ROC government diplomatically has fallen drastically to about 15.

Given the huge divide between these two positions, most other countries seem happy to accept the current ambiguity, whereby Taiwan has virtually all of the characteristics of an independent state, even if its legal status remains unclear.


How much of an issue is independence in Taiwan?

While political progress has been slow, links between the two peoples and economies have grown sharply. Taiwanese companies have invested about $60bn (£40bn) in China, and up to one million Taiwanese people now live there, many running Taiwanese factories.

Some Taiwanese people worry their economy is now dependent on China. Others believe that closer business ties make Chinese military action less likely, because of the cost to China’s own economy.

A controversial trade agreement sparked the “Sunflower Movement” in 2014, where students and activists occupied Taiwan’s parliament protesting against what they called China’s growing influence over Taiwan.

Pro-independence activists hold signs at a demonstration in Taipei on 20 October 2018
Image caption,Recent polls show many Taiwanese support the government’s approach in “safeguarding national sovereignty”

Officially, the ruling DPP still favours eventual formal independence for Taiwan, while the KMT favours eventual re-unification.

A March 2021 opinion poll commissioned by the Taiwanese government shows that currently the majority of Taiwanese support the DPP government’s approach in “safeguarding national sovereignty”. More and more people also say they feel Taiwanese, rather than Chinese.

In the 2020 election Ms Tsai won a record-breaking 8.2 million votes, that was widely seen as a snub to Beijing.

Biden and UK to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines in new pushback on China

By Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Updated 8:21 AM ET, Thu September 16, 2021


(CNN)President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a new effort to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, a major step toward countering China as he works to build international backing for his approach to Beijing.The announcement came as part of a new trilateral partnership among the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom that the three countries’ leaders jointly revealed Wednesday afternoon.”The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have long been faithful and capable partners and we’re even closer today,” the President said. “Today, we’re taking another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation among all three of our nations, because we all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.”

The partnership kicks off what is expected to be a flurry of diplomatic engagements for Biden this autumn, from next week’s United Nations meetings to a White House summit of Asian leaders to October’s Group of 20 talks in Italy.

Underpinning his efforts is a desire to rally the West and US partners in Asia in the battle between “autocracy versus democracy,” one of the defining objectives of his presidency. Biden has made countering China a central aspect of his foreign policy as tensions grow over the South China Sea and Taiwan, and has said he wants American allies on board.

The new partnership between the US, UK and Australia — three English-speaking maritime democracies — is not specifically about China, officials insisted ahead of the announcement. Instead, they said the three countries would hold a schedule of meetings over the coming months to coordinate on cyber issues, advanced technologies and defense in a bid to better meet modern-day security challenges. The new partnership is called AUKUS, pronounced “aw-kiss.”Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog

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Sign up for CNN What Matters NewsletterEvery day we summarize What Matters and deliver it straight to your inbox.Sign Me UpNo ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.Yet it is the move toward establishing nuclear submarine capability in Australia, which officials said will allow the country to operate at a vastly higher level militarily, that will amount to the center of the announcement. Nuclear submarines are able to maneuver at greater speeds and endurance, and more stealthily, than conventional ones, which must surface more often.

Sailors assigned to the Australian Collins-class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) prepare to receive hotel services and supplies during bilateral training event with USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) on September 13, 2019.Sailors assigned to the Australian Collins-class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) prepare to receive hotel services and supplies during bilateral training event with USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) on September 13, 2019.”This allows Australia to play at a much higher level and to augment American capabilities,” a senior administration official said ahead of the announcement. “This is about maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”Biden, during Wednesday’s announcement, also maintained that the establishment of AUKUS is necessary because “we need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve.””Because the future of each of our nations and indeed the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific, enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead. This is about investing in our greatest strength, our alliances, and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” the President added.On Thursday, China’s US embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said countries should “shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice,” according to Reuters, following the announcement of the AUKUS deal.Liu added that nations “should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties.”

‘This technology is extremely sensitive’

Top officials from Australia were in Washington on Wednesday meeting with their counterparts, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, ahead of the formal announcement. During remarks Wednesday evening, Biden announced that Austin would lead efforts for the US government in close collaboration with the State Department and Department of Energy.American officials said the details of the new partnership had been closely held as they were developed over the past weeks and months, but that other allies and government stakeholders would be briefed on the specifics in the coming days.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the new trilateral partnership as not “adversarial towards any other power.” Addressing the UK parliament on Thursday, Johnson said the deal “merely reflects the close relationship that we have with the United States and with Australia.””Obviously, we also have a shared interest in promoting democracy, human rights, freedom of navigation and freedom of trade around the world.”The US and UK plan to dispatch technical and strategic teams to identify the best pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear submarines over the next 18 months. The new plan will mean the cancellation of a $90 billion deal Australia had already made with France for conventional submarines.French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the Australian government’s decision to renege on the contract for diesel-powered subs with French manufacturer Naval Group as a betrayal of trust.”Speaking politely, it’s a real stab in the back,” Le Drian said on radio station France Info Thursday. A veteran diplomat, Le Drian is rarely heard speaking so frankly, no doubt a sign of the upset that this move has caused.”We had established with Australia a relation of trust … that trust has been betrayed. And today I am angry, with much bitterness at this break,” Le Drian said.”This is not done between allies,” he said, flagging the two years of negotiations that had preceded the deal. Le Drian had played a leading role in these talks, which began in 2014, he said. Australia had wanted “a form of strategic autonomy” through the deal, which had included considerable transfer of technology, Le Drian added. The deal was due to last 50 years.As recently as a few days ago, Le Drian and the French minister of armed forces, Florence Parly, held a video conference with their Australian counterparts about the deal, Le Drian said. He said that apart from “some small adjustment problems,” there was no sense that the deal would be broken.The decision also sparked tensions between New Zealand and Australia, with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issuing a statement on Thursday saying Canberra’s nuclear-powered submarines would be banned from her country’s waters.”New Zealand’s position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear-powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged,” Ardern’s office said in a statement to CNN. However the statement added that New Zealand welcomed increased engagement by the UK and the US in the Asia Pacific region.American officials described the effort to assist the country with nuclear propulsion as an exceedingly rare step between allies, undertaken only once previously, that in some ways goes against established US practice.”This technology is extremely sensitive. This is, frankly, an exception to our policy in many respects,” the official said.It was necessary, they said, in order to send a message of reassurance to countries in Asia. It comes amid rising tensions between the US and China, who are maneuvering to limit each others’ global influence.US officials insisted the intent of the new partnership was not to challenge China specifically.”This partnership is not aimed or about any one country, it’s about advancing our strategic interests, upholding the international rules based order, and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” the official said.

Uniting allies against China

Still, the announcement is the latest step by the US to push back against China’s military and technological rise. Next week, Biden will host an in-person summit of the QUAD partnership of Japan, Australia and India — another grouping viewed as a way to assert American leadership in Asia. He has also sought to engage other Asian leaders, and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and Vietnam late last month.Last week, Biden held a 90-minute telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, their first direct communication in seven months. Officials described the conversation as “familiar” and “candid,” but said Biden did not directly raise the new strategic partnership with Australia and the UK.Biden on Tuesday denied reports that Xi, in their phone call, turned down an invitation to meet in person. US officials say they still hope to set up an in-person meeting between the two leaders, but aren’t sure it will occur on the sidelines of the G20 at the end of October. That is primarily because Xi has not confirmed he will physically attend the summit, which is being held in Rome. Xi has not left China in roughly 600 days, since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.It’s possible Xi participates in the summit virtually, and US officials aren’t ruling out a virtual meeting between Biden and Xi. Biden, however, has said in-person sit-downs with foreign leaders are preferable to virtual meetings or phone calls, telling aides privately he doesn’t believe as much can be accomplished when meeting remotely.

Proof of commitment

After a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to questions about Biden’s willingness to remain engaged abroad, officials said the new announcement should act as proof of the President’s continued willingness to stand with allies and uphold a rules-based order in Asia.”Over the last several years there have been questions: does the United States still have the stomach, do we have the wit and wisdom, that we want to continue to play that role?” a senior administration official said.”What President Biden is saying with this initiative is ‘Count us in.’ We are all in for a deeper, sustained commitment to the Indo-Pacific. And we recognize that one of our critical roles in indeed the maintenance of peace and stability there,” the official went on.Also hoping to play a larger role in Asia is the United Kingdom, which under PM Johnson has sought to pursue a “Global Britain” strategy of greater engagement abroad. That effort has been sputtering at times, particularly as Johnson works to contain the Covid-19 pandemic at home and buffer his country from the economic fallout of Brexit.Still, American officials have received indications from their British counterparts that the UK hopes to “substantially step up its game in the Indo-Pacific,” and believe the new partnership with Australia can help advance that goal.Ahead of the announcement, Johnson undertook a major reshuffle of his cabinet ministers, including reassigning his foreign secretary. The shake-up did not appear directly related to his later announcement with Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.American officials said the cooperation between the three countries was limited only to nuclear propulsion, and said Australia has no intention of pursuing nuclear weapons.During his remarks on Wednesday, Biden emphasized that the AUKUS submarine project would be using conventionally armed submarines, not nuclear-armed ones.

“We’re not talking about nuclear-armed submarines. These are conventionally armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors,” Biden said. “This technology is proven, it’s safe, and the United States and UK have been operating nuclear powered submarines for decades.”This story has been updated.

China threatens to send warships inside US territorial waters


Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan – Yesterday 2:00 PMLike|1732

© Provided by Washington ExaminerChina threatens to send warships inside US territorial waters

China, on Wednesday, threatened to send warships into U.S. territorial waters.

The Global Times called on People’s Liberation Army Navy warships to travel to “U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. allies’ coastlines to conduct close-in reconnaissance operations and declare freedom of navigation.” The editorial added that “the U.S. will definitely see the PLA show up at its doorstep in the not-too-distant future.”Adbrunchescrunches.comBig Change In Winthrop Leaves Drivers Fuming

This isn’t simple ranting. The Global Times operates under Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi. Its words represent a credible threat.

Why is China so furious?

It laments the “naked provocation” of a U.S. Navy destroyer’s transit, on Wednesday, within 12 miles of a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea. Yang’s mouthpiece warns that “only by making the U.S. have a taste of its own medicine can we touch the nerves of the U.S. and its allies, and reshape the Western world’s understanding of U.S. bullying in the South China Sea.”

This assessment bears little relation to reality. China’s claims of ownership over the South China Sea are both geographically absurd and politically imperialist. Instead, China is escalating its militarization of the sea for two distinctly unjustified reasons. First, to make these waters safe for unilateral Chinese communist resource extraction. Second, to extract political concessions from other nations in return for their access to the sea. China’s leverage is the $3.5 trillion-$4 trillion in annual trade flows that move through the South China Sea.

The Trump and Biden administrations have rightly resisted China’s actions with U.S. naval actions such as that on Wednesday. They recognize China’s threat to trade, sovereign government, and a key principle of the post-Second World War U.S.-led international order: free transit. But while America’s European allies have been unwilling to conduct the U.S.-style transits that so upset China, nations such as Australia, India, Japan, and Vietnam are moving closer to the U.S. position. China thus senses it may face a more robust multilateral challenge.

The language Beijing has employed, here, of conducting “freedom of navigation” activities off “U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. allies’ coastlines” is clearly intended as a threat to send PLA warships within 12 miles of Guam, Australia, and Japan. (While the Philippines is a U.S. treaty ally, its president has made himself into a human pet for Xi Jinping).

Regardless, U.S. Navy transits of international waters are one thing. PLA transits within 12 miles of sovereign U.S. or allied coasts would be a very different matter. Put another way, where the U.S. is walking through a public park, China claims a right to seize public parks and then engage in home invasions. The reality is clear: By its intent and international law, any Chinese incursion as threatened would constitute an act of provocation bordering on war.

China has no justification to blur the waters.

China changes law to allow married couples to have up to three children


The change comes as the world’s most populous country grapples with a demographic crisis.

Newborn Babies In Jingzhou Hospital

A medical worker takes care of a newborn baby lying inside an incubator on February 11, 2021 in Jingzhou, China.Huang Zhigang / VCG via Getty ImagesAug. 21, 2021, 1:39 PM PDTBy Nicole Acevedo and The Associated Press

China will allow married couples to legally have up to three children amid concerns that the number of working-age people in the world’s most populous country is falling too fast, consequently threatening its hopes of increased prosperity and global influence in the future.

The ceremonial legislature amended the Population and Family Planning Law on Friday as part of a decades-long effort by the ruling Communist Party to dictate the size of families in keeping with political directives.

Xinhua news agency, a Chinese state media organization, reported back in May that the law change had been approved during a Communist Party Politburo meeting chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Communist Party has enforced birth limits since 1980 to restrain population growth. China’s declining birthrate is partially a result of a one-child policy imposed in 1979. The country long touted such policy as a success in preventing 400 million additional births, thus saving resources and helping drive economic growth.

Couples who didn’t abide by the one-child policy faced losing their jobs and being fined. In some cases, mothers were forced to have abortions or be sterilized. A preference for sons also led parents to kill baby girls, leading to a massive imbalance in the sex ratio.

Restrictions in family planning laws were eased for the first time in 2015, allowing families to have up to two children as officials acknowledged the looming consequences of the plummeting birthrate. But that change did little to curb the country’s declining birthrate.

Statistics show that there were 12 million births last year, down from 14.65 million in 2019, an 18 percent decline, continuing China’s descent to a near six-decade low.


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At the same time, the number of Chinese people over the age of 60 reached 264 million, accounting for 18.7 percent of the country’s total population in 2020, which is nearly six percentage points higher than in 2010.

During that same time period, China’s working-age population fell to 63.3 percent of the total from 70.1 percent a decade ago.

A combination of these trends has caused an overwhelming fear that China will grow old before it becomes wealthy.

At its session Friday, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress canceled the leveling of fines for breaking the earlier restrictions and called for additional parental leave and childcare resources. New measures in finance, taxation, schooling, housing and employment should be introduced “to ease the burden on families,” the amendment said.

It also seeks to address longstanding discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace that is considered one of the chief disincentives to having additional children, along with high costs and cramped housing.