What’s behind the China-Taiwan divide?

Published26 MayShare

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34729538

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/15/politics/us-uk-australia-nuclear-powered-submarines/index.html

(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

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/china-threatens-to-send-warships-inside-us-territorial-waters/ar-AAOeMVj?ocid=winp1taskbar

Washington Examiner

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© 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.

The Attack Outside Kabul Airport Pushes The U.S. Exit Into Deeper Disarray

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/26/1031428645/the-attacks-outside-kabul-airport-pushes-the-u-s-exit-into-deeper-disarray

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August 26, 20217:11 PM ET

DEEPA SHIVARAMTwitter

SHARON PRUITT-YOUNG

Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. A suicide bomber targeted crowds massing near the airport in the waning days of a massive airlift that has drawn thousands of people seeking to flee the Taliban takeover.Wali Sabawoon/AP

If the intention of the attack at the Kabul airport was to throw into disarray an already chaotic U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, the effects of Thursday’s violence are only beginning to take shape. Flights have been taking off from the airport since the explosions occurred, and President Biden said the American withdrawal will continue.

“America will not be intimidated,” Biden said.

It was a combative stance from a U.S. president who was already facing criticism for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and who will now face the fallout from the attack, which saw the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members.

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Thursday’s deadly attack, which came just days before Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, was claimed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press and Reuters. The group posted the claim of responsibility on its Telegram channel, though NPR has not been able to independently verify the announcement.

A U.S. official confirmed to NPR that four U.S. Marines were among those killed, while Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the attack wounded “a number” more U.S. troops. The Associated Press reported that at least 60 Afghan civilians were killed and more than 140 others were wounded.Article continues after sponsor messagehttps://e88147a8a543660167bb51bd533390fe.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

U.S. citizens were told before the attack to avoid the area

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said the blast took place at the “Abbey Gate” of the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The gate is one of the airport entrances that the embassy had specifically asked U.S. citizens to avoid on Wednesday due to heightened fears of an attack. The Baron Hotel, where a second explosion went off, was a staging ground for many of those trying to evacuate.

In addition to the explosions, there were reports of ongoing gunfire in the Afghan capital, according to an alert from the U.S. Embassy.

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The Taliban, whose rapid takeover of Afghanistan in recent weeks precipitated the U.S. withdrawal, have condemned the attack and said the area where it happened was controlled by U.S. forces.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet.

The Pentagon warned of more violence ahead

At an afternoon press briefing, Pentagon officials said the suicide bomber who attacked the airport gate was not able to get onto the airfield at the Kabul airport. Rather, the explosion took place at a gate where people are screened for bombs and weapons before moving forward.

“This is close-up work, the breath of the person you are searching is upon you,” said Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command.

“Today is a hard day,” McKenzie said. “We have other active threats against the airfield,” he went on to warn.

Despite the threat, McKenzie said evacuation efforts will continue, referring to the withdrawal as the “No. 1 mission.”

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“We are continuing to bring people onto the airfield [on buses], we continue to process, the plan is designed to operate while under stress, while under attack,” he said.

McKenzie also praised the heroism of the U.S. service members stationed in Kabul.

“We can all appreciate the courage and dedication of those who do this job and do it time after time,” the commander said.

The evacuation is continuing

Matthieu Aikins, an Afghanistan-based New York Times reporter, told NPR’s All Things Considered that flights have been taking off from the airport since the explosions occurred, “so it seems the evacuation is now continuing.”

But the moments outside the airport after the blasts were “very tense,” Aikins said.

“We were speaking with people who had been there and we were speaking with the Taliban guards who were quite agitated and trying to clear people from the area, bringing pipes and planks of cable,” he said.

ASIA

The U.S. Embassy Urges Americans Outside The Kabul Airport To Leave Immediately

“Taliban were yelling and brandishing cables and trying to forcibly clear people out. And it was a very tense situation. We could hear sounds of firing from inside the airport as well as sirens,” he said.

Outside the hospital where victims were being carried in, Aikins said there was a large crowd with several ambulances arriving. The hospital in Kabul is equipped to handle mass trauma, but with this massive influx, another hospital might be needed, he said.

“They were wheeling bodies of people, you know, injured people into the hospital, some clearly very badly injured, unconscious. Some of them were children. The relatives are weeping nearby.”

Biden was in the Situation Room when it happened

At the time of the attack, President Biden was in the White House Situation Room with his top national security aides discussing the situation in Afghanistan.

The president postponed a planned meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and canceled his virtual meeting with governors about resettling Afghan refugees.

In remarks from the White House, Biden vowed to hunt down those responsible for the attack.

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Biden Pledges To Strike Back After Attack Kills 13 U.S. Service Members In Kabul

“We will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay. Our mission will go on, America will not be intimidated,” Biden said.

At the same time, the president said the attack demonstrated why it is necessary for the United States to leave Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

His remarks came just two days after Biden said that the U.S. was on track to withdraw from Afghanistan by his Aug. 31 deadline.

“The sooner we finish, the better,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday, warning that staying longer would bring added risk to U.S. troops. He specifically mentioned a possible attack from ISIS-K on Kabul’s airport.

The international community is condemning the attack

The attack was loudly condemned by the international community, including by key U.S. allies in NATO.

“I strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack outside #Kabul airport. My thoughts are with all those affected and their loved ones. Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack in Kabul “vile” and said Germany will continue to help those who want to leave Afghanistan. The country’s defense minister also announced that the last German military aircraft has left Afghanistan, marking the end of the country’s mission there.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said, “This incident underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan but also strengthens our resolve as we continue to deliver urgent assistance across the country in support of the Afghan people.”

Dujarric said that humanitarian efforts in the country are still ongoing.

Putin launches construction of new warships amid tensions

https://apnews.com/article/europe-business-fd8c3cad9c4b1c91dda13a4ca4b49555

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOVyesterday

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Ramil Sitdikov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

1 of 6Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Ramil Sitdikov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday launched the construction of new nuclear submarines and other warships, part of a sweeping military modernization effort amid tensions with the West.

Speaking in a video call, Putin gave orders for two nuclear submarines armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles along with two diesel-powered submarines and two corvettes at shipyards in Severodvinsk, St. Petersburg and Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

“We will continue to boost the potential of the Russian navy, develop its bases and infrastructure, arm it with state-of-the-art weapons,” Putin said. “A strong and sovereign Russia needs a powerful and well-balanced navy.”

The Kremlin has made military modernization a top priority as relations with the West have plunged to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. Moscow has sought to reestablish a regular naval presence in parts of the world that the Soviet Union had during the Cold War.ADVERTISEMENThttps://594681d9f4acac55b360f2b8bc5f517b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The Russian navy already has a major presence in the Mediterranean Sea, with a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus. It has expanded and modified the Tartus base, the only such facility that Russia currently has outside the former Soviet Union.

“We will continue to show the Russian flag in strategically important ocean areas,” Putin said.

Monday’s ceremony for the new ships was part of the Army-2021 show intended to showcase military might and attract foreign customers for Russia’s arms industries. The weeklong show features aircraft, tanks, missiles and other weapons.

“Many of our weapons have the capabilities that have no analogues in the world, and some will remain unrivaled for a long time to come,” Putin said.

Deadly US Air War in Afghanistan Helped Taliban Gain New Recruits

https://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2021/8/17/afghanistan_azmat_khanBYAmy GoodmanDemocracy Now!PUBLISHEDAugust 17, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTENVIRONMENT & HEALTHI’m a Louisiana Pediatric Surgeon Watching Kids Suffer From COVID. This Is Real.ECONOMY & LABORThe NLRB Says Amazon Cheated in the Bessemer Union Election. What Happens Next?EDUCATION & YOUTHStanley Aronowitz, Who Taught Us Teaching Must Be Political, Has PassedPOLITICS & ELECTIONSFlorida Moves Closer to Punishing Districts Defying DeSantis’s Ban on Mask RulesWAR & PEACEUS Policy Toward Afghanistan Was a Recipe for Collapse From the StartWAR & PEACECorporate Media Are Erasing US’s Long-Term Culpability for Afghanistan War

Investigative journalist Azmat Khan, who has reported extensively in Afghanistan, says President Joe Biden has not yet addressed the chaos unleashed by the collapse of the Afghan government. In remarks on Monday, Biden “really focused on the decision to end the war” and ignored criticism about chaos at the Kabul airport and the abandonment of thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. over the last 20 years. “None of that was really discussed in any detail,” Khan says. She also discusses why the Afghan military fell so quickly to the Taliban, its overreliance on U.S. air power, how civilian casualties weakened support for the U.S.-backed government, and the massive profits the two-decade-long war generated for U.S. defense contractors.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s bring in Azmat Khan, the investigative reporter, who’s covered Afghanistan for years. Your response to President Biden, to the complete chaos at the airport, the thousands of Afghans who are trying to leave, and the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, overall?

AZMAT KHAN: So, President Biden really focused on the decision to end the war, and not on that searing criticism of this withdrawal, the chaos we’re seeing at the airport, the leaving behind of many people to whom the United States had made promises, people like translators, people like local journalists who were working with American journalists, as well as activists, who now face not just great uncertainty, like was earlier being talked about, but significant threats to their lives and safety. So, none of that was really discussed in any detail.

But I think another omission that really needs to be highlighted is the fact that President Biden took this negative view of Afghan security forces for, quote, “not fighting,” and that’s not accurate. You know, as the earlier speaker was describing, many Afghan soldiers have died fighting the Taliban over the last 20 years, countless, whereas American soldiers, since Operation Freedom’s Sentinel began in 2015, you know, we’ve lost 64 American soldiers in hostile deaths in Afghanistan. So there is a real disparity about who was paying that human costs of that fight, at least from the side that’s fighting the Taliban.

But at the same time, what he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the entire way that those soldiers were doing that fight was with the support of U.S. air power. So, the United States was bombing heavily parts of that country where there were fights against the Taliban raging. So, just to give some context, in 2019, the United States dropped more bombs in Afghanistan than in any previous year of the war. So, I think it was something close to — more than 6,200 bombs that year, as they were trying to negotiate. So, even with incredible bombs dropping, you know, this was the deal they were able to get. And even then, look at how many Afghan soldiers were dying. Now, once you take that level of air power out of the mix, who would expect any Afghan soldiers to continue to fight? If that many Afghan soldiers died with the support of air power, what happens when you take that out of the mix?

Now, on top of that, I just need to say that that air power may have helped keep this tenuous hold that the Afghan government had on the country, but it also killed scores of civilians in rural areas, areas that don’t often get talked about. Nearly three-quarters of Afghanistan is rural countryside. The majority of the population comes from these kinds of areas, populations that have seen the brunt of the war and we rarely hear about. And they’ve suffered not just bombings, airstrikes and night raids, but also Taliban attacks. And many of them wanted this war to end. And you can’t really talk about that air power and the tenuous grip that the government had without also acknowledging the ways in which that has created space for the Taliban, where even civilians who didn’t like the Taliban just wanted the war to end.

So it kind of makes sense, once you take air power out of the mix, that sort of tenuous hold falls, but at the same time, at this point, the Taliban has resuscitated itself and grown. You know, many of its more recent recruits were people who did lose loved ones and really wanted revenge for those casualties. So, in many ways, as surprising the swiftness of it was, it also makes sense, what we see happening right now.

AMY GOODMAN: The Intercept reports that military stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58% during the Afghanistan War, including Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. Quote, “[F]rom the perspective of some of the most powerful people in the U.S., [the Afghanistan War] may have been an extraordinary success. Notably, the boards of directors of all five [military] contractors include retired top-level military officers.” You have written extensively, Azmat, about these contracts and who financially profited from this war.

AZMAT KHAN: It’s really stunning. It’s incredibly stunning, because people don’t often talk about the massive wealth, the people who maybe went to Afghanistan temporarily, got hazard pay and built themselves homes, wealthy businessmen, military — former military officials — who now, by the way, come on television talk shows to give their views, without concealing necessarily their own — the fact that they’re on boards of many of these defense contractors. So, there has been incredible corruption on the part of many Americans, on the part of many contractors, as well as just on the ground, that has really helped to isolate local people from the Afghan government.

And so, just to give you some examples, you know, I spent a lot of time investigating U.S.-funded schools in Afghanistan, something that we might consider the kind of untouchable success of the war — right? — that in these 20 years, the United States has radically transformed education for Afghan children, and, in particular, girls. And I really dug into the schools the United States had funded, and picked 50 of them in seven battlefield provinces and went to go see, well, you know, what’s happening at these schools now. And when I would dig into it, I think 10% of the schools either were never built or no longer exist. A vast majority of them were falling apart.

And then, when I would try to understand what happened — you know, for example, in one case, there was a school that was missing. Turns out it was built in the village of a notorious Afghan police chief who was allied with the United States, Abdul Raziq, known for many human rights abuses. And the local education chief said, “Yes, we built it here, and there were no children in this village for three years, so nobody really attended. The school never opened for a number of years.”

In another instance, the school I arrived at was empty, incomplete, never finished, and all the kids were across the street at a mosque having a religious education, not the curriculum that they were on the books as recording having had. And when I tried to figure out what happened, it turned out the contract for the school went to the brother of the district governor, who then, you know, pilfered the money, and it was never finished as a result of that.

Down the block in another part of Kandahar, the contract for a school was given to a notorious local warlord, who’s — actually, for the clinic that was going to be built next to the school — was given to this notorious warlord, who basically wound up being the source for the rise of the Taliban in many ways. His family was part of that sort of corruption in the early years that preceded the Taliban, that really riled up individuals to support the Taliban because of the massive corruption and the human rights abuses that were happening to Afghan people.

So, even something as noble and as worthy of effort as education has been mired in this kind of corruption, this kind of wheeling and dealing. And if we had to understand why, I think it’s the fact that counterterrorism goals were baked into every single aspect of the American project in Afghanistan. So, even something great like schools, you know, had these metrics, had this desire to imbue a counterterrorism narrative of some kind, that left them willing to work with people who were abusive actors in the name of fighting terrorism, when in reality they often undercut Afghan people and a lot of the promises of the United States at on almost every level.

AMY GOODMAN: Azmat Khan, I want to thank you for being with us and give Lieutenant [sic] Colonel Ann Wright the final word. As you speak to us now from Honolulu,, from Hawaii, and you look at what’s happening in Afghanistan, where you were almost two decades ago, what you think needs to happen, and what you think Americans should understand about the U.S. War in Afghanistan?

ANN WRIGHT: Well, I think that the U.S. public ought to be very wary of every administration that thinks that we should take a military option in trying to resolve any sort of conflict. We have seen that the United States in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan — the lies that are told to us about why we need to go into countries with our military versus having some nonmilitary resolution to these issues is really, really important, and particularly as we face our government right now that’s saying that China and Russia are enemies that are threats to our national security. We, the U.S. people, have to push back against our government, against any more military invasions, occupations, attacks on any country.

And my heart goes out, it bleeds for the people of Afghanistan, who have suffered through these decades long of war, of violence. And I certainly hope that the next years somehow calm down and that the Taliban takes a very different tact than what it had when it was in power from 1996 to 2001, because the people of Afghanistan deserve much better than what they have had. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us, and of course we’ll continue to cover this. I demoted you, Ann. Ann Wright is a retired U.S. Army colonel and former U.S. State Department official who was part of the team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001. And Azmat Khan, investigative reporter, contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, we’ll link to your articles, including the one you described, “Ghost Students, Ghost Teachers, Ghost Schools.”

When we come back, we go to Haiti, where the tropical storm has slammed the same parts of the country shattered by the earthquake on Saturday that’s killed more than 1,400 people. Stay with us.

When Kabul falls, America is in danger again

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/567561-when-kabul-falls-america-is-in-danger-again

BY DOV S. ZAKHEIM, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 08/13/21 10:00 AM EDT  933THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL16Share to Facebook Share to Twitter  

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When Kabul falls, America is in danger again

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As Baghdad was falling to the forces of the United States and its coalition partners in March 1991, Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, better known to Americans as “Baghdad Bob,” was offering an entirely different account of the events taking place on his doorstep. Among his most memorable quotes — and there were many — were  “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!” and “They are not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion … they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.”

As numerous analysts have pointed out, officials in Kabul and Washington appear to be no less delusional than Saddam Hussein’s minister. Moreover, they have been fooling themselves for even longer than Baghdad Bob. American officials have not ceased to believe that the Taliban would abide by the terms of the Feb. 29, 2020, Doha agreement, which was advertised as the first step in a process that would lead both to American and NATO withdrawal of their forces and a settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Yet little has materialized from the Taliban commitment to “intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations.” On the contrary, in a manner reminiscent of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s ultimately successful offensives against the Army of [South] Vietnam, which were stepped up after Henry Kissinger negotiated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords — for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize — the Taliban has stepped up its operations against the Kabul government’s forces throughout the country. 

Nevertheless, even as the Taliban offensive continued to intensify, Biden administration officials believed in the negotiations’ positive outcome and insisted that while the Taliban might control the Afghan countryside, it would not attempt to seize urban areas, and especially provincial capitals. When the Taliban did just that, administration officials posited that the Taliban would not attempt to seize major provincial capitals such as Kunduz, Herat, Kandahar or Mazer-i-Sharif. Kunduz, Lashkar Gah, Herat and Kandahar have fallen; it appears to be only a matter of days before Mazer-i-Sharif falls as well.

Shades of Baghdad Bob. Unfazed by reality, Biden administration spokesmen project confidence that the Taliban will not try to seize Kabul. Instead, the administration continues to put its faith in negotiations and has dispatched chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad on yet another doomed foray to Doha.

This week, in response to the rapid fall of nine provincial capitals to the Taliban, the Afghan government replaced the army chief of staff. The change appears to have had no impact on increasingly dire forecasts as to when, not if, Kabul will fall. U.S. officials reportedly now predict that Kabul will fall much sooner than expected. Previous assessments predicted that the Afghan capital would surrender to the Taliban in six to 12 months after the departure of American forces. Now officials reportedly assert that Kabul could fall within 90 days. Given the degree to which Afghan government forces have melted away, rather than fight the Taliban, 90 days may be an optimistic prediction — which may be why some officials feel that the city will surrender in as little as a month. 

Subsequent to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnamese government had no official relations with Washington until they were restored two decades later. But throughout that period, Vietnam did not serve as a base for attacks on the United States. The same cannot be assumed of the Taliban and Afghanistan. 

It is true that the Taliban is unlikely to project its power beyond Afghanistan’s borders. It is hemmed in by several Central Asian states, as well as Pakistan and Iran, all of which harbor varying degrees of suspicion regarding the group. And it can safely be said that the Taliban leadership wisely will refrain from doing anything to provoke China, Afghanistan’s other far more powerful neighbor.

On the other hand, the Taliban’s commitment at Doha to prevent the renewal of an al Qaeda presence in the country — or for that matter, that of terrorist groups such as ISIS — is likely to go the way of American dreams of a coalition Afghan government. There have been numerous reports that the Taliban never ruptured its ties with al Qaeda, nor that it has any quarrel with ISIS. These organizations may, therefore, find that they can operate freely on Afghan soil. If once again they can train terrorists as they did prior to 9/11, another attack on Americans, whether overseas or in America itself, cannot be ruled out. 

The time for Washington’s reverie about an acceptable outcome to what it calls the “forever war” is long past over. There will be no acceptable outcome. If the Biden team remains committed to withdrawing all American forces by the end of this month, it had better come up with another way to ensure that the updated version of Afghanistan circa 2001 does not come back to haunt Americans after two decades of bloody and costly conflict.

Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was under secretary of Defen

Biden Promised Diplomacy, But He’s Overseeing Military Buildup Against China

Joseph Robinette Biden squints into the sun, having forgotten his signature aviator sunglasses
President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, on July 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

BYAnn WrightTruthoutPUBLISHEDJuly 21, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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Shortly after Joe Biden took office, the president delivered a speech at the U.S. Department of State, declaring, “I want the world to hear today: America is back…. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy…. By leading with diplomacy, we must also mean engaging our adversaries and our competitors diplomatically, where it’s in our interest, and advance the security of the American people.”

Instead of de-escalation with China, we are witnessing an enormous U.S. military buildup through massive military exercises in the Pacific.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1416155682978467842&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftruthout.org%2Farticles%2Fbiden-promised-diplomacy-but-hes-overseeing-military-buildup-against-china%2F&sessionId=06d7aca25ebc522bdeba48f35bd7e7c13868d33d&siteScreenName=truthout&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

A huge, 17,000 personnel, U.S. military land exercise named Talisman Sabre is now going on in Australia, causing much concern to many people there. Talisman Sabre 2021 involves practice for amphibious assaults, movement of heavy vehicles, use of live ammunition, and the use of U.S. nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapon-capable vessels.

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Annette Brownlie, chairperson of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network said:

Talisman Sabre is a threat to the [Great Barrier] reef and to the environment…. The objective of Talisman Sabre is to integrate the Australian military further into the U.S. military, which is ranked among the world’s worst polluters and is the world’s greatest organizational consumer of oil…. Let us not forget that during Talisman Sabre in 2013, the U.S. jettisoned four unarmed bombs on the Great Barrier Reef when they had difficulty dropping them on their intended target, Townshend Island.

Additionally, in mid-July, 25 F-22 stealth jet fighters (a remarkable number), 10 F-15 E Strike Eagles and two C-130J cargo planes have flown into Guam, a U.S. territory, and Tinian Island in the Northern Marianas, one of two U.S. commonwealths, as a part of “Pacific Iron 2021.” This maneuver is described by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper as a key part of the “kick down the door” force for a possible conflict with China. Retired Lt. General Dan Leaf, a former deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said he was not aware of a previous exercise using this many F-22s.

The Pacific Air Force command in Honolulu said that Iron Pacific 2021 will have more than 35 aircraft and 800 personnel. They will have operations at three airports on Guam and one airport on Tinian, 100 miles north of Guam. U.S. aircraft that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 76 years ago flew from Tinian. Runways on Tinian, had fallen in disrepair until recently when major U.S. Air Force construction began to create an alternate air base to Guam.

Currently, Guam is also the site of the U.S. Army’s land war maneuvers called Forager 2021. About 4,000 U.S. personnel from the U.S. Army’s First Corps will be involved in various aspects of an airborne operation with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and 1st Special Forces Group, and an Apache attack helicopter live fire exercise. The war maneuvers also include eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicles called Strykers; lightweight, highly mobile, easily transportable surface-to-air missile fire unit with eight Stinger missiles in two missile pods named Avengers; and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Forager 2021 tests the Army’s capability to rapidly deploy personnel and equipment in order to counter enemy forces.

Activists in Guam are mobilizing against the military buildup. Lisa Natividad, professor of social work at the University of Guam and primary convener of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, told Truthout that the change has been stark: “Our concrete houses have been shaken from the military maneuvers by aircraft we have never seen before.”

Natividad described Guam’s vulnerability as a staging ground for U.S. military exercises.

“Guam is being overwhelmed by the number of U.S. military war maneuvers that are taking place on our land, ocean and airspace,” Natividad said. “Military maneuvers are so frequent that they’re ongoing and continuous. These exercises take place on Guam and throughout the Mariana Islands and in civilian spaces like the airport and hospitals. The destruction of our land for the construction and expansion of military bases is heartbreaking, and underscores how we as a U.S. territory truly have no political rights or voice to make decisions in our own homeland.”

According to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the U.S. Army has been moving Patriot batteries around the Pacific in a message to China, with upcoming plans to test the system in Hawaii. “Next month we are moving another (Patriot battery) from Okinawa to Hawaii for another exercise,” said Army Col. Matt Dalton. “We are trying to demonstrate our ability to quickly move our units around the Indo-Pacific to be able to counter any threat that is out there (with) our ability to move to different locations quickly, set up and establish defense of a particular asset.”

So much for the highly touted diplomacy in the Biden administration.

Military Ships Vie for Space in a Crowded South China Sea

These U.S. military forces come in addition to the two dozen ships in the U.S., French, Dutch, Japanese, South Korean and Australian armada that are patrolling the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits in “Freedom of Navigation” maneuvers. The U.S. aircraft carrier USS America and its numerous security vessels steaming in close proximity make for a crowded South China Sea. In July 2021, the naval exercise Pacific Vanguard includes U.S. Australian, Japanese and South Korean ships.

With the “Western” armada in the waters off China, the Chinese navy has added its vessels to the mix. The Trump administration increased tensions with China by sending the highest-ranking U.S. officials in over 40 years to Taiwan, and the Chinese government responded with the largest naval exercises in its history and sent numerous flights of up to 28 aircraft to the edge of Taiwan’s air defense zone.

Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces with headquarters at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, described a new operational strategy called “agile combat environment” (ACE), of disbursing air assets to many small locations and spokes “so that we would be moving between the hubs and spokes multiple times per day, multiple times per week. Creating a targeting problem for an adversary that would have to target many locations instead of one or two large bases, dilutes the firepower the adversary can put on any one location.”

A Pacific Air Force spokesperson said the goal is to create targeting challenges for enemy hypersonic, ballistic and long-range cruise missile threats, thereby increasing survivability for U.S. forces by having outposts on small islands where refueling of aircraft can take place instead of relying on large bases, which are easily identified targets.

More Congressional Funding for the Pacific Region

In addition to the military war maneuvers, the House Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Congress recently advanced the 2022 defense budget that includes $2.2 billion for the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as a part of the 20-year, $21 billion U.S. Navy project to upgrade four government-operated shipyards.

The defense appropriation bill includes $62.4 million for a missile defense system for Guam against ballistic, hypersonic and cruise missiles. A letter from a bipartisan congressional group had requested $350 million for the Guam defense system. Admiral Phil Davidson, the former chief of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, requested $4.68 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative for fiscal year 2022.

In one of the most controversial budget allocations, despite the Pentagon zeroing out funding requests from the Hawaii congressional delegation for a Homeland Defense Radar (indicating that the U.S. military does not want the radar), the appropriations committee, acting on a radar request from the Hawaii delegation, allocated $75 million. The radar is intended to track North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, but the Department of Defense shelved the Homeland Radar and a separate radar as they could not track hypersonic missiles, reviving a focus on space-based sensors to identify these threats.

Due to residents’ formidable opposition to the radar on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the Defense Missile Agency is now looking at the Barking Sands Missile Test Facility, located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, for the site of the massive 85-foot-tall structure sitting atop a 25-foot foundation. Yet opposition on Kauai, too, is growing as the scale of the project becomes clearer. Questions are mounting about whether Kauai’s infrastructure, roads and bridges can handle the heavy equipment and massive amount of concrete needed to construct the radar. Local officials are concerned about housing the hundreds of new employees on an island that already has chronic housing shortages and a homeless population that has an encampment just outside the fence of Barking Sands.

Added to those issues is the disturbing Notice to Airmen, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration about “electromagnetic radiation continuously existing at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (on the island of Kauai) from June 1, 2021, to June 1, 2022.” The notice, which was recently discovered by local citizens, states that, “Aircraft within the above airspace will be exposed to direct radiation which may produce harmful effects to personnel and equipment.”

There has been no response to inquiries from local citizens or local news outlets from the U.S. Navy Public Affairs office, which handles inquiries for the Pacific Missile Range Facility about the source of the electromagnetic radiation and why the public was not notified of this dangerous situation.

Where Is U.S. Diplomacy in the Pacific?

In March 2021, the first face-to-face meeting between the Biden administration and Chinese officials got off to a heated start in Anchorage, Alaska. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that the Biden administration would bring up “deep concerns” about some of China’s actions around the world was met with immediate pushback from Chinese counterparts, sparking an unusually public exchange of diplomatic barbs.

Four months later, not much has changed on the diplomatic front. On July 11, Blinken called on China to stop its “provocative behavior” in the South China Sea. Blinken followed on July 13, in his first meeting with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) foreign ministers and on the fifth anniversary of a ruling by an arbitration tribunal rejecting China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, with a statement that the United States stands with Southeast Asian countries and rejects China’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. China does not accept the arbitration ruling, and claims much of the waters within a so-called Nine Dash Line, which is also contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

As more U.S. funding is allocated toward military buildup in the Pacific, those of us who oppose war, militarism and imperialism must be vocal in our concerns to the Biden administration, as well as our congressional delegations who vote for military instead of peaceful resolutions of economic and political disputes in the region.

Biden sends Xi, Putin warning while remembering son Beau, fallen troops in Memorial Day speech

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-xi-jinping-putin-memorial-day-warning

3 hours ago

Biden also paid tribute to his late son Beau

By Evie Fordham | Fox News

https://static.foxnews.com/static/orion/html/video/iframe/vod.html?v=20210526013148#uid=fnc-embed-1

Why the media dismissed Wuhan theory

Many mocked lab scenario, until now

President Biden sent a warning to the presidents of China and Russia during his Memorial Day address on Sunday.

“I had a long conversation for two hours recently with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping], making it clear to him we could do nothing but speak out for human rights around the world because that’s who we are,” Biden said. “I’ll be meeting with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin in a couple weeks in Geneva making it clear that we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights.”

CHINA TOYING WITH BIDEN ADMINISTRATION AT EVERY TURN

Biden spoke at a Memorial Day service in Delaware on Sunday morning, where he offered comfort to the families of fallen service members and paid tribute to his late son Beau Biden, who served in the Iraq War. 

“It’s also an important tradition in our family. As many of you know, this is a hard day for us. Six years ago today … I lost my son. In the first year of his passing back in 2016, Gen. [Frank] Vavala did a great honor in inviting us to a ceremony renaming the Delaware National Guard headquarters in Beau’s honor.”

President Joe Biden speaks with priests as he departs after attending Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden speaks with priests as he departs after attending Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“We’re honored, but it’s a tough day, brings back everything,” Biden continued. “So I can’t thank you enough for your continued service to the country and your sons, your daughters, they live on in your hearts and in their children as well. And we have to carry on without them. But I know how hard it is for you. Beau didn’t die in the line of duty, but he was serving in Delaware National Guard unit in Iraq for a year. That was one of the proudest things he did in his life. So thank you for allowing us to grieve together today.”

Beau Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware, died in 2015 from cancer. The president has previously suggested that Beau Biden’s cancer could have been linked to toxins he was exposed to through military burn pits while serving in the Iraq War.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3R3ZWV0X2VtYmVkX2NsaWNrYWJpbGl0eV8xMjEwMiI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJjb250cm9sIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=true&id=1399012184655552513&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fpolitics%2Fbiden-xi-jinping-putin-memorial-day-warning&sessionId=8654e0e91e142a4cb600cfb66ad5941a52e0f8c8&siteScreenName=foxnews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

This is President Biden’s first Memorial Day weekend as commander-in-chief.

JOHN CENA ISSUES APOLOGY TO CHINA IN MANDARIN AFTER CALLING TAIWAN ITS OWN COUNTRY IN ‘F9’ INTERVIEW

He brought up his issues with Chinese leaders as his administration refuses to commit to punishing China should the coronavirus lab leak theory be proven true.https://a83c3ce184b4746ff8af8b66c9f5b066.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing when asked whether the virus had emerged in a manner that was “deliberate or not an accident.”

“Would the president seek to punish China?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre.

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“We’re not going to go there just yet,” Jean-Pierre replied, “We have to go through the 90-day review. And once we have the 90-day review, will we be able to reassess.”  

Biden previously said he had asked the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” and get back to him within 90 days. 

Fox News’ Lucas Y. Tomlinson, Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Russia sends fleet of warships into Black Sea as tensions rise with US, Ukraine

https://nypost.com/2021/04/20/russia-sends-warships-in-black-sea-amid-us-ukraine-tensions/

By Emily Jacobs

April 20, 2021 | 11:45am | UpdatedShareVideo Player is loading.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.452.0_en.html#goog_14654516070:00/0:46 

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Russia sent a fleet of over 20 warships to launch multiple cruise missiles in the Black Sea on Tuesday — days after defying President Biden’s demand that the nation drop its military offensive against neighboring Ukraine.

Video released by the TASS news agency, a state-owned wire service known largely as a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin, showed the Admiral Essen, a massive Russian naval frigate, launching a series of missiles into the air.

The agency described it as “a joint exercise.”

News of the “exercise” comes amid ramped-up tensions in the region, with Biden declaring a national emergency last Thursday, slapping sanctions on more than three dozen people in Russia and expelling 10 diplomats.

At the same time, he scrapped plans to send two US warships to the Black Sea.

Vladimir Putin visits the Coordination Center of the Russian Government in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Vladimir Putin visits the Coordination Center of the Russian government in Moscow on April 13, 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently closed off the Kerch Strait to foreign warships until next fall.

Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Russia has supported pro-Russian insurgents in neighboring republics — including shoring up allied breakaway states in Georgia and Moldova.

Late last week, the Kremlin urged the Biden administration to summon the US Ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, back to the US for in-person talks on the heightened tensions between the two countries, something the ambassador initially refused.
Late last week, the Kremlin urged the Biden administration to summon the US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, back to the US for in-person talks on the heightened tensions between the two countries.

SEE ALSO

Putin closes off access to Black Sea after Biden’s about-face on Ukraine

Putin presided over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 without Ukraine’s consent in a rare present-day boundary change by force.

Russian troop deployments are often murky, but Putin’s government is believed to have deployed troops to Crimea to facilitate the 2014 annexation and to have secretly supported a pair of breakaway provinces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The Kremlin has continued to increase its military presence in the region, specifically with its naval ships in the Black Sea.

Over the weekend, it sent two more warships and 15 smaller vessels to join the fleet it already has in that waterway.

The military moves come amid a tit-for-tat between Washington and Moscow over sanctions and other diplomatic rows.

John Sullivan meeting with Vladimir Putin on Feb. 5, 2020.
John Sullivan meeting with Vladimir Putin on Feb. 5, 2020.

After Biden announced a slew of new US sanctions on Russia at the end of last week, Moscow responded by saying it would expel 10 US diplomats in retaliation.

It did not include on that list, however, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, appointed under former President Donald Trump and retained by Biden thus far.

Late last week, the Kremlin urged the Biden administration to summon Sullivan back to the US for in-person talks on the heightened tensions between the two countries, something the ambassador initially refused.

Security staff patrol the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia on April 20, 2021.
Security staff patrol the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia, on April 20, 2021.

Sullivan caved by Monday, saying in a statement he would come home for a week while vowing to return.

“I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,” his statement read.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Tuesday he will head home for consultations - a move that comes after the Kremlin prodded him to take a break as Washington and Moscow traded sanctions.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Tuesday he will head home for consultations — a move that comes after the Kremlin prodded him to take a break as Washington and Moscow traded sanctions.

“Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit,” he continued. “I will return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.”