Articles by "China"

Hong Kong Chief Executive candidates, from left, John Tsang, Carrie Lam and Woo Kwok-hing attend a TV debate.
Former senior government official Carrie Lam has been elected Hong Kong’s next leader by a 1,200-person committee amid competing rallies held outside the election venue over China’s rule.
The 55-year-old former chief secretary won 777 votes from the Election Committee on Sunday, becoming the city's first female leader.
Lam ran for the top post in the Chinese-ruled financial hub of 7.3 million people against another former official, John Tsang, and retired judge, Woo Kwok-hing.
Security was tight around the venue with metal barricades and large numbers of police deployed, keeping pro-Beijing groups and their rivals apart.  
Protesters denounced what they called Beijing's interference, accusing China of lobbying the voters to back Lam.
Lam is an efficient and pragmatic administrator but his detractors in Hong Kong see her as a proxy for Beijing and out of touch with ordinary people.
She will take over from current leader Leung Chun-ying who is not seeking a second term, citing family reasons.
Members of the Election Committee included tycoons like Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest person. Other members represented industry and trade groups such as finance, accounting, real estate and textiles.
Election Committee members cast their votes at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, March 26, 2017.
Hong Kong lawmakers, local councilors and delegates to China's parliament also have votes and some 326 seats are held by pro-independence supporters.
Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing has been walking a fine line for the administration of the city under the formula of "one country, two systems."
Pro-autonomy groups, meanwhile, have tried to avoid the 2014 protests that pitted young activists against the city's Beijing-backed government, leaving tensions over the city's political reform.
Hong Kong’s proximity to China has been a boon for the city, bringing in Chinese investment and spending.
Businesses, however, have faced growing competition from mainland Chinese firms in core sectors like services and property.
Housing prices, now among the world's highest, are widely seen to have been pushed up by an unrelenting wave of buying from rich Chinese, intensifying anti-Beijing sentiment.

This photo taken on October 6, 2016 in Soamahamanina shows employees standing by as a mining machine filters the dirt containing gold inside the Chinese company Jiuxing's mine. (Photo by AFP)
Accidents at two neighboring gold mines in central China's Henan province killed 11 people on Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities.
Thick smoke engulfed a pit at the Qinling gold mine of China National Gold Group in Lingbao City on Friday morning, trapping 12 workers and six management staff, Xinhua reported on Saturday.
Rescue workers retrieved seven bodies on Friday night. Of the 10 people taken to hospital, one failed to respond to treatment and the other nine were recovering.
One more body was retrieved on Saturday afternoon.
A similar accident was reported in a neighboring gold mine on Friday afternoon, Xinhua said, citing the provincial work safety administration.
Of the six workers trapped, four had been rescued while the other two were found dead later that evening.
Industrial accidents are common in China. Anger over lax standards is rising after 30 years of breakneck economic growth marred by incidents from mining disasters to factory fires.
Earlier on Saturday, an operation platform collapsed at a power plant in southern China, killing nine people.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's latest Izumo-class helicopter carrier, DDH-184 Kaga, leaves a port after a handover ceremony for the JMSDF by Japan Marine United Corporation in Yokohama, Japan March 22, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
China said on Thursday that it hoped the entry into service of Japan's second biggest helicopter carrier, the Kaga, did not mean a return to the country's past militaristic history.
The ship, along with its sister, the Izumo, gives Japan's military greater ability to deploy beyond its shores.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said that in recent years Japan had exaggerated the "China threat" as an excuse to expand its military.
"I also want to say that the Kaga was sunk by the US military in World War Two. Japan should learn the lessons of history," Hua told a daily news briefing, adding, "We hope the return of the Kaga is not trying to be the start of the ashes of Japanese militarism burning once more."
Japan’s second big helicopter carrier, the Kaga, entered service on Wednesday, giving the nation’s military greater ability to deploy beyond its shores as it pushes back against China’s growing influence in Asia.
Accompanied by a military band, Maritime Self Defense Force commanders took possession of the 248 meter (813.65 ft.) long vessel at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo, where it was docked next to its sister ship the Izumo.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's (JMSDF) latest Izumo-class helicopter carrier, DDH-184 Kaga (R), is seen next to JMSDF's helicopter carrier, Izumo, in Yokohama, Japan, March 22, 2017, in this photo taken by Kyodo. (Via Reuters)
“China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” Vice Minister of Defense Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony attend by about 500 people
Japan’s two biggest warships since World War Two are potent symbols of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to give the military a bigger international role. They are designated as helicopter destroyers to keep within the bounds of a war-renouncing constitution that forbids possession of offensive weapons.
In its biggest show of naval power in foreign waters in more than 70 years, Japan plans to dispatch the Izumo in May on a three-month tour through the South China Sea, sources with knowledge of the plan told Reuters earlier.
China claims almost all the disputed waters through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year. Beijing’s growing military presence there has fueled concern in Tokyo and Washington.
Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits. Japan has no claims there, but is locked in another territorial dispute with China over a group of islets in the neighboring East China Sea.
The addition of the Kaga means Japan will be able to mount overseas operations more often in the future. It will be based in Kure western Japan, which was home to Japan’s most famous World War Two battleship, the Yamato. The Izumo operates from Yokosuka near Tokyo, which is also where of the US Seventh Fleet’s carrier, the Ronald Reagan, is based.
The Japanese ships can operate up to nine helicopters each from their decks. They resemble the amphibious assault carriers used by US Marines, but lack their well deck for launching landing craft and other vessels.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying
China has warned the United States against arms sales to Taiwan amid reports that Washington has begun considering a large shipment of advanced weaponry for the self-ruled island.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that Beijing’s resolute opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan was clear and consistent.
"We hope the US side fully recognizes the high sensitivity and serious harmfulness of its sales to Taiwan," she said. 
The official called on Washington to abide by the 'One China' policy and "cease Taiwan arm sales" in order to preserve Sino-US relations as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The comments, which came one day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended a visit to Beijing, followed reports in US media that Trump's government was preparing a large-scale arms package for Taiwan.
There is contact between Taiwan and the Trump administration on the arms sale issue, but a specific request list has not been drawn up for this year, though there are pending requests from last year, according to Defense Ministry official Wu Pao-kun.
The United States is Taiwan's only major political ally and sole arms supplier, and weapons sales to Taiwan have repeatedly upset Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory.
President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping subsequently smoothed over the dispute in a phone call in which the US leader reiterated Washington's adherence to the 'One China' policy, which nominally acknowledges Beijing's claim without recognizing it.
Tillerson told President Xi on Sunday in Beijing that Trump anticipated a meeting "soon."

China's President Xi Jinping (R) meets US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 19, 2017. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese President Xi Jinping have pledged to bolster ties between the two countries, sidestepping areas of disagreement with a public display of cooperation.
During their first meeting on Saturday in Beijing, Tillerson and Xi made no mention of other contentious issues, at least in front of reporters, including the disputes over bilateral trade, North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Relations have also been strained by China's strong opposition to the THAAD US missile system being installed in South Korea.
"We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation," Tillerson said.
Tillerson said Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.
At least in public, Tillerson adopted a far different tone than that of his boss, US President Donald Trump, instead saying that the United States looked forward to stronger ties with China.
But behind the scenes, diplomats and analysts said there was little doubt that Tillerson had pressed China to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
The Sino-US relations have been strained ever since Trump was elected President in November. The ties worsened even further after a phone call between Trump and the Taiwanese president in December, raising concerns that the new US administration may not honor the one-China policy.
Washington is also accused of meddling in regional issues, especially the South China Sea, where China and several of its neighbors are locked in a maritime dispute.
Before Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday, he visited US allies Japan and South Korea where he declared US military action against North Korea was possible.
On Friday, Trump said North Korea was "behaving very badly" and accused China of doing little to resolve the crisis over the North's nuclear weapons program.
However, Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying Washington and Beijing would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take "a different course."
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after arriving in Chinese capital of Beijing on March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The US wants China, the North's neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programs.
But Chinese officials favor careful diplomacy over heated rhetoric and repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe.

Saudi King Salman is reviewing an honor guard with Chinese President Xi during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 16, 2017.
Saudi Arabia has clinched a raft of economic deals with China to reverse or slow down the pace at which the kingdom is losing its status as China's predominant oil supplier.
Riyadh struggles with a slumping oil market and a desperate need to diversify its economy, prompting the senile King Salman to embark on a six-week lavish tour of Asia in order to fix the profligate kingdom’s financial woes.
Saudi Arabia is facing grim economic outlooks because of low crude prices in the face of a global oil glut and the country’s leaders are on a force majeure drive to shock the country out of intense dependence on oil.
Under the circumstances, the kingdom’s market share has come under strain in a lot of places globally. Saudi Arabia lost its position as China’s biggest crude oil supplier to Russia last year and was briefly overtaken by both Angola and Iraq.
Loss of market share
That share is vulnerable to fresh inroads from resurgent players such as Iran which is ramping up production after the lifting of sanctions.
China’s Iranian crude oil imports are expected to rise to a record this year. Chinese firms’ imports are forecast to be 7 percent higher than the 620,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude they lifted during the first 11 months of 2016.
Moreover, China's demand for foreign crude is set to touch new highs but Saudi Arabia's inability to meet it means the kingdom will be losing its status as China's predominant supplier.
On that account, Riyadh has to gamble on other assets and that is where its oil and gas behemoth Aramco comes into play. The state-owned firm is reportedly being prepared for a public listing as the Arab country is seeking to plug its fourth consecutive budget deficit.
According to Bloomberg, China Investment Corporation would be the biggest investor in the Aramco initial public offering (IPO), which could be worth up to $100 billion. China National Petroleum Corporation would also take a stake under plans being discussed between the two sides, the report added.
New cash cow
With a bulging sovereign wealth fund and an urge to put it to work on the global scale, China is the best source of cash for Saudi Arabia which is burning through its foreign reserves at an alarming pace.  
Riyadh’s troubles with its financial books are chiefly rooted in a militarist approach which the new Saudi rulers have adopted, waging a costly war against their impoverished neighbor in Yemen for more than two years now.
 China's President Xi Jinping meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 17, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Some observers believe the current drive to diversify the economy, championed by Saudi defense minister and heir apparent, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is a masquerade to cover the war expenses.
On Thursday, King Salman oversaw in Beijing the signing of up to $65 billion worth of deals, spanning sectors from energy to space, though the Chinese government disclosed few specifics. Saudi Arabia and China also signed more than 20 agreements on oil investments and in renewable energy.
Strategic differences 
While President Xi Jinping couched China’s future role in Saudi Arabia in purely economic terms, King Salman tried to add a political touch to their latest association.
“Saudi Arabia is willing to work hard with China to promote global and regional peace, security and prosperity,” Salman said.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, second right, meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, second left, at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 17, 2017. (Photo by AP)
However, the new tie-up is more a marriage of convenience than anything else.
As Beijing is expanding its footprints in the Middle East, it is boosting military cooperation with the Syrian government which Saudi Arabia wants to topple with the help of armed militants.
Furthermore, China is worried that Uighurs from its western Xinjiang region have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for Takfiri groups which are inspired by the Wahhabi ideology preached in Saudi Arabia 
“For the moment, the world's biggest oil importer and its biggest exporter are natural allies -- but they will always be ruthless when it comes to their national interests,” a commentary piece on Bloomberg said on Thursday.

The Philippines’ military has blocked a group of lawmakers and security chiefs from visiting one of nine Philippine-held features in the disputed South China Sea due to safety issues, defense officials said on Friday.
But one senior Philippine general said the cancellation of this week’s trip to Thitu Island, known locally as Pagasa, had more to do with concerns over how China would react.
Thitu is close to Subi Reef, one of seven manmade islands in the Spratlys that China is accused of having militarized with surface-to-air missiles, among other armaments.
The Philippines has squabbled with China for years over the South China Sea, but relations have improved under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who will meet Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wang Yang on Friday afternoon.
Five members of the Philippine House of Representatives were due to fly to Thitu on Thursday, while Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana and military chief General Eduardo Ano were also planning a separate visit on Friday.
The lawmakers had planned to assess upgrades and new facilities needed for the Filipino fishing community of about 100 people living on the island in the Spratly archipelago.
The military said the trip was postponed due to “safety issues.” Defense Ministry spokesman Arsenio Andolong said landing on a porous runway after heavy rains was too dangerous.
A Philippine soldier patrols a beach in Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, May 11, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
“We will need at least five days of dry weather to harden and make it safe again for landing planes,” he said. No rescheduling was made, however.
But Lieutenant-General Raul del Rosario, who heads the Philippine Western Command, said there were concerns about how China would view the trip to Thitu.
“That is contested area, that is not 100 percent ours,” he said in a Congressional hearing on Thursday. “That’s why we are concerned if you fly there. Every time an aircraft flies there, it gets a warning and, there are times, they fire flares toward the aircraft.”
The military declined to comment on Rosario’s statement.
China claims most of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about five trillion dollars of goods passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have claims.

This file image shows one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. (Photo by AFP)
China has plans to build a permanent environmental monitoring station on one of its islands in the South China Sea despite an ongoing territorial dispute with the Philippines over the shoal.
Media outlets said on Friday that the move could potentially raise new concerns over Beijing’s actions to assert its claims in the strategically crucial waterbody.
“Permanent environmental monitoring stations are being built on six islands and reefs,” media quoted the top political official in Sansha island as saying.
Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie told local media that preparatory work on the stations was among the government’s priorities for 2017, but gave no other details.
The South China Sea is located between China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei and hosts one of the world’s busiest waterways and is believed to be rich in mineral and gas.
The neighboring countries have long disputed over ownership of territories in the waterbody.
China’s creation of seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, complete with airstrips and military installations, has drawn international criticism.
This combo of handout photos taken on January 11, 2014 (L) and January 3, 2016 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released on November 15, 2016 by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank shows the overview satellite image of Spratly Island in the disputed South China Sea. (Photo by AFP)
The United States has been strongly opposed to Beijing’s assertion of its claims in the disputed territories. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has compared China’s island-building and deployment of military assets to Crimea's rejoining Russia in 2014.
Tillerson is currently on a three-leg tour in northern Asia.
The topic is likely to be high on the agenda when Tillerson reaches Beijing for talks with top officials on Saturday and Sunday.

This handout photo from the US Forces Korea (USFK) taken on March 6, 2017 and released on March 7, 2017 shows the first elements of the US-built Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) arriving at Osan US Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by AFP)
China has once again emphasized its strong opposition to the deployment of a US missile system on the Korean peninsula, urging relevant parties to stop immediately.
"China has clearly expressed its stance of opposition to the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system) deployment for many times,” said spokeswoman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affair, Hua Chunying, in a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.
Beijing believes the THAAD deployment in South Korea will not only make the region unstable, but also trigger Pyongyang to take a more determined stance to safeguard its territories against foreign invasion.  
Hua said Chinese leadership understands North Korea’s concern on safeguarding its own security, but, she added, “the problem is that THAAD will damage the regional strategic balance and is not conductive to safeguarding the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, but rather it may very well render the ROK [Republic of Korea, another name for North Korea] less secure.”
China is wary of the use of a special x-band radar system installed in THAAD.
"The X-band radar of THAAD can cover a detection range… far beyond the Korean Peninsula… and cover a vast territorial area of China,” the Chinese official said.
Beijing’s spokeswoman said the deployment of THAAD in South Korea would have a heavy toll on China’s "security and interests."
“We are not opposed to the ROK's adoption of necessary measures to safeguard its own security, but such measures should not be taken at the expense of security and interests of the neighboring friendly countries, including China," she said.
The end of patience
Beijing's Friday comments followed a strong warning by the United States to North Korea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that military action against North Korea would be "on the table" if Pyongyang elevated the threat level.
Tillerson, who is on a three-leg tour in northern Asia, said in South Korea on Friday that Washington's "patience has ended."
"Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended," Tillerson warned Pyongyang from Seoul, adding, "All options are on the table."
"If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table," Tillerson said when asked about military action.
Tillerson will be in China on Saturday and Sunday, where he is expected to try to convince Chinese leaders to pressure North Korea to abandon its military programs. China is North Korea’s main ally.
The US has recently started the deployment of THAAD to South Korea, claiming it is an anti-missile system for defense against North Korea, which has conducted numerous ballistic missile tests in the past, including one lately on March 6.
'Washington's hidden agenda'
Press TV spoke to American geopolitical analyst James O'Neill about the political situation in the Koreas.
O'Neill said the deployment of THAAD to South Korea has little to do with North Korea.
He said THAAD is aimed primarily at China.
"I do not expect the Americans would ever actually take [military] action against North Korea. There is no reason for them to do so... North Korea is extremely useful from the American point of view... [Pyongyang] gives them the perfect excuse to... establish the so-called THAAD anti-missile system. It has very little to do with North Korea. It is aimed primarily at the Chinese," O'Neil said.
He said Washington has no plan for peace with North Korea and the White House's true agenda is to perpetuate war in the region.

"If they were serious about having negotiations with North Korea, they would sit down around the table with them and talk. They have refused to do so. They have refused to have the North Koreans visit Washington, they have refused to visit Pyongyang themselves, they have refused to use the Chinese who would be the best conduit [for] discussion with the North Koreans, they have no interest whatsoever in a peaceful settlement of the Korean dispute. It suits their geopolitical purposes very well indeed to maintain the hostility and the rhetoric and of course maintain their forces there."

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) welcomes visiting Saudi King Salman in Beijing on March 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has paid a visit to China amid Beijing’s efforts to play a more active economic and diplomatic role in the Middle East.
On Thursday, the king oversaw the conclusion of deals worth potentially $65 billion with the Chinese side at the start of his three-day visit.
According to Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming, the agreements cover a variety of issues, ranging from energy to space technology, but he did not provide further details.
Speaking to reporters, Chinese President Xi Jinping said King Salman’s visit highlights the importance of Beijing-Riyadh ties, adding “this visit will push forward and continue to improve the quality of our relations and bear new fruit.”
The octogenarian monarch arrived in Beijing on Wednesday at the head of an entourage of 1,000 people on the fourth leg of his one-month tour of Asia, after he visited Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The king’s Asian tour is aimed at promoting investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in its giant state firm Saudi Aramco.
The Chinese and Saudi delegations hold talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi Arabia has sought to increase oil exports to China by working mostly with the Asian country’s top three state oil firms after it lost market share to Russia in 2016.
Salman and Xi also discussed the Yemen and Syria crises, stressing that the issues must be resolved through political channels, Zhang said.
Over the past year, China has tried to shift away from its traditional policy of keeping a low profile in the Middle East and assume a more active role with regard to the regional issues.
Ahead of the Saudi king’s trip, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed hope on March 8 for the resolution of the issues facing Iran-Saudi ties, saying Beijing was ready to help eliminate the differences.
    On Friday, the Iranian Embassy in Beijing welcomed the Chinese offer to play a mediatory role and help settle the differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which unilaterally severed ties with the Islamic Republic last year.
    Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 following demonstrations held in front of Riyadh’s diplomatic premises in Iran by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud family for the execution of prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.


    Taiwanese soldiers stand next to home-made Tien Chien surface-to-air missiles during an annual drill in Tainan, January 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

    A Taiwanese defense report has raised concerns over China’s military modernization efforts and its recent drills around Taiwan.
    “The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in [China’s] military threat capabilities,” underlining the need for Taiwan to defend itself, said the draft report, which has been seen by Reuters.
    Titled The 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the report is due to be presented to the Taiwanese parliament on Thursday by Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan.
    “In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability,” the report said, referring to the Chinese military activities.
    “The country’s military development and Taiwan’s freedom and prosperity are the same living body,” according to the draft document.
    The quadrennial review was the first since President Tsai Ing-wen rose to power in Taiwan last May. Tsai hails from the Democratic Progressive Party, which traditionally advocates independence for the island.

    This file photo, taken on December 24, 2016, shows the Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier, sailing during military drills in the Pacific. (By AFP)
    Beijing, which regards self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province, has been expanding air and sea military drills in waters surrounding the island. The increased military activities began roughly during a surge in tensions with Taipei, initiated by controversial rhetoric and action by US President Donald Trump.
    Trump caused a ruckus when he took a phone call from Tsai, breaking with diplomatic protocol that stipulated formal ties with Beijing and not Taipei. He continued to engage in rhetoric that left the impression that he might stop recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. Although he later backtracked, upholding the so-called One China policy, his behavior is believed to have emboldened the independence bid in Taiwan.
    The Taiwanese defense paper further pointed to Japan’s move away from its pacifist constitution “to strengthen its armaments and lift a ban on using troops abroad” as likely to have profound consequences on the security situation in the Asia-Pacific and the Taiwan Strait.

    An amphibious assault vehicle enters the water during an annual drill at the Tsoying navy base in southern Taiwan, January 18, 2017. Taiwan conducted the military drills simulating an attack by China. (Photo by AFP)
    Reports indicate that Japan plans to send its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, which will represent its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
    The QDR report also cited uncertainties about the “strategic direction and troop deployment” of the US in the Asia-Pacific region under the new administration of President Donald Trump as another security challenge to Taiwan.
    This is while the US remains Taiwan’s leading ally and arms supplier and is bound by congressional law to provide the means to help the island defend itself.

    Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang speaks during a press conference in Beijing, March 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
    China’s prime minister has warned that escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula could lead to an armed conflict, urging action to ratchet down tensions to avoid war.
    Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that any conflict in the region would bring harm to all sides. He urged the parities, including South Korea, the US, Japan, and the North, to start engaging in dialog to ease tensions.
    “So what we hope is that all the parties concerned will work together to de-escalate the situation, get issues back on the track of dialog and work together to find proper solutions,” the Chinese prime minister said. “It’s just common sense that nobody wants to see chaos on their doorstep.”
    Li added that Beijing was committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
    The comments come at a time of an especially tense situation in the region. North Korea has been rapidly advancing a missile and military nuclear program, and the US has amassed military forces in the region for military maneuvers with South Korea and Japan.
    The US nuclear-powered carrier USS Carl Vinson has arrived in the region to take part in two-day exercises with warships from South Korea as well as those of Japan.
    US Navy crew members stand by an electronic warfare aircraft on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a South Korea-US joint military drill in waters east of the Korean Peninsula, March 14, 2017. (Via AFP)
    The US’s joint annual military drills with the South have infuriated North Korea, which has pledged “merciless ultra-precision strikes” if its sovereignty is violated during the exercises.
    North Korea deems the maneuvers rehearsals for an attack on its territory.
    The US and South Korean military chiefs, meanwhile, have warned that Pyongyang could “conduct provocative actions” in response to the drills. US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford’s office said that the US and the South’s military leaders “discussed [their own] response options” during a recent call that lasted about 30 minutes.
    In the drills, the US is using nuclear-propelled aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers, and stealth fighters.
    The US has military forces in South Korea on a permanent basis. It has also started the deployment of an advanced missile system in South Korea.
    The first elements of the US-built Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) arrived at Osan US Air Base in South Korea, March 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
    The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is equipped with a powerful detection system known as an X band radar, which experts say would destabilize regional security and upset the region’s current military balance.
    North Korea and China have long opposed the deployment.
    The system is installed with the declared goal of intercepting potential missile threats from North Korea. Last week, the North test-fired four ballistic missiles, three of which went down in waters claimed by Japan as its sovereign territory. Japan reacted to the launches with rhetorical anger but took no action.

    Residents who have fled from conflict zones near the Myanmarese and Chinese border gather in the town of Lashio, March 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
    Within earshot of mortar fire echoing from beyond a ring of hills, a sprawling relief camp in southwestern China is swelling steadily after fighting erupted last week between a rebel ethnic army in Myanmar and government troops just across the border.
    In a recent Reuters visit to the rugged area in southwestern Yunnan Province, aid workers and those displaced expressed fears of a more violent and protracted conflict than a previous flare-up in the Kokang region in early 2015.
    "Every day, more people come," said Li Yinzhong, an aid manager in the camp, gesturing at the mostly Han Chinese refugees from Myanmar's Kokang region trudging through the reddish mud earth around rows of large blue huts where they sleep on nylon tarpaulin sheets.
    Blue disaster relief tents provided by the Chinese also dotted the terraced sugarcane, maize and tea terraces flanking the mountainous winding road to Nansan. The town, close to the Kokang region of Myanmar's Shan State, is providing refuge for a stream of refugees that Chinese authorities estimate number more than 20,000.
    The violence is a blow to efforts by Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with Myanmar's ethnic minorities, some of them in rebellions spanning decades.
    The conflict is also fraying ties between China and Myanmar, which Beijing has hoped could be a key gateway in its multi-pronged "One Belt One Road" strategy to promote economic links between China and Europe.
    Kokang has close ties to China. The vast majority are ethnic Chinese speaking a Chinese dialect and using the yuan as currency.
    The Kokang began fleeing when the rebel Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) launched a surprise raid on Myanmar police and military targets in the town of Laukkai, resulting in the deaths of 30 people on March 6.
    In an "urgent notice" posted on Sunday on its official website, the MNDAA said the Kokang area was now in a "state of war" as fighting worsened.
    In this photograph, taken October 14, 2016, armed rebels with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) ethnic group move toward the front line near Laiza in Kachin State. (Photo by AFP)
    On the Chinese side, paramilitary police have sent in battalions of reinforcements, mostly in readiness for disaster relief, according to Chinese officials who spoke on background.
    Reuters saw seven Chinese armored personnel carriers moving west along the hilly road toward Myanmar and the relief camp sprawled across a muddy wasteland the size of 10 football fields.
    The fresh unrest comes after fighting in early 2015 and in 2009 involving the MNDAA, both flare-ups displacing tens of thousands of people.
    Ordnance has occasionally strayed into China, with five people in China killed in 2015 during a round of fighting then.

    This is the horrifying moment at least nine fairground revellers were injured including one child when a swing ride crashed to the ground.
    The ride at a festival in Xihe county, in northwest China's Gansu Province, collapsed on March 9.
    The top frame, carrying suspended chairs hanging by chains, dropped without warning, slamming its passengers onto the ground.
    One child was among the injured. The owners of the facilities were taken by the police for questioning.
    Terrified witnesses told Beijing Youth Daily a loud 'bang' was heard when an iron column on the ride snapped.
    Riders were then sent crashing to the floor with shocked bystanders screaming in panic.
    One witness reported the ride was about four or five metres in the air at the time of the accident.

    One seriously injured victim was taken to the First People's Hospital in Tianshui City.He said: "Fortunately, it was not completely into its cycle, because if it was it would've been much higher up and more people would have been hurt."
    The remaining eight were taken to the Xingkang Hospital Observation to be checked over.
    The ride has now been demolished and police are investigating.
    Just last month a Chinese teenager died after being thrown out of a malfunctioned swing ride mid-air at an amusement park.
    The accident occurred at Fengdu County in south-west China's Chongqing city, according to local media.
    The girl, 14, was pronounced dead at the hospital after failed resuscitation attempts, reports said.



    A senior Taiwanese official says China does not correctly understand self-ruled Taiwan’s judicial system, days after Beijing accused Taiwan of seeking to stir up tensions by arresting a Chinese national over espionage charges.
    Taiwanese authorities detained a Chinese student on suspicion of breaching national security laws on Friday, according to a court official. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang reacted to the detention by describing it as “deliberate fabrication.”
    On Monday, Taiwan’s Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang hit back by saying that the Chinese official’s  remarks indicated Beijing’s “misunderstanding of Taiwan’s judicial system and Taiwan’s democratic system.”
    “Basically, we will handle this according to law,” Chen said. “We will not make up charges.”
    A photo provided by Taiwanese media shows a Chinese student identified as Zhou Hongxu with a blurred face. He has been arrested in Taiwan over espionage charges.
    Chen also denied that Taipei was using the case to provoke tensions with Beijing. He said the arrest had been made in accordance with a mutual legal assistance pact between Taiwan and Beijing and China’s public security bureau had been notified of the detention.
    Taiwan has said an investigation into the case is ongoing and that information about the case is classified.
    China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province. Relations between mainland China and Taiwan have been especially fraught since Tsai Ing-wen, of Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, rose to power in the island following a presidential election in 2016.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping appears on a screen during the second plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
    The Chinese president has called on military forces to erect a “Great Wall of Steel” around the restive western region of Xinjiang, which is home to the largely Muslim Uighur minority.
    Xi Jinping made the comments on Saturday during a parliamentary session, urging authorities to work to bring “lasting peace and stability” to the border region, which has witnessed a rise in violence and terror attacks blamed on what Beijing calls local Uighur separatist groups, The Guardian reported.
    The remarks by the Chinese leader came after a series of massive “anti-terror” military marches in Xinjiang.
    Tens of thousands of heavily-armed Chinese forces have poured onto the streets in Xinjiang in recent weeks, vowing to wage a “people’s war on terror” against militants, according to the report.
    Chinese military police attend an “anti-terrorist” oath-taking rally in Hetian, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uighur region on February 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
    At one recent show of force, the report adds, the regional Communist Party chief called on troops to “bury the corpses of terrorists in the vast sea of the people’s war.”
    Beijing accuses what it describes as exiled Uighur separatist groups of planning attacks in the resource-rich region.
    Many Uighurs complain of discrimination and marginalization by the Chinese authorities. Some foreign-based members of the community also claim Beijing is cracking down on the Turkic-speaking ethnic minority.
    Xinjiang has for decades been devastated by outbreaks of vicious ethnic violence, a process experts believe has been exacerbated by the government’s ill treatment of Uighurs, which, according to the report, “includes draconian religious restrictions and social and economic discrimination.”
    However, after a series of deadly incidents between 2009 and 2014 – including a flare-up of bloody inter-ethnic rioting and a number of Xinjiang-linked attacks on civilians – the region appeared to be enjoying a period of relative calm.
    That apparent calm was shattered last December, when Chinese military forces gunned down four individuals who allegedly attempted to blow up a Communist party building in southern Xinjiang. Three more suspected militants were also shot last month after reportedly attacking civilians with machetes.
    Repeated signs have emerged in Xinjiang in recent weeks amid a severe security crackdown, indicating that the restive area is now entering a period of even tighter control.
    Last month, according to the report, it was reported that security authorities had ordered residents to install GPS tracking devices in their vehicles to allow officials to permanently monitor their movements.
    Moreover, it was further reported this week that rigid new anti-extremism regulations were being prepared giving authorities special powers to deal with people regarded as “a terror threat.”

    Policemen patrol outside a Korean Lotte Mart in China's capital, Beijing, on March 9, 2017, as a diplomatic row over a controversial US missile system sparked boycott calls against South Korea. (Photo by AFP)
    South Korea's tourism faces losing billions of dollars of revenues due to strained relations between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a US missile system.
    South Korean revenues from airlines, travel agencies, package tour operators and cruises will drop about $5 billion, according to estimates published by Bloomberg on Friday.
    The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has ordered local travel agencies to stop selling tours to South Korea.
    More than eight million Chinese tourists visited South Korea in 2016 alone.
    Diplomatic ties between China and South Korea deteriorated dramatically after the United States announced the controversial deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to South Korea on March 6.
    Washington claims the deployment aims "to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles."
    However, military experts say THAAD not only poses a serious threat to North Korea, but also threatens China and Russia.
    THAAD is equipped with a special X radar system that experts say would destabilize the region's security balance.
    China's Foreign Ministry announced on March 7, "We are firmly opposed to the deployment of THAAD in the Republic of Korea (ROK) by the US and the ROK."
    Russian media said on the same day that Moscow was opposed to the deployment.
    Beijing and Moscow have said they would take countermeasures.
    This handout photo from the US Forces Korea (USFK) taken on March 6, 2017 shows a THAAD battery at Osan US Air Base south of Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by AFP)
    Last week, the CNTA issued a "7-point" directive to travel firms to curtail or ban trips to South Korea starting March 15, local media sources reported.
    Media sources said the crackdown sent jitters across South Korean retail and tourism sectors, which rely heavily on Chinese trade and tourists.
    Seoul is considering filing a complaint against Beijing with the World Trade Organization over what it has described as trade retaliation over the issue of the THAAD deployment.

    This file photo, taken on September 3, 2015, shows Japanese forces directing a US Marines MV-22 Osprey to land during a joint military exercise. (By AFP)
    Marine forces from Japan and the United States are conducting joint military exercises in the East China Sea amid an escalation of tensions in the region.
    Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper and Kyodo news agency reported on Friday that the two sides launched the military drills earlier this week. The maneuvers involve Japanese destroyers and a US Navy carrier strike group.
    Sankei said the joint military drills were aimed at sending a warning to North Korea, which has been conducting ballistic missile tests in the region. The local media outlet added that the exercises were also meant to display the joint Japan-US military presence in the East China Sea, where Japan and China are locked in a long-running territorial dispute.
    The US, an extra-regional country, has always taken sides will China’s rival claimants in regional territorial disputes. Last month, US President Donald Trump gave assurances to Japan that Washington was steadfast in its commitment to Tokyo against China and North Korea.
    “We’re committed to the security of Japan… The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep. This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer,” Trump said in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on February 10.
    US Marines deployed from Okinawa, Japan, are seen during joint military exercises in Pohang, South Korea, March 31, 2014. There are 77,000 US soldiers based in Japan and South Korea.
    Trump told Abe that his administration, like past US administrations, would take Japan’s side in its territorial dispute with China over the disputed Diaoyus islands (known as Senkaku Islands in Japan).
    China says the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times. Beijing has also called on the US “to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks... and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.”
    China is also involved in a dispute with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam over territory in the South China Sea.
    There are 77,000 US soldiers based in Japan and neighboring South Korea.

    This file picture, taken on November 11, 2014, shows a Chinese J-31 stealth fighter performing at the Airshow China 2014 in Zhuhai, south China. (By AFP)
    Senior Chinese military officials say their navy has been equipped with advanced hardware and is being upgraded to the highest global level.
    Senior military officers told the official Xinhua news agency late on Thursday that the Chinese navy had put into service its new-generation J-20 stealth fighter. The aircraft was publicly unveiled at the Zhuhai airshow in November last year.
    Wang Weiming, the deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, said China was speeding up the development of its marine corps, adding destroyers and frigates, to step up air and sea patrols in its territories.
    “Our sailors should stay vigilant and be able to deal with emergencies at all times,” Wang said, adding, “We will intercept any intruding aircraft and follow every military vessel in areas under our responsibility.”
    Wang added that China’s second aircraft carrier was in “good shape” and was now awaiting fitting.
    Wang Huayong, the deputy political commissar of the Eastern Theater Command, said, that, “The aircraft carrier is still in training and trial stage.”
    This image shows a Chinese Harbin destroyer docked at the Shuwaikh Port in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on February 1, 2017. (By AFP)
    Experts expect that the second domestically-built aircraft carrier will enter service around 2020, joining China’s existing, Soviet-built aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
    Wang emphasized that Chinese forces were being upgraded for defensive purposes only.
    Li Yanming, the political commissar of the Navy’s armaments department, said marine forces would be provided with equipment that had “better quantity, quality, scope, and functionality.”
    China’s “first-class navy should be equipped with first-class armaments,” Li said.
    Beijing earlier announced that it would increase its defense budget to meet its economic development and defense needs amid “outside meddling,” a likely reference to frequent political and military jockeying by the United States in regional disputes involving China.
    China is engaged in a territorial dispute with its neighbors in the South China Sea, where they have overlapping claims of sovereignty to a series of islands and reefs. Beijing is also entangled in a similar territorial dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.
    In both cases, the United States has been fueling tensions between China and its neighbors by siding with Beijing’s rivals.

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