Two United States warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the American navy said, the first such transit since China staged unprecedented military drills around the island.
In a statement, the US Navy said the transit “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
”Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared to their highest level in years this month after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.
Beijing reacted furiously, staging days of air and sea exercises around Taiwan.
Taipei condemned the drills and missile tests as preparation for an invasion.
Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled, democratic island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.
Washington diplomatically recognizes Beijing over Taipei, but maintains de facto relations with Taiwan and supports the island’s right to decide its own future.
The US Seventh Fleet said the pair of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers — the USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville — conducted the “routine” transit on Sunday “through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.
” “These ships transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” a statement said.
“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.
” The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said the US had “openly hyped up” the ships’ passage through the Strait.
“The PLA Eastern Theatre Command is following and warning the US vessels throughout their entire journey, and is aware of all movements,” spokesman Senior Colonel Shi Yi said.
“Troops in the (eastern) theatre remain on high alert and are prepared at all times to foil any provocations.
” Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed a pair of warships sailed from north to south through the channel.
“During their southward journey through the Taiwan Strait, the military is fully monitoring relevant movements in our surrounding sea and airspace, and the situation is normal.
” ‘Freedom of navigation’ The Seventh Fleet is based in Japan and is a core part of Washington’s navy presence in the Pacific.
The US and Western allies have increased “freedom of navigation” crossings by naval vessels of both the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea to reinforce the concept that those seas are international waterways, sparking anger from Beijing.
Washington has said its position on Taiwan remains unchanged and has accused China of threatening peace in the Taiwan Strait and using the visit by Pelosi as a pretext for military exercises.
China’s drills included firing multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest shipping routes — which was the first time Beijing has taken such a step since the mid-1990s.
Taiwan staged its own drills, simulating a defense against invasion and displaying its most advanced fighter jet in a rare nighttime demonstration.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s tone on Taiwan has grown more aggressive, with increased military activity and more combative messaging in recent years.
China carried out fresh military drills around Taiwan Monday, Beijing said, defying calls for it to end its largest-ever exercises encircling the democratic island in the wake of a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Beijing has raged at the trip by Pelosi — the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in decades — ripping up a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington, most notably on climate change and defence.
It has also deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the self-ruled island that China claims as its territory.
Those drills were expected to draw to a close on Sunday, but neither Beijing nor Taipei confirmed their conclusion, though Taiwan’s transport ministry said it had seen some evidence suggesting at least a partial drawdown.
China then said Monday they were ongoing, reporting “the eastern theatre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army continued to carry out practical joint exercises and training in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island.
” The exercises, the Chinese military’s Eastern Command said, were “focusing on organising joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations”.
Beijing is also set to carry out live-fire drills on Monday in parts of the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea. Taipei defiantTaiwan has remained defiant throughout days of drills by Beijing and will hold anti-landing exercises in its southernmost county of Pingtung on Tuesday and Thursday, Taipei’s army said.
“We will practice counter moves against simulated enemy attacks on Taiwan,” Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for the Eighth Army Corps, told AFP.
They will include the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzer guns, it said.
Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan’s premier, has accused China was “barbarously using military action” to disturb peace in the Taiwan Strait.
“We call on the Chinese government not to go around wielding its military power, showing its muscles everywhere and jeopardising the peace of the region,” he told reporters Sunday.
To show how close it has got to Taiwan’s shores, the Chinese military released a video of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit.
The Eastern Command also shared a photo it said was of a warship on patrol with Taiwan’s shoreline visible in the background.
Ballistic missiles were also fired over Taiwan’s capital during the exercises last week, according to Chinese state media.
The scale and intensity of China’s drills — as well as Beijing’s withdrawal from key talks on climate and defence — have triggered outrage in the United States and other democracies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Washington is “determined to act responsibly” to avoid a major global crisis.
And experts say the drills have revealed an increasingly emboldened Chinese military capable of carrying out a gruelling blockade of the island as well as obstructing US forces from coming to its aid.
“In some areas, the PLA might even surpass US capabilities,” Grant Newsham, a researcher at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and a former US Navy officer, told AFP, referring to China’s military by its official name.
“If the battle is confined to the area right around Taiwan, today’s Chinese navy is a dangerous opponent — and if the Americans and Japanese do not intervene for some reason, things would be difficult for Taiwan.
Taiwan’s president calls Chinese military exercises ‘irresponsible’ Taiwan’s president calls Chinese military exercises ‘irresponsible’ ExercisesTaipei, Aug. 5, 2022 Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday night called China’s military exercises off the coast of the self-governing island “irresponsible not only for Taiwan, but also for the international community.
” Demanding that Beijing be “rational and self-restrained,” Tsai said in a video address that Taiwan would not seek to escalate tensions with China further, but stressed that it would defend its sovereignty as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continued a series of live-fire drills around the island due to last until Sunday.
The Taiwan government was working to ensure safe and smooth operations at the island’s ports and airports, as well as the stability of the financial markets, she added.
According to Japan’s Defence Ministry, four Chinese missile shells landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone after flying over Taiwan.
However, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence would not confirm that the missiles has passed over Taiwan, saying only that the military was employing various early-warning and monitoring mechanisms to track missiles fired by the PLA and had activated its defence systems.
Tsai thanked the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized countries for calling on Beijing to refrain from “aggressive military activity” in the region and for reiterating its commitment to stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“We strive to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, and always keep an open mind for constructive dialogues,” Tsai added.
The Chinese military kicked off major air and sea drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan shortly after U.
S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended a visit to the island which has drawn Beijing’s ire.
The exercises were set to end on Sunday.
China’s largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan kicked off Thursday, in a show of force straddling vital international shipping lanes after a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi left Taiwan Wednesday after a trip that defied a series of stark threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its territory.
Pelosi was the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and said her trip made it “unequivocally clear” that the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.
It sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed “punishment” and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest waterways.
The exercises, which began around 12 pm (0400 GMT), involve “live-firing”, according to state media.
“Six major areas around the island have been selected for this actual combat exercise and during this period, relevant ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant waters and airspaces,” state broadcaster CCTV reported.
AFP journalists in the border island of Pingtan saw several small projectiles flying into the sky followed by plumes of white smoke and loud booming sounds.
AFP was not in a position to identify the projectiles, which were fired from the proximity of nearby military installations, nor their precise direction.
The exercises are taking place in multiple zones around Taiwan — at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the shore — and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said it was closely watching the drills.
“The Ministry of National Defence stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes,” it said in a statement.
Beijing’s nationalist state-run tabloid Global Times said, citing military analysts, that the exercises were “unprecedented” and that missiles would fly over Taiwan for the first time.
“This is the first time the PLA will launch live long-range artillery across” the Taiwan Strait, the newspaper said using the Chinese military’s formal name, the People’s Liberation Army. The Group of Seven industrialised nations has condemned the drills, saying in a statement there was “no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait”.
‘Preparation for actual combat’ Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau issued warnings on Wednesday to ships to avoid the areas being used for the Chinese drills.
The Taiwanese cabinet said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes passing through its flight information region (FIR).
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said it had ordered its aircraft to “avoid going through the designated airspace zones around the Taiwan region”.
The manoeuvres will take place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to supply vital semiconductors and electronic equipment produced in East Asian factory hubs to global markets.
Beijing has defended the drills as “necessary and just”, pinning the blame for the escalation on the United States and its allies.
“In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing Wednesday.
A Chinese military source also told AFP the exercises would be staged “in preparation for actual combat”.
“If the Taiwanese forces come into contact with the PLA on purpose and accidentally fire a gun, the PLA will take stern countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the Taiwanese side,” the source said.
‘Some limits’Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has intensified under President Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive ruler in a generation.
The island is once again a flashpoint between the United States and a Chinese leadership keen to project strength ahead of a crucial ruling party meeting this autumn at which Xi is expected to be given an unprecedented third term.
On the mainland, at what is said to be China’s closest point to Taiwan, AFP saw a batch of five military helicopters flying at a relatively low altitude near a popular tourist spot.
“China’s announced military exercises represent a clear escalation from the existing baseline of Chinese military activities around Taiwan and from the last Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-1996,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior analyst for China at the International Crisis Group.
“Beijing is signalling that it rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty.
” Nevertheless, analysts have told AFP that China is not aiming to escalate the situation beyond its control — at least for now.
Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, said: “The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war.
Taiwan detects guided missiles fired by China, defence ministry says forces on combat readiness Taiwan detects guided missiles fired by China, defence ministry says forces on combat readiness MissilesTaipei, Aug. 4, 2022 Taiwan’s Defence Ministry has confirmed that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired “several Tongfeng-class guided missiles” into waters north-east and south-west of the island on Thursday afternoon.
A ministry spokesperson said shortly that Taiwan’s armed forces had tracked the firings in real time after they were detected at 1:56 pm (0556 GMT) and had activated related defence systems.
The ministry condemned “this irrational action that is undermining regional peace.
” The confirmation by the Defence Ministry appeared to be one of the first indications that China had actually commenced “live-fire” air and sea military drills as previously announced by the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command of “joint training drills” in six areas surrounding Taiwan.
Chinese manoeuvres around Taiwan went into full swing with widespread firing exercises.
The eastern military command of the PLA reported that long-range shells were fired in the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from the mainland, and east of the island on Thursday.
“Precision strikes” were also made in the east for practice, Chinese state television reported.
China had ordered the most extensive military exercises in a long time in response to Speaker of the U.
S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The visit by the top U.
S. politician, who continued her Asia tour in South Korea on Thursday, had further fuelled tensions over Taiwan.
It was the highest-ranking visit from the U.
S. in a quarter of a century.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry has said that the country’s armed forces were on combat readiness, monitoring all six manoeuvre areas around the democratic island republic as well as islands further offshore.
According to the ministry, Taiwan is prepared for conflict, but is not seeking it – but will defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The ministry complained that China’s military had deliberately chosen the manoeuvre areas in location and scale to violate Taiwan’s status quo and undermine regional peace.
The remarks referred to the fact that the six areas partly encroach on Taiwan’s territorial waters, which was not the case in previous exercises.
The manoeuvres had already started on Tuesday evening, but were ramped up to full scale on Thursday.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry has confirmed that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired several Tongfeng-class guided missiles into waters north-east and south-west of the island on Thursday afternoon.
A ministry spokesperson said shortly that Taiwan’s armed forces had tracked the firings in real time after they were detected at 1:56 pm (0556 GMT) and had activated related defence systems.
The ministry condemned this irrational action that was undermining regional peace.
The confirmation by the Defence Ministry appeared to be one of the first indications that China had actually commenced “live-fire’’ air and sea military drills.
The drills which were previously announced by the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command of joint training drills in six areas surrounding Taiwan.
China will hold naval exercises in the South China Sea on Saturday, its maritime authority said, after a week of recriminations by Western powers over its military ambitions in the Pacific region.
The exercises, to be held at sea less than 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) off the coast of southern China's Hainan province, come as the United States leads warnings of a growing military presence. and China's economy in an area stretching from the South China Sea. to the Pacific Islands.
“Military exercises will be held and entry will be prohibited,” the Maritime Security Administration said in a statement on Thursday, warning that an area of about 100 square kilometers would be closed to maritime traffic for five hours.
China routinely conducts similar drills in waters close to its shores, with an exercise in another area of the sea near Hainan scheduled for next week, as well as many others along the country's east coast.
But the latest exercises come as Beijing faces a growing chorus of warnings from the United States and its Western allies about its naval ambitions, which critics say are a bridgehead for a broader attempt to shift the regional balance of power.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Beijing on Thursday of escalating tensions over Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.
"Beijing has engaged in increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity, such as flying PLA planes near Taiwan on an almost daily basis," Blinken said in a speech, referring to the People's Liberation Army.
He also called for efforts to counter China's "intention to reshape the international order."
Blinken's comments followed verbal spats between Beijing and Washington over President Joe Biden's promise to defend Taiwan if China attacks it, made during the president's trip to the region earlier this week.
China, in turn, vowed to defend its national interests on Taiwan and warned Washington not to "underestimate" Beijing's resolve and capabilities on the issue.
Meanwhile, governments including Australia and New Zealand have sounded the alarm this week over leaked documents that appeared to show a plan to build extensive security cooperation between China and the Pacific islands.
But China has said its cooperation with Pacific Island countries is "not targeting any country" and has rejected claims that it is pressuring small states to sign security agreements.
China is expanding its nuclear arsenal much more quickly than anticipated, the United States has said, but Beijing on Thursday slammed the Pentagon report as overhyping the threat.
The United States has declared China its principal security concern for the future, as Beijing works to build the People’s Liberation Army into “world-class forces” by 2049, according to its official plan.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, and could top 1,000 by 2030 — an arsenal two-and-a-half times the size of what the Pentagon predicted only a year ago, according to the Pentagon report published Wednesday.
Like the United States and Russia, the two leading nuclear powers, China is building a “nuclear triad,” with capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons from land-based ballistic missiles, from missiles launched from the air, and from submarines, it said.
Beijing is also “building the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces,” according to the assessment, which came in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military developments.
But the report argued China was likely not seeking a capability to launch an unprovoked atomic strike on a nuclear-armed adversary — primarily the United States — but looking to deter attacks by maintaining a credible threat of nuclear retaliation.
Beijing has dismissed US fears over its military development, and on Thursday accused the Pentagon report of aiming to “hype up talk of the China nuclear threat.”
“The report released by the US Department of Defense, like previous similar reports, ignores facts and is full of prejudice,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
Main US rival
A year ago, the Pentagon’s China report said the country had about 200 deliverable warheads and would double that by 2030.
Independent researchers have in recent months published satellite photographs of new nuclear missile silos in western China.
The developments come as China expands and upgrades its military, seeking the capability of projecting power globally, much as the United States has done for decades.
The rivalry has increased concerns about a possible US-China clash, especially over Taiwan, which is closely supported by Washington but claimed by Beijing as its territory — to be seized one day, by force if necessary.
By 2027, the latest report said, China aims to have “the capabilities to counter the US military in the Indo-Pacific region, and compel Taiwan’s leadership to the negotiation table on Beijing’s terms.”
The report also confirmed recent reports that in October 2020, Pentagon officials were forced to quell real concerns in Beijing that the United States, driven by domestic political tensions related to the presidential election, intended to instigate a conflict with China in the South China Sea.
Underscoring its fears, the PLA had issued intensified warnings in state-controlled media, launched large-scale military exercises, expanded deployments and put troops on heightened readiness, the report said.
After senior Pentagon officials moved to directly speak to Chinese counterparts, the concerns eased.
“These events highlighted the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation, and underscored the importance of effective and timely communication,” the report said.
It also questioned the PLA’s intent in biological research into substances that potentially have both medical and military uses.
“Studies conducted at PRC military medical institutions discussed identifying, testing, and characterizing diverse families of potent toxins with dual-use applications,” the report said, raising concerns over compliance with global biological and chemical weapons treaties.
Such concerns have mounted since Covid-19 emerged in Wuhan, central China, an area also home to a biological research lab with PLA connections.
China has denied the facility had anything to do with the Covid outbreak, but has limited access to it for investigators.
Source Credit: TheGuardian
Prof. Noel Wannang, the Chairman, Plateau Research Committee on COVID-19, said the committee had successfully developed a herbal cure for the disease.
Wannang disclosed this during an engagement with Local Government Chairmen and traditional rulers in Jos on Friday.
He said that the team had concluded phase one which was the safe test of the drugs and “has been proven to be safe for consumption’’.
“All of the herbs used in making these drugs were sourced and got from the state, it is our hope that the drugs will be used internationally at the end of the research.
“We are done with phase one which is the safety aspect and it has proven to be safe, we will commence the phase 2 on Monday, Sept. 21, after which our patients will start benefiting from the drugs,’’ he said.
Mannang said the drugs had gone through pre-clinical trials using eggs, chicks, mice, rats, guinea pigs, cats and rabbits which reversed damage and restored lung function in the infected animals.
He said human trials would soon be carried out on healthy humans to prove the efficacy of the drugs.
The chairmen added that when the research was concluded, it would proffer treatment and cure for COVID-19, create employment opportunities, put Plateau on the world map of science, among other benefits.
He said the West African Journal of Pharmacy, Pan African Journal of Medicine and others have accepted their papers and would publish them soon.
Also speaking, Mr Yakubu Gomos, Head, Plateau State Economic Team, stated that COVID-19 had made the state government to review the cost of governance.
Gomos said that due to the pandemic, the state’s budget had been reviewed from N177 billion to N122 billion.
According to him, salaries of political appointees have also been slashed and spending has been prioritised to only critical areas.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho and Abdullahi Yusuf
Sri Lanka-China mutual cooperation was emphasized at the inauguration of the country's first-ever association for Sri Lankan alumni of the People's Liberation Army National Defence University (PLA NDU) in Colombo on Thursday.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Chinese National Defence University Alumni Association of Sri Lanka, retired Major General Vijitha Ravipriya said the organization would serve as a bridge to connect PLA NDU alumni in Sri Lanka with its alma mater in China, and help continue the centuries-long friendship between the two countries.
"China has always extended ready assistance to the Sri Lankan military by way of coordinating more and more armed personnel for military training," Ravipriya said.
Ravipriya, who will serve as the first president of the organizing committee, made an open call to all PLA NDU graduates to actively engage in the affairs of the association in order to keep abreast of academic developments, mentor younger generations in the armed forces, and take Sri Lanka-China relations to new heights.
Guest of honor at the inauguration ceremony, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Major General Kamal Gunaratne, said that the founding of the alumni association was a step towards facilitating the historical military bond and bilateral relations between China and Sri Lanka.
"Sri Lanka-China relations have been growing through mutual trust built on political, economic, cultural, educational and, most importantly, defense diplomacy and cooperation," Gunaratne said.
He added that the university in Colombo was an internationally reputed seat of education which has shared its knowledge and wisdom with officers from around the world. Sri Lankan alumni of the PLA NDU have excelled in safeguarding the country through times of war, he said.
Meanwhile, the International College of Defense Studies of the NDU PLA, in a letter signed by Major General Xu Hui and Rear Admiral Cao Jianqi, hailed the association as an opportunity to "strengthen strategic communication between the two countries and militaries... and make greater contributions to build the community with a shared future of mankind."
The PLA NDU is a military university based in Beijing and administered by the People's Liberation Army. It was founded in 1985 and offers training to officers from around the world.