A delegation of German lawmakers are set to travel to Taiwan, the island’s foreign ministry announced Thursday, amid growing tensions with China in the region.
A group from the Berlin-Taipei parliamentary friendship group in the German Bundestag are expected arrive in Taiwan on Sunday and stay until Thursday, foreign minister spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.
Chairman Klaus-Peter Willsch and five other German lawmakers from the cross-party delegation will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and other Taiwanese lawmakers and representatives from institutions.
Ou said it marked the first German official delegation visiting Taiwan since the coronavirus pandemic and will be focusing on security.
She said it was the second delegation to visit from a major European country since U.
S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taipei in early August, which was followed by China’s large-scale manoeuvres and military drills around Taiwan.
A French delegation of lawmakers visited Taiwan in early September.
Ou said the visit would strengthen connection and democratic resilience, and that Taiwan and Germany, which share values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, and human rights, would work together to defend the rules-based international order.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory and opposes any form of official contacts between Taiwan and other countries.
Taiwan and Germany have established a parliamentary friendship group to further strengthen their ties, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Chung-Kwang said on Wednesday.
The two had enjoyed close cooperation in all areas and the group would further strengthen their ties, he said at the inauguration ceremony of Taiwan and the German Parliamentary Friendship Association.
Taiwan enjoyed close relations with Germany, Taiwan’s largest trading partner in Europe, Tien said, adding that Taiwan and Germany shared common values of freedom and democracy.
In May, the German parliament passed a resolution in support of Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Then, in August, high-level talks were held between Economy Ministry officials.
Taiwan and Germany had signed over 10 agreements since 2016, he said, with a new aviation services agreement the most recent, inked last year.
“Hopefully, this will further strengthen our cooperation in terms of trade and people-to-people’s exchanges,’’ Tien said.
Germany sent naval frigate FGS Bayern to the Indo-Pacific for the first time in 20 years, he said.
Berlin also sent fighter jets to join the Rapid Pacific 2022 exercise for the first time since World War II, as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy.
“We believe the connection between Taiwan and Germany will further deepen,’’ Tien said.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
Wang said as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China is open to dialogue and exchanges with NATO, and is willing to jointly promote the sound and steady development of bilateral relations.
He said that the two sides should enhance communication and mutual understanding on the basis of frankness and mutual respect, and prevent misunderstanding and false information.
Stoltenberg said that China plays an important role in global issues with its growing economy and influence.
Noting that NATO does not regard China as a rival, he said the organisation attaches importance to maintaining and strengthening engagements with China and has a positive attitude towards developing relations with China.
Stoltenberg said NATO is committed to its original geographical location when it was established, and explore cooperation with China in arms control, climate change and other fields to address global challenges.
NATO and its member countries follow the one-China policy and remain unchanged in their position on the Taiwan question, he said.
He also said that he expected China to play an important role in ending the conflict in Europe.
Wang expressed hope that NATO will handle the current international situation objectively and calmly, instead of simply drawing a dividing line based on “political correctness.
” “China is willing to carry out necessary cooperation with NATO on global issues and contribute to peace and stability“, he said.
Wang also clarified China’s consistent position on the Ukraine issue and its constructive role in promoting peace talks.
He said it is necessary to explore the establishment of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework to ensure long-term stability in the continent.
S. aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea on Friday for the first time in about four years.
It is set to join other military vessels in a show of force intended to send a message to North Korea.
USS Ronald Reagan and ships from its accompanying strike group docked at a naval base in the southern port city of Busan ahead of joint drills with South Korean forces.
Its arrival marks the most significant deployment yet under a new push to have more U.
S. “strategic assets” operate in the area to deter North Korea.
Strike group commander Rear Admiral Michael Donnelly told reporters aboard the ship that the visit was designed to build allied relations and boost interoperability between the navies.
“We are leaving messages to diplomats.
It’s an opportunity for us to practice tactics and operations,” Donnelly said.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has pushed for more joint exercises and other displays of military power as a warning to North Korea.
This year North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests and appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017. North Korea has denounced previous U.
S. military deployments and joint drills as rehearsals for war and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.
The drills have also sparked protests by peace activists who said they raise regional tensions.
Earlier, United States said the carrier’s visit was a “clear demonstration” of its commitment to deploy and exercise strategic assets to deter Pyongyang and enhance regional security.
In announcing the visit, however, the U.
S. Navy made no mention of North Korea.
It only referred to a “regularly scheduled port visit” and emphasising crew members visiting Busan to volunteer at orphanages and explore the K-pop music scene.
Officials declined to provide details of the upcoming joint drills, but said the carrier would be in port for “several days.
” Hours after the ship docked, long lines of crewmembers formed as they took COVID-19 tests before being bused into the city.
One crew member, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said that they were looking forward to a break but geopolitical tensions remained.
“You can’t ever really forget what we’re all here for,” the crew member told Reuters.
The visit was the first to South Korea by an American aircraft carrier since 2018. Many drills were since scaled back or cancelled due to diplomatic efforts with North Korea or because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The carrier visit was useful for political signaling, reassuring Seoul, and training with South Korean forces.
However, it likely does little to further deter North Korea, said Mason Richey, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.
“A carrier group visit certainly doesn’t do much in fact, it likely does the opposite to discourage Pyongyang from developing more nuclear weapons and delivery systems, as well as conventional capabilities,” he said.
It nevertheless underscores that under Yoon the allies see tighter military coordination and interoperability as the best way to deal with North Korea, Richey added.
Questions have risen over the role the roughly 28,500 U.
S. troops stationed in South Korea might play if conflict erupts over Taiwan.
Donnelly said such questions are for policymakers above him, but said that operating with like-minded allies such as South Korea was a key part of the U.
S. Navy’s efforts to maintain the regional security and stability.
Taiwan says that it will resume its visa-free entry policy and increase its weekly limit for international arrivals to 60,000 starting from Sept. 29, the government said on Thursday.
Premier Su Tseng-chang approved the plan proposed by the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC), government spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told a news conference.
Lo said the change aims to balance the needs of disease control with the promotion of economic growth, social activity and international exchanges.
Currently, Taiwan allows 50,000 international arrivals per week.
All international arrivals will still have to be quarantined for three days, followed by four days of health self-management, which involves taking an antigen test.
The CECC on Thursday announced 59 new COVID-19-related deaths and 42,470 new cases, including 258 imported ones.
Lo said that the measures would be further loosened on Oct. 13 for Taiwan to accept 150,000 international travelers weekly.
The quarantine for international arrivals then would be changed to only seven days of health self-management.
China Government has reacted angrily to the United States (U.
S.) President Joe Biden’s pledge of support for Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told the press in Beijing on Monday that the remarks were a severe violation of the One China Principle and the commitments the U.
S. made to Beijing.
She said the U.
S. side was sending the wrong signal to Taiwan’s independence forces.
“China is firmly against it,’’ she said.
Biden had assured the self-governing democratic island republic of military support, including U.
S. troops, in the event of an attack, during a TV interview broadcast on Sunday.
The communist leadership in Beijing considers Taiwan part of the People’s Republic and has threatened to take it by force if it makes any moves to formal independence.
S. has committed itself to Taiwan’s defence capability, which has mainly meant arms deliveries.
The question of military assistance by U.
S. troops in the event of an attack was deliberately left open by Biden’s predecessors under a policy of strategic ambiguity.
China’s national observatory on Tuesday upgraded the typhoon alert to orange as Muifa, the 12th typhoon this year, is expected to make landfall in Zhejiang Province on Wednesday.
Gale-force winds would lash coastal areas of Taiwan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shanghai and Jiangsu from now to Wednesday afternoon, the National Meteorological Centre said.
Over the next three days, heavy rains are expected to hit parts of Taiwan, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Shandong and Liaoning, according to the forecast.
The centre has advised the aforementioned regions to make emergency preparations for the typhoon and asked local residents to avoid travelling during strong wind and rain periods.
China has a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The United States on Friday announced a $1.
1 billion arms package for Taiwan, vowing to keep boosting the island’s defenses as tensions soar with Beijing, which warned Washington of “counter-measures.
” The sale comes a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defiantly visited the self-governing democracy, prompting mainland China to launch a show of force that could be a trial run for a future invasion.
The package — the largest for Taiwan approved under President Joe Biden’s administration — includes $665 million for contractor support to maintain and upgrade a Raytheon early radar warning system in operation since 2013 that would warn Taiwan about an incoming attack.
Taiwan will also spend $355 million on 60 Harpoon Block II missiles, which can track and sink incoming vessels if China launches an assault by water.
The deal also includes $85.
6 million for more than 100 Sidewinder missiles, a mainstay of Western militaries for their air-to-air firepower.
Taiwanese Presidential Office spokesman Chang Tun-han in a statement thanked the United States for its continued support for the island’s security and defense.
“This arms sale will not only help our soldiers fight against grey zone coercion, it will also enhance the island’s early warning capabilities against long range ballistic missiles,” he said.
The announcement of the sale comes one day after Taiwanese forces shot down an unidentified commercial drone amid a sudden spate of mysterious incursions that have unnerved the island following the earlier show of force by Beijing, which said it fired ballistic missiles over the capital Taipei.
China, calling Taiwan an “inalienable” part of its territory, urged the United States to “immediately revoke” the arms sales.
“It sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and severely jeopardizes China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
“China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation,” he added.
‘Essential’ for Taiwan A spokesperson for the State Department, which approved the sale, said the package was “essential for Taiwan’s security” and stressed that the United States still recognized only Beijing and not Taipei.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The sales “are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the spokesperson said on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan.
” The sale needs the approval of the US Congress, which is virtually assured as Taiwan enjoys strong support across party lines.
Ahead of the visit by Pelosi, who is second in line to the White House, Biden officials quietly made the case to China that she did not represent the administration’s policy, as Congress is a separate and equal branch of government.
The weapons approval, by contrast, clearly comes from the Biden administration, although it is consistent with sales since 1979 when the United States switched recognition to Beijing but agreed to maintain Taiwan’s capacity for self-defense.
Biden, on a trip to Tokyo in May, appeared to break with decades of US policy by saying the United States would defend Taiwan directly if it was attacked although his aides later walked back his remarks, insisting that US policy remained deliberately ambiguous.
China considers Taiwan a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
China’s nationalists set up a rival government in Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war on the mainland, although the island has since blossomed into a vibrant democracy and major technological hub.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised growing questions on whether China may follow suit in Taiwan and whether the island is equipped to defend itself.
In a July appearance, CIA chief Bill Burns said that Chinese President Xi Jinping was still determined to assert control over Taiwan but that Russia’s woes in Ukraine may have prompted Beijing to wait and make sure it would have an overwhelming military advantage.
Hazards such as earthquakes, floods, heat waves and wildfires can be prevented from becoming life-threatening disasters, according to the authors of a UN report released Wednesday.
From unprecedented heat waves in British Columbia to wildfires in the Mediterranean, floods in Nigeria and droughts in Taiwan; the period between 2021 and 2022 saw unprecedented catastrophic disasters in every corner of the world.
Some 10,000 people lost their lives and an estimated $280 million worth of damage was caused worldwide.
The latest report Interconnected Disaster RiskOpens in new windows, from the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHSOpens in new window), finds that many of these disasters share root causes.
At the same time, the study authors found that solutions to prevent or control them are also closely related.
Connecting the dots “Disasters that occur in completely different parts of the world at first seem disconnected from each other.
But when you start looking at them in more detail, it quickly becomes clear that they are caused by the same things, for example greenhouse gas emissions or unsustainable consumption,” said Dr. Zita Sebesvari, lead author and deputy director of UNU-EHS.
To connect the dots, the Interconnected Disaster Risks report research team looked "below the surface" of each disaster and identified the drivers that allowed them to occur in the first place.
For example, deforestation leads to soil erosion, which in turn makes the land highly susceptible to hazards such as landslides, droughts, and sandstorms.
An even deeper dive shows that the drivers of disasters are shaped by shared root causes that are more systemic in nature, such as across economic and political systems.
Deforestation goes back to the placing of economic interests over those of the environment and to unsustainable consumption patterns.
Other common root causes found in the report include unequal development and livelihood opportunities, human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and legacies of colonialism.
It is root causes like these that can be found in disasters around the world.
The connections don't stop at root causes and drivers, but also with who and what is most at risk; Vulnerable groups, both in human settlements and in natural ecosystems, continue to be the most affected by disasters.
'Let nature work' However, solutions are also interconnected, which means that one type of solution can be applied in various contexts to reduce the impact of disasters in different parts of the world.
Furthermore, there are multiple solutions to address a disaster and they are most powerful when applied in combination with each other.
The “let nature work” solution, for example, relies on the force of nature to prevent risks and avert disasters.
Prescribed fires in forests can reduce the risk of megafires in the Mediterranean; restoring urban rivers and streams can reduce the impacts of floods like the one that hit New York after Hurricane Ida; and investing in boosting early warning systems can improve prediction and communication of risks in advance.
In three of the events analyzed in the report (the British Columbia heat wave, the Tonga volcano and tsunami, and the Lagos floods in Nigeria), early warning systems could have reduced deaths according to the report.
"If we don't want the disasters we are currently experiencing to become the new normal, we need to recognize that they are interconnected, as are their solutions," says lead author Dr Jack O'Connor.
“We have the right kind of solutions to better prevent and manage hazards, but we urgently need to invest in scaling them up and developing a better understanding of how they can work in combination with each other.” 'We are all part of the solution' Not all solutions will suit everyone.
Redistributing resources across generations, countries and groups of people with different vulnerabilities, or calling for the inclusion of actors who are rarely heard, will mean that some will need to share their resources more widely than they currently do.
Solutions are not limited to governments, policymakers or the private sector.
They can also be carried out at the individual level, the researchers insist.
“We can let nature work when we give it back spaces.
We can promote sustainable consumption by being aware of where our food comes from and where we buy it.
“We can work together to prepare our communities for a disaster,” says O'Connor.
“The point is that we, as individuals, are part of a larger collective action, which goes a long way toward creating significant positive change.
We're all part of the solution".
Taiwan said on Wednesday it would exercise its right to self defence and counter-attack if Chinese armed forces entered its territory, as Beijing increased military activities near the democratic island.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against the strong objections of the government in Taipei, has held military exercises around the island this month in reaction to a visit to Taipei by U.
S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwanese defence officials said China’s “high intensity” military patrols near Taiwan continued and Beijing’s intention of making the Taiwan Strait separating the two sides its “inner sea” would become the main source of instability in the region.
“For aircraft and ships that entered our sea and air territory of 12 nautical miles, the national army will exercise right to self-defence and counter-attack without exception,” Lin Wen-Huang, deputy chief of the general staff for operations and planning, told reporters at a news briefing.
Taiwan has complained of Chinese drones repeatedly flying close to its small groups of islands near China’s coast.
The military will exercise the same right to counter-attack Chinese drones that did not heed warnings to leave its territory after posing threats, Lin added.
Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone for the first time on Tuesday shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen ordered Taiwan’s military to take “strong countermeasures” against what she termed Chinese provocations.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, in a regular press briefing, reiterated China position that Taiwan belonged to it.
“Firstly I need to tell you, Taiwan is a province of China, it has no so-called defence ministry.
The Taiwan authorities are playing up their nervousness, this is meaningless,” he said.
Earlier in the week, the ministry had dismissed complaints from Taiwan about drone harassment as “not worth fussing about”.
In the same briefing, Ma Cheng-Kun, a director from military academy National Defence University, said China might further move to reject passage of foreign naval ships through the strait without its permission.
“After the new military normal status has been consolidated, then the risk of collision will increase if foreign naval ships insist on the rights of navigation and freedom,” he said.
S. warships and those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada have routinely sailed through the strait in recent years, including two U.
S. Navy warships last week.
Taiwan’s armed forces are well-equipped but dwarfed by China’s.
Tsai is overseeing a modernisation programme and has made increasing defence spending a priority.
China has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its control.
Taipei rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
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