Beijing accuses US of ‘political manipulation’ in latest Taiwan row

Beijing has accused Washington of “political manipulation” and attempting to change the status quo after the US state department quietly amended its website to remove a line stating it did not support Taiwanese independence. In a delicate geopolitical balancing act, the US has long acknowledged, but not supported, China’s claim to Taiwan under its version of the “one China principle”. However, experts say that policy has been eroded as Beijing has become more assertive. In an updated page on the state department’s online “fact sheet” Washington last week removed some…

The Guardian view on Ukraine and Taiwan: looking for lessons | Editorial

Five thousand miles away from Ukraine, Russia’s invasion is bringing long-term questions into close and urgent focus. Concerns about Taiwan’s future have been mounting for years; in January, Beijing’s ambassador to the US said the issue could bring China and America into military conflict. China’s Communist party has regarded the self-ruled democracy as a renegade province since Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated forces fled there at the end of the civil war in 1949; Taiwan has never declared independence for fear of the reaction, but says it is already a sovereign state.…

China has fully militarized three islands in South China Sea, US admiral says

China has fully militarized at least three of several islands it built in the disputed South China Sea, arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment and fighter jets in an increasingly aggressive move that threatens all nations operating nearby, a top US military commander said Sunday. US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C Aquilino said the hostile actions were in stark contrast to the Chinese president Xi Jinping’s past assurances that Beijing would not transform the artificial islands in contested waters into military bases. The efforts…

How Ukraine has become the crucible of the new world order

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been described by politicians and commentators as a watershed moment in modern history, a turning point comparable in importance to the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and even the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963. Whether this portentous view of the war turns out to be justified, only time – and future historians – will tell. But there’s no doubt that in the violent, tumultuous days after 24 February, the established international order has…

‘No light at the end of the tunnel’: Americans join Hong Kong’s business exodus

In July 2018, Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, wrote an article in the best-known local English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, stressing to Americans the territory’s unique position as an Asian business hub. “The US is forgetting the differences between Hong Kong and China. Let’s remind them,” she wrote. “Hong Kong continues to have a robust and hearty infrastructure of values, practices and institutions that could not contrast more starkly with those of the mainland system.” Now, packing up and leaving the…

Xi-Putin summit: Russia inches closer to China as ‘new cold war’ looms

When the leaders of China and Russia meet in Beijing this Friday shortly before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, observers of the bilateral relationship will be looking for insights into how this 21st century quasi-alliance is reshaping the postwar world order. It was 50 years ago this month, on 21 February 1972, that the historic handshake between Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong changed the geometry of the cold war. Historians called the visit “the week that changed the world”. It later influenced Washington’s subsequent movement towards détente with…

China’s ambassador to US warns of possible military conflict over Taiwan

China’s ambassador to the US has said the two countries could face a “military conflict” over the future of Taiwan, in an unusually explicit reference to the prospect of war. “The Taiwan issue is the biggest tinderbox between China and the United States,” Qin Gang told the US public broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR), on Friday. “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in the military conflict.”…

The Biden doctrine: Ukraine gaffe sums up mixed year of foreign policy

Joe Biden marked his first anniversary in office with a gaffe over Ukraine that undid weeks of disciplined messaging and diplomatic preparation. The president’s suggestion that a “minor incursion” by Russia might split Nato over how to respond sent the White House into frantic damage limitation mode. Officials insisted Biden had been referring to cyber attacks and paramilitary activities and not Russian troops crossing the border. That failed to entirely calm nerves in Kyiv and other European capitals, especially as Biden also raised eyebrows by predicting that Vladimir Putin would…

Pacific faces ‘strategic surprise’, says US official, alluding to China

The Pacific may be the part of the world most likely to see “strategic surprise”, the US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell has said, in comments apparently referring to possible Chinese ambitions to establish Pacific island bases. Campbell told Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies that the United States has “enormous moral, strategic, historical interests” in the Pacific but had not done enough to assist the region, unlike countries such as Australia and New Zealand. “If you look and if you ask me, where are the places where we are…

‘Tit for tat’: why hunt for Covid’s origins still wrapped in politics and controversy

Robert Garry, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane medical school in Louisiana, got a call from his university management telling him that agents from the FBI and CIA had requested a chat about his research into the origins of Covid-19. Garry agreed and on 30 July three agents flew down to Louisiana to talk to him in person. The meeting, held at a university conference room, began at 9am and ended at about 5pm. “I presented my evidence to the agents, who were properly trained scientists themselves. They…

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