A photo from Philippine authorities shows Chinese vessels anchored at Whitsun Reef in March 2021 amid rising tensions (Photo: Barrons')
US Warns China Over Moves On Philippines, Taiwan
The United States on Wednesday warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington's obligations to its partners.
"An armed attack against the Philippines' armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
"We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef," Price said, referring to the People's Republic of China.
More than 200 Chinese boats were first spotted on Mar 7 at Whitsun Reef, around 320 kilometres west of Palawan Island in the contested South China Sea, although many have since scattered across the Spratly Islands.
Price voiced "concern" about the Chinese moves, saying: "The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardise the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan."
He was using language from the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States is obliged to provide the island with the means to defend itself against Beijing.
President Joe Biden has vowed a robust defence of allies and, in a rare point of continuity with his predecessor Donald Trump, has supported strong pushback against Chinese assertiveness, AFP reported.
China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier leads naval exercise off Taiwan
A Chinese carrier group is exercising near Taiwan and such drills will become regular, China’s navy has announced, in a further escalation of tensions near the island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.
Taiwan has complained of an increase in Chinese military activity near it in recent months, as China steps up efforts to assert its sovereignty over the democratically run island.
In a statement late on Monday, China’s navy said the carrier group, lead by the Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier put into active service, was carrying out “routine” drills in the waters near Taiwan.
The aim is to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests”, it said.
“Similar exercises will be conducted on a regular basis in the future,” the navy added, without elaborating.
China’s statement follows Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reporting a new incursion by China’s air force into the island’s air defence identification zone on Monday.
Japan’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday that the Liaoning, accompanied by five escort ships, had transited through the Miyako Strait on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
The latest drill comes just days after the visit of Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Jr and first lady Valerie Whipps. Whipps and his wife were accompanied by the US ambassador to Palau, John Hennessey-Niland, which angered Beijing.
Niland became the first sitting US top diplomat to travel to Taiwan in an official capacity since Washington cut formal ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing in 1979, according to Al Jazeera.
'It's the tone': Palau president explains his China mistrust
He leads one of the world's smallest nations, but Surangel Whipps says Palau will not be bullied by anyone into deciding its future -- least of all by China.
Whipps, 52, became Palau's president last year after defeating an opponent who favoured closer ties with Beijing.
|Surangel Whipps (R) became Palau's president last year after defeating an opponent who favoured closer ties with Beijing (Photo: Bangkok Post)|
The Pacific nation of around 21,000 people is one of just 15 countries that still recognise Taiwan over China, something Whipps is adamant will not change under his watch despite Beijing's pressure campaign.
"If we were the last man standing we should be because Taiwan has been with us from the beginning," he told AFP via video call this week after returning from a trip to Taipei, where the two allies set up a coronavirus travel bubble for tourists.
Authoritarian China claims democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if needed, BangKok Post reported.
Scientists call for new probe into COVID-19 origins
A joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) study into COVID-19 has provided no credible answers about how the pandemic began, and more rigorous investigations are required - with or without Beijing’s involvement, a group of international scientists and researchers said on Wednesday.
The joint study, released last week, said the likeliest transmission route for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, involved bats and other wildlife in China and southeast Asia. It all but ruled out the possibility it had leaked from a laboratory.
In an open letter, 24 scientists and researchers from Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan said the study was tainted by politics.
|(Photo: Yahoo News Singapore)|
The letter said the study’s conclusions were based on unpublished Chinese research, while critical records and biological samples “remain inaccessible”.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said last week China had withheld data.
Metzl said the world might have to “revert to Plan B” and conduct an investigation “in the most systematic way possible” without China’s involvement.
China has rejected allegations that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a research laboratory in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 was first identified.
Metzl said China should disclose information that would allow the lab hypothesis to be disproved, as reported by Reuters.
Gold price forecast – gold markets trying to break out
Gold markets initially pulled back just a bit on Wednesday but found buyers underneath to turn things around and show signs of life again.
Gold markets have pulled back just a bit during the trading session on Wednesday to show signs of weakness again, but it looks like we are trying to go to the upside and clear the $1750 resistance barrier. If we can get above that area on a daily close, that is a good sign that we are going to see a continuation to the upside. In fact, that is essentially what I am waiting to have happened in order to start buying. If it does, then I believe at this point time we would probably be looking at a move towards the 50 day EMA, and then eventually the 200 day EMA. The 200 day EMA sits just below the crucial $1800 level, as reported by FX Empire.
|(Photo: Latam Mining)|
|World breaking news today (April 4): Putin Named Russia’s Hottest Man |
World breaking news today (April 4): Putin Named Russia’s Hottest Man. Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities arrest member of royal family, Argentina’s president tests positive for COVID-19, ...
|World breaking news today (April 3): U.S. Capitol Police officer dies after attacker rammed car into checkpoint |
World breaking news today (April 3): U.S. Capitol Police officer dies after attacker rammed car into checkpoint. Meanwhile, Iran and US on track to return ...
|World breaking news today (April 2): German president receives AstraZeneca vaccine |
World breaking news today (April 2): German president receives AstraZeneca vaccine. Meanwhile, UN Security Council 'strongly' condemns Myanmar violence, Biden announces huge infrastructure plan to ...