China Warship Starts Live-fire Drills Near Taiwan

A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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China Warship Starts Live-fire Drills Near Taiwan

A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A Chinese warship in seas facing the Taiwan Strait began live-fire drills on Saturday as Beijing began military exercises it calls a warning against what it considers pro-Taiwan independence forces.

The amphibious landing ship - capable of transporting troops, craft and vehicles - fired multiple rounds of artillery on Saturday morning in the Luoyan Bay area on the coast of Fujian province, about 50 km (30 miles) northwest of the Matsu islands near the mainland that are controlled by Taiwan, Reuters reported.

China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan's government strongly objects to China's claims.

Smoke and muzzle flares were visible from the stern of the warship as shells were fired on targets on land and water.

Fishing boats and huge cargo vessels cruised nearby, avoiding the drill area.

The warship did not sail towards the windswept Matsu islands, controlled by Taiwan since the Republic of China government fled to Taipei in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's Communist forces. The area is considered an early target for Beijing in the event of a military escalation.

China's Eastern Theater Command, one of the five commands of the People's Liberation Army that oversees the East China Sea including the Taiwan Strait, said combat readiness patrols would be conducted around Taiwan for three days as a "serious" warning against pro-Taiwan independence forces and to safeguard China's territorial integrity.

Drills to the north, south and east of the island of Taiwan were also planned, after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the United States, drawing anger from Beijing.

Taiwan's defense ministry said that 42 Chinese planes and eight ships crossed the Taiwan Strait's median line on Saturday morning.

Despite the drills, Tsai said Taiwan's people love democracy and seek peace, adding that she looked forward to further strengthening security cooperation with the United States.

Tsai made the comments at the start of a lunch with a visiting US lawmaker delegation, led by Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.



G7 Leaders Focus on Ukraine War, China in Italian Summit

Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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G7 Leaders Focus on Ukraine War, China in Italian Summit

Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Group of Seven (G7) leaders start their annual summit on Thursday looking to double down on support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and offer a united face in confronting China's political and economic ambitions.
With the Middle East, migration and artificial intelligence (AI) also on a packed agenda, the June 13-15 summit in southern Italy would be taxing for leaders at the best of times, but most of them are also bowed down by their own domestic woes, said Reuters.
US President Joe Biden, facing a tough re-election bid in November, arrived in Italy the day after his son Hunter Biden was convicted of lying about his drug use to illegally buy a gun.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears destined to lose power in a July 4 election, the leaders of France and Germany are reeling from political defeats, and opinion polls are bleak for the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.
Only the host, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is riding high after triumphing in Italy's European election last weekend, but achieving meaningful results in the luxury Borgo Egnazia hotel resort will be a tall order.
Determined to claim the initiative, the G7 leaders look likely to announce they have agreed on plans to issue $50 billion of loans for Ukraine using interest from frozen Russian assets to back the multi-year debt package.
However officials acknowledge the plan is complex, meaning any deal will only be in principle, with legal experts still having to thrash out the details that will need the backing of European nations, particularly Belgium, which is not in the G7.
For a second year running, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will attend the summit and is due to sign a new, long-term security accord with Biden.
"By signing this we'll also be sending Russia a signal of our resolve. If (Russian President) Vladimir Putin thinks he can outlast the coalition supporting Ukraine, he's wrong," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
CONFRONTING CHINA
Underscoring US determination to punish Moscow for its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Washington on Wednesday dramatically broadened sanctions on Moscow, including by targeting China-based companies selling semiconductors to Moscow.
By announcing new restrictions on Chinese firms on the eve of the G7 meeting, Biden is no doubt hoping to persuade Western allies to show greater resolve in confronting Beijing over its support for Russia and its industrial over-capacity.
The European Commission told automakers on Wednesday it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese electric cars from July, less than a month after Washington quadrupled duties for Chinese EVs to 100%.
While G7 leaders are expected to express concern over high Chinese production levels, which they say disrupt global supply chains and market stability, EU diplomats warn that Europe is anxious to avoid a full-blown trade war with Beijing.
The G7 has thrown open its doors to a large number of outsiders this year, including Pope Francis, who is expected to give a keynote speech on Friday on both the risks and potential of AI.
Among those who have also been invited to Puglia are the leaders of India, Brazil, Argentina, Türkiye, Algeria and Kenya.
Although the summit is scheduled to run until Saturday, many G7 chiefs will leave on Friday night, including Biden, meaning the final day has been earmarked for bilateral meetings for those staying on and a final news conference from Meloni.