China Says Drills near Taiwan Target 'Arrogance' of Separatists

In this photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, August 5, 2022. Lin Jian, AP
In this photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, August 5, 2022. Lin Jian, AP
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China Says Drills near Taiwan Target 'Arrogance' of Separatists

In this photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, August 5, 2022. Lin Jian, AP
In this photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, August 5, 2022. Lin Jian, AP

China said on Wednesday its recent series of drills near Taiwan aimed at combating the "arrogance" of separatist forces, while the frontrunner to be Taiwan's next president said China was trying to "annex" the island.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has said this month that it had observed dozens of fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby.
The increased frequency of China's military activities has raised the risk of events "getting out of hand" and sparking an accidental clash, the island's defense minister has warned.
Asked about the spurt in drills, and Taiwan's concerns about increased risk, Zhu Fenglian, the spokeswoman of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, acknowledged the drills by the People's Liberation Army, reported Reuters.
"The purpose is to resolutely combat the arrogance of Taiwan independence separatist forces and their actions to seek independence," Zhu told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
"The provocation of Taiwan independence continues all day long, and the actions of the People's Liberation Army to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity are always ongoing," she added.
She urged people in Taiwan to distinguish between "right and wrong", resolutely oppose independence for the island, and work with China to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
China has a particularly strong dislike of William Lai, the frontrunner to be elected president at the island's January elections for previous comments in support of independence.
However, he says he does not seek to change the status quo and has offered talks with Beijing.
The situation across the Taiwan Strait had "not improved due to the passage of time", said Lai, now the island's vice-president.
"China's attempts to annex Taiwan have not changed," he said at an event in Taipei on Wednesday for the 37th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP.
CHINESE DEFENCE MINISTER
China's armed forces have not explicitly mentioned or commented on the drills at a time when Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu has gone missing from public view. Sources have told Reuters he is being investigated for corruption.
Taiwan's democratically elected government says only the island's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with China, which Beijing has rejected.
On Wednesday, Taiwan's defense ministry reported further Chinese military movements, saying it had detected and responded to 16 Chinese aircraft entering the island's air defense identification zone over the prior 24 hours.
Of those, 12 crossed the median line of the Taiwan strait, which had served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides until China began regularly crossing it in August last year.
On Thursday, Taiwan is set to launch the first of eight domestically made submarines as it bolsters its defenses against China.
In Beijing, when asked about the submarines, Zhu said efforts by Taiwan's DPP to "seek independence with force" would only exacerbate tensions and "push the Taiwanese people into a dangerous situation".
In an unusual revelation last week, Taiwan's defense ministry said it was monitoring China's drills in the southern province of Fujian, opposite Taiwan. Normally Taiwan provides details only of drills in the skies and waters around it.
A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning in the region told Reuters the information was released to show Taiwan's surveillance and intelligence capacity.
"We can see the details and we are prepared," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
China's military has also not commented on the Fujian exercises.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.