Man at the summit

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US pushes arms sales surge to Taiwan, needling China: Sources

first_imgTaiwan’s military is well-trained and well-equipped with mostly US-made hardware, but China has a huge numerical superiority and is adding advanced equipment of its own.The weapons packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing and General Atomics are moving their way through the export process, three people familiar with the status of the deals on Capitol Hill said, and a notification to Congress is expected within weeks.One industry source said President Donald Trump was slated to be briefed on the packages this week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Some of the deals had been requested by Taiwan more than a year ago, but are only now being moved through the approval process. A State Department spokesman declined comment.A senior US official, citing Chinese assertiveness in the Taiwan Strait, said: “There is no equilibrium today. It is out of balance. And I think that is dangerous.”Trump’s White House has made an effort to export weapons to US allies trying to bolster their defenses, decrease dependence on US troops while boosting US companies and jobs.As he fights for re-election on Nov. 3, Trump and Republican supporters have ramped up their rhetoric against Beijing and sought to portray Democratic opponent Joe Biden as soft on China.Other factors include Taiwan’s bigger defense budget, and the fear in Taiwan that if Trump loses, Biden would be less willing to sell the US’s most advanced weapons to them.Taiwan’s interest in US weapons and equipment is not new. The island is bolstering its defenses in the face of what it sees as increasingly threatening moves by Beijing, such as regular Chinese air force and naval exercises near Taiwan.The senior US official said Taiwan’s increased defense spending was a good step, but it had to do more.”Taiwan, frankly, needs to do more in order to ensure that they indigenously have an ability to deter Chinese aggression,” the official said.DealsDrones that can see over the horizon for surveillance and targeting, coupled with advanced missiles and coastal defenses that include smart mines and anti-submarine capabilities to impede a sea invasion, have been discussed at the highest levels to make Taiwan more difficult to attack, like a “porcupine”, according to industry and congressional sources.A Lockheed Martin-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), essentially a truck-based rocket launcher, is among the weapons Taiwan wants, people familiar with the negotiations said. Taiwan also seeks to buy sophisticated anti-tank missiles.In early August, Reuters reported that Washington is negotiating the sale of at least four of its large sophisticated aerial drones to Taiwan for what could be about $600 million.Also under discussion are land-based Boeing-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles to serve as a coastal defense against cruise missiles.Other systems include “underwater sea mines and other capabilities to deter amphibious landing, or immediate attack,” Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to United States said in July.  At the same time Taiwan’s desire to buy weapons increased after President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in January and has made strengthening Taiwan’s defenses a top priority.Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing says it is a Chinese province, and has denounced the Trump administration’s support for the island.Washington has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan”, as Beijing’s military makes increasingly aggressive moves in the region.Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the reported package was a “media assumption,” and that it handled weapons purchase talks and assessments in a low-key, confidential way, so could not offer public comment until there was a formal US notification of any sales to Congress. The United States plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to the island were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing.But the Trump administration has become more aggressive with China in 2020 and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, a lingering trade war and disputes about the spread of the novel coronavirus.center_img Topics :last_img read more

DepEd chief: No face-to-face learning when classes start

first_img“We will not allow face to face na physical na…nagdidikitan ang mga bata. Hindi papayagan ‘yan ng DepEd,” says Education Secretary Leonor Briones. CNN PH The DepEd, according to Briones, would be using broadcast media and the internet to deliver education to students. According to Briones, the DepEd would still pursue the class resumption on Aug. 24 through alternative approaches like blended learning at flexible learning. “We will not allow face to face na physical na…nagdidikitan ang mga bata. Hindi papayagan ‘yan ng DepEd,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Thursday during the Laging Handa virtual press conference. For her part, Briones said that DepEd’s stand does not have conflict with the statement of President Dutere.“I would like to emphasize: There is no conflict, there is no disagreement, there is no debate between the pronouncement of the President and of the department because they are exactly the same,” she said.   Presidential spokesman Harry Roque the next day clarified that the President was only prohibiting face-to-face classes in areas that would remain under community quarantine.center_img MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) will disallow face-to-face classes in the coming school year as the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lingers. The department has been crafting self-learning modules that will be printed and reproduced for those who have no gadget and access to internet, she added.The school year was scheduled to start on Aug. 24 but teachers and students are not obligated to go to school in person since schools would implement various alternatives to in-person classes./PN The education department earlier said the conduct of face-to-face classes would depend on the risk level of the areas where the schools are located. On Monday, however, President Rodrigo Duterte opposed the resumption of classes with the physical attendance of students.last_img read more

WACA left fuming after missing out on hosting India Test

first_imgPerth: Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) chairman Tuck Waldron expressed his displeasure after the stadium in Perth was overlooked for hosting a Test against India later this year. The four Tests of the much-anticipated Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be played at Gabba, Adelaide Oval, MCG and SCG respectively starting December 3. “I’m really disappointed in this decision, I think it is the wrong decision. I just can’t understand why they’d make that decision,” Waldron told reporters in Perth as per cricket.com.au. “It’s a kick in the guts to WA, to all our cricket-loving people and to our WACA members. When you’ve got one of the best stadiums in the world and the second-best cricket venue in the world, the time-slots back to India for TV, etcetera; to me it’s a no-brainer,” he added. Perth will instead host the historic Test between Australia and Afghanistan starting November 21. Afghanistan have never played a Test Down Under and it will be a momentous occasion for the minnows who acquired Test status only in 2018. “We have a duty to the cricket fans here, to Afghanistan as a visitor to our state, to ensure we provide the best possible facilities and enjoyment for them as we possibly can,” WACA chief executive Christina Matthews said. “Let’s not forget, it is a history-making Test – they’ve never played Test cricket in Australia so once again, Western Australia will be part of history. We will continue to demonstrate how well we do those things, but when we see India fly across the top of us to the other side of the country, we might shed a little tear,” she added. IANS Also watch: Flash floods hit Assam! Here are some scenes of the devastationlast_img read more

FDA, STI, Partners Brainstorm on Forest Management

first_imgThe Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Sustainable Trade Initiative (STI), concession heads, civil society representatives, stakeholders, donor partners have stressed the need for the forest management process to move forward.These assertions were advanced yesterday in Monrovia at a one day consultative conference on the Concept Note crafted by the IHD Sustainable Trade Initiative. The ceremony was held at the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) in Monrovia, where FDA Managing Director Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr., said in order for Liberia to conserve the forest, a letter of Intent was signed last year with the Kingdom of Norway in New York, the United States of America.According to him, the actual intent of that letter signed with Norway is to preserve and conserve the Liberian forest and increase productivity in the cash and food crops.He also pointed out that Liberia does not want to conserve the forest and see Liberians dying with hunger and other related socio-economic hardships in the country.“As a result of that vital forest initiative, a high-powered delegation is currently in the country to hold discussions with the government, stakeholders, forest concessionaires, partners in the oil palm sector in the country,” Director Karnwea asserted.He also disclosed that the two separate delegations are in the country to assist Liberia forest stakeholders and partners work out plans that would make the Liberian forest productive and sustainable.Earlier, the Director General of the National Bureau of Concessions, Madam Ciata Bishop, urged the participants to talk and work out concrete modalities for the sustainable preservation of the Liberian forest.“It is our hopes that our partners will work together to finalize documents that would be in the best interest of the country,” Madam Bishop concluded.In a brief remark, the Focal Person on Liberia-Norway deal, Arid Skedsmo, urged the participants to accelerate the process of putting finishing touches to the documents that would enhance the sustainable management and conservation of the forest. Also speaking, Civil Society representative Francis K. Colee of Green Advocates assured the FDA management and partners of the Liberian civil society groups willingness to work together and finalize the forest documents.He then stressed the need for the enhancement of the forest concept paper in order that forest dwellers and community land owners could experience the benefits of their natural resources.“We are all in the same boat and I want to assure you people that we will work together to see the practical implementation of the concept paper,” Mr. Colee noted.The concept paper among other components intimated that international companies are compelled to avoid deforestation by their commitment to environmental standards at every level. According to the paper, the successful development of concessions necessarily requires the simultaneous achievement of commercial, community and conservation objectives.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more