CHINESE SEEKS URGENT MEET AS SRI LANKA DEFERS DOCKING OF HIGH-TECH VESSEL
The Chinese embassy here has sought an immediate meeting with Sri Lankan officials after Sri Lanka asked to postpone the scheduled visit of a high-tech Chinese research vessel to the strategic Hambantota port.
The Chinese research vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was to stop at Hambantota port from August 11 to 17. Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry told the Chinese embassy in Colombo on August 5, “The ministry would like to request that the arrival of the vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ at Hambantota port be postponed until further consultations on the matter.”
Sources said here that the Chinese embassy in Colombo after receiving such a message from the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry demanded an immediate meeting with the higher officials of Sri Lanka to discuss the issue.
But the President’s Office denied the media reports about the meeting. On July 12, amidst the political turmoil in Sri Lanka, the then government had given permission to stop the Chinese vessel at the Hambantota port.
Hambantota port is considered strategically important. The port, located in the home area of the Rajapaksa family, has been largely developed with Chinese debt.
According to media reports here, New Delhi has informed Sri Lanka that India’s national security may be at risk due to the halt of a high-tech Chinese research vessel at the Hambantota port. Reports said that Sri Lanka has received a strong protest message from India and said that the Chinese ship has the capability to detect satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
WARSHIPS PLAY CAT-AND-MOUSE AS CHINA ENDS TAIWAN EXERCISES
China’s largest-ever military exercises surrounding Taiwan were drawing to a close yesterday following a controversial visit last week to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Ahead of the scheduled conclusion of the drills, at least 10 warships each from China and Taiwan played high-seas “cat and mouse” on Sunday, sailing at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing has raged at the trip by Pelosi—the second in the line of succession to the US presidency—ripping up a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington, most notably on climate change and defense.
Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan’s premier, said China is “barbarously using military action” to disturb peace in the Taiwan Strait.
“We call on the Chinese government not to go around wielding its military power, showing its muscles everywhere and jeopardizing the peace of the region,” he told reporters Sunday.
Taiwan said its shore-based anti-ship missiles and Patriot surface-to-air-missiles were on standby.
Beijing deployed fighter jets, warships, and ballistic missiles around Taiwan in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the island.
Those exercises were set to end Sunday, though Beijing has announced fresh drills in the Yellow Sea—located between China and the Korean peninsula—to take place until August 15.
Taiwan’s transport ministry said six of the seven “temporary danger zones” China warned airlines to avoid ceased to be in effect as of noon on Sunday, signaling a drawdown of the drills.
It said the seventh zone, in waters east of Taiwan, would remain in effect until 10:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) local time on Monday.
“Relevant flights and sailings can gradually resume,” the ministry said in a statement.
Taipei said some routes were still being affected in the seventh area, and authorities would continue to monitor ship movements there.
WITH CHINESE MILITARY EXERCISES DUE TO END, WARSHIPS ENGAGE IN HIGH-SEAS 'CAT AND MOUSE'
Chinese and Taiwanese warships played high seas “cat and mouse” on Sunday ahead of the scheduled end of four days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises launched in reaction to a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan sailed at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, according to a source. The island’s defence ministry said multiple Chinese ships, jets, and drones were simulating attacks on the island. It said it had sent aircraft and ships to react “appropriately”.
Late on Sunday, the ministry said it had detected 14 Chinese warships and 66 Chinese aircraft in and around the Taiwan Strait. It was not clear if China had ended the drills on Sunday, as previously announced. But a commentator on Chinese state TV said the Chinese military would now conduct “regular” drills on the Taiwan side of the line, saying the “historic task” of China’s “reunification” could be realised. Taiwan’s transport ministry said it was gradually lifting restrictions on flights through its airspace, adding notifications for the drills were no longer in effect.
ISRAEL-GAZA: HOPES AS GAZA CEASEFIRE COMES INTO EFFECT
A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants has come into effect after three days of violence which left at least 43 people dead.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants said the truce will begin at 23:30 local time (20:30 GMT), after talks moderated by Egyptian mediators.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's office confirmed the ceasefire.
The latest violence is the most serious flare-up between Israel and Gaza since an 11-day conflict in May 2021.
The Israeli military confirmed it was striking Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza as the ceasefire came into force in response to rockets fired just before, and Israeli media reported some isolated rocket fire from Gaza in the minutes after.
But the ceasefire largely appears to be holding since then.
The Israeli military said it began the latest attack on sites in the Gaza Strip in response to threats from a militant group. It followed days of tensions after Israel arrested a senior PIJ member in the occupied West Bank.
By Sunday evening, the Palestinian health ministry said that 15 children had been confirmed among the 43 deaths recorded in the latest violence. Gaza's health ministry has blamed "Israeli aggression" for the deaths of Palestinians and for the more than 300 people wounded.
The ceasefire was mediated by Egypt over the course of the day.
WANG YI THANKS BANGLADESH FOR BACKING ‘ONE CHINA’ POLICY
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday thanked Bangladesh for adhering to the ‘One China’ policy in the backdrop of the Taiwan crisis. The discussion in this regard took place between Mr. Wang and his Bangladesh counterpart Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen in Dhaka.
“We largely know what is happening centering Taiwan. China has its own policy. He (Wang) thanked Bangladesh and expressed gratitude as we reiterated our position. We hope it will not further aggravate... as the world can’t afford to have another crisis,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, explaining that Bangladesh has urged all sides to exercise “utmost restraint” and avoid any actions that may increase tension and undermine peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
Mr. Wang and Mr. Momen held talks for an hour following which officials from both sides signed four agreements covering disaster prevention and reduction, cultural and tourism exchange programme between Bangladesh and China during 2023-27 and educational cooperation between the University of Dhaka and China’s Institute of Oceanography to enhance collaboration in marine science and technology.
10 LANKANS VANISH FROM CWG: OFFICIAL
Ten members of crisis-hit Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth Games contingent in Birmingham have disappeared in a suspected attempt to remain in Britain, a top sports official from the island nation said on Sunday. The nine athletes and a manager vanished after completing their events, the official said. Three of them — judoka Chamila Dilani, her manager Asela de Silva, and wrestler Shanith Chathuranga — had disappeared last week. That prompted a police complaint by Sri Lankan officials. “Since then, another seven have vanished,” the official said, without identifying them. “We suspect they want to remain in the UK, possibly to get employment.” The 160-strong Sri Lankan contingent’s management possessed the passports of all members to ensure they returned home. British police located the first three that disappeared, but as they had not violated local laws and held visas valid for six months, no action was taken, the Sri Lankan official said. “In fact, the police got us to return the passports that we were holding,” the official said. “Police have not told us about their whereabouts.”
BANGLADESH SEEKS CHINA HELP TO SEND ROHINGYA REFUGEES BACK TO MYANMAR
Dhaka : Bangladesh on Sunday sought cooperation from China to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar during a visit by foreign minister Wang Yi, who promised better trade ties, investment and support for infrastructure development in the South Asiannations.
China had used its influence in Myanmar to broker a November 2017 agreement to repatriate about 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar in August that year. Despite attempts to send them back, the refugees refused, fearing danger in Myanmar, which was exacerbated by the military takeover last year.
Yi arrived in Dhaka on Saturday evening and met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister A K Abdul Momen. They discussed bilateral and global issues before his departure on Sunday morning, said Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh’s junior minister for foreign affairs.
CLIMATE CHANGE: TEARS OF JOY AS US BILL CLEARS SENATE HURDLE
Democrats cried with joy and pumped their fists in the air after the US Senate finally approved a key plank of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda.
The bill, a product of 18-months of intense wrangling, will now be sent to the Democratic-controlled House where it could pass as soon as this week.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes $369bn (£305bn) for climate action - the largest investment in US history.
Its authors say it will reduce US carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
It would also raise corporate taxes and lower healthcare costs as part of a package surpassing $700bn (£580bn), which the White House says will pay for itself.
Democrats negotiated among themselves for months to ensure the bill received the support of every one of the party's 50 senators, which it required - alongside Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote - to pass the Senate.
The resulting compromise is a significantly scaled-down version of a far more expansive measure that many Democrats had hoped to approve last year.
It now needs to be approved by the House, where Democrats have a slightly larger majority and expect to pass it with ease, before it can be signed into law by President Biden.
With the US midterm elections just months away, the bill's passage into law would mark a major achievement for the White House's long-stalled domestic economic agenda.
After pumping his fists in the air, Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said "after more than a year of hard work, the senate is making history."