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“I still love them” – Lady says after discovering that her Chinese family kidnapped her as a baby. (Video)

A young black girl has stirred controversy on TikTok after she claimed that her Chinese family kidnapped her from the hospital as a baby.

In a series of video she posted, the lady with TikTok handle @amour_dottie147, alleged that she recently discovered that she was abducted by the Chinese family who raised her.

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According to the lady, who is in the Army, despite knowing that she was kidnapped, she still loves them and considers them her real family.

She also stated that her Chinese family raised her well and she was not deprived of love and attention as a child.


@amour_dottie147 captioned one video, “Even tho I was kidnapped out of the hospital by this Chinese man as a baby I still love him I was raised so well🥰🥰🥺”. Watch Video Here

Sharing another video montage with her family, she wrote, “I understand that they kidnapped me but I don’t like when people don’t consider them my real family they literally made me the person I am today🥰🥰..”



“You think cheating hurts? imagine being with Chinese people your whole life who looks you dead in the face and tells you they love you but you end up finding out that they kidnapped you at the hospital as a baby. That should literally ruin you”, she wrote in another video. Watch Video Here

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Competition With China Intensifies, The Balloon Incident Reveals More Than Spying.

It could take months for US intelligence agencies to compare the daring flight of a Chinese spy balloon across the country to prior intrusions into America’s national security systems and determine how it ranks.

After all, there is plenty of competition.

There was the theft of the designs of the F-35 about 15 years ago, enabling the Chinese air force to develop its look-alike stealth fighter, with Chinese characteristics. There was the case of China’s premier hacking team lifting the security clearance files for 22 million Americans from the barely secured computers of the Office of Personnel Management in 2015. That, combined with stolen medical files from Anthem and travel records from Marriott hotels, has presumably helped the Chinese create a detailed blueprint of America’s national security infrastructure.

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But for pure gall, there was something different about the balloon. It became the subject of public fascination as it floated over nuclear silos of Montana, then was spotted near Kansas City and met its cinematic end when a Sidewinder missile took it down over shallow waters off the coast of South Carolina. Not surprisingly, now it is coveted by military and intelligence officials who desperately want to reverse-engineer whatever remains the Coast Guard and the Navy can recover.

Yet beyond the made-for-cable-news spectacle, the entire incident also speaks volumes about how little Washington and Beijing communicate, almost 22 years after the collision of an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter about 70 miles off the coast of Hainan Island led both sides to vow that they would improve their crisis management.

“We don’t know what the intelligence yield was for the Chinese,” said Evan Medeiros, a Georgetown professor who advised President Barack Obama on China and Asia with the National Security Council. “But there is no doubt it was a gross violation of sovereignty,” something the Chinese object to vociferously when the United States flies over and sails through the islands China has built from sandbars in the South China Sea.

“And this made visceral the China challenge,” Medeiros said, “to look up when you are out walking your dog, and you see a Chinese spy balloon in the sky.”

As it turns out, it was hardly the first time. Hours before the giant balloon met its deflated end, the Pentagon said there was another one in flight, over South America. And it noted a long history of Chinese balloons flying over the United States (which the Pentagon, somehow, never wanted to talk about before, until this incident forced it to).

“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder said in a statement published Thursday. One senior official said many of those were in the Pacific, some near Hawaii, where the Indo-Pacific Command is based, along with much of the naval capability and surveillance gear of the Pacific Fleet.

Ryder’s admission raises the question of whether the United States failed to set a red line years ago about the balloon surveillance, essentially encouraging China to grow bolder and bolder. “The fact that they have come into airspace before is not comforting,” said Amy B. Zegart, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of “Spies, Lies and Algorithms,” a study of new technologies in ubiquitous surveillance. “We should have had a strategy earlier,” she said, and “we should have signaled our limits much earlier.”

Of course, there is nothing new about superpowers spying on one another, even from balloons. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized surveillance of the Soviet Union by lofting cameras on balloons in the mid-1950s, flying them “over Soviet bloc countries under the guise of meteorological research,” according to an article published by the National Archives in 2009. It “yielded more protests from the Kremlin than it did useful intelligence,” author David Haight, an archivist at the Eisenhower Library, reported.

With the advent of the first spy satellites, balloons appeared to become obsolete.

Now they are making a comeback, because while spy satellites can see almost everything, balloons equipped with high-tech sensors hover over a site far longer and can pick up radio, cellular and other transmissions that cannot be detected from space. That is why the Montana sighting of the balloon was critical; in recent years, the National Security Agency and United States Strategic Command, which oversees the American nuclear arsenal, have been remaking communications with nuclear weapons sites. That would be one, but only one, of the natural targets for China’s Ministry of State Security, which oversees many of its national security hacks.

The NSA also targets China, of course. From the revelations of Edward Snowden, the former contractor who revealed many of the agency’s operations a decade ago, the world learned that the United States broke into the networks of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications firm, and also tracked the movements of Chinese leaders and soldiers responsible for moving Chinese nuclear weapons. That is only a small sliver of American surveillance in China.

Such activities add to China’s argument that everyone does it. Because they are largely hidden — save for the occasional revelation of a big hack — they have rarely become wrapped in national politics. That is changing.

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The balloon incident came at a moment when Democrats and Republicans are competing to demonstrate who can be stronger on China. And that showed: The new chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, echoed the many Republicans who argued the balloon needed to come down sooner.

He called the shoot-down “sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over. The satellite had completed its mission. It should never have been allowed to enter the United States, and it never should have been allowed to complete its mission.”

It is not yet clear what that “mission” was, or whether the risk of letting it proceed truly outweighed the risk of taking the balloon down over land, as Turner seemed to imply. It is only a small part of the increasingly aggressive “Spy vs. Spy” moves of superpower competitors. That has only intensified as control of semiconductor production equipment, artificial intelligence tools, 5G telecommunications, quantum computing and biological sciences has become the source of new arms races. And both sides play.

Yet it was the obviousness of the balloon that made many in Washington wonder whether the intelligence community and the civilian leadership in Beijing are communicating with each other.

“Whatever the value of what the Chinese might have obtained,” said Gen. Michael Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency during the Obama and Trump administrations, “what was different here was the visibility. It just has a different feel when it is a physical intrusion on the country.” And once it was detected, China “handled it badly,’’ he said.

The balloon drifted over the continental United States just days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was supposed to make the first visit of a top American diplomat to Beijing in many years. Chinese officials maintained that it was a weather balloon that had entered U.S. airspace by accident.

Blinken canceled his trip — a public slap that many U.S. officials believe President Xi Jinping cannot be happy about, at a moment the Chinese leader appears to be trying to stabilize the fast-descending relationship with Washington.

This was hardly a life-threatening crisis. But the fact that Chinese officials, realizing that the balloon had been spotted, did not call to work out a way to deal with it was revealing.

That kind of problem was supposed to be resolved after the 2001 collision of an EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese fighter that brought down both planes. For days after that incident, President George W. Bush could not get Chinese leaders on the phone. Efforts by the secretary of state at the time, Gen. Colin Powell, also failed. “It made you wonder what might happen in a deeper crisis,” Powell said later.

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Afterward, hotlines were set up, and promises made about better communications. Clearly, those failed. When the balloon was shot down, China issued a statement saying “for the United States to insist on using armed forces is clearly an excessive reaction.”

Few experts doubt that had the situation been reversed, China would have used force — it has threatened to do that when it believed outsiders were entering disputed waters, much less established Chinese territory.



“It makes you wonder who was talking to whom in China,” Zegart said. “This is clearly the greatest unforced error the Chinese have made in some time.”

US Navy divers search Atlantic for wreckage after shooting down Chinese surveillance ballon.

US Navy divers are working to recover the wreckage of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

The high-altitude balloon – thought to be the size of three buses – was shot out of the sky by a Sidewinder air-to-air missile fired from an F-22 jet fighter. It came down about six nautical miles off the US coast at 14:39 EST (19:39 GMT) on Saturday.

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US TV networks broadcast the moment the missile struck, with the giant white object falling to the sea after a small explosion.

The debris landed in 47ft (14m) of water shallower than they had expected – and is spread over seven miles (11km).

Explaining the decision to shoot the balloon down, a US defence official said in a statement, that “while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC [China] surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us.”

China’s foreign ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft”.

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In a written statement, the Chinese government said it would “resolutely safeguard” the rights and interests of the company operating the balloon and that it reserved the right to “make further responses if necessary”.

The US believes the balloon was monitoring sensitive military sites and top military officers believe the search for debris would happen relatively quickly so that experts could begin analysing its equipment.

The ballon incidence set off a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately calling off this weekend’s trip to China over the “irresponsible act”.

The Chinese authorities denied it was used for spying and insisted it was a weather ship blown astray.

Admiral Mike Mullen, former chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday, February 5 he thought the Chinese military might have launched the balloon intentionally to disrupt Mr Blinken’s trip to China. His visit would have been the first high level US-China meeting there in years.

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Mullen rejected China’s suggestion it might have blown off course, saying it was manoeuvrable because “it has propellers on it”.

“This was not an accident. This was deliberate. It was intelligence,” he added.

Biden first approved the plan to bring down the balloon on Wednesday, but decided to wait until the object was over water so as not to put people on the ground at risk.


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Relations between China and the US have been exacerbated by the incident, with the Pentagon calling it an “unacceptable violation” of its sovereignty

Many questions remain over alleged Chinese spy balloon in US sky.

A suspected Chinese surveillance balloon flew over sensitive United States ballistic missile sites on Friday, and later a second Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted over Latin America. But what exactly is this massive white orb sweeping across U.S. airspace which has triggered a diplomatic maelstrom and is blowing up on social media?

China insists it’s just an errant civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research that went off course due to winds. With only limited “self-steering” capabilities.

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However, the U.S. says it’s a Chinese spy balloon without a doubt. And its presence prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a weekend trip to China aimed at dialing down tensions already high between the countries.

The Pentagon says the balloon carrying sensors and surveillance equipment is maneuverable and has shown it can change course. However, it has loitered over sensitive areas of Montana where nuclear warheads are siloed, prompting the military to take actions to prevent it from collecting intelligence.

A Pentagon spokesperson said it could remain aloft over the U.S. for “a few days,” extending uncertainty about where it will go or if the U.S. will try to take it down safely.

A look at what’s known about the balloon – and what isn’t.

A bird, a plane, a balloon
The Pentagon and other U.S. officials say it’s a Chinese spy balloon – about the size of three school buses – moving east over America at an altitude of about 18,600 meters (60,000 feet). The U.S. says it was being used for surveillance and intelligence collection, but officials have provided few details.

U.S. officials say the Biden administration was aware of it before it crossed into American airspace in Alaska early this week. Some officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic.

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The White House said President Joe Biden was first briefed on the balloon on Tuesday. And the State Department noted Blinken and Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman spoke with China’s senior Washington-based official on Wednesday evening about the matter.

In the first public U.S. statement, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday evening that the balloon was not a military or physical threat – an acknowledgment that it was not carrying weapons. And he said that “once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”

Even if it’s not armed, the balloon poses a risk to the U.S., says retired Army Gen. John Ferrari, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The flight itself, he said, can be used to test America’s ability to detect incoming threats and to find holes in the country’s air defense warning system. It may also allow the Chinese to sense electromagnetic emissions that higher-altitude satellites can’t detect, such as low-power radio frequencies that could help them understand how different U.S. weapons systems communicate.

He also said the Chinese may have sent the balloon “to show us that they can do it, and maybe next time it could have a weapon. So now we have to spend money and time on it” developing defenses.

Let it fly, shoot down?
Senior administration officials said President Joe Biden initially wanted to shoot the balloon down. And some members of Congress have echoed that sentiment.

But top Pentagon leaders strongly advised Biden against that move because of risks to the safety of people on the ground, and Biden agreed.

One official said the sensor package the balloon is carrying weighs as much as 1,000 pounds. And the balloon is large enough and high enough in the air that the potential debris field could stretch for miles, with no control over where it would eventually land.

For now, officials said the U.S. would monitor it, using “a variety of methods,” including aircraft. The Pentagon also has said the balloon isn’t a military threat and doesn’t give China any surveillance capabilities it doesn’t already have with spy satellites.

But the U.S. is keeping its options open and will continue to monitor the flight.

Rep. Jim Himes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that it could be valuable to try and capture the balloon to study it. “I would much rather own a Chinese surveillance balloon than be cleaning one up over a 100-square-mile debris field,” Himes said.

How did it get here?
Deliberate or an accident? There’s also disagreement.

As far as wind patterns go, China’s account that global air currents – winds known as the Westerlies – carried the balloon from its territory to the western United States is plausible said Dan Jaffe, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Washington. Jaffe has studied the role those same wind patterns play in carrying air pollution from Chinese cities, wildfire smoke from Siberia, and dust from Gobi Desert sand storms to the U.S. for two decades.

“It’s entirely consistent with everything we know about the winds,” Jaffe said. “Transit time from China to the United States would be about a week.” “The higher it goes, the faster it goes,” Jaffe said. He said that weather and research balloons typically have a range of steering capabilities depending on their sophistication, from no steering to limited steering ability.

The U.S. is essentially mum on this issue but insists the balloon is maneuverable, suggesting that China somehow deliberately moved the balloon toward or into U.S. airspace.

History of spy balloons
Spy balloons aren’t new – primitive ones date back centuries, but they came into greater use in World War II. Administration officials said Friday that there had been other similar incidents of Chinese spy balloons, with one saying it happened twice during the Trump administration but was never made public.

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At the Pentagon, Ryder confirmed other incidents where balloons came close to or crossed the U.S. border. Still, he and others agree that what makes this different is the length of time it’s been over U.S. territory and how far into the country it penetrated.

Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said Chinese surveillance balloons had been sighted numerous times over the past five years in different parts of the Pacific, including near sensitive U.S. military installations in Hawaii. The high-altitude inflatables, he said, serve as low-cost platforms to collect intelligence, and some can reportedly be used to detect hypersonic missiles.

During World War II, Japan launched thousands of hydrogen balloons carrying bombs, and hundreds ended up in the U.S. and Canada. Most were ineffective, but one was lethal. In May 1945, six civilians died when they found one of the balloons on the ground in Oregon, which exploded.

In the aftermath of the war, America’s balloon effort ignited the alien stories and lore linked to Roswell, New Mexico.

According to military research documents and studies, the U.S. began using giant trains of balloons and sensors that were strung together and stretching more than 600 feet as part of an early effort to detect Soviet missile launches during the post-World War II era. They called it Project Mogul.

One of the balloon trains crash-landed at the Roswell Army Airfield in 1947, and Air Force personnel unaware of the program found debris. However, the unusual experimental equipment made it difficult to identify, leaving the airmen with unanswered questions that, aided by UFO enthusiasts, took on a life of their own. According to the military reports, the simple answer was just over the Sacramento Mountains at the Project Mogul launch site in Alamogordo.



In 2015, an unmanned Army surveillance blimp broke loose from its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. It floated over Pennsylvania for hours with two fighter jets on its tail, triggering blackouts as it dragged its tether across power lines. Then, as residents gawked, the 240-foot blimp came down in pieces in the Muncy, Pennsylvania, countryside. It still had helium in its nose when it fell, and state police used shotguns – about 100 shots – to deflate it.

Suspected Chinese spy balloon under US close monitoring.

The U.S. is closely monitoring a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been hovering in U.S. airspace for several days, prompting the Pentagon to forgo the usual protocol of shooting it down because of the risks of collateral damage, according to officials on Thursday.

The presence of the balloon further complicates already tense U.S.-China relations.

A senior defense official told Pentagon reporters that the U.S. has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon and it was flying over sensitive sites to collect information. One of the places the balloon was spotted was Montana, which is home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

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Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, provided a brief statement on the issue, saying the government continues to track the balloon. He said it is “currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

He said similar balloon activity has been seen in the past several years. He added that the U.S. took steps to ensure it did not collect sensitive information.

The defense official said the U.S. has “engaged” Chinese officials through multiple channels and communicated the seriousness of the matter.

The incident comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken was supposed to make his first trip to Beijing, expected this weekend, to try to find some common ground. Although the trip has not been formally announced, both Beijing and Washington have been talking about his imminent arrival.

It was not immediately clear if the discovery of the balloon would impact Blinken’s travel plans.

The senior defense official said the U.S. did get fighter jets, including F-22s, ready to shoot down the balloon if ordered to by the White House. The Pentagon ultimately recommended against it, noting that even as the balloon was over a sparsely populated area of Montana, its size would create a debris field large enough that it could have put people at risk.

The official would not specify the size of the balloon but said it was large enough that despite its high altitude, commercial pilots could see it. All air traffic at the Billings, Montana, Logan International Airport was placed on a temporary ground stop Wednesday as the military provided options to the White House. The Billings Gazette captured a photograph of a large white balloon lingering over the area, but the Pentagon would not confirm if that was the surveillance balloon.

The official said what concerned them about this launch was the altitude the balloon was flying at and the time it lingered over a location, without providing specifics.

Tensions with China are particularly high on numerous issues, ranging from Taiwan and the South China Sea to human rights in China’s western Xinjiang region and the clampdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong. Not least on that list of irritants are China’s tacit support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its refusal to rein in North Korea’s expanding ballistic missile program and ongoing disputes over trade and technology.

On Tuesday, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets, put its navy on alert and activated missile systems in response to nearby operations by 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships that are part of Beijing’s strategy to unsettle and intimidate the self-governing island democracy.

Twenty of those aircraft crossed the central line in the Taiwan Strait that has long been an unofficial buffer zone between the two sides, which separated during a civil war in 1949.



Beijing has also increased preparations for a potential blockade or military action against Taiwan, which has stirred increasing concern among military leaders, diplomats and elected officials in the U.S., Taiwan’s key ally.

The surveillance balloon was first reported by NBC News

China’s Population Shrinks For First Time In More Than 60 Years.

China’s population shrank last year for the first time in more than six decades, official data showed Tuesday, as the birth rate slows in the face of mounting financial pressures and shifting social attitudes.

The world’s most populous country is facing a looming demographic crisis as its workforce ages, which analysts warn could stymie economic growth and pile pressure on strained public coffers.

Analysts point to the soaring cost of living — as well as a growing number of women in the workforce and seeking higher education — as reasons behind the slowdown.

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“Who dares to have kids?” a Shanghai resident in his thirties said Tuesday.

“The unemployment rate is so high, Covid destroyed everything, there’s nothing we can do. Next year we’ll have declining growth again.”

The mainland Chinese population stood at around 1,411,750,000 at the end of 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported, a decrease of 850,000 from the end of the previous year.

The number of births was 9.56 million, the NBS said, while the number of deaths stood at 10.41 million.

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The last time China’s population declined was in the early 1960s, when the country was battling the worst famine in its modern history, a result of the disastrous Mao Zedong agricultural policy known as the Great Leap Forward.

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China ended its strict one-child policy — imposed in the 1980s owing to fears of overpopulation — in 2016 and began allowing couples to have three children in 2021.

But that has failed to reverse the demographic decline for a country that has long relied on its vast workforce as a driver of economic growth.

“The population will likely trend down from here in coming years,” Zhiwei Zhang of Pinpoint Asset Management said.

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“China cannot rely on the demographic dividend as a structural driver for economic growth,” he added.

“Economic growth will have to depend more on productivity growth, which is driven by government policies.”

‘A lot of pressure’
The one-child policy meant Chinese people got used to smaller families, Xiujian Peng, a researcher at Australia’s University of Victoria, told AFP.

And for those who were only children as a result of the policy, “there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to taking care of your parents and improving your quality of life in the future”, a young woman in Beijing told AFP.

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For those who do have children, balancing work and child-rearing can be an impossible task.

“For many women, having a child means that they have to give up on a lot of things they wanted to do,” Nancy, a 32-year-old e-commerce worker, explained.

News of the population decline quickly trended on China’s heavily censored internet.

“Without children, the state and the nation have no future,” one comment on the Twitter-like Weibo service read.

“Having children is also a social responsibility,” another comment from a well-known “patriotic” influencer read.

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But others again pointed to the difficulties of raising children in modern China.

“I love my mother, I will not be a mother,” said one.

“No one reflects on why we do not want to have (children) and do not want to get married,” another said.

‘Policy package needed’
Independent demographer He Yafu also pointed to “the decline in the number of women of childbearing age, which fell by five million per year between 2016 and 2021” — a consequence of the ageing of the population — as a reason for the low birth rate.

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Many local authorities have already launched measures to encourage couples to have children.

The southern megacity of Shenzhen, for example, now offers birth bonuses of up to 10,000 yuan (around $1,500) and pays allowances until the child is three years old.

But analysts argue much more needs to be done.

“A comprehensive policy package that covers childbirth, parenting, and education is needed to reduce the cost of child-raising,” researcher Peng told AFP.

“Women’s job insecurity after giving birth should be addressed particularly.”

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The Chinese population could decline each year by 1.1 percent on average, according to a study by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences that was updated last year and shared with AFP.

China could have only 587 million inhabitants in 2100, less than half of today, according to the most pessimistic projections of that team of demographers.

And India is set to dethrone China this year as the most populous country in the world, according to the United Nations.

“A declining and ageing population will be a real concern for China,” Peng said.

“It will have a profound impact on China’s economy from the present through to 2100.”

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China vows ‘final victory’ over COVID-19 despite global alarm.

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The Chinese state media rallied citizens on Wednesday for a “final victory” over the coronavirus as global health officials tried to determine the facts of China’s raging COVID-19 outbreak and how to prevent a further spread.

China’s axing of its stringent virus curbs last month has unleashed COVID on a 1.4 billion population that has little natural immunity having been shielded from the virus since it emerged in the central city of Wuhan three years ago.

Many funeral homes and hospitals say they are overwhelmed, and international health experts predict at least 1 million deaths in China this year, but China has reported five or fewer deaths a day since the policy U-turn.

“That is totally ridiculous,” a 66-year-old Beijing resident who only gave his last name Zhang said of the official death toll.

“Four of my close relatives died. That’s only from one family. I hope the government will be honest with the people and the rest of the world about what’s really happened here.”

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China has rejected foreign skepticism of its statistics as politically motivated attempts to smear its achievements in fighting the virus.

“China and the Chinese people will surely win the final victory against the epidemic,” the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, said in an editorial, rebutting criticism of China’s three years of isolation, lockdowns and testing that triggered historic protests late last year.

Having lifted the restrictions, Beijing is hitting back against some countries demanding that visitors from China show predeparture COVID-19 tests, saying the rules were unreasonable and lacked a scientific basis.

Japan became the latest country to require a preboarding negative test, joining the United States, Australia and others. European Union health officials were due to meet Wednesday to discuss a coordinated response to China travel.

Willie Walsh, head of the world’s biggest airline association IATA, also criticized what he described as knee-jerk” measures that he said had proven to be ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

China, which has been largely shut off from the world since the pandemic began, will stop requiring inbound travelers to quarantine from Jan. 8. But it will still demand that arriving passengers get tested before they begin their journeys.

Data Doubts
World Health Organization officials met Chinese scientists Tuesday amid concern over the accuracy of China’s data on the spread and evolution of its outbreak.

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The U.N. agency had invited the scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.

The WHO would release information about the talks later, probably at a Wednesday briefing, its spokesperson said.

Last month, Reuters reported that the WHO had not received data from China on new COVID hospitalizations since Beijing’s policy shift, prompting some health experts to question whether it might be concealing the extent of its outbreak.

China reported five new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the official death toll to 5,258, very low by global standards.

British-based health data firm Airfinity has said about 9,000 people in China are probably dying each day from COVID.

There were chaotic scenes at Shanghai’s Zhongshan hospital where patients, many of them elderly, jostled for space on Tuesday in packed halls between makeshift beds where people used oxygen ventilators and got intravenous drips.

A Reuters witness counted seven hearses in the parking lot of Shanghai’s Tongji hospital Wednesday. Workers were seen carrying at least 18 yellow bags used to move bodies.

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Booking Boom
With COVID disruptions slowing China’s $17 trillion economy to its lowest growth in nearly half a century, investors are now hoping for policy stimulus.

China’s yuan hovered at a four-month high against the dollar on Wednesday, after its finance minister pledged to step up fiscal expansion. The central bank has also flagged more policy support.

UBS analysts expect the “big bang” approach to reopening to cause a “deeper but shorter setback” to the economy, but also predicted that activity would recover from February.

Despite the new restrictions in some countries, interest in traveling abroad is reviving, Chinese media reported.

International flight bookings have risen 145% year-on-year in recent days, state-run China Daily reported, citing data from travel platform Trip.com.

Before the pandemic, global spending by Chinese tourists exceeded $250 billion a year but the number of flights to and from China is still a fraction of pre-COVID levels.

Thailand expects at least five million Chinese arrivals this year. More than 11 million Chinese visited Thailand in 2019, nearly a third of its total visitors.

But there are already signs that an increase in travel from China could pose problems abroad.

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South Korea, which began testing travelers from China on Monday, said more than a fifth of the test results were positive.

Authorities there were searching for one Chinese national who tested positive but went missing while awaiting quarantine.

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‘Majority’ of EU want tests on passengers from China.

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An “overwhelming majority” of the EU’s 27 member countries want passengers coming from China to be systematically tested for Covid before departure, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The consensus recommendation emerged from a meeting of EU health ministry officials held Tuesday in Brussels. (Watch Video Here)

A crisis meeting to be held Wednesday on the issue will decide what coordinated measures will be applied across the bloc.

The gatherings were called in the wake of China deciding to lift its “zero Covid” policy, which has sparked massive demand for flights to other parts of the world by Chinese citizens and residents who had been grounded for nearly three years.

READ ALSO: Omicron: Travel Restrictions Had No Public Health Benefit, Disrupted Businesses – NCDC DG

The European Union fears a sudden influx of passengers from China could bring Covid variants that may be able to evade current vaccines. (Watch Video Here)

There are also concerns that China’s data on infections is incomplete, partial and insufficient.

“The overwhelming majority of countries are in favour of pre-departure testing,” a commission spokesman said after Tuesday’s meeting.

EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the officials also agreed to recommend stepped-up monitoring of wastewater from flights and at airports to detect traces of Covid, and for member states to boost surveillance.

She emphasised the need for EU “unity” at the meeting to take place on Wednesday. (Watch Video Here)

Several EU countries including France, Spain and Italy have already imposed testing requirements on arrivals from China pending a bloc-wide approach.

Beijing has reacted angrily to the increased restrictions, which are also being applied by the United States, Japan and Australia.

China has only recorded 22 Covid deaths since December and has dramatically narrowed the criteria for classifying such deaths — meaning that Beijing’s own statistics about the unprecedented wave are now widely seen as not reflecting reality. (Watch Video Here)

Data compiled by the World Health Organization, upon which the EU relies, shows no fresh Covid figures from China for over a week.

Earlier Tuesday, the commission said an “offer stands” for the EU to provide Covid vaccines and expertise to China.

A spokesman said Kyriakides had repeated the vaccine offer recently and that any supply of them was dependent on Beijing’s reaction.

Many EU countries have a surplus of mRNA vaccines — especially the one made by BioNTech/Pfizer — that scientific studies have shown to be more effective against severe Covid than the inactivated-virus ones China has developed and uses. (Watch Video Here)

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Russia seeks to strengthen military ties with China: Putin to Xi Jinping.

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Russia’s ties with China are the “best in history”, President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, as he said Moscow would seek to strengthen military cooperation with Beijing.

The two leaders spoke via video link on Friday, and Putin said he was expecting Xi to make a state visit to Moscow in 2023. If it were to take place, it would be a public show of solidarity by Beijing amid Moscow’s flailing military campaign in Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

In introductory remarks from the video conference broadcast on state television, Putin said: “We are expecting you, dear Mr chairman, dear friend, we are expecting you next spring on a state visit to Moscow.”

He said the visit would “demonstrate to the world the closeness of Russian-Chinese relations”.

Speaking for about eight minutes, Putin said Russia-China relations were growing in importance as a stabilising factor, and that he aimed to deepen military cooperation between the two countries. (Watch Video Here)

In a response that lasted about a quarter as long, Xi said China was ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia against the backdrop of what he called a “difficult” situation in the world at large.

Earlier this month, Russia and China conducted joint naval drills, which Russia’s army chief described as a response to the “aggressive” US military posturing in the Asia-Pacific region.

Xi “emphasized that China has noted that Russia has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations, for which it [China] expresses its appreciation,” Chinese state broadcaster (Watch Video Here) CCTV reported of the call.

The Chinese leader told Putin that the road to peace talks on Ukraine would not be smooth and that China would continue to uphold its “objective and fair stance” on the issue, according to CCTV.

In February, China promised a “no limits” partnership with Russia, which set off alarm bells in the West. Beijing has refused to criticize Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, blaming the United States and NATO for provoking the Kremlin. It has also blasted the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Russia leading supplier of oil to China
Putin also said Russia has become one of China’s leading suppliers of oil and gas. (Watch Video Here)

“Russia has become one of the leaders in oil exports to China”, with 13.8 billion cubic metres of gas shipped via the Power of Siberia pipeline in the first 11 months of 2022.

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude supplier last month.

Putin added that Russia was China’s second-largest supplier of pipeline gas and fourth-largest of liquefied natural gas (LNG). He said in December, shipments had been 18 percent above daily contractual obligations. (Watch Video Here)

Moscow’s energy exports to China have risen markedly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24. Although Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, China has refrained from condemning its military campaign, instead stressing the need for peace.

But Beijing has also been careful not to provide the sort of direct material support that could provoke Western sanctions against China. (Watch Video Here)

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said last month that his country’s energy exports to China had increased in value by 64 percent this year, and by 10 percent in volume.

Last week, Putin inaugurated a gas field in eastern Siberia that will allow Russia to increase its energy exports to China as the West seeks to cut its dependence on Moscow.

China and Russia have drawn (Watch Video Here) closer in recent years as part of what they call a “no-limits” relationship acting as a counterweight to the global dominance of the United States.

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Soaring China COVID Cases Increase Risk Of New Variants – Experts.

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An explosion of Covid-19 cases in China as the country lifts its zero-Covid measures could create a “potential breeding ground” for new variants to emerge, health experts warn.

China announced this week that incoming travellers would no longer have to quarantine from January 8, the (Watch Video Here) latest major reversal of strict restrictions that have kept the country largely closed off to the world since the start of the pandemic.

While the country’s National Health Commission has stopped issuing daily case numbers, officials in several cities estimate that hundreds of thousands of people have been infected in recent weeks. Hospitals and crematoriums have been overwhelmed across the country.

With the virus now able to circulate among nearly one-fifth of the world’s population — almost all of whom lack immunity from previous infection and many of whom remain unvaccinated — other nations and experts fear China will become fertile ground for new variants. (Watch Video Here)

Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, told AFP that each new infection increased the chance the virus would mutate.

“The fact that 1.4 billion people are suddenly exposed to SARS-CoV-2 obviously creates conditions prone to emerging variants,” Flahault said, referring to the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.

Bruno Lina, a virology professor at France’s Lyon University, told the La Croix newspaper this week that China could become a “potential breeding ground for the virus”. (Watch Video Here)

Soumya Swaminathan, who served as the World Health Organization’s chief scientist until November, said a large part of the Chinese population was vulnerable to infection in part because many elderly people had not been vaccinated or boosted.

“We need to keep a close watch on any emerging concerning variants,” she told the website of the Indian Express newspaper.

Countries test Chinese travellers
In response to the surging cases, the United States, Italy, Japan, India and Malaysia announced this week they would increase health measures for travellers from China. (Watch Video Here)

The lack of transparent data from China — particularly about viral genomic sequencing — is making it “increasingly difficult for public health officials to ensure that they will be able to identify any potential new variants and take prompt measures to reduce the spread”, US officials said Tuesday.

India and Japan have already said they will impose mandatory PCR testing on all passengers from China, a measure Flahault said could be a way around any delays in information from Beijing. (Watch Video Here)

“If we succeed to sample and sequence all viruses identified from any travellers coming in from China, we will know almost as soon as new variants emerge and spread” in the country, he said.

Variant ‘soup’
Xu Wenbo, head of the virus control institute at China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that hospitals across the country would collect samples from patients and upload the sequencing information to a new national database, allowing authorities to monitor possible new strains in real-time.

More than 130 Omicron sublineages have been newly detected in China over the last three months, he told journalists. (Watch Video Here)

Among those were XXB and BQ.1 and their sublineages, which have been spreading in the US and parts of Europe in recent months as a swarm of subvariants has competed for dominance worldwide.

However BA.5.2 and BF.7 remain the main Omicron strains detected in China, Xu said, adding that the varying sublineages would likely circulate together.

Flahault said “a soup” of more than 500 new Omicron subvariants had been identified in recent months, although it had often been difficult to tell where each had first emerged. (Watch Video Here)

“Any variants, when more transmissible than the previous dominant ones — such as BQ.1, B2.75.2, XBB, CH.1, or BF.7 — definitely represent threats, since they can cause new waves,” he said.

“However, none of these known variants seems to exhibit any particular new risks of more severe symptoms to our knowledge, although that might happen with new variants (Watch Video Here) in the coming future.”



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Invasion Of Ukraine Revives Nuclear Warfare Nightmare

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Banished from public consciousness for decades, the nightmare of nuclear warfare has surged back to prominence with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the erosion of the Cold War global security architecture.

With Moscow on the back foot in its offensive, the military stalemate has raised fears Russia could resort to its nuclear arsenal to achieve a breakthrough.

Russia, along with Britain, China, France and the United States, are the five recognised nuclear weapons powers and permanent UN Security Council members.

“It’s the first time a nuclear power has used its status to wage a conventional war under the shadow cast by nuclear weapons,” said Camille Grand, a former NATO deputy secretary-general.

“One might have imagined that rogue states would adopt such an attitude, but suddenly it’s one of the two major nuclear powers, a member of the UN Security Council,” he told AFP, insisting the actual use of the weapons remains “improbable”.

For now, the moral and strategic nuclear “taboo” that emerged after the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II in 1945 still holds.

But rhetoric has escalated massively.

Russian TV broadcasts since the invasion of Ukraine have repeatedly discussed nuclear strikes on Western cities like Paris or New York.

One former Russian diplomat, asking not to be named, warned that if President Vladimir Putin felt Russia’s existence threatened, “he will press the button”.

The year’s events have been a harsh wake-up call for Europe, which spent decades in a state of relative ease in terms of nuclear security, enjoying the so-called Cold War “peace dividend”.

Across the Atlantic, US President Joe Biden warned in October of a potential “Armageddon” hanging over the world.

Disarmament ‘in ruins’
“The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not occur,” Nobel-winning economist and strategy expert Thomas Schelling wrote in 2007.

But the framework that kept world leaders’ fingers off the button after 1945 had been crumbling for years before Putin’s order to invade.

In 2002, the United States quit the critical Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty it had signed with the Soviet Union in 1972, which maintained the nuclear balance of power.

Other important agreements fell away in the years that followed, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that Washington dropped in 2019, blaming Russia for not complying.

“Regarding disarmament, it’s all in ruins, apart from New Start,” Grand said, referring to the Barack Obama-era agreement with Russia to reduce numbers of warheads, missiles, bombers and launchers.

‘Very dangerous crisis’
India, North Korea and Pakistan, along with the five recognised powers, also have nuclear weapons, while Israel is widely assumed to do so while having never officially acknowledged it.

North Korea sharply stepped up missile testing this year, continuing its pursuit of an independent nuclear deterrent that began when it quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all believe a seventh nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang is imminent.

The isolated dictatorship announced in September a new nuclear doctrine, making clear that it would never give up the weapons and that they could be used pre-emptively.

“We’re going to see a very dangerous crisis in Asia,” Chung Min Lee, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently told a Paris conference.

Non-nuclear countries in the region fear that the protection provided by the US nuclear umbrella is fraying.

“If you imagine extended deterrence as a water balloon, today the water balloon has some critical holes and water is seeping out,” he added.

China’s nuclear arsenal is also growing, with Pentagon estimates putting it at 1,000 warheads — roughly on par with US bombs — within a decade.

And in the Middle East, the struggle to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, hobbled by its brutal repression of recent protests at home, has revived fears that Tehran could soon be a “threshold state” on the brink of building a bomb.

Proliferation fears
In August, a UN conference on the future of the NPT saw a joint declaration by 191 countries blocked at the last moment by Russia.

One French diplomat reported “extraordinarily aggressive nuclear rhetoric” from Moscow and “disdain” for the treaty.

“We saw a break in Russia’s attitude, which had historically been in support of the NPT,” the diplomat added.

China was “very vocal”, offering a “very crude denunciation” of the US-UK-Australia AUKUS Pacific alliance that will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra, the diplomat said.

Beijing claimed that the alliance risked further nuclear proliferation, while failing to “lift doubts about the opacity of its own nuclear doctrine or the speed at which its arsenal is growing”.

The invasion of a state that willingly gave up nuclear weapons, Ukraine, by its nuclear-armed neighbour has increased fears of proliferation.

“Today, countries like Japan or South Korea might legitimately ask whether” they need a bomb of their own, said Jean-Louis Lozier, a former head of France’s nuclear forces.

“The same is true in the Middle East of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt,” he added.



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Japan To Require COVID Test On Arrival For China Travellers.

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Japan will require Covid-19 tests on arrival for travellers from mainland China from Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, after Beijing announced it will end inbound quarantine requirements.

Tokyo has eased its restrictions on tourists in recent months and the move means travellers from China will be the only visitors required to take Covid-19 tests on arrival, other than those who are displaying symptoms. (Watch Video Here)

Kishida said on Tuesday the decision was taken because “there is information that infection is spreading rapidly” in China.

“It is difficult to ascertain the precise situation due to major discrepancies between central and local authorities and between the government and private sector,” he told reporters.

“This is causing growing concern in Japan.”

The move comes after Beijing announced that inbound travellers will no longer be required to quarantine on arrival from January 8 after three years of strict (Watch Video Here) pandemic control.

China abruptly lifted many of its harsh Covid restrictions after nationwide protests and is seeing an unprecedented surge in infections.

Travellers from mainland China, or who have been there within seven days, will be required to test on arrival in Japan from Friday, Kishida said. (Watch Video Here)

Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities.

Tokyo will also cap flights coming from mainland China, Kishida said.

Japan only fully reopened to tourists in October after two-and-a-half years of Covid restrictions that kept out almost all foreign travellers. (Watch Video Here)

In November, 934,500 people visited Japan from overseas, around 40 percent of the figures in the same month in pre-pandemic 2019.

In 2019, travellers from mainland China made up 30 percent of inbound tourists visiting Japan. (Watch Video Here)



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COVID-19: China to end quarantine on arrival despite cases hike.

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China said Monday it would scrap mandatory quarantine on arrival, further unwinding years of strict virus controls as the country battles a surge in cases.

Having mostly cut itself off from the rest of the world during the pandemic, China is now experiencing an unprecedented surge in infections after abruptly lifting restrictions that torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests. (Watch Video Here)

And in a sudden end to nearly three years of strict border controls, Beijing said late Monday it would scrap mandatory quarantines for overseas travellers.

Since March 2020, all passengers arriving in China have had to undergo mandatory centralised quarantine. This decreased from three weeks to one week this summer, and to five days last month.

But under new rules that will take effect January 8, when Covid-19 will be downgraded to a Class B infectious disease from Class A, they will no longer need to. (Watch Video Here)

“According to the national health quarantine law, infectious disease quarantine measures will no longer be taken against inbound travellers and goods,” the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

The move is likely to be greeted with joy from Chinese citizens and diaspora unable to return and see relatives for much of the pandemic.

But it comes as China faces a wave of cases that studies have estimated could kill around one million people over the next few months. (Watch Video Here)

Many are now grappling with shortages of medicine, while emergency medical facilities are strained by an influx of undervaccinated elderly patients.

“At present, Covid-19 prevention and control in China are facing a new situation and new tasks,” President Xi Jinping said in a directive Monday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“We should launch the patriotic health campaign in a more targeted way… fortify a community line of defence for epidemic prevention and control, and effectively protect people’s lives, safety and health,” he said. (Watch Video Here)

– ‘Impossible’ to track –
Hospitals and crematoriums across the country have been overflowing with Covid patients and victims, while the NHC on Sunday announced it would stop publishing daily nationwide infection and death statistics.

That decision followed concerns that the country’s wave of infections is not being accurately reflected in official statistics.

Beijing has admitted the scale of the outbreak has become “impossible” to track following the end of mandatory mass testing. (Watch Video Here)

And last week, the government narrowed the criteria by which Covid-19 fatalities were counted — a move experts said would suppress the number of deaths attributable to the virus.

The winter surge comes ahead of two major public holidays next month, in which millions of people are expected to travel to their hometowns to reunite with relatives.

Authorities are expecting the virus to hit under-resourced rural areas hard, and on Monday called for the guaranteed supply of drugs and medical treatment during New Year’s Day and late January’s week-long Lunar New Year holiday. (Watch Video Here)

In recent days, health officials in the wealthy coastal province Zhejiang estimated that one million residents were being infected per day.

The coastal city of Qingdao also predicted roughly 500,000 new daily infections and the southern manufacturing city of Dongguan eyed up to 300,000.

Unofficial surveys and modelling based on search engine terms suggest that the wave may have already peaked in some major cities like Beijing and Chongqing. (Watch Video Here)

A poll of over 150,000 residents of the southwestern province of Sichuan organised by disease control officials showed that 63 percent had tested positive for Covid, and estimated that infections peaked Friday.

Only six Covid deaths have been officially reported since Beijing unwound most of its restrictions earlier this month.

But crematorium workers interviewed by AFP have reported an unusually high influx of bodies, while hospitals have said they are tallying multiple fatalities per day, as emergency wards fill up. (Watch Video Here)

The main funeral service centre in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou postponed all ceremonies until January 10 to focus on cremations due to the “large workload”, according to a notice published online Sunday.

China’s censors and mouthpieces have been working overtime to spin the decision to scrap strict travel curbs, quarantines and snap lockdowns as a victory, even as cases soar. (Watch Video Here)



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Taiwan says China deployed 71 warplanes in weekend war drills.

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China deployed 71 warplanes in weekend military exercises around Taiwan, Taipei’s defence ministry said Monday, including dozens of fighter jets in one of its biggest daily incursions to date. (Watch Video Here)

The People’s Liberation Army said it had conducted a “strike drill” on Sunday in response to unspecified “provocations” and “collusion” between the United States and the self-ruled island.

Data from Taiwan’s defence ministry showed those drills were one of the largest since they started releasing daily tallies. (Watch Video Here)

In a post on Twitter, Taiwan said 60 fighter jets took part in the drills, including six SU-30 warplanes, some of China’s most advanced.

Moreover, 47 of the sorties crossed into the island’s air defence zone, the third highest daily incursion on record, according to AFP’s database.

Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled democratic island as part of its territory, to be taken one day. (Watch Video Here)

Beijing has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan under President Xi Jinping as relations have deteriorated.

China did not specify the number of aircraft mobilised for Sunday’s exercises, nor the exact location of these manoeuvres.

Taiwan’s daily tally showed most of the incursions crossed the “median line” which runs down the Taiwan Strait that separates the two sides. (Watch Video Here)

A smaller number were in Taiwan’s southwestern air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

Many nations maintain air defence identification zones, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan and China.

They are not the same as a country’s airspace. (Watch Video Here)

Instead, they encompass a much wider area, in which any foreign aircraft is expected to announce itself to local aviation authorities.

Taiwan’s ADIZ is much larger than its airspace. It overlaps with part of China’s ADIZ and even includes some of the mainland. (Watch Video Here)



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China to stop publishing daily reports of COVID cases.

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COVID Patients Fill Hospital Wards In China’s Major Cities.

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Elderly patients lined the wards of hospitals in major cities in China Thursday as the country battled a wave of Covid cases.

The virus is surging across China in an outbreak authorities say is impossible to track after the end of mandatory mass testing.

Watch Video Here | Download Video Here

Attached to a breathing tube under a pile of blankets, an old man racked with Covid-19 lay groaning on a stretcher in the emergency department of a hospital in central China.

READ ALSO: Ukraine’s Zelensky Gives Historic Address To US Congress

A paramedic at Chongqing Medical University First Affiliated Hospital, who confirmed the old man was a Covid patient, said he had picked up more than 10 people a day, 80 to 90 percent of whom were infected with coronavirus.

“Most of them are elderly people,” he said.

“A lot of hospital staff are positive as well, but we have no choice but to carry on working.”

The old man waited half an hour to be treated, while in a nearby room AFP saw six other people in sick beds surrounded by harried doctors and relatives.

They, too, were mostly elderly and, when asked if they were all Covid patients, a doctor said: “Basically.”

Five were strapped to respirators and had obvious breathing difficulties.

Millions of elderly people across China are still not fully vaccinated, raising concerns that the virus may kill the most vulnerable citizens in huge numbers.

Under new government guidelines, however, many of those deaths would not be blamed on Covid.

In Shanghai, the corridors of an emergency department were lined with stretchers filled with elderly people hooked up to oxygen tanks.

An AFP reporter counted at least 15 such patients spilling out from the wards into the hallway, some with suitcases next to their trolleys.

Swaddled in colourful duvets, they wheezed weakly through their masks as medical workers attended to them. Many appeared mostly unresponsive.

Staff and visitors did not respond to questions from AFP.

– ‘Constantly busy’ –
At a large crematorium on the rural outskirts of Chongqing, a long line of cars waited for parking spaces inside the compound on Thursday afternoon.

Dozens of bereaved relatives milled around in groups, some carrying wooden urns, as funeral gongs sounded and mourners burned incense.

One middle-aged man carrying an urn told AFP an elderly relative died after testing positive for the virus.

“It’s been constantly busy lately,” said one crematorium driver as he sat smoking in his car.

“We work more than 10 hours a day with few breaks.”

Another staffer wearing an overcoat and face shield agreed.

“It’s not possible to put bodies in cold storage, they must be cremated on the same day,” he said.

Around 20 hearses lined the road to another crematorium in the city’s south on Thursday evening.

Inside was a large car park, where bodies on stretchers were being unloaded onto a small raised platform before being transferred to the upper levels.

AFP saw about 40 bodies loaded onto the platform in two hours.

Next to the raised platform were two rooms of cold storage freezers. In one, AFP saw two covered bodies on stretchers and another partially uncovered body on the floor.

Police and security guards patrolled the premises.

– ‘He died too quickly’ –
A steady stream of cars carrying mourners arrived at a separate building where families were holding wakes.

Some relatives watched through glass as their loved ones were cremated in adjacent rooms.

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A woman in her 20s told AFP she suspected her father had died of the virus, though he had not been tested.

“He died too quickly, while on the way to hospital,” she sobbed. “He had lung issues to begin with… He was only 69.”

Another mourner said their relative had died of pneumonia, though they were not certain it was caused by Covid.

“He wasn’t feeling well so we took him to the clinic the day before yesterday — the hospital wouldn’t take him in,” he said.

One woman said her elderly relative, who was suffering from cold symptoms, had tested negative but died after they could not get an ambulance in time.

Watch Video Here | Download Video Here

On the top floor, near the furnaces, the air was thick with a musky, sweet-smelling smoke.

AFP

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WHO Chief ‘Very Concerned’ About COVID Situation In China

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The head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday said he was “very concerned” about an unprecedented wave of Covid cases in China, as the health body urged Beijing to accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable.

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“WHO is very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a weekly news conference, appealing for detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and intensive care requirements.

“WHO is supporting China to focus its efforts on vaccinating people at the highest risk across the country, and we continue to offer our support for clinical care and protecting its health system”, he added.

READ ALSO: Gambian Government Says Has Foiled Coup Attempt

Since 2020, China has imposed strict health restrictions as part of a so-called “zero Covid” policy.

But the government ended most of those measures without notice in early December amid growing public exasperation and a significant impact on the economy.

The number of cases has since soared, raising fears of a high mortality rate among the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable.

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Chinese authorities said on Tuesday that only those who had directly died of respiratory failure caused by the virus would now be counted under Covid death statistics.

The change in the criteria for recording virus deaths means most are no longer counted, and China said on Wednesday that not a single person had died of Covid-19 the previous day.

WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan stressed the need for more vaccinations: “We’ve been saying this for weeks that this highly infectious virus was always going to be very hard to stop completely, with just public health and social measures”.

“And most countries have really transitioned to a mixed strategy”.

Watch Video Here | Download Video Here

“Vaccination is the exit strategy in that sense from the impact of a wave of Omicron”, the prevalent Covid variant

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Major Chinese cities see wave of rare protests over COVID-19 curbs.

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Protests against China’s strict zero-COVID policy spread to some of its major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, on Sunday.

The extraordinary demonstrations come after a deadly fire in the country’s far west killed 10 people and sparked widespread anger.

Watch Video Here | Download Video Here

The wave of civil disobedience, which has included protests in Urumqi where the fire occurred as well as elsewhere in Beijing and in other cities, has reached unprecedented levels in mainland China since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, residents gathered on Saturday night at Wulumuqi Road, which is named after Urumqi, for a candlelight vigil that turned into a protest in the early hours of Sunday.

As a large group of police looked on, the crowd held up blank sheets of paper – a protest symbol against censorship.

Later on, they shouted, “lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China!”, according to a video circulated on social media.

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At another point, a large group began shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping,” according to witnesses and videos, in a rare public protest against the country’s leadership.

The police tried at times to break up the crowd.

A large crowd gathered at the campus of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, according to images and videos posted on social media. Some people also held blank sheets of paper.

Thursday’s fire that killed 10 people in a high-rise building in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, saw crowds take to the street on Friday evening, chanting “End the lockdown!” and pumping their fists in the air, according to videos on social media.

Watch Video Here | Download Video Here

Many internet users surmised that residents were not able to escape in time because the building was partially locked down, which city officials denied. In Urumqi, a city of 4 million, some people have been locked down for as long as 100 days.

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World Cup: Maskless pictures draw anger in zero-COVID China.

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Photos of crowds without masks at the World Cup in Qatar have drawn massive criticism in China, where the recent surge spike in COVID-19 cases has raised concerns, forcing the country to shut parks, shopping malls, and museums.

China is the last major economy still attempting to stamp out the domestic spread of COVID-19 and has continued to shut down entire cities, seal off neighborhoods and impose mandatory tests on millions.

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Driven by the fast-spreading omicron variant, daily cases in the country hit 29,157 on Wednesday – low compared to most other countries but nearing the domestic record set earlier this year.

Authorities have put more than a quarter of the Chinese population under some form of lockdown as of Tuesday, according to Nomura analysts – a contrast with the raucous World Cup crowds that have infuriated many Chinese social media users.

“Some people are watching World Cup matches in person with no masks, some have been locked at home for a month, locked on campus for two months without even being able to step out the door,” a Guangdong-based user on the Twitter-like Weibo platform wrote on Wednesday.

“Who has stolen my life? I won’t say.”

Another Weibo user from Shaanxi province said they were “disappointed” in their country.

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“The World Cup has allowed most Chinese people to see the real situation abroad, and worry about the economy of the motherland, and their own youth,” the user wrote.

An open letter questioning the country’s COVID-19 policies and asking if China was “on the same planet” as Qatar spread on the popular WeChat messaging app on Tuesday before censors removed it from the platform.

World Cup matches are aired in China by state-owned CCTV – the same broadcaster that has bombarded domestic audiences with negative reports of mass deaths and chaos caused by the coronavirus in geopolitical rival the United States.

“Nigeria’s anti-epidemic work has clear results … we don’t learn from Nigeria, and only look at U.S. data, what is the real meaning of this for our epidemic prevention?” the open letter asked.

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Public anger over the seemingly arbitrary restrictions and sudden disruptions has recently erupted in rare protests, including in southern China’s Guangzhou this month where hundreds of residents took to the streets in defiance of a compulsory lockdown.

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China refutes Police Station reports.

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The People’s Republic of China has denied reports in the media that, it has established Chinese Police Station in Nigeria.

The Chinese government said the rumor is based on a ill-intentioned report made by a anti-China human rights NGO in Europe.

The report added that there is no Chinese police station in Nigeria or anywhere, what they have is only a category of outreach service to Chinese communities. As China does not have any intention or spare energy to run police station outside it’s shores.”
Reporters have government has opened police stations in Nigeria and in over 20 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa in its effort to tackle the increasing criminal activities of its citizens abroad.

Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China established formal diplomatic relations on February 10, 1971, since then, the cordial relations has grown even stronger with Cultural and People to People Exchanges.

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China opens police station in Nigeria.

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The Chinese government has opened police stations in Nigeria and in over 20 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa in its effort to tackle the increasing criminal activities of its citizens abroad.

This was contained in an investigative statement titled, ‘110 Overseas Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild.’

It was widely reported that the police stations are created to bring “down on all kinds of illegal and criminal activities involving overseas Chinese.”

Lesotho and Tanzania are the two other African countries apart from Nigeria that have Chinese police stations.

The report by Safeguard Defender revealed, “Rather than cooperating with local authorities in the full respect of territorial sovereignty, it prefers…to cooperate with (United Front-linked) overseas ‘NGOs’ or ‘civil society associations’ across the five continents, setting up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries, and directly implicating those organisations in the illegal methods employed to pursue ‘fugitives’.”

It further said that as part of a massive nationwide campaign to combat fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese citizens living abroad, Chinese authorities claimed that from April 2021 to July 2022, 230,000 nationals had been, “persuaded to return” to face criminal proceedings in China.

China’s official statements clarified the use of depriving suspects’ children of the right to education back in China and other actions against relatives and family members in a full-on “guilt by association” campaign.

The rights group revealed that China selected nine countries as having serious fraud, telecom fraud and web crimes, and Chinese nationals were no longer allowed to stay in those countries without “good reason.”

“While establishing these operations to hunt down those accused of fraud and telecommunications fraud, China identified nine countries particularly prone to hosting Chinese nationals engaging in such criminal activities, the ‘nine forbidden countries’,” the Safeguard explained.

However, the setting up of overseas police ‘service stations’ was a worldwide phenomenon, with the majority of such being in western democratic nations, with a particular focus on Europe, and not in the ‘nine forbidden countries’.

The group also noted that forsaking any “pretext of due process or the consideration of suspects’ innocence until proven guilty, targeting suspects’ children and relatives in China as ‘guilty by association’ or ‘collateral damage’, and using threats and intimidation to target suspects abroad, is now itself becoming an endemic problem.”

“Whether the targets are dissidents, corrupt officials or low-level criminals, the problem remains the same: The use of irregular methods — often combining carrots with sticks — against the targeted individual or their family members in China undermines any due process and the most basic rights of suspects,” Safeguard Defender further stated.

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China eyes ‘much faster timeline’ on usurping Taiwan.

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Beijing wants to seize Taiwan “on a much faster timeline” than previously considered, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, warning that President Xi Jinping was leading China in a more aggressive direction.

Xi is on the cusp of securing a third five-year term at the helm of the world’s most populous nation, delivering a landmark Communist Party Congress speech on Sunday that hailed his decade in power and restated his vow to one day “reunify,” or forcefully take Taiwan.

“We’ve seen a very different China emerge in recent years under Xi Jinping’s leadership,” Blinken told a forum at Stanford University with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“It is more repressive at home; it’s more aggressive abroad. And in many instances that poses a challenge to our own interests as well as to our own values,” he added.

Blinken accused Xi of “creating tremendous tension” by changing the approach toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China’s Communist Party has never controlled but claims as its own.

He said China had made a “fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” though he gave no hard estimate or date.

Senior U.S. military figures have previously sounded the alarm that China has expanded its military forces to the point where it could soon have the capability to pull off an invasion of Taiwan.

China’s stance has long been that it seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but reserves the right to use force if necessary, especially if the island ever formally declares independence.

But the rhetoric and actions towards Taiwan have become more pronounced under Xi, China’s most assertive leader in a generation.

He has tied taking Taiwan to his landmark “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and has previously said the goal of reunification cannot continue to be passed indefinitely from generation to generation.

In Sunday’s speech, he repeated similar themes, saying the “wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification” and that “we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”

Shared interests
Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, which China has not condemned, has also raised fears that Beijing might try something similar against Taiwan’s 23 million people.

Ties between Washington and Beijing have been at a decade-low ebb under both the administrations of Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden, over a range of issues from trade to security and human rights.

But Blinken said the world’s two largest economies should be willing to cooperate on shared interests.

He said the world “fundamentally expects” the two powers to work together on climate change, global health and possibly drug trafficking.

Beijing “just has to be responsive to demand signals that it’s getting from countries around the world to be a positive actor, not a negative actor, on issues that concern them.”

China cut cooperation with the United States on climate change and drug trafficking in August as part of its protest against a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which also saw Beijing launch its biggest military drills yet around the island.

Xi is widely expected to meet President Biden on the sidelines of a G-20 summit next month in Bali, their first meeting since the U.S. leader took office.

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Erdoğan meets with Chinese President in Samarkand.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday within the scope of bilateral meetings in Samarkand, where he came to attend the 22nd Summit of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The closed-door meeting of Erdogan and Xi Jinping at the Summer Palace of the President of Uzbekistan lasted for half an hour.

Erdoğan is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the summit. It is envisaged that the grain deal issue will be the main agenda item in President Erdoğan’s meeting with Putin.

After his visit to Uzbekistan, the president will fly to New York, U.S. to attend the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly, a statement from the presidency said Wednesday.

He will address the General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2022, and also meet with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres, as well as several heads of state.

The president is also expected to meet with representatives of Turkish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), business organizations, and Jewish organizations in the U.S.

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US announces $1.1 billion weapons package for Taiwan.

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The United States announced a new $1.1 billion weapons package to Taiwan on Friday, in a new bid to boost the island’s defenses as tensions run high with Beijing.

The arms, announced by the U.S. State Department, include $665 million for an early radar warning system to help Taiwan track incoming missiles.

The potential $1.1 billion sale of military equipment to Taiwan, including 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The package was announced in the wake of China’s aggressive military drills around Taiwan following a visit to the island last month by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Taipei in years.

The sale includes Sidewinder Missiles and related equipment at a cost of some $85.6 million, Harpoon Missiles and related equipment at an estimated $355 million cost and support for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program and related equipment for an estimated $665.4 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

The order reflects the continued support for Taiwan from President Joe Biden’s administration as Taipei faces pressure from China, which has never ruled out using force to bring the democratically ruled island under its control.

The U.S. State Department said the equipment is necessary for Taiwan to “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” The administration notified Congress of the sale after close of business on Friday.

The administration said the deals comply with the U.S. “One China” policy. It also urged Beijing ”to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.”

The acrimony and strident rhetoric between the U.S. and China over Taiwan have increased sharply since Pelosi visited the island last month. Since Pelosi’s trip to Taipei there have been at least two other congressional visits and several by governors of U.S. states, all of which China has condemned.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s military said it shot down a drone hovering over one of its island outposts just off the Chinese coast in an incident that underscored the heightened tensions. A day earlier, Taiwan said it had warned off drones hovering over three of the islands it occupies off the coast of the Chinese port city of Xiamen.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary. The sides split after a civil war in 1949 and have no official relations, with China cutting off even informal contacts following the election of independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016.

Tsai’s administration has pushed for a strengthening of anti-drone defenses as part of a 12.9% increase in its defense ministry’s annual budget next year. That would boost defense spending by an additional 47.5 billion new Taiwan dollars ($1.6 billion), for a total of 415.1 billion new Taiwan dollars.

The U.S. described Chinese drills last month as a severe overreaction and responded by sailing two guided missile cruisers through the Taiwan Strait, which China has declared to be its sovereign waters.

Taipei says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and has no right to claim it.

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Chinese military announces fresh military drills around Taiwan.

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China is continuing drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan, its military announced Monday, a day after the scheduled end of its largest ever exercises to protest against last week’s visit to the self-governed island by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations – confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week infuriated China, which regards the island as its own and responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington.

The duration and the precise location of the latest drills are unknown, but Taiwan has already eased flight restrictions near the six earlier Chinese exercise areas surrounding the island.

Shortly before the latest drills were announced, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, telling him she was moved by his determination to visit despite China’s military pressure. “Prime Minister Gonsalves has expressed in recent days that the Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan. These statements have deeply touched us,” Tsai said at a welcome ceremony for Gonsalves in Taipei.

It was unclear if Tsai had invited Gonsalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. “We don’t disclose internal planning or communications between governments,” the Taiwanese foreign ministry said when asked by Reuters.

Beyond the firing of 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the four earlier days of exercises, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones maneuvered extensively around the island.

Shortly before those drills ended on Sunday, about 10 warships each from China and Taiwan maneuvered at close quarters around the unofficial median line of the Taiwan Strait, according to a person familiar with the situation and involved with security planning.

Military talks shelved
Taiwan’s defense ministry said Chinese military ships, aircraft, and drones had simulated attacks on the island and its navy. It said it had sent aircraft and ships to react “appropriately.”

China’s defense ministry, meanwhile, maintained its diplomatic pressure on the United States, defending its shelving of military-to-military talks in protest at Pelosi’s visit.

“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is entirely provoked and created by the U.S. side on its own initiative, and the U.S. side must bear full responsibility and serious consequences for this,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said in an online post.

“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.

China called off formal talks involving theatre-level commands, defense policy coordination and military maritime consultations on Friday as Pelosi left the region.

Pentagon, State Department and White House officials condemned the move, describing it as an irresponsible over-reaction.

China’s cutting off some of its few communication links with the U.S. military raises the risk of an accidental escalation over Taiwan at a critical moment, according to security analysts and diplomats.

One U.S. official noted that Chinese officials had not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials amid the tensions last week, but that they did not see this as a formal severing of ties with senior figures, such as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Asked directly about those reports, Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu said, “China’s relevant counter-measures are a necessary warning to the provocations of the United States and Taiwan, and a legitimate defense of national sovereignty and security.”

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