The tiny Philippine island on the frontline of the US-China battle for supremacy

Years ago, Fuga Island was set to host a Chinese ‘smart city’. Now it may become home to American troops as the US seeks to protect Taiwan and the region

The azure waters are inviting and its long stretches of clear white sand are spotless. But hardly anyone is swimming or sunbathing. Fuga Island is not a holiday destination.

The residents of the remote community of just over 2,000 on the northern tip of the Philippines are farmers and fishermen – growing palay and corn; raising native chicken, pigs and goats; and catching their bounty from the sea.

Continue reading...
‘Path of error and danger’: China angry and confused over Aukus deal

Deal is designed to counter perceived threat from Beijing but analysts in China say it could push region closer to conflict

When the UK, the US and Australia announced the details of their multibillion-dollar deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines on Monday, the reaction in China was both outrage and confusion.

The allies were “walking further and further down the path of error and danger”, said Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, on Tuesday. The Chinese mission to the UN accused the three countries of fuelling an arms race.

Continue reading...
China says Aukus submarines deal embarks on ‘path of error and danger’

Beijing accuses US, UK and Australia of disregarding global concerns with plan to build nuclear-powered vessels

China has accused the US, UK and Australia of embarking on a “path of error and danger” in response to the Aukus partners’ announcement of a deal on nuclear-powered submarines.

“The latest joint statement from the US, UK and Australia demonstrates that the three countries, for the sake of their own geopolitical interests, completely disregard the concerns of the international communities and are walking further and further down the path of error and danger,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a regular press briefing on Tuesday.

Continue reading...
From the US to Africa: how China sees the world as Xi’s third term begins

Geopolitical relations China’s president will have to navigate as country reopens after three years of isolation

As Xi Jinping starts his third term as China’s president, high on his agenda will be strengthening the country’s position on the world stage. After three years of isolation as Beijing tried to impose a harsh zero-Covid policy, China is reopening to the outside world.

But much has changed since China closed its borders in 2020. Its economy has been hobbled, its ally Russia has started a war in Europe and relations with the US are at an all-time low. Here are the geopolitical relationships that Xi will have to navigate as he attempts to assert Beijing’s vision.

Continue reading...
Biden budget includes billions for Pacific islands in bid to ‘out-compete’ China

Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau stand to benefit as White House warns of Beijing’s intent and ability to ‘reshape the international order’

Alarmed by China’s success in wooing Pacific island nations, the Biden administration is proposing to spend billions from its federal budget to keep three of those countries in the US orbit.

President Joe Biden’s spending plan, released on Thursday, includes more than $7.1bn in funding for the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. The money is included in the $63.1bn request for the state department and the US Agency for International Development.

Continue reading...
US expected to ease Covid testing for arrivals from China

Improving situation in China prompts decision, say news reports quoting Biden administration officials

The US is preparing to relax Covid-19 testing restrictions for travellers from China as soon as Friday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The people, who were not authorised to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration had decided to roll back the testing requirements as cases, hospitalisations and deaths were declining in China and the US had gathered better information about the surge. The Washington Post was first to report on Tuesday about the easing of requirements.

Continue reading...
Return of the wolf warriors? China’s fiery foreign minister Qin Gang

Profile: A career diplomat, the trusted ally of President Xi says China has to face the west’s ‘jackals and wolves’ head on

US-China relations are a “zero-sum game where you die and I live”. That was the summation of Qin Gang, China’s fiery new foreign minister, in his first media appearance since starting the role in December.

Qin was speaking at the sidelines of the “two sessions” political meetings in Beijing. But while the parliamentary gathering is primarily concerned with domestic affairs, Qin took the opportunity to lay out China’s strident position on the world stage.

Continue reading...
China warns of potential ‘conflict and confrontation’ with US – video

China's new foreign minister, Qin Gang, has warned that the US and China are heading towards inevitable conflict if Washington does not change its approach. In his first media appearance as foreign minister, Qin held a press conference to outline his foreign political agenda for the coming years, presenting China and its relationship with Russia as a beacon of strength and stability, and the US and its allies as a source of tension and conflict. He said the US's perception of China was 'seriously distorted', suggesting 'this leads to a complete deviation of healthy policy towards China'

Continue reading...
Biden hails ‘groundbreaking’ South Korean plan to compensate victims of Japan’s forced labour

Victims groups criticise compensation deal which aims to resolve a disagreement that has long frustrated ties between Seoul and Tokyo

South Korea said that its companies would compensate people forced to work under Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea, in a bid to improve poor relations that have impeded trade and cooperation between the two countries for generations.

The disagreements over labour and women forced into Japanese military brothels have bedevilled ties between the two pivotal US allies for years, but South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol has made a push to repair the relationship.

Continue reading...
Russia-Ukraine war live: Moscow cuts oil supply to Poland – as it happened

Comments from French president come after Joe Biden said it was ‘not rational’ for Beijing to be negotiating a peace deal

Ukraine has issued a postage stamp with a reproduction of a Banksy mural, of a boy defeating a grown man in judo, to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

It was painted by the British street artist on a demolished wall in the town of Borodianka, north-west of Kyiv, where many buildings were reduced to rubble by Russian aircraft at the start of the invasion.

Continue reading...
Western leaders give cool response to China’s plan for Ukraine peace talks

Nato secretary general says Beijing ‘does not have much credibility’ because of failure to condemn Russia’s invasion

Western leaders have largely dismissed a peace plan for Ukraine laid out by China’s government, arguing that Beijing does not have the international credibility to act as a mediator in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

China’s government called for peace talks while urging all parties to avoid nuclear escalation and end attacks on civilians, in a statement which appeared to maintain Beijing’s stance that the west was fuelling the conflict and which analysts dismissed as anodyne.

Continue reading...
Pentagon releases selfie of US pilot flying above Chinese spy balloon

Picture was taken from the jet as the balloon entered US airspace earlier this month, before it was shot down over the Atlantic

The Pentagon has released a selfie photograph snapped by the pilot of a U2 spy plane that was hurtling through the skies above the Chinese spy balloon as the US military pursued and shot it down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month.

The image clearly shows the mysterious, silvery-white sphere of the balloon with panels dangling below it and, whether intended artistically or not, a striking sight of the shadow of the US aircraft cast against the balloon.

Continue reading...
Biden promises Kyiv extra military aid as EU discusses ammunition

US president pledges $500m in help for Ukraine while west prepares next phase of sanctions against Russia

Joe Biden has promised further military aid for Ukraine worth $500m (£415m) during his surprise visit to Kyiv, as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss ways to accelerate the provision of ammunition to the country.

The US president also said additional sanctions would be announced this week against the Russia’s elite and companies trying to evade existing sanctions in order to “back the Russian war machine”.

Continue reading...
China may be on brink of supplying arms to Russia, says Blinken

US secretary of state meets with top Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, and warns of ‘serious problem for us’ if Beijing supplies weaponry to Vladimir Putin

The US has said it believes China may be about to provide lethal aid to help Russia in the war in Ukraine, prompting a direct warning against doing so from the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to China’s top diplomat.

Blinken made the warning to the Chinese state councillor Wang Yi on Saturday evening at a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich security conference during which he also rebuked China over the use of an alleged spy balloon over US soil.

Continue reading...
Chinese peace plan for Ukraine greeted cautiously by the west

China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi speaks of need to uphold principle of territorial integrity but also of respecting Russia’s ‘legitimate security interests’

Western leaders have reacted nervously to a Chinese peace plan for Ukraine due to be revealed this week, but cautiously welcomed the move as a first sign that China recognises the war cannot be regarded solely as a European affair.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi, one of the few external politicians able to influence Russia, announced that China would launch its peace initiative on the anniversary of the war, and has already been consulting Germany, Italy and France on its proposals. He said the peace plan would underscore the need to uphold the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the UN Charter. But at the same time he said the legitimate security interests of Russia needed to be respected.

Continue reading...