China says it has ‘no intention’ of violating US airspace amid spy balloon row – video

China has called for calm amid a growing diplomatic row with the US over suspected spy balloons, adding that Beijing was 'verifying' the reports. It comes after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, indefinitely postponed a planned visit to Beijing after a large balloon was spotted in US airspace. 'China is a responsible country that has always strictly abided by international laws, and it has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country,' the foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

Continue reading...
China calls for calm amid growing row with US over suspected spy balloons

Beijing says it will ‘not accept any groundless conjecture’ after balloons spotted over US and Latin America

China has called for calm amid a growing diplomatic row with the US over suspected spy balloons.

It comes after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, indefinitely postponed a planned visit to Beijing after a large balloon was spotted in US airspace.

Continue reading...
Spy balloons: what are they and why are they still being used?

The idea emerged during the American civil war, so what is their appeal now, in the age of the satellite?

On Thursday, the Pentagon said it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying across the US. They may not hold the same intrigue as a buttonhole camera or arsenic hidden in a tooth, but spy balloons have been used for centuries – and, experts say, their use is likely to increase in future.

Continue reading...
US general’s ‘gut’ feeling of war with China sparks alarm over predictions

Leaked memo forecasting Taiwan strait conflict in 2025 triggers debate about ‘undisciplined’ comments

A leaked memo from a US four-star general saying his “gut” told him the US would be at war with China in 2025 has prompted warnings about the danger of “undisciplined” predictions of a Taiwan strait conflict.

The memo, by the head of the US Air Mobility Command (AMC), Gen Mike Minihan, was the latest prediction of a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan, which have ranged from 2022 to 2049. It has triggered a debate about US readiness, accusations of warmongering, and concerns about desensitising people to the real risk of invasion.

Continue reading...
US opens embassy in Solomon Islands after 30-year absence to counter China

Move comes amid concerns about Beijing’s military ambitions in Indo-Pacific region after it struck a security pact with Solomons last year

The United States has opened an embassy in Solomon Islands after a 30-year absence as it seeks to boost diplomatic relations in the Pacific as a counter to China.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, announced the news late on Wednesday, saying that “more than any other part of the world, the Indo-Pacific region – including the Pacific Islands – will shape the world’s trajectory in the 21st century”.

Continue reading...
Revealed: how world’s biggest fossil fuel firms ‘profited in Myanmar after coup’

Leaked tax records suggest subsidiaries of international gas field contractors continued to make millions after the coup

In the two years since a murderous junta launched a coup in Myanmar, some of the world’s biggest oil and gas service companies continued to make millions of dollars from operations that have helped prop up the military regime, tax documents seen by the Guardian suggest.

The Myanmar military seized power in February 2021 and according to the United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar, it is “committing war crimes and crimes against humanity daily”. More than 2,940 people, including children, pro-democracy activists and other civilians have been killed, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

US oil services giant Halliburton’s Singapore-based subsidiary Myanmar Energy Services reported pre-tax profits of $6.3m in Myanmar in the year to September 2021, which includes eight months while the junta was in power.

Houston-headquartered oil services company Baker Hughes branch in Yangon reported pre-tax profits of $2.64m in the country in the six months to March 2022.

US firm Diamond Offshore Drilling reported $37m in fees to the Myanmar tax authority during the year to September 2021 and another $24.2m from then until March 2022.

Schlumberger Logelco (Yangon Branch), the Panama-based subsidiary of the US-listed world’s largest offshore drilling company, earned revenues of $51.7m in the year to September 2021 in Myanmar and as late as September 2022 was owed $200,000 in service fees from the junta’s energy ministry.

Continue reading...
China attacks ‘unscrupulous’ US after reports of further crackdown on Huawei

Beijing reacts angrily to reports that Washington has moved to restrict American exports to hi-tech company

China has reacted angrily to reports that the United States has stopped approving licences for American companies to export most items to China’s hi-tech company Huawei, accusing the US of deliberately targeting Chinese companies under the pretext of national security.

US officials are creating a new formal policy of denial for shipping items to Huawei that would include items below the 5G level, including 4G items, wifi 6 and 7, artificial intelligence, and high-performance computing and cloud items, according to a Reuters report that quoted unnamed sources.

Continue reading...
Ex-Russian president suggests Japanese PM should ritually disembowel himself

Dmitry Medvedev accuses Fumio Kishida of shameful subservience to US after Joe Biden meeting

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has accused Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida of shameful subservience to the US and suggested he should ritually disembowel himself.

His remarks on Saturday were the latest in a long line of shocking and provocative statements from Medvedev, who was once seen as a western-leaning reformer but has reinvented himself as an arch-hawk since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Continue reading...
Japan’s PM vows to modernise military for new era of threats

Fumio Kishida outlines step change in US-Japan security alliance after White House meeting with Joe Biden

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has pledged to modernise his country’s military alongside US president Joe Biden, warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had opened a dangerous new era and could embolden China.

Welcoming Kishida at the White House, Biden hailed the Japanese government’s announcement last month that it will double defence spending over the next five years and develop new capabilities.

Continue reading...
Nobel panel knew Kissinger Vietnam deal unlikely to bring peace, files show

Accords negotiated by Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1973 sealed US exit from war but were soon flouted by North and South Vietnam

The 1973 Nobel peace prize to top US diplomat Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, among the most disputed in the award’s history, was given in the full knowledge the Vietnam war was unlikely to end any time soon, newly released papers show.

Nominations to the Peace prize remain secret for 50 years. On 1 January, documents about the prize awarded to Kissinger and Hanoi’s chief negotiator Tho were made available on request.

Continue reading...
China’s ‘wolf warrior’ foreign affairs spokesperson moved to new role

Zhao Lijian's shift to low-profile department seen by some as a sign of Beijing softening its diplomatic strategy

The face of China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy, Zhao Lijian, has been moved from his role as foreign affairs spokesperson to a low-profile department, in what some analysts say is a demotion.

Zhao is the most well-known of the ministry of foreign affairs’ public-facing spokespeople, making a name for himself during his three years fronting the foreign press, with strong criticism and hostility towards the west and combative defence of China’s policies.

Continue reading...
Chinese navy jet flies within 10ft of US air force plane over South China Sea

US aircraft forced to take evasive maneuvers during latest incident over contested shipping, fishing and gas field-rich region

A Chinese military plane came within 10ft (three meters) of a US air force aircraft over the contested South China Sea last week and forced it to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace, the US military said.

The close encounter followed what the US called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.

Continue reading...
China Covid: experts estimate 9,000 deaths a day as US says it may sample wastewater from planes

Infectious disease experts believe strategy more effective in slowing virus spread than new travel restrictions, as health data firm says thousands are likely dying daily in China

The United States is considering sampling wastewater taken from international aircraft to track any emerging new Covid-19 variants as infections surge in China, as UK-based health experts estimate about 9,000 people a days are now dying of the disease in China.

The proposed of testing wastewater by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide a better solution to tracking the virus and slowing its entry into the US than new travel restrictions announced this week, three infectious disease experts said.

Continue reading...
US to require arrivals from China to provide negative Covid test

Other countries including Italy have taken similar steps after Beijing’s rollback of ‘zero-Covid’ policies led to surge in cases

The US has announced all travellers from China must provide a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections.

The increase in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation’s strict anti-virus controls. Beijing’s “zero Covid” policies had kept the country’s infection rate low but fuelled public frustration and crushed economic growth.

Continue reading...
Nepal to release ‘The Serpent’ serial killer Charles Sobhraj

Nepalese supreme court orders release on account of old age of man jailed for murders of two tourists

The Nepalese supreme court has ordered the release of the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, known as “the Serpent”, who preyed on western tourists travelling on the hippy trail in south Asia in the 1970s and was jailed for life for the murder of an American woman.

Sobhraj, who has French citizenship and is of Indian and Vietnamese descent, has been linked to the killings of 20 foreign tourists across Thailand, Nepal and India. He is said to have lured them in before drugging, robbing and murdering them.

Continue reading...