US makes Pacific Islands pledge in bid to counter China

The US has struck a partnership agreement with Pacific island nations amid concern in Washington over growing Chinese influence. It also announced $810m (£725m) in financial support and said it would recognise Niue and Cook Islands as sovereign states. Fourteen nations signed the deal including the Solomon Islands, after reports said its leader would not sign. The region has strategic importance as the gateway to Asia from the Pacific. Its location and its need for assistance, particularly to help it deal with the impact of climate change, has triggered a battle for influence – with China keen on playing a … Continue reading US makes Pacific Islands pledge in bid to counter China

Morocco express anger over Algerian football jersey design

Morocco’s culture ministry has accused Adidas of appropriating Moroccan culture in its new jerseys for Algeria’s football team. Adidas said the design was inspired by the Mechouar Palace in Algeria. However the geometric blue, teal and yellow design is a pattern called zellige, which is common in Moroccan mosaics, the ministry’s lawyer said. The neighbouring nations have a long history of tensions, as they continue to dispute Western Sahara. Lawyer Mourad Elajouti wrote on Facebook that he had issued a legal warning to Adidas, on behalf of Morocco’s Ministry of Culture. In a letter to the company’s chief executive Kasper Rorsted, Mr … Continue reading Morocco express anger over Algerian football jersey design

Kamala Harris arrives in S Korea day after North fires missiles

US vice president Kamala Harris arrived in South Korea a day after the North fired two short range ballistic missiles off its east coast. The launch, which breaches UN sanctions, comes as the US and South Korea hold joint naval drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula. South Korea and Japan officials have condemned the “provocations”. It’s the second launch this week and part of a record year of tests by Pyongyang. And the timing is crucial – during her visit to South Korea, Ms Harris will travel to the border and the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which … Continue reading Kamala Harris arrives in S Korea day after North fires missiles

Biden again says US would defend Taiwan if China attacks

US President Joe Biden has again said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China. Asked in a CBS interview if US troops would defend the island, Mr Biden said: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack”. The remarks prompted the White House to clarify that US policy had not changed. Washington has long maintained a stance of “strategic ambiguity” – it does not commit to defending Taiwan, but also does not rule out the option. Taiwan is a self-ruled island off the coast of eastern China that Beijing claims as part of … Continue reading Biden again says US would defend Taiwan if China attacks

Russia covertly spent $300m to meddle abroad

Russia has covertly spent more than $300m (£260m) since 2014 to influence politicians in more than 24 countries, the US has alleged. The Department of State’s allegation is based on a declassified US intelligence assessment released on Tuesday. A senior official from President Joe Biden’s administration said: “We think this is just the tip of the iceberg.” Russia has not publicly commented on the issue. Moscow itself has repeatedly accused the US of meddling abroad. American intelligence “assesses that these are minimum figures and that Russia likely has transferred additional funds covertly in cases that have gone undetected”, said the … Continue reading Russia covertly spent $300m to meddle abroad

Solomon Islands PM accuses Australia of interference

The Solomon Islands’ prime minister has accused Australia of interference over its offer to help fund an election he controversially wants to delay. Manasseh Sogavare is seeking to defer the vote – due in mid-2023 by seven months, a move critics say represents a turn towards authoritarianism. Australia says there is nothing unusual about its offer of assistance. Relations between the two countries have soured recently as Mr Sogavare’s government grows closer with China. Australia regularly offers financial and logistical support to Pacific countries for elections, including in previous polls in the Solomon Islands. But Mr Sogavare says it is … Continue reading Solomon Islands PM accuses Australia of interference

Solomon Islands halts naval visits after US, UK ships denied entry

The Solomon Islands has temporarily halted all naval visits after failing to grant access to US and UK ships earlier this month. Honiara said the vessels had not sought access in time, and this prompted a review of arrival procedure. But the move marks a departure from routine and has raised concerns about China’s influence. Honiara signed a security pact with Beijing in April, sparking alarm among US allies and other Pacific islands. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare issued a statement clarifying “misinformation” in media reports on the US and UK boats. He said both ships – the US Coast … Continue reading Solomon Islands halts naval visits after US, UK ships denied entry

Two US warships sail through Taiwan strait

Two US warships are passing through the Taiwan Strait, the US Navy has announced. It is the first such operation to take place since tensions between Taiwan and China increased following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this month. The US and other Western navies have routinely sailed through the strait in recent years. China reacted to Ms Pelosi’s visit by holding military drills in the area. On Sunday, Taiwan’s defence ministry says it detected 23 Chinese aircraft and eight Chinese ships operating around Taiwan. Among the detected aircraft, seven crossed the median line of the … Continue reading Two US warships sail through Taiwan strait

China could make show of force if Pelosi visits Taiwan – US

The White House has warned China may respond to Nancy Pelosi’s mooted visit to Taiwan with military provocations. This could include firing missiles near Taiwan, or large-scale air or naval activities, spokesman John Kirby said. Mrs Pelosi, the US House of Representatives Speaker, touched down in Malaysia on Tuesday on her tour of Asia. Taiwanese and US media says she plans to visit Taipei on Tuesday night, but there’s been no official confirmation. However responding to reporter questions on Tuesday, Taiwan’s premier Su Tseng-chang said the island “warmly welcomes” any foreign guests. He added Taiwan “would make the most appropriate … Continue reading China could make show of force if Pelosi visits Taiwan – US

Xi and Biden exchange warnings on Taiwan

The US and Chinese leaders have warned each other over Taiwan during a phone call that lasted more than two hours. President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the US strongly opposed any unilateral moves to change the island’s status. But he added that US policy on Taiwan had not changed. Beijing said Mr Xi had told Mr Biden to abide by the one-China principle, warning him that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”. Tensions over the issue have increased ahead of a rumoured plan for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan. The … Continue reading Xi and Biden exchange warnings on Taiwan

World was safer during Cold War – security adviser

The West risks entering a nuclear war because it is not talking enough to Russia and China, the UK’s national security adviser has said. Sir Stephen Lovegrove said rival powers understood each other better during the Cold War, and that a lack of dialogue today made miscalculations more likely. “In the obligatory Churchill quotation, we want jaw-jaw, not war-war,” he said. He added that we were in a “new age of proliferation” in which dangerous weapons were more widely available. It comes ahead of a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first call … Continue reading World was safer during Cold War – security adviser

US to ramp up military presence across Europe

The US will increase its military presence across Europe as Nato agreed a “fundamental shift” in its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A permanent army headquarters will be created in Poland, while new US warships will go to Spain, fighter jets to the UK and ground troops to Romania. Mr Biden said Nato was “needed now more than it has ever been”. The alliance is having its biggest overhaul since the Cold War, Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said. The new plan in response to Russia’s invasion will mean more than 300,000 troops at high readiness next year, up from … Continue reading US to ramp up military presence across Europe