Asian leaders began arriving yesterday for a summit in the Islamic sultanate of Brunei as strains start to show over support for the US bombing of Afghanistan. \nThe centerpiece of the ASEAN summit is a declaration of support for the war on terror and a commitment to coordinate ASEAN's anti-terrorist efforts. \nBut the group is divided over the US bombing of Afghanistan and a summit declaration ducks any reference to it. \n"Some ASEAN members are strongly aligned to the US and prefer to keep silent, while for instance Malaysia and Indonesia have already voiced their opposition to military action," a Malaysian official was quoted as saying by the Malaysian news agency Bernama. \nThe official said some countries were cautious about offending Washington. \nIndonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, and mostly Muslim Malaysia have already said the bombing of Afghanistan should stop and will seek backing within ASEAN. \n"We urge for a humanitarian pause. We have to be attentive to the problem of civilian sufferings," said Makarim Wibisono, head of foreign and economic relations at the Indonesian foreign ministry. \nASEAN begins its two-day annual summit today, along with the leaders of north Asian neighbors China, Japan and Korea, as civilian casualties in Afghanistan mount and with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan less than two weeks away. \nASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino said the organization's message was that it opposed terrorism in all its forms and was determined to take measures to combat it. \nBut the declaration would contain no reference to Afghanistan. \n"What is happening in Afghanistan is not part of the declaration because the declaration that the leaders may issue will be about ASEAN cooperation in combating [terrorism], especially in this area," Severino said. \nIndonesia's Wibisono said Afghanistan would be discussed on the sidelines as the continued US bombings could alienate moderate Muslim states and jeopardize the global coalition against terrorism. \n"The issue is being handled through the lobbies but not at the meeting proper," Wibisono said. "It will not be reflected in the final document. \n"This question of sensitivity to that issue is essential because it will [be needed to] guarantee the cohesiveness of an international coalition to combat terrorism." \nASEAN's broad commitment to Washington's campaign against terrorism echoes the pledge these same leaders made at the bigger Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Shanghai last month, but its focus will be how to counter cross-border militancy in the region. \nThe wording of the declaration is still being worked on, as some countries, such as Indonesia, want a binding convention ratified by national parliaments to cement coordination between the security and defense forces of the ten nations. \nIndonesia and the Philippines are fighting separatist movements and in the past three months Malaysia has locked up supporters of an opposition Muslim fundamentalist party on suspicion of belonging to an Afghan-inspired militant group. \nThe governments have raised the spectre of links between militant groups in the three countries. \n"Terrorism in Southeast Asia has a transnational dimension," Severino said. \n"In the summit, they will be looking at specific measures to deal with terrorism, perhaps the financial resources of terrorists, in terms of exchange of intelligence and border control," he said. \nThe summit will also address how to counter an economic slowdown and the long-term goal of linking the infant ASEAN Free Trade Area with the emerging power of the Chinese economy. It will also examine the fight against AIDS, which has already infected an estimated 1.6 million of the region's half a billion people.
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South