Taiwan says 68 Chinese warplanes, 10 vessels detected near island

Taiwan’s defense ministry said 68 Chinese aircraft and 10 naval vessels were detected near the island over two days. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 September 2023

Taiwan says 68 Chinese warplanes, 10 vessels detected near island

  • Taiwan says some of the planes and warships heading to unspecified area of the Western Pacific

TAIPEI: Dozens of Chinese warplanes and 10 navy ships were detected around Taiwan, Taipei authorities said on Thursday after warning that Beijing was conducting air and sea drills in the Western Pacific.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and relations have soured since Taiwan’s independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, with Beijing ratcheting up military and political pressure on the island.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement that 68 Chinese aircraft and 10 naval vessels were detected near the island between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning.
Taipei had already said some of those planes and warships were heading to an unspecified area of the Western Pacific to “conduct joint sea and air training” with China’s Shandong aircraft carrier.
The Shandong, one of two operational aircraft carriers in the Chinese fleet, was detected Monday around 60 nautical miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Taiwan heading into the Western Pacific, Taipei authorities said.
Japan’s defense ministry also said Wednesday its navy had detected six ships — including frigates, destroyers, one fast combat support ship and the Shandong — sailing through waters some 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of Miyakojima island, east of Taiwan.
It also confirmed that jets and helicopters had been detected taking off and landing from the Shandong.
Taipei warned this week that China was stepping up “grey zone” activities around the island, accusing Beijing of seeking to raise regional tensions and pressure the territory while avoiding all-out conflict.
China’s military “has been tasked to develop capabilities to take over Taiwan,” one expert said.
“Those military exercises are aimed at developing and practicing those capabilities,” Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at Washington DC’s German Marshall Fund.
“We should expect its trend to continue, with growing pressure on Taiwan.”
China has not commented officially on any drills being conducted in the Western Pacific.
However, its Eastern Theatre Command, which organizes drills around Taiwan, said Wednesday an “aviation unit” had carried out training “recently” in a range of “thousands of kilometers.”
It did not mention Taiwan.
China said last week its troops were “on constant high alert” after two ships belonging to the United States and Canada sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
The US Navy said the ships were the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson and HMCS Ottawa, and that the transit “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” another term for the Asia-Pacific region.
The United States and Western allies have increased “freedom of navigation” crossings of both the Taiwan Strait and the disputed South China Sea to reinforce that both are international waterways, angering Beijing.
China conducted military exercises in April to simulate the encirclement of Taiwan after Tsai met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

India to launch green credit initiative with UAE at COP28

Updated 8 sec ago

India to launch green credit initiative with UAE at COP28

  • PM Modi to participate in World Climate Action Summit and three side events
  • Green credit initiative is based on a program of India’s Ministry of Environment

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra will launch the Green Credit Initiative with the UAE during the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, the Indian government said, as the summit began on Thursday.

World political and business leaders from nearly 200 countries are arriving in Dubai this week for the UN’s annual meeting, which aims to address some of the most pressing issues related to global warming and climate crisis.

Modi will deliver a speech at the opening session of the World Climate Action Summit and will participate in three high-level side events, two of which are being co-hosted by India.

“The first high-level event which is being co-hosted by India and the UAE is the launch of the green credit initiative ... The second side event, co-hosted by India and Sweden, is the launch of Lead IT 2.0,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters in Delhi.

The green credit initiative is based on the Green Credit Program, which was notified by the Indian Ministry of Environment in October. It is a market-based mechanism to incentivize voluntary environmental actions by various stakeholders such as individuals, communities, private-sector industries, and companies.

The LeadIT 2.0. is “essentially a leadership group for energy transition,” Kwatra said.

“This was a joint initiative launched by India and Sweden in 2019 at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York ... This initiative fosters collaboration among the decision-makers, bringing together both the public sector and the private sector with the objective of accelerating the industry transition to net zero emissions.”

The Indian prime minister is also scheduled to participate in another high-level event, “Transforming Climate Finance,” which will be hosted by the COP28 presidency, the UAE.

During the two-day visit, Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with many of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, as India — the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and a country experiencing the brunt of global warming — seeks to play a leadership role in shaping the international agenda on climate change.

“India’s approach to climate action is deeply rooted in our civilization ethos and is reflected foremost in our contributions and our ambitious and effective national policies, especially those which are aimed at economic development, energy, health and nutrition,” Kwarta said.

“We have also been pioneering and in the forefront, and taking global initiatives in fighting climate change and its impacts.”

Asian publishers join campaign to counter Western narrative on Palestine

Updated 22 min 23 sec ago

Asian publishers join campaign to counter Western narrative on Palestine

  • #ReadPalestine campaign makes available works by Palestinian authors 
  • Publishers say literary community ‘cannot remain neutral’ over plight of the Palestinians

JAKARTA: Asian publishers want to counter the Western media narrative as they take part in a global initiative launched this week to encourage people to read Palestinian authors and history. 

#ReadPalestine started on Wednesday and runs through to Dec. 5. 

It was created by Publishers for Palestine, a global solidarity collective comprising more than 350 publishers who have called for an end to all violence against Palestinian people and for Tel Aviv and its allies to be held accountable for war crimes in the wake of the deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza that started last month. 

The collective, which includes more than 70 Asian publishers, has made available for free download more than 30 works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. 

“The initiative aims to be an amplifier for the Palestinian cause within the literary community, particularly in the West,” Iskandar Kamel of Malaysia’s Kawah Buku told Arab News.

“The way they have muted themselves and chosen to align with genociders, adopting an apolitical stance and neutrality in the face of atrocities, is entirely unacceptable. This is especially noteworthy considering that, all the while, they have preached about human rights and liberal principles to the Global South.”

Kamel cited as an example the biggest annual book fair in Frankfurt, which last month called off an awards ceremony to celebrate Palestinian writer Adania Shibli. 

“Publishers, bookstores, authors and the entire literary community cannot remain neutral; choosing to be apolitical is not an option. It is our responsibility to play our part,” he said. 

Ronny Agustinus, chief editor of the Indonesian publishing company Marjin Kiri, is a member of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, which wrote a letter condemning the cancelation of the Frankfurt event. 

“Because there are so many misunderstandings about Palestine from various parties, it becomes important to share studies and reading materials as thoroughly and as much as possible about Palestine so that we can get the whole picture,” he said. 

“Literature can paint the reality of Palestinian lives poignantly and evocatively.” 

The #ReadPalestine free ebook list includes “Wild Thorns,” a novel by Sahar Khalifeh about life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear” by Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet whose abduction by Israeli forces made global headlines earlier this month. He was later released following an international outcry.   

“Writers and publishers bear histories and narratives; and with them, truth. Western media is so powerful and it has skewed the thinking of many people, including writers. We can fight against that through our books and writings,” said Faye Cura of Philippines-based Gantala Press. 

When it comes to Palestinian literature, women writers are Cura’s favorite. 

“Many people have biased views against Muslim women, thinking they are ‘conservative,’ ‘passive,’ ‘silent,’ etc. The women writers definitely resist all that and paint a stronger, more powerful image of the Palestinian woman,” she said. 

She hopes that #ReadPalestine will forge strong relations among writers, translators, artists and publishers across the world so that the “conversation and resistance continue until liberation.”

Malaysian publisher The Patriots said speaking about the Palestinian plight was also a responsibility of the literary community. 

“We are collectively disappointed with this ongoing cancel culture against the Palestinian literature. It is against free speech to do so,” The Patriots said in a statement to Arab News. 

“We hope this initiative could at the very least break this hostile attempt. The Palestinians could not, should not and must not be stifled.”  

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

Updated 30 November 2023

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

  • In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals
  • It said action required “on all fronts” to keep global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C beyond which irreversible climate impacts will occur

DUBAI: Countries will for the first time assess how far off track they are to curb global warming at this year’s COP28 climate change summit, a process known as the “global stocktake.” 

Governments will look at progress so far as well as what action is still needed to get the world on track. The aim is to yield a plan by the end of the two-week UN conference in Dubai. 

The assessment could become politically divisive as it sets the stage for the next few years of global action in cutting planet-warming emissions. 


Each country sets its own targets and policies for meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement’s overall goal of holding global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of preindustrial times, and aiming for just 1.5 C of warming. 

Under the 2015 pact, countries must gauge their progress as of this year, and then every five years afterwards. Based on the results, countries may be pressed to set more ambitious climate policies or to contribute more financing to help developing countries adopt clean energy. 

This year’s stocktake could also offer important guidance as countries prepare to update their emissions-cutting targets again by 2025. For example, the stocktake could advise that CO2-cutting targets should cover a country’s entire economy, not just certain sectors. 


In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals. It said action was required “on all fronts” to keep the global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C — the threshold beyond which scientists say more severe and irreversible climate impacts will occur. 

Despite a huge increase in the number of countries setting CO2-cutting targets since the Paris Agreement, current emissions plans still put the world on track to warm by at least 2.5 C, the UN estimates. 

Many countries also have yet to set strong enough short-term policies to steer their economies toward emissions targets for 2030 and 2050. 

The global average temperature has already warmed by 1.2 C since pre-industrial times, which is causing widespread drought along with more frequent deadly heat waves, wildfires and storms around the world. 


Before the stocktake has even started, countries are squabbling over the scope of future plans — including whether they should commit to phase out fossil fuel use, end investments in new coal power plants or triple renewable energy capacity within this decade. 

COP28 delegates will also need to decide if the stocktake should recommended action for specific sectors, such as the energy or manufacturing sectors. 

The UN’s report in September urged countries to cut CO2-emitting coal power by 67 percent to 82 percent from 2019 levels by 2030. 

The report also called for more finance to help poorer countries adopt clean energy, and noted that billions of dollars were still being invested in fossil fuels every year. 

The European Union wants the stocktake to produce “concrete policy signals” for countries to follow. 

Some developing countries have suggested the stocktake should focus on pressuring wealthy nations to do more, since they have contributed the most emissions to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, diplomats said. 

“This is where we take stock and see where we are — where are the gaps between the targets and our ambitions, and the actual action. What then needs to be decided... what do we then do from here,” Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s Global Climate Policy Minister, told Reuters. 

COP28 summit opens in Dubai with hopes for early deal on climate damage fund 

Updated 30 November 2023

COP28 summit opens in Dubai with hopes for early deal on climate damage fund 

  • Governments are preparing for marathon negotiations on whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out world’s use of CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas
  • UAE COP28 presidency published proposal on eve of summit for countries to formally adopt outlines of new fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries

DUBAI: As global leaders gather in Dubai for the world’s UN climate conference, delegates hope to clinch an early victory on a disaster fund on Thursday before the summit turns its focus to fossil fuels and other divisive topics. 

Governments are preparing for marathon negotiations on whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out the world’s use of CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas, the main source of warming emissions. 

With finance also high on the meeting agenda, the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency published a proposal on the eve of the summit for countries to formally adopt the outlines of a new UN fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries being hit by climate disasters like extreme flooding or persistent drought. 

An early breakthrough on the damage fund — which poorer nations have demanded for years — could help grease the wheels for other compromises to be made during the two-week summit. 

Some diplomats said they hoped the draft deal would be approved quickly, with one delegate describing the possibility of objections at this point as “opening Pandora’s box.” The deal was crafted over many months of tough negotiations involving wealthy and developing countries. 

Establishing the fund allows rich countries to begin pledging money for it, and nations including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are expected to announce contributions over the next few days, European diplomats told Reuters. 

The European Union has pledged a “substantial” contribution, but wants countries whose economies have boomed in recent decades, like China and the UAE, to follow suit. 

“Everyone with the ability to pay should contribute,” said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, who said he wanted to “broaden the donor base beyond the usual suspects, simply because that reflects the reality of 2023.” 

Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28 summit, told Reuters this month the aim was to secure several hundred million US dollars for the climate disaster fund during the event. He said he was “hopeful” that the UAE would make a contribution. 

“We cannot rest until this fund is adequately financed and starts to actually alleviate the burden of vulnerable communities,” said Samoa’s Ambassador to Europe, Pa’olelei Luteru, who is also the chairman of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiating bloc. 

Countries are split between European nations and climate-vulnerable states demanding an agreement to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, and oil and gas producers seeking to preserve a role for traditional energy sources. 

Many developing countries are also reluctant to quit fossil fuels, which they say are necessary to grow their economies. 

Another major task at this year’s summit will be for countries to assess their progress in meeting global climate goals — chiefly the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). 

This process, known as the global stocktake, should yield a high-level plan telling countries what they need to do. 

Indian official was behind plot to assassinate Sikh American in US — DOJ

Updated 30 November 2023

Indian official was behind plot to assassinate Sikh American in US — DOJ

  • Says Nikhil Gupta worked with Indian government employee on plot to assassinate US citizen who advocated for Sikh sovereign state in India
  • Prosecutors did not name Indian official or the target, although they did describe the latter as a US citizen of Indian origin

NEW YORK: An Indian government official directed an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist, who is also a US citizen, on US soil, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, in announcing charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Nikhil Gupta, 52, worked with the Indian government employee, whose responsibilities included security and intelligence, on the plot to assassinate the New York City resident who advocated for a Sikh sovereign state in northern India.

Prosecutors did not name the Indian official or the target, although they did describe the latter as a US citizen of Indian origin. US officials have named him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition. He could not be reached for comment.

“The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a US citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs,” Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a statement.

The Indian official is described in the related indictment as a “Senior Field Officer” with responsibilities in “Security Management” and “Intelligence” employed by the Indian government who “directed the plot from India.”

The charges come after a senior Biden administration official last week said US authorities had thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the United States and issued a warning to India over concerns the government in New Delhi was involved.

Biden instructed CIA director Bill Burns to contact his Indian counterpart, then travel to India to deliver a message that “we will not tolerate such activities and that we expect those responsible to be held fully accountable,” a senior US official said Wednesday.

Biden also raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit, where he “emphasized the seriousness of this issue and the potential repercussions for our bilateral relationship were similar threats to persist,” the official said. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Blinken also discussed the issue with India’s foreign minister.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines also traveled to India to aid the government in an internal investigation, the official said.


The issue is highly delicate for both India and the Biden administration as they try to build closer ties in the face of an ascendant China perceived as a threat for both democracies.

India’s Washington embassy and its foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but earlier on Wednesday India’s foreign ministry said New Delhi would formally investigate the concerns aired by the United States.

“India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on our national security interests as well,” the ministry said, vowing to “take necessary follow-up action” on the findings of the panel set up on Nov. 18.

Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said that after the defendant “credibly indicated” he was directed by an Indian government official, “we took this information very seriously and engaged in direct conversations with the Indian government at the highest levels to express our concern.”

“The government of India was clear with us that they were taking this seriously and would investigate,” she said, adding: “We will continue to expect accountability from the government of India based on the results of their investigations.”

The US started voicing its concerns and related details to Modi’s government as early as April, an Indian official who is aware of the matter, but not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters.

The official said the issue was also discussed on Nov. 10, when Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met their counterparts in the Indian capital for the so-called 2+2 dialogue.

News of the incident comes two months after Canada said there were “credible” allegations linking Indian agents to the June murder of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in a Vancouver suburb, something India has rejected.


According to US prosecutors, the Indian official recruited Gupta in May 2023 to orchestrate the assassination. Gupta had previously told the official he had been involved with trafficking drugs and weapons, prosecutors said.

Gupta then reached out to someone he believed was a criminal associate for help hiring a hitman, but that associate was actually a Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent, prosecutors said.

The day after Nijjar was killed, Gupta wrote to the undercover DEA agent saying Nijjar “was also the target” and “we have so many targets,” prosecutors said.

Gupta faces two counts of murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire conspiracy. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted.

The Indian government has complained about the presence of Sikh separatist groups outside India, including in Canada and the United States. The groups have kept alive the movement for Khalistan, or the demand for an independent Sikh state to be carved out of India.

The movement is considered a security threat by India, although the cause hardly has any support inside the country presently having been crushed in the 1990s.

Sikh militants were blamed for the 1985 bombing of an Air India Boeing 747 flying from Canada to India in which all 329 people on board were killed.