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US warns China over ‘aggressive’ moves on Philippines, Taiwan

US State Department raises concerns over presence of Chinese vessels near Philippines and entry of Beijing’s jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

The United States has warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners, as the two rival powers step up their naval activities in the South China Sea.

Photo: Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Southwestern Pacific near Taiwan.

“An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday.

“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Price said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

More than 200 Chinese boats were first spotted on March 7 at Whitsun Reef, about 320 kilometres (200 miles) west of Palawan Island and within the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Since the first reported sighting, the vessels have scattered across a wider area of the South China Sea within Manila’s EEZ as defined by the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

Read more: Al Jazeera

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Taiwan deploys 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to South China Sea islands

The Kestrel anti-armor rocket is a shoulder-launched weapon


Photo: Kestrel anti-armor rocket. Credit National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has deployed a total of 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to its Dongsha and Taiping islands in the South China Sea in response to China’s military ambitions to invade and occupy them.

Since 2000, Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration has taken over the defense of the two islands. Currently, over 200 Coast Guard personnel trained by the Marine Corps are stationed at either island, Liberty Times reported.

However, as tensions in the South China Sea have risen, not only has Taiwan deployed Marines to Dongsha Island, but it has also sought to increase firepower.

According to an Ocean Affairs Council document, the Coast Guard has deployed 168 and 124 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to command posts on Dongsha and Taiping islands, respectively. The anti-armor rockets, deployed for defense purposes, can be used in anti-landing operations, the document said.

The Kestrel anti-armor rocket, developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), is an individual shoulder-launched weapon for anti-armor and concrete penetration.

Read more: Taiwan News

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Moroccan provinces and prefectures debate reform of their legal framework

Rabat, March 19.– On 15 March 2021, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Prefectural and Provincial Councils (AMPCPP) co-organised a national meeting on the “reform of the legislative framework related to competences of prefectures and provinces and their implementation”.

Held as part of the Congress project under the Council of Europe Neighbourhood Partnership 2018-2021 with Morocco, this hybrid event brought together Presidents of Prefectural and Provincial Councils, representatives of the Moroccan government, and Congress Vice-President Xavier Cadoret (France, SOC/G/PD).

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Kim Jong-un IGNORES Biden's proposals

March 17 (– On 7 July 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met in Tokyo where they reaffirmed their unity in urging North Korea to denuclearize as promised. The ministers stressed the need to call on North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization and to keep existing U.N. economic sanctions in place. President Trump repeatedly warned that the military option remained on the table if North Koreans persisted in developing nuclear weapons. North Korea had since suspended all its nuclear tests. 

However, Kim Jong-un ignores Biden as North Korea snubs ‘multiple diplomatic attempts’ and restarts its development. North Korea has unveiled two new weapons over the last few months, a new submarine launched missile and the nation's biggest ever ICBM, the Hwasong-16, the largest road-mobile ICBM in the world, with a range, at around 13,000km, enough to cover the whole of the United States. Kim is expected to use a renewal of nuclear weapons testing as a way to taunt Biden, in the same way he did with Barack Obama a few years ago.

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An experiment in DEMOCRACY: Inside Bristol's first ever citizens' assembly

Sixty Bristol citizens have released their recommendations
on climate, health and transport.
Participants share their insights
from this pioneering process of public participation.

Bristol, March 13.– On a sunny Saturday in late February, dozens of people from across Bristol squint at Zoom on their screens. Their task? Produce recommendations for how Bristol can reduce the impact of our homes on the climate crisis – and contribute to the city’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030. No pressure then.

This was the penultimate weekend of the climate strand of Bristol’s first ever citizen’s assembly – an exercise in participatory democracy where local people come together to tackle our biggest issues.

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