China is not expanding nuclear arsenal: Official
A senior Chinese arms control official denied on Tuesday that his government is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, though he said it is taking steps to modernise its nuclear forces.
Fu Cong, the director general of the foreign ministry’s arms control department, said that China is working to ensure its nuclear deterrent meets the minimum level necessary for national defence.
“On the assertions made by US officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue,” he said.
The news conference was held a day after China, the US, Russia, Great Britain and France issued a joint statement on preventing nuclear war or an arms race. The US defence department said in a report in November that China is expanding its nuclear force faster than previously predicted and could have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030. The US has 3,750 nuclear weapons.
“China will continue to modernise its nuclear arsenal for reliability and safety issues,” Fu Cong said.
But he said Beijing would “continue to modernise its nuclear arsenal for reliability and safety issues”.
China also said Russia and the United States - by far the world’s largest nuclear powers - should make the first move on disarmament. “The US and Russia still possess 90% of the nuclear warheads on Earth,” he said, adding, “They must reduce their nuclear arsenal in an irreversible and legally binding manner.”
Tesla criticised for new showroom in Xinjiang
Tesla’s announcement that it has opened a showroom in Xinjiang has attracted criticism from US rights and trade groups on Tuesday. Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.
China has rejected accusations of forced labour or any other abuses there, saying that the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect its policies there.
The US electric car maker announced the showroom’s opening in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, on its official Weibo account last Friday. “On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang,” it said in the post.
On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim advocacy organisation, criticised the move, saying that Tesla was “supporting genocide”.
Tiananmen: HK activist gets 15 months in prison
A Hong Kong court sentenced a 36-year-old barrister to 15 months in prison on Tuesday for inciting an unauthorised assembly to commemorate those who died in China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Activist Chow Hang-tung, of the since-closed Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, was arrested the day before the June 4 anniversary of the crackdown last year.
Police have banned Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen vigils for the last two years, citing coronavirus restrictions.
North Korea is ramping up the production of drugs and medical supplies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc. According to the Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, North Korea is also increasing the production of traditional Korean medicines used to reduce fever and pain. In the capital city of Pyongyang and nearby regions, factories are churning out more injections, medicines and thermometers and other medical supplies.
Veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, who was nominated by US President Joe Biden to be the country's next ambassador to war-hit Ukraine, was on Wednesday (local time) given a unanimous approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for appointment to the post, which means that she just a step away from being Washington's new representative in the east European nation. She was nominated by Biden on April 25.
Officials in Spain and Portugal announced on Wednesday that they have detected around 32 suspected cases of monkeypox, days after the UK reported new cases that have triggered concerns that there may be an undetected transmission in parts of Europe. Portugal had five confirmed and 20 suspected cases, Spain eight suspected cases and UK seven confirmed infections as on Wednesday.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Wednesday met Pakistan's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the UN headquarters and their talks focussed on regional security as well as strengthening bilateral economic and commercial ties. Bilawal is on a maiden visit to the US at the invitation of Blinken to attend the ministerial meeting on the “Global Food Security Call to Action” to be held at the United Nations later on Wednesday.
The World Bank said on Wednesday it will make $30 billion available to help stem a food security crisis threatened by Russia's war in Ukraine, which has cut off most grain exports from the two countries. The total will include $12 billion in new projects and over $18 billion funds from existing food and nutrition-related projects that have been approved but have not yet been disbursed, the bank said.