China flies warplanes close to Taiwan in early test of Biden

China dispatched two large formations of warplanes close to the self-governing island of Taiwan over the weekend, presenting a significant foreign policy challenge to new United States President Joe Biden just days into his administration.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 13 Chinese planes entered the southwestern portion of the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday followed by 15 on Sunday, prompting Taipei to take defensive measures, including scrambling fighter jets to monitor the Chinese flights.

According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, Chinese military planes made more than 380 flights into the island’s air defense identification zone last year. The US Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of airspace over land or water within which a country requires the immediate and positive identification, location, and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the country’s national security.”

While the frequency of such drills has increased in recent years, the timing and the composition of the latest formations — mostly fighter jets and bombers — appeared intended to send a message to the new administration in Washington.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that Beijing will never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.

A year from lockdown, Wuhan returns to normal life

On the surface, Wuhan bustles like a city that has never known a paralyzing 76-day lockdown.

At dawn, market vendors busily unload fresh fruits and vegetables. Office workers fill popular eateries during their lunch break. As dusk falls, elderly couples descend on the city’s parks, practicing dance moves by the Yangtze River. Red lanterns have been erected around the city in anticipation of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

A year has passed since the central Chinese city of 11 million people was placed under the world’s first coronavirus lockdown on January 23. At least 3,869 Wuhan residents eventually died from the virus, which has since claimed more than two million lives around the globe.

The world was stunned when flights, trains and buses leaving Wuhan were canceled, highways were blocked and people were ordered to stay in their homes, relying on officials and volunteers for daily necessities. Initially, it was difficult for patients, families and even some healthcare workers to reach hospitals.

Today, residents speak proudly of the resilience and strength of their city, and the efforts they made to ward off Covid-19.

— From wire reports

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