Amid the escalating tension between China and Taiwan, the Deputy Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), David Cohen revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered his armed forces, the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) to develop the ability to capture Taiwan by 2027.
Giving more details on the issue, the CIA Deputy Director said that the Chinese President has not decided yet but has asked his military to prepare it so that he can do what he wants, The Singapore Post reported, citing CNN.
“He has not made the decision to do that, but he has asked his military to put him in a position where if that’s what he wanted to do, he would be able to. It’s still the assessment of the IC as a whole that Xi’s interest in Taiwan is to get control through non-military means,” Cohen said as quoted by CNN intelligence and national security correspondent Katie Bo Lillis on her Twitter account.
Cohen’s statement lies with former US Commander Philip Davidson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley last year.
According to The Singapore Post, Davidson, last year, said he was worried that to unify Beijing, there might be an accident in Taiwan in the next six years while Milley discussed the assessments with Congress last year. “Their assessment is based on a conversation with President Xi that asked the PLA to accelerate its modernization plan to develop its capabilities to capture Taiwan and to advance its completion from 2035 to 2027,” Milley said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman further said that he only believed that Xi wanted to have the ability to invade Taiwan but had not yet decided whether to use that ability.
US Indo-Pacific Command Commander General John Aquilino warned that after Russia launched its special military operation in February, Beijing’s ambitions grew and became more daring. He further said that an attack on Taiwan is a real possibility, and “we have to make sure we are prepared for any action.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan has rejected China’s “one country, two systems” formulation, believing that only the people of Taiwan can decide their own future.
According to a recent report by the American Defence University, the investigation of the background of more than 300 senior officers of the Chinese Communist Party in the past few years revealed the potential fatal weakness of the PLA, that is, the lack of cross-service training, generally staying in the same military service in the early days of the army, and having a four-star command. Nearly half of the officers were “professional political commissars” and lacked combat experience.
Compared with US military officers, cross-service training has been required since 1986. All four-star officers have joint service experience and actual combat experience.
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J&K’s Wular Lake wears a festive look
The Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, which is known to be one of the largest freshwater lakes in South Asia, has a festive look with a large number of locals extracting chestnuts, according to a report. The chestnuts extracted by the villagers are supplied to the vendors in Kashmir and beyond the region as well.
The Bandipora district in northern Kashmir features in the list of the main suppliers of chestnuts to the Kashmir Valley.
Lankreshipora, Kunzpora, Kulhama, Guroora, Saderkoot, Baniyari, Laharwalpora, KaniBathi, Kunoosa, Ashtangoo, Kemma, and Zurmanz are among the districts whose residents have licences to extract chestnuts from the lake.
The lake produces around four metric tonnes of chestnuts annually and 5,000 tonnes of fish of 11 different species each year, according to the official figure.
According to the Wular conservation and management authority officials, at least 90% of the water chestnuts produced in Kashmir are sourced from the Wular Lake.
The report quoted an official at Wular Conservation and Management Authority as saying, “There is no systematic marketing facility available for the product extracted from Wular Lake, which makes it difficult to estimate the revenue generated from the lake.”
The locals claim that as many as 80% of the inhabitants are involved in extracting chestnuts from Wular to make a living.
“Chestnuts are the main source of income for the majority of people living here,” the report quoted Abdul Ahad Panchoo, a resident of Suderkoot Bala, as saying.
Abdul Rashid Dar of Baniyar village, who has been extracting chestnuts from the lake for the past 40 years, said that they are getting different schemes from the government for the purpose.
“All of us villagers who live on the banks of the Wular lake depend on it either directly or indirectly,” he said, adding that chestnuts are the main source of income for the majority of people living here.
The Union Territory government is planning to develop a sustainable waste management model for all the peripheral villages around the lake, according to the report.
The J&K Wetland Authority has also approved the integrated management plan for the conservation of Wular Lake to promote an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to the conservation and management of the water body.
To promote tourism in Wular Lake, the authorities also introduced a shikara (wooden boat) ride similar to that found on Dal Lake in Srinagar. The lake is also a habitat for migratory water birds.
South Korea to invest big in automobile industry
The South Korean government has announced a number of strategies for its automobile industry, including private investment worth more than 95 trillion in the country’s automobile industry over the next five years.
Using this, the government plans to produce 3.3 million electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 to achieve a 12 per cent global market share, according to The Global Economic. It also plans to train more than 30,000 future car professionals. Through these strategies, the government plans to raise competitiveness to the highest level in response to the global trade order that returns to protectionism, such as the implementation of the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
As of last year, Hyundai Motor ranked third and sixth in the global internal combustion car and EV market share, respectively. The South Korean government plans to raise them to the top 3 in the world.
On Wednesday, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy that Minister Lee Chang-yang held a round table meeting on automobile industry strategies with automobile industry officials at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and announced the strategies.
At the meeting, officials from automobile manufacturing firms and parts suppliers such as Hyundai Motor, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Korea, Hyundai Mobis, Mando, Sambo Motors, and Telechips, attended. Minister Lee presented a strategy to become the global top 3 in the automobile industry. It has the vision to become one of the top three automobile powerhouses through a rapid and flexible conversion to future mobility.
Good that this audio got leaked, says Imran Khan over ‘foreign conspiracy’ in Pakistan
After the alleged conversation between a former country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Principal Secretary Azam Khan about the “US conspiracy” went viral, the PTI chief on Wednesday said that the “cypher should also be leaked so that everyone would come to know how big that conspiracy was.”
In a series of audio leaks in recent days in Pakistan, an audio clip of Imran Khan went viral on Wednesday. “It is good that the audio got leaked, I would say the cypher should also be leaked so that everyone should come to know how big was that foreign conspiracy,” Imran Khan told reporters today, as per The News International.
Khan alleged that Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of leaking that audio when asked who did this, as per the publication.
It is pertinent to mention that “US conspiracy” refers to the foreign conspiracy which Imran Khan termed as the conspiracy by the US to topple the PTI government and replace it with Shehbaz Sharif’s government in Pakistan.
According to The News International, in the latest leaked audio, Imran Khan could be heard directing his then principal secretary that they should play with the “cypher issue without taking the name of the United States.” “Let’s play with it,” Imran Khan believed to be said in the audio, to which Azam Khan suggested that they should hold a meeting on the US cypher to bring it on record.
Earlier, audio clips purported of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with government officials and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz had also surfaced online. It is to be noted that after those controversial audio leaks, Imran Khan on Monday said that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja should resign “if he had any shame,” media reports said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan claimed that the audio leak is proof that the CEC, Sultan Raja, is in cahoots with the Sharif family and his alleged involvement in corruption, reported Pakistani local media The Express Tribune.
The audio clip featuring Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz had surfaced online, where they were asking to stop the health insurance card program, as per local media. After the audio leaked, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail stepped down in the middle of a trip abroad and made way for PML-N leader Ishaq Dar.
Ishaq Dar was involved in several corruption cases. Earlier, in May, the Pakistan court issued a perpetual arrest warrant against former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in “corruption reference.”
‘Rapid growth of China’s nuclear arsenal can be a threat to U.S.’
China’s rapid growth of its nuclear arsenal can be a threat to the US, American General Anthony Cotton has warned. General Anthony Cotton warned the Senate Armed Services Committee about the threat of China’s rapid growth of its nuclear arsenal, but China is still far from being a threat to the US, The Singapore Post reported. Recent geographical developments in China show the country’s rapid building of missile silos which house its missiles. Beijing had 229 new fields under construction at Hami and Yumen, created as recently as 2021.
As per the sources, China has a total of 350 warheads, which are ready to use, of which, 248 ballistic missiles are for land use, and 72 ballistic missiles are for deployment in the sea.
The Chinese nuclear arsenal has also seen a growth in the number of road-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) along with its strategic nuclear submarines. Moreover, the construction of more than 200 new missile silos on China’s mainland has rival countries wary of Beijing’s intentions. This recent increment suddenly surpasses the non-threatening count of 20 silo-based ICBMs the country has maintained for the last two decades.
China has succeeded in creating a well-functioning triad of nuclear power, having acquired missiles which work across land, air and sea.
Taliban sign deal for Russian oil, gas and wheat at discounted rate
Taliban have inked an agreement to purchase and import Russian wheat, gas, and oil, the officials of the Islamic group said.
A Taliban spokesperson said products including gasoline, diesel, gas, and wheat would be purchased at a “special discount” in Russian currency, Khaama Press news agency reported. Although Russia had agreed to the discounted trade deal, the Taliban official did not provide any details on the pricing and payment methods. This deal comes as Russia has been hit hard by sanctions imposed after its invasion of Ukraine. The punitive measures from the Western countries have forced Moscow to shift its exports from Europe to Asia.
Meanwhile, economic development, trade and transit remained a high priority for the Taliban, since its accent to power in August last year.
The Islamic group has continued diplomatic and economic engagement with regional countries, whose representatives stated publicly that formal recognition of the de facto authorities as a government was not imminent.
This deal comes after high-level Taliban delegations visited Russia earlier this year. Aside from Moscow, several companies from regional countries have shown interest in investing in the extractive industries sector in Afghanistan.
The Taliban leadership have consistently said that they are looking for trade deals with the international community.
This latest agreement with Russia move could help to ease the isolation that has effectively cut it off from the world following their takeover of Afghanistan last year.
A UN report released on Tuesday said the Afghan economy remained greatly weakened by the severe economic contraction and the banking and financial crisis that followed the Taliban takeover.
“Available data suggest that six-month revenue collection through June, driven by customs and non-tax sources, is on par with the level recorded for the same period last year, and exports, driven by coal and fruits, surpassed past performance,” said the latest quarterly report of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Security Council. The sudden stop of aid inflows, however, accompanied by political uncertainty, inadequate access to services and women’s exclusion from economic participation, continued to lead to slow growth, the report added.
Farmers hold protests in Islamabad amid hardships
Thousands of farmers from Punjab flocked to Islamabad to stage a protest demanding reduction in electricity tariffs and resolution of other economic issues they are facing pertaining to agriculture.
More than 25,000 Punjab farmers held the demonstration under the umbrella of the Pakistani farmer association, Kisan Ittehad, reported Dawn. As the protests gained momentum in the capital, the Islamabad police imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This protest was part of a series of protests that the farmers have been holding in different parts of Pakistan including near Banigala.
Among the many demands that the farmers have includes the restoration of the previous tubewell electricity tariff of Rs 5.3 per unit and abolishing of all taxes and adjustments, an end must be put to the black marketing of fertilisers and reduction of urea rate which increased to 400pc.
Apart from these demands they also said that the rate of wheat should be fixed at Rs 2,400 per mound and the rate of sugar cane at Rs 280 per mound, reported Dawn citing police quoting the protesters’ demands.
Besides, the farmers also demanded that the blockade of canals should be removed and water released immediately in the area. Moreover, they said, agriculture should also be given the status of an industry.
In a bid to contain the growing protests, the Islamabad police sealed some areas by putting containers on roads, the outlet said citing police and adding that the interchanges and roads adjacent to Islamabad Expressway were also sealed with containers.
Over 2,500 farmers travelling on 40 buses, 29 coasters, six wagons, 11 Sports Utility Vehicles and 18 cars reached Jinnah Avenue. Islamabad Police sealed all entry points of the Red Zone except Margalla Road.
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