Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. NAVY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
A Chinese H-6 strategic bomber flew around the Spratly Islands at the weekend in a new show of force in the contested South China Sea, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
It was the second such flight by a Chinese bomber in the South China Sea this year. The first was on Jan. 1, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The flight could be seen as a show of “strategic force” by the Chinese, the official said.
It comes after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has signaled a tougher approach to China when he takes office on Jan. 20, with tweets criticizing Beijing for its trade practices and accusing it of failing to help rein in nuclear-armed North Korea.
Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no specific comment on China’s recent bomber activities, but added: “we continue to observe a range of ongoing Chinese military activity in the region.”
In December, China flew an H-6 bomber along the “nine-dash line” it uses to map its claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategic global trade route. That flight also went around Taiwan, which China views as a renegade province.
In August, China conducted “combat patrols” near contested islands in the South China Sea.
Trump has enraged Beijing by breaking with decades of U.S. policy and speaking to the Taiwanese president by telephone.
A state-run Chinese newspaper warned Donald Trump on Sunday that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the U.S. one-China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.
Last week China said that a group of Chinese warships led by its sole aircraft carrier was testing weapons and equipment in exercises this week in the South China Sea, where territory is claimed by several regional states.
U.S. warships conducted what they call “freedom of navigation” patrols through the South China Sea over the past year amid growing concern about Chinese construction of air strips and docks on disputed reefs and islands. — Reuters
Puerto Ricans wash clothes in rivers as utilities remain offline
Large parts of the U.S. territory are still without running water or electricity and are facing food shortages almost three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall there on September 20.
Still struggling without water or electricity, some of the families washing their clothes in the Anon River in ponce on the south side of the island.
They just say they are making the journey a family outing.
“So we’re taking advantage of the time to wash clothes because we have to do it and so we’re spending time with the kids and with the family. We brought stuff for a barbecue and we’re enjoying the day,” said Alexis Vega.
“We’re looking at it from a positive point of view and spending a lot of time with family. You have to do it. We have to. It’s going back to olden days,” said Heidi Vazquez.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday in the US amid questions over whether his administration has acted with enough urgency in helping distribute emergency supplies throughout the island. — Reuters
Korea says “rocket man” striking rockets to U.S. is inevitable
North Korea said on Saturday that firing its rockets at the U.S. Mainland was “inevitable” after U.S. President Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader “rocket man”, in a further escalation of rhetoric between the two leaders.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s remarks before the United Nations General Assembly came hours after U.S. Airforce B-1B Lancer bombers flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
“Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force,” said the minister.
“It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces,” he added.
On Saturday, U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea in a show of force and was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U.S. Fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon said.
Also on Saturday, the North’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said thousands of people attended an anti-U.S. rally at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, in support of the recent statement of Kim Jong Un considering the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States. — Reuters
North Korea hints at Pacific H-bomb test
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un makes a statement regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech at the U.N. general assembly, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 22, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS
North Korea struck back at U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to destroy it, with Kim Jong Un warning of the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” and his foreign minister suggesting that could include testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific ocean.
“[Personally I think] it should be a hydrogen bomb test on the ground of an unprecedented scale,” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
Kim said in the statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that U.S. threat to “totally destroy” the north in his U.N. speech on Tuesday confirmed Pyongyang’s nuclear programme has been “the correct path.”
Trump had warned the North Korean leader on Tuesday that the United States if threatened, would “totally destroy” the country and mocked Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
North Korea’s foreign minister reacted and called Trump’s U.N. address ‘sound of a dog barking’.
“If [Trump] was thinking about surprising us with the sound of a dog barking then he is clearly dreaming,” said the foreign minister.
It can be recalled that North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Ja Song Nam exited the hall just as Trump walked on stage on Tuesday to deliver his speech.
“His remarks have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last,” said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech,” said the North Korean leader.— Reuters