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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

Gorkha Post

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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Former UN chief and Nobel peace laureate Kofi Annan dies aged 80

Thompson Reuters

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ACCRA/GENEVA — Former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan has died at the age of 80, his foundation said on Saturday.

Annan, a Ghanaian national, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours of Saturday, two of his close associates said.

In Geneva, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced his peaceful death with ‘immense sadness’ after a short illness, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Annan served two terms as U.N. Secretary-General in New York from 1997-2006 and retired in Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village in the nearby countryside.

“”In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom Annan had chosen to head the UN refugee agency, said in a statement.

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As head of UN peacekeeping operations, Annan was criticized for the world body’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

As U.N. boss he was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus. He submitted a reunification blueprint for Cyprus which was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004.

“The UN can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it,” he told the BBC’s Hard Talk during an interview for his 80th birthday last April, recorded at the Geneva Graduate Institute where he had studied.

“I am a stubborn optimist, I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist,” Annan added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, paid tribute to Annan as “humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace”.

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Zeid, who has criticized major powers and other countries during his four-year term that ends later this month, said that whenever he felt “isolated and alone politically”, he would go for long walks with Annan in Geneva.

“When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: “You’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.” Then he grinned!

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