approves China

China approves arrest of 12 Hong Kong speedboat fugitives – Al Jazeera English

The group was reportedly trying to reach Taiwan when mainland authorities picked them up on August 23.

Chinese authorities have formally approved the arrests of 12 Hong Kong activists caught last month while allegedly trying to flee the territory for Taiwan.

The group was picked up some 70 kilometres (43 miles) southeast of the city on August 23 while trying to escape by boat, authorities said at the time, adding that they were handed to police in Shenzhen, the southern mainland city bordering Hong Kong.

The 12 had since disappeared into China’s opaque judicial system, with lawyers struggling to access them and family members expressing fear over their fate.

On Wednesday the People’s Procuratorate of Yantian District in Shenzhen said it had approved the arrests.

Two of the detainees, referred to as Deng and Qiao respectively, were arrested on suspicion of helping the others escape Hong Kong.

These names were likely to refer to the Chinese surnames of detainees Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon.

The other 10 – including suspects with the names Li and Huang – were arrested for making illegal border crossings.

The case remains under investigation, the statement added.

People in Hong Kong have been calling for the release of the 12 and organising postcard campaigns for the 12 arrested in southern China  [Isaac Lawrence/AFP]

Families of the 12 said in a statement they were “shocked and concerned” by the approval.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau confirmed that mainland authorities informed local police of Wednesday’s approval, but declined to comment on families’ complaints of lawyers being barred from visiting the detainees.

Some of those on board the boat were facing prosecution in Hong Kong for activities linked to last year’s enormous and often violent pro-democracy protests, according to authorities in the territory.

Prolonged detention

Lu Siwei, one of the mainland lawyers working on the case, told AFP news agency the period of detention for investigation could last as long as seven months.

“Review of (the) detention’s legality can be applied for any time,” Lu added, but said that “for now it remains most important to seek a meeting with the 12 in custody”.

At least 14 mainland lawyers hired by the detainees’ families have been pressured by authorities to drop their clients, according to activists.

None of the lawyers has managed to see their clients in custody, while senior officials in Hong Kong said the 12 were assigned lawyers by mainland Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong has its own internationally respected legal system where detainees are promptly produced after their arrest and tried in open court, but the system on the mainland is notoriously opaque and controlled by the Communist Party. Conviction is all but guaranteed.

In June, Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, announcing it would have jurisdiction for some crimes and that mainland security agents could openly operate in the city.

The prospect of people in Hong Kong getting entangled in China’s judicial system triggered months of protests last year after the government moved to allow extraditions to the mainland. The demonstrations soon evolved into broader calls for democracy and greater police accountability, and sometimes descended into violence.

As Beijing has cracked down on Hong Kong’s democracy movement, self-ruled Taiwan, one of the region’s most vibrant democracies, has emerged as a sanctuary, quietly turning a blind eye to residents turning up without proper visas or paperwork.

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China Continue

Xi Says China Will Continue Efforts to Assimilate Muslims in Xinjiang – The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG—Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared success in his approach to governing the region of Xinjiang, signaling no letup in the Communist Party’s forceful campaign to assimilate millions of ethnic Muslims on the country’s northwestern frontier.

“Practice has proven that the party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang in the new era is completely correct,” and it must continue for the long term, Mr. Xi said at a two-day party conference on Xinjiang policy that concluded Saturday, according to a state media report.


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China fumes

China fumes at Trump’s UN speech, accuses US of spreading ‘political virus’ – Fox News

China on Tuesday responded angrily to President Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he blamed the communist country for the coronavirus pandemic — with Beijing accusing Trump of spreading a “political virus.”

“China firmly rejects and opposes the groundless accusations made by the United States against China during the General Debate on 22 September,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a lengthy statement.


“When the international community is going all out to fight COVID-19, the United States is spreading a political virus,” he said, before accusing the U.S. of provoking a “confrontation” and weakening the U.N.

President Trump earlier Tuesday tore into Beijing over its botched handling of the coronavirus, which he called the “China Virus” because of its origins in Wuhan.

“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” Trump told the U.N.

“The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization — which is virtually controlled by China — falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” he said. “Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease.”


Trump began the process of pulling the U.S. out of the World Health Organization earlier this year after the administration said the organization was too close with China. The U.S. has also called on the international community to investigate the outbreak of the virus.

The Chinese ambassador, however, described China’s response as “open” and “transparent.”

“China’s important contribution to the global fight against the pandemic is highly recognized and commended by the international community, a fact that no one can deny,” he said.

Trump had also attacked China for its environmental record, accusing it of dumping tons of plastic into the ocean and overfishing.

“Those who attack America’s exceptional environmental record while ignoring China’s rampant pollution are not interested in the environment,” he said. “They only want to punish America. And I will not stand for it.

China shot back, highlighting a number of policies from the U.S., including its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement: “It is clear who willfully disregards the global environment and the health of people around the world,” the statement said.

Relations between Beijing and Washington have declined in recent months, not only because of the coronavirus but also over China’s human rights violations in Hong Kong and against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, to which the U.S. has responded with sanctions.


Trump recently promised to “decouple” the U.S. from China, while threatening to block companies who outsource jobs to China from receiving federal contracts, and vowing to bring manufacturing jobs and supply chains back to the United States if reelected in November.

“We will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world and will end our reliance on China once and for all,” he added. “Whether it’s decoupling, or putting in massive tariffs like I’ve been doing already, we will end our reliance on China, because we can’t rely on China.”

Fox News’ Ben Evansky and Lucas Manfredi contributed to this rep

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China Praising

China T.V. Show Praising Coronavirus Fight Sparks a Backlash from Women – The New York Times

A scene from a state-sponsored show extolled men who volunteered but played down women’s contributions. Internet users are calling for the show to be pulled from the air.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Vivian Wang

The scene came seven minutes into a new Chinese-government-sponsored television drama, so short that it would have been easy to miss: The head of a bus company in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak began, asks his drivers if they are willing to make emergency runs during the city’s lockdown. A line of volunteers forms. None are women.

That roughly minute-long clip has set off a furor on Chinese social media. Users have called the scene — in which the official then asks why no women have stepped up — a flagrant example of sexism in Chinese society and an attempt to erase women’s contributions to the fight against the virus. In reality, women made up the majority of front-line workers during the crisis, according to the official news media.

By Sunday, a hashtag about that segment, which aired on Thursday, had been viewed more than 140 million times. Tens of thousands of people had called for the show to be taken off the air.

The uproar reflects lingering tensions even as China emerges from an outbreak that sickened many, cratered its economy and upended the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people. Still-simmering tensions include cynicism about the Chinese government’s efforts to rewrite the narrative of the outbreak, disillusionment about the silencing of dissenting accounts and anger toward persistent discrimination against women, both during the crisis and more broadly.

Indeed, many people were particularly incensed by the perceived slight to women, given their prominent role in containing the virus. Women made up two-thirds of the more than 40,000 medical workers who traveled to Wuhan and its surrounding province, Hubei, to fight the outbreak, People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said in March. Xinhua, the official state news agency, said that more than half of the doctors deployed to Wuhan from Shanghai were women, as were more than 90 percent of the nurses.


Credit…Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In previous television dramas, women would frequently be smeared. But I thought that something would change this year, after the experience of the epidemic, because so many women participated in the fight,” Zoe Shen, a feminist activist and blogger in Beijing, said in an interview. “I didn’t think there would be such a plotline now.”

This is not the first time that women’s treatment while fighting the virus has set off public anger. In February, an official newspaper shared a video of female medics having their heads shaved before heading to Wuhan, ostensibly for a better fit for protective gear. The newspaper called the women “the most beautiful warriors.” Many people who saw the video said the women were crying, and viewers accused the government of using women’s bodies as propaganda. The video was ultimately deleted.

Other female medical workers said their supervisors rebuked them when they asked for help obtaining tampons or pads when goods in Wuhan became increasingly hard to obtain.

“In real life, they pushed women out” onto the front lines, said one commenter about the show on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. “In propaganda, they buried the women.” The comment was liked more than 30,000 times.

The episode was the pilot of a new show, “Heroes in Harm’s Way,” that dramatizes Wuhan’s battle against the outbreak. Wuhan was little known outside of China before the pandemic, but as the contagion spread there and then around the world it became a stark warning about the virus’s threat. Desperate residents shared photos of people being turned away from overwhelmed hospitals, and they raged at the officials who had let the virus spread unchecked in an effort to conceal it.

That desperation is far from the focus of the show, which was aired by China’s state broadcaster and produced by Shen Haixiong, the deputy minister of the Communist Party’s Publicity Department. Instead, the show is a paean to the “touching stories that happened on the front line of the epidemic” and the Chinese people’s “courage to fight and win,” according to the state-run media.

In the scene at the Wuhan bus company, dozens of drivers file into a meeting room shortly before the lockdown is imposed. An official explains that the government has requested volunteers for an emergency transport team. A number of men line up, led by a Communist Party cadre.

After reviewing the roster, the official then announces that the list is made up entirely of men. “Will a female comrade step up too?” he says.

He singles out a woman sitting in a back row and asks her to volunteer. But she demurs, saying her family has traveled a long way to visit her for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. “I really can’t,” she replies.

In response to the show, social media users quickly began sharing screenshots of the state media reports of female participation in the epidemic response. Many also began using the hashtag “Request that ‘Heroes in Harm’s Way’ Stop Airing.” A poll that asked whether the show should be canceled received more than 91,000 “yes” votes, with about 6,800 votes for “no.”

“Now I finally know how women disappear from history,” one Weibo user wrote.

Others hinted at the broader battle to control the narrative of the pandemic. “Everybody just wants to be able to have an accurate collective memory,” one user wrote in a post that was liked more than 110,000 times.

While many posts criticizing the show were still available on Saturday, the outrage had attracted the attention of censors. The hashtag requesting that the show be canceled had been blocked, and some clips of the offending segment had been removed. Ratings for the show were also disabled on Douban, a popular film review site.


Credit…Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

The official response was a reminder not only of the Chinese government’s sensitivity over the story of the outbreak, but also of the tenuous space occupied by feminist activism in China. Rhetorically, the government encourages gender equity and even sponsors its own agency dedicated to women’s issues. But the party is wary of any organization it does not control and has cracked down harshly on activists who have mobilized independently.

Women are still almost nonexistent in the highest echelons of the party apparatus. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has emphasized women’s roles as homemakers and mothers. Employment discrimination, curbs on property rights and weak protections against domestic violence are common.

The initial outrage provoked by the bus driver scene also set off other condemnations of the show. Du Keye, a doctor in Wuhan, wrote on Weibo that the show was medically inaccurate, often depicting nurses without proper medical gear or performing chest compressions incorrectly. The show is fictional, he wrote, but accuracy is important because the show was intended to commemorate a momentous event in the country’s history.

Ms. Shen, the feminist blogger, also hinted at how deeply the pandemic — and the response to the pandemic — had been etched into the country’s psyche to criticize the show.

“To film this kind of show before everyone’s memory has entirely disappeared is really just an insult to the audience’s intelligence,” she said.

Liu Yi and Claire Fu contributed research.

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China human

China OKs human trials for nasal spray coronavirus vaccine – Fox News

China has approved the first phase of human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine administered through a nasal spray.

The inoculation is being developed by researchers at Xiamen University, Hong Kong University, and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, according to Bloomberg News.

This is the 10th such candidate from China to proceed to the crucial stage of human testing.


The spray contains strains of the weakened flu virus with genetic segments of the coronavirus’s spike protein. Once in the body, it mimics the natural infection of respiratory viruses to stimulate the body’s immune response against the pathogen that causes COVID-19, Science and Technology Daily reports. The paper is affiliated with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

The hope is that a vaccine sprayed through the nose may have a better chance of stopping the virus in the respiratory tracts, while a shot may not be strong enough to stave off infection.

Staff members check and clean equipment at a vaccine production plant operated by SinoPharm in Beijing.  (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

Staff members check and clean equipment at a vaccine production plant operated by SinoPharm in Beijing.  (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

Encouraging animal-based trials reinforced the concept.

A study published last month by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concluded that a nasal vaccine prevented infection in mice — significantly reducing lung damage — and that the spray was more successful in fending off the virus.

Intranasal sprays are already employed to prevent the flu and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted their usefulness.

The World Health Organization reports that at least 35 coronavirus vaccine trials are currently underway across the globe.

A major study conducted by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, however, paused this week after researchers said a participant reported a “potentially unexplained illness.”

In the wake of AstraZeneca’s setback, China’s own developers — CanSino Biologics Inc. and state-owned China National Biotec Group Co. — have reassured consumers about the safety of their own shots.


None of the Chinese diplomats traveling to virus hot spots overseas have reported infections months after receiving CNBG vaccines, their general counsel told Science and Technology Daily.

According to MarketWatch, there are seven vaccine candidates that have moved into clinical trials with human participants, including three that have moved into a crucial development phase.

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approves China

China approves 1st human trials for COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine – Yahoo News

China on Wednesday approved Phase 1 human testing of a COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine being developed by researchers at Xiamen University, Hong Kong University, and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. Children and some adults already get a nasal spray vaccine for the flu, and recent research from Washington University School of Medicine suggested a nasal vaccine was actually more effective than an injection at protecting mice against COVID-19 infections.

This is the first nasal spray vaccine candidate for COVID-19 to be tested in humans, and preliminary studies showed it can significantly reduce lung damage in infected mice and hamsters, according to Science and Technology Daily, a newspaper linked to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Bloomberg News reports. The intranasal vaccine aims to promote a natural immune response to the coronavirus by combining the new virus’ spike proteins with a weakened flu virus.

China now has 10 vaccines in human trials, including four in Phase 3 trials. The U.S. has three Phase 3 trials underway, although AstraZeneca and Oxford University paused their final-stage trial in the U.S. and elsewhere this week to investigate a spinal cord illness in one of its vaccine subjects. “Chinese drugmakers have taken their research abroad because the outbreak at home has been under control for months,” The New York Times reports, but Beijing is also effectively using the promise of priority access to a vaccine and loans “in a charm offensive aimed at repairing damaged ties and bringing friends closer in regions China deems vital to its interests.”

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China India

China, India accuse each other of firing shots at disputed border as tensions rise – Fox News

China and India on Tuesday accused each other’s troops of firing warning shots along a disputed border, as tensions between the two nuclear powers continue to escalate despite holding talks to defuse the standoff.

China’s western military command said the incident happened Monday along the southern coast of Pangong Lake in an area known in China as Shenpaoshan, and in India as Chushul. Chinese officials said Indian forces crossed into the territory it holds and were the first to fire warning shots at a Chinese patrol.


After shots were fired, Chinese forces took “necessary measures to stabilize and control the situation,” the command said in a statement citing spokesman Zhang Shuili.

India denied China’s accusations and said Chinese soldiers tried to surround one of its forward posts in a “grave provocation” and also fired warning shots.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2src2src, file photo, an Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)

In this Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, file photo, an Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)

Col. Aman Anand, an Indian army spokesman, said China continues “provocative activities to escalate” tensions and called the Chinese military statement an attempt to mislead domestic and international audiences.

Officials for each country accused the other of violating agreements made over the disputed border.


The two countries have been engaged in a tense standoff in the Ladakh region for decades but it escalated in May.

In this Sept. 14, 2src18, file photo, Border Roads Organization workers rest near Pangong Lake in Ladakh region, India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

In this Sept. 14, 2018, file photo, Border Roads Organization workers rest near Pangong Lake in Ladakh region, India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Late last month, India accused China of making “provocative” military moves near the border “to change the status quo.” China denied this and accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.

The conflict turned deadly in June when Indian officials said Chinese troops fought Indian soldiers atop a ridge in the narrow Galwan valley. The Chinese troops threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down the ridge at around 15,000 feet, leaving 20 Indians dead, including a colonel. China did not report any casualties.


The nuclear-armed rivals’ defense ministers met Friday in Moscow in the first high-level direct contact between the sides since the standoff began.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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China Warns

China warns Czech senate speaker will pay ‘heavy price’ for Taiwan visit – CNBC

The Czech senate’s Milos Vystrcil and his wife wave to salute the press in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 30, 2020.

Jose Lopes Amaral | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil will “pay a heavy price” for making an official trip to Taiwan and China will not sit idly by, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Monday, in a warning brushed off by Taiwan’s government.

Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday on a visit to promote business links with Taiwan, saying the Czech Republic would not bow to Beijing’s objections.

Speaking while in Germany, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said there would be retribution.

“The Chinese government and Chinese people won’t take a laissez-faire attitude or sit idly by, and will make him pay a heavy price for his short-sighted behaviour and political opportunism,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying.

We have the same values as the Czechs.

Wang Mei-hua

Taiwan Economics Minister

Wang said the Chinese government and people will not tolerate such “open provocation” by Vystrcil and the anti-China forces behind him, though gave no details of how exactly Beijing would react.

Speaking in Taipei, Taiwan Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua brushed off the criticism, though declined direct comment on China’s attack on Vystrcil.

“The Czech Republic and Taiwan are free and democratic countries which put great store on human rights. We have the same values as the Czechs,” she told reporters, speaking before a joint business forum.

Meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen

Vystrcil did not directly address China’s criticism of his visit in a brief speech at the same event, talking instead about how he was aiming to boost business relations.

“Freedom and democracy are the main basis of prosperity,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Vystrcil is due to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen later in his trip and will address Taiwan’s parliament before leaving on Friday.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province ineligible for state-to-state relations.

Czech President Milos Zeman has sought closer business and political ties with China since taking office in 2013, but his efforts have been hit by failed investment plans and Czech wavering about allowing China’s Huawei Technologies to play a role in developing next-generation telecoms networks.

WATCH: A ‘big price’ that China’s paying for Hong Kong is Taiwan, says strategist

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China restaurant

China restaurant collapses during 80th birthday party, leaving 29 dead, dozens injured – Fox News

A two-story restaurant in China collapsed while hosting an 80th birthday party, leaving 29 people dead and dozens injured, authorities said Sunday.

The building crumbled around 9:40 a.m. Saturday in a village in Xiangfen county in the province of Shanxi, about 400 miles (630 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said in a statement.


Hundreds of rescuers searched the rubble and broken slabs of concrete, using sniffer dogs, cranes, and high-tech sensors. After daylong rescue efforts, 29 people were confirmed dead and another 28 were injured, seven of them seriously, officials said.

Rescue workers are seen near the site of a collapsed two-story restaurant in Xiangfen County of Linfen City, northern China's Shanxi Province, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2src2src. (Yang Chenguang/Xinhua via AP)

Rescue workers are seen near the site of a collapsed two-story restaurant in Xiangfen County of Linfen City, northern China’s Shanxi Province, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Yang Chenguang/Xinhua via AP)

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse.

The Shanxi provincial government appointed a team to investigate the accident, Reuters reported.

While China has seen major improvements in industrial safety, building standards are sometimes ignored, particularly in rural areas such as Xiangfen county. The region lies in the heart of China’s coal country, where thousands of miners have died in explosions, collapses, and floods over the years.

Rescuers search for victims in the aftermath of the collapse of a two-story restaurant in Xiangfen county in northern China's Shanxi province on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2src2src. (Chinatopix Via AP)

Rescuers search for victims in the aftermath of the collapse of a two-story restaurant in Xiangfen county in northern China’s Shanxi province on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Chinatopix Via AP)

Residents told Chinese media outlet The Paper that the restaurant was originally a one-story building constructed over 20 years ago with prefabricated panels, the South China Morning Post reported. The building has since undergone several additions, including a second floor and underground level.


Provincial authorities launched inspections of all public buildings on Saturday, the outlet reported, citing the China News Service. Buildings that do not meet safety requirements or found built with illegal construction would be forced to closed until the proper standards were met.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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China fires

China test fires so-called ‘carrier killer’ missiles into South China Sea – CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)China launched a series of ballistic missiles into the South China Sea this week, according to United States defense officials, part of a flurry of military exercises extending thousands of miles along the country’s coastline, as tensions with Washington over the disputed waterway continue to escalate.

Beijing claims almost all of the vast South China Sea as its sovereign territory and has stepped-up efforts to assert its dominance over the resource-rich waters in recent years, transforming a string of obscure reefs and atolls into heavily fortified man-made islands and increasing its naval activity in the region.
China’s territorial ambitions are contested by at least five other countries, and have been rejected outright by Washington which has declared Beijing’s claims to be illegal under international law.
A US defense official told CNN that the Chinese military launched four medium-range missiles from mainland China on Wednesday. The missiles impacted in the northern reaches of the South China Sea between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands, known as the Xisha Islands in China, the official said.
In a statement Thursday, the Pentagon described the drills as the latest in a long string of Chinese actions intended to “assert unlawful maritime claims” that disadvantage neighboring countries. The comments follow the announcement Wednesday that the US government will impose sanctions on dozens of Chinese companies for assisting Beijing in the development and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

‘Neither confirm nor deny’

Senior Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, said on Thursday that China had carried out drills in waters and airspace between Qingdao in northeastern China and the disputed Spratly islands — known as Nansha in China — in the South China Sea, but did not mention the missiles outright.
According to Wu, the drills “did not target any country.”
Though China’s Defense Ministry has not confirmed the missile tests, China’s government controlled media made several detailed references to the launches, citing reports in overseas media.
Those reports said the missiles involved were DF-21D and DF-26 missiles, both of which have been touted in Chinese propaganda as highly accurate and able to hit ships moving at sea.
“China’s DF-26 and DF-21D are the world’s first ballistic missiles capable of targeting large and medium-sized vessels, earning them the title of ‘aircraft carrier killers,'” the state-run Global Times said on Thursday, citing military observers.
A separate editorial in the same outlet acknowledged speculation around the launch of the DF-21D and DF-26 missiles, saying only that the “Chinese side has neither confirmed nor denied it.”
The editorial added that China “must increase its actions in the waters accordingly to suppress US arrogance and reinforce the US understanding that China does not fear a war.”
Home to vital international shipping lanes, the South China Sea is widely deemed as a potential flashpoint for a military conflict between the US and China.
Wednesday’s tests come a month after two US aircraft carrier strike groups, led by the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, completed combined exercises in the South China Sea for the first time in six years.
The US has increased its naval activity in the region in recent months, carrying out routine patrols, referred to as freedom of navigation operations. On Thursday a US guided-missile destroyer sailed near the Chinese-claimed Paracel Islands.
In a news conference call on Thursday, US Vice Adm. Scott Conn, commander of the US Navy’s Third Fleet, talked up the US naval presence in the region and its ability to respond to Chinese threats.
“In terms of launching of the ballistic missiles, the US Navy has 38 ships underway today in the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, and we continue to fly and sail and operate anywhere international law allows to demonstrate our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and reassure our allies and partners,” he said.

‘High level of sophistication’

China’s drills, while intended to send a message to adversaries, also offer a rare opportunity for observers to assess the country’s advanced military capabilities.
According to Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, Wednesday’s missile tests showed a high level of sophistication, owing to the involvement of two separate military branches, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and its Strategic Rocket Force (SRF).
“This missile shot indicates China has or is very close to establishing procedures for coordinated fleet-SRF anti-ship ballistic missile attacks,” he said. That echoes comments made in Chinese state media that Beijing had developed what it termed a “complete system,” using aircraft, satellites and ships at sea to monitor the movements of enemy vessels and relay information to the missiles so they can adjust their trajectories during their final attack phase.
Schuster also noted the missiles were fired into an area where Chinese naval vessels were likely operating, indicating a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the missiles.
More maneuvers are expected in the days ahead. Beijing announced new exercises are set to begin in the Yellow Sea on Saturday and stretch through next Thursday.
Those follow at least four exercises that were underway on Tuesday, when Beijing says a US U-2 spy plane encroached on an exercise off its northern coast.
“The trespass severely affected China’s normal exercises and training activities, and violated the rules of behavior for air and maritime safety between China and the United States, as well as relevant international practices,” Wu, the Defense Ministry spokesperson, said.
A statement from US Pacific Air Forces to CNN confirmed a U-2 flight — but said it did not violate any rules.
“A U-2 sortie was conducted in the Indo-Pacific area of operations and within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights. Pacific Air Forces personnel will continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing,” the statement said.

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