Beijing, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) -China's Defense Ministry has pointed to an article in Hong Kong law that allows Chinese army troops to step in during certain public security crises.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian made the comments at a briefing Wednesday when asked how the Defense Ministry will respond to rising "independence forces" in Hong Kong.
Wu said the "behavior of some radical demonstrators ... is absolutely intolerable" and pointed to Article 14 of Hong Kong's Garrison Law without elaborating.
The article stipulates that the Hong Kong government may ask for assistance from Chinese military troops stationed in the city "in the maintenance of public order."
Hong Kong residents have taken to the streets in droves over the last month to protest a controversial extradition bill and call for democratic reforms.
China says its first joint air patrol with Russia was not aimed at third parties, after South Korea complained the warplanes violated its airspace.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian says the Chinese and Russian air forces conducted a patrol Tuesday over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea without entering other countries' airspace.
Wu says China dispatched two H- 6K bombers in a mixed formation with two Russian Tu-95s to "deepen and develop" the two countries' strategic partnership.
A South Korean official said Tuesday that Chinese warplanes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its southwest coast before its joint flight with the Russian planes. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots at a Russian aircraft, and Seoul filed official protests with Beijing and Moscow.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted Tuesday that the air defense identification zone is not territorial airspace and others are entitled to fly through it.
China says U.S., Japanese and Australian moves to beef up their military presence and alliances in the Asia-Pacific are bringing uncertainties to the region.
The national defense white paper released Wednesday said the U.S. deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea has severely undermined the regional strategic balance.
The report also noted Japan's reinterpretation of its post-World War II constitution to allow its military to operate farther from its shores. It said Australia is seeking a bigger role in regional security by strengthening its alliance with the U.S. and its military engagement.
China's military expansion in recent years has prompted concerns among other Pacific countries in a region long dominated by the U.S. Navy.
China says it will not "renounce the use of force" in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vows to take all necessary military measures to defeat "separatists."
In a national defense white paper released Wednesday, China emphasized its resolve to combat what it considers separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the threat of Taiwan separatism is growing and warned that those who are seeking Taiwan independence will meet a dead end.
Kabul, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) — Every day before dawn, 10-year-old Kamran goes to work with his father and other relatives at a brick factory on the outskirts of Kabul.
Like many children in Afghanistan, school is a luxury his family can no longer afford. His father, Atiqullah, supports his family of eight as well as several siblings, nieces and nephews. One of Kamran's uncles is ill and another has passed away, leaving their families in his father's care.
"My children wake up early in the morning and right after prayers they come here for work, so they don't have time for school," said Atiqullah, who like many Afghans has only one name. "These days if you don't work, you cannot survive."
The U.S. and its allies have sunk billions of dollars of aid into Afghanistan since the invasion to oust the Taliban 18 years ago, but the country remains mired in poverty. Signs of hardship are everywhere, from children begging in the streets to entire families — including children as young as five or six — working at brick kilns in the sweltering heat.
Atiqullah's family comes from the eastern Nangarhar province, a stronghold for both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate that has seen heavy fighting in recent years. Brick factory owners travel to the villages and offer loans to cover basic necessities, forcing families to work them off during the summer months in a form of indentured servitude. Workers say a family of 10 can bring in an average of $12-18 a day, depending on their productivity.
Shubham Chaudhuri, who recently completed a three-year stint as the World Bank country director for Afghanistan, said more than half of Afghans live on less than a dollar a day, the amount considered necessary to meet basic needs.
"Even more striking was the fact that almost three quarters of the population was close to that level. So I think the state of poverty in Afghanistan today is that it is deep and it is widespread," he said.
A U.N. report released last year said that more than 2 million Afghan children aged 6-14 were engaged in some form of child labor. Laws governing child labor in Afghanistan are poorly enforced, especially in rural areas.
Afghanistan's economy grew by just 2% last year, the slowest rate in South Asia, held back by the lingering conflict, drought and endemic corruption. The watchdog Transparency International regularly rates Afghanistan among the most corrupt countries on earth. Much of the international aid has ended up in the hands of former warlords who live in gated compounds, cruise around in motorcades and stash their fortunes in the Gulf.
Widespread misery and anger at the country's elites has added fuel to the conflict and swelled the ranks of the Taliban, who now effectively control around half the country. The insurgents have held several rounds of talks with the United States in recent months, aiming for a deal in which foreign forces would withdraw.
A World Bank report released in this week said a political settlement with the Taliban could boost the economy by encouraging the return of capital and skilled workers from overseas — but only if the security situation improves.
"Rapid growth will only be possible with improved security under a government that remains committed to private sector development, respects the rights of investors, and maintains the gains Afghanistan has achieved over the past two decades toward establishing strong and impartial government institutions," the World Bank's current country director, Henry Kerali, was quoted as saying in the report.
Jan Agha, a 65-year-old who works alongside Atiqullah's family in the brick kilns, has little hope for the future. He's been working off loans for more than 30 years, 20 of them spent as a refugee in neighboring Pakistan. His four sons have already joined him on the assembly line, and he expects his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to do the same.
"We always think about our future," he said. "We don't know how long we will live with economic problems like this, when we will be able to live our own lives, when we will be able to breathe in freedom. Right now we live like slaves."
Seoul, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) — Russia wants an investigation into a South Korean announcement that one of its military planes violated South Korea's airspace, a senior lawmaker said Wednesday citing, Russia's acting ambassador.
Seoul said South Korean fighter jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots to drive away the Russian reconnaissance plane that entered its airspace off South Korea's east coast twice Tuesday during a joint patrol with Chinese bombers.
Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the South Korean parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, quoted Russia's Acting Ambassador Maxim Volkov as telling him that Russia feels "regrettable" over the incident.
Yoon cited Volkov as saying Russia thinks an investigation was necessary and has requested related South Korean information.
Russia's Embassy in Seoul couldn't immediately confirm Volkov's reported comments.
Russia says two of its bombers were on a routine flight over neutral waters and didn't violate South Korea's airspace. Russia's Defense Ministry also denied that South Korean jets fired warning shots though said they flew close to the Russian planes in "unprofessional maneuvers."
South Korea said it was the first time a foreign military plane had violated its airspace since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The foreign and defense ministries on Tuesday summoned Volkov and Russia's deputy military attache in South Korea, Nikolai Marchenko, to register their complaints. They also summoned China's ambassador and the defense attache to protest Beijing's overflight.
According to South Korean accounts, the reconnaissance plane and two other Russian bombers entered South Korea's air defense identification zone earlier Tuesday together with two Chinese bombers. However, the zone is not considered a country's territorial sky and extends beyond it. It is meant to give authorities an early warning of a possible incursion.
China's Defense Ministry said Thursday that China and Russia carried out their first joint air patrol in Northeast Asia that "does not target any third party." Spokesman Wu Qian said in Beijing the two countries each sent two bombers for the patrols along established air routes and that they "didn't enter the territorial airspace of other countries."
The airspace that South Korea says the Russian reconnaissance plane entered is above a group of islets controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. Japan subsequently protested both Russian and South Korean actions, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. He said in Tokyo that Japan urged Russia not to repeat its airspace violation.
South Korea said it cannot accept the Japanese statement because the islets belong to South Korea.
Beijing, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) — Authorities say at least 12 people have died in two landslides in southwestern China and a rescue operation is underway for 34 missing.
State broadcaster CCTV says a landslide on Tuesday night buried 21 houses and caused at least 11 deaths in Guizhou province's Shuicheng county.
Eleven people have been rescued while another 34 remain missing. More than 500 rescuers are searching the area.
An earlier landslide hit a village in Hezhang county in Guizhou on Tuesday afternoon, leaving one dead and six missing.
The official Xinhua News Agency has reported the landslide occurred at a highway construction site.
London, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) — Boris Johnson, Britain's blustering Brexit campaigner, was chosen as the U.K.'s next prime minister on Tuesday, with a resounding mandate from the Conservative Party but conflicting demands from a politically divided country.
Johnson is set to become prime minister on Wednesday after winning an election to lead the governing Conservatives. He will have just over three months to make good on his promise to lead the U.K. out of the European Union by Oct. 31.
Famed for his bravado, quips in Latin and blond mop of hair , Johnson easily defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt, winning two-thirds of the votes of about 160,000 party members across the U.K. He will become prime minister once Queen Elizabeth II formally asks him to form a government, replacing Theresa May.
The embattled May announced her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc, leaving Britain stranded in Brexit limbo. The U.K.'s departure from the EU was delayed from its long scheduled exit in March.
Johnson radiated optimism in a brief victory speech to hundreds of party members and lawmakers, pledging to "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn," leader of the opposition Labour Party.
"I say to all the doubters: 'Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done,'" said Johnson, a former London mayor and British foreign secretary.
In a sign he hopes to move beyond the largely white, male and affluent Conservative Party members who chose him as their leader, Johnson's office said he will put together a "Cabinet for modern Britain," with a record number of ethnic-minority lawmakers.
Hunt, a stolid politician compared to the flamboyant Johnson , said he was sure his rival would "do a great job."
"He's got optimism, enthusiasm, he puts a smile on people's face and he has total, unshakable confidence in our amazing country," said Hunt, who is likely to be removed as foreign secretary by the new prime minister.
Johnson wooed Conservatives by promising to succeed where May had failed and lead the U.K. out of the EU — with or without a divorce deal.
Johnson insists he can get the EU to renegotiate, something the bloc insists it won't do. If not, he says Britain must leave the EU by the Oct. 31 deadline, "come what may."
The EU is adamant that the deal with May will stand, saying Britain has to take it or leave it.
Michel Barnier, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, said he looked forward "to working constructively" with the new Conservative leader "to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement."
Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession . Fears that Britain is inching closer to crashing out of the bloc weighed on the pound once again Tuesday. The currency was down another 0.3 percent at $1.2450, nearly a two-year low.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director of the Confederation of British Industry, said businesses needed a withdrawal agreement with the EU to restore confidence that has been badly shaken by uncertainty about the terms of Brexit.
"On Brexit, the new prime minister must not underestimate the benefits of a good deal," she said.
Johnson faces a host of other challenges, from dealing with Iran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker to forging a relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, but Brexit is his overriding problem.
Trump was scathing about May's inability to achieve a Brexit deal and has said Johnson will do a better job.
On Tuesday he said Johnson "is going to do a good job" and "will get it done."
"We have a really good man is going to be prime minister of the U.K. now, Boris Johnson," Trump told a youth conference. "Good man. He's tough and he's smart. They say 'Britain Trump,' they call him Britain Trump, and people say that's a good thing."
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow described Johnson as "a breath of fresh air. I think he'll complete the Brexit process."
More than three years after Britain narrowly voted to leave the EU, the country remains divided over whether to leave, and on what terms.
Johnson won the leadership contest by persuading Conservative members, who are strongly pro-Brexit, that Britain will leave the bloc "do or die."
Opponents say Johnson is reckless on Brexit and unrepentant about offensive and racist comments, such as calling Papua New Guineans cannibals and comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to "letter boxes."
Opposition Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chuka Umunna tweeted: "I cannot think of a Tory leadership candidate more unfit to become the Prime Minister of this country than Boris Johnson," adding that his election was "a dark and depressing time for the U.K."
Tony Travers, professor of government at the London School of Economics, said Johnson might moderate his Brexit stance now that he has secured the premiership.
"I would expect once he's in government to begin to nuance his position somewhat, because he'll now be appealing to a different set of voters: that's the U.K. electorate as a whole, not just the Conservative members, who are much more pro-Brexit."
The first clues to Johnson's plans are likely to come when he begins appointing his Cabinet on Wednesday and Thursday.
British lawmakers are due to start a six-week summer break on Friday. When they return in September, Johnson looks set for a fight with Parliament, where most members oppose leaving the EU without a deal, and where the Conservative Party lacks an overall majority.
Several government ministers have already announced they will quit so they can resist any push for a no-deal Brexit.
"We'll have to see what Boris can muster," said Conservative lawmaker Margot James, who resigned last week as digital minister. "The default position is leaving without a deal, and there is a significant majority in Parliament who will work very hard to be sure that doesn't happen. And I will be among that number."
Outside the London conference center where the Conservative result was announced, pro-Brexit and pro-EU demonstrators waved rival Union Jacks and EU flags — and both sides had their doubts about Johnson.
"In the referendum, we were told that our vote would be honored, and (politicians) have spent three years trying to thwart Brexit," said retiree Sally Wright, who was not confident Johnson would deliver where others had failed.
Anti-Brexit demonstrator Kasia Verissimo was equally skeptical.
"I think Boris Johnson is a person who will always say whatever gives him better career choices," she said. "He tells you what you want to hear."