United Nations, SEP 28 (AP/UNB) — Four days before its communist government's 70th birthday, China on Friday condemned protectionism and unilateralism as "major threats," took not-entirely-subtle shots at U.S. economic policies and proudly pronounced itself "a country that is open and on the move."
With Chinese President Xi Jinping not attending this year's U.N. General Assembly, it fell to Foreign Minister Wang Yi to tell the story of the People's Republic of China at the seven-decade mark. He did so with dispatch and style, plowing through a speech that outlined many of his country's accomplishments, challenges, philosophies and international beefs.
He called China "an anchor of stability for world peace" and much more.
"Seventy years ago, China put an end to a period in modem history in which the country was torn apart and trampled upon. We stood up and became true masters of our country," Wang said.
The current chapter for China, a culture thousands of years old, began on Oct. 1, 1949 when Mao Zedong stood at a microphone atop Tiananmen Square in Beijing and declared a new government in the nation his communist guerrillas took from Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists after a civil war.
When Mao died in 1976 after an extraordinary tenure punctuated by repression, famine and party intrigue, China began a period known as "reform and opening up." Senior leader Deng Xiaoping engaged with the West, re-established diplomatic relations with the United States and began a period of economic, technological and developmental growth — a "socialist market economy" that drove China to where it is today.
Which is, among other things, in a major trade dispute with the United States — a tariff battle that threatens global economic growth. That was not lost on Wang during his address at the U.N., where a large anniversary display in a heavily trafficked foyer offers onlookers a photo history of the world's most populous nation under communist rule.
"Erecting walls will not resolve global challenges, and blaming others for one's own problems does not work," he said, in a reference likely aimed at the United States. "Tariffs and provocation of trade disputes, which upset global industrial and supply chains, serve to undermine the multilateral trading regime and global economic and trade order. They may even plunge the world into recession."
"Facing the headwinds of protectionism," he said, "we should not just stand idly by."
China is offering to narrow a trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American exports. But the Beijing government is resisting pressure from Washington to roll back technology plans that their trading partners say violate Beijing's free-trade commitments and hurt foreign competitors.
U.S. President Donald Trump postponed a planned tariff hike on Chinese goods ahead of the 13th round of talks in Washington in early October. Beijing has lifted punitive duties on soybeans in a move that helps both American farmers and Chinese pig breeders who need soy as feed.
Wang, whose address at times read like a listicle about "Things China Has Accomplished," was not shy about touting the formidable progress made by his nation, which he said "has done, in just seven decades, what it took some countries hundreds of years to complete." Chinese often express pride at the speed of their nation's progress and the rise in living standards for many since the country began to open to the larger world after Mao died in 1976.
Not unexpectedly, Wang cited growth and development as the engines behind China's successes thus far. "Development," he said, "is the master key to solving all problems."
China is in the midst of a major, multipronged global strategy called the Belt and Road Initiative, which is developing infrastructure projects in concert with scores of other nations and organizations. Beijing calls it a significant contribution to environmentally friendly growth, but others see it as an influence play designed to extend the country's footprint even further.
In his speech, Wang exhorted other countries to "seize the development opportunities" that the Belt and Road Initiative has created.
Overall, however, his speech seemed almost a position paper for China at age 70. It cast the country under Xi as a defender of peace and justice, an advocate of the principle of independence and a committed multilateralist — all assertions that the government's adversaries have taken issue with.
China has long emphasized what it calls its commitment to multilateralism, a stance that has become even more persuasive to other nations since Trump took office in 2017 and began to pursue an "America first" policy that has unsettled enemies and allies alike.
On Friday, on the sidelines of the U.N. meeting, Wang showed off another side of China's trajectory, officially collecting another in a spate of smaller countries that have ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the self-governed island that Beijing claims as part of its territory. Chiang's defeated Nationalist government retreated there in 1949 after being vanquished by Mao's Red Army.
Wang and the president of the island nation of Kiribati signed a document re-establishing relations. An announcement by China's official Xinhua News Agency cited the upcoming 70th anniversary and said the renewed China-Kiribati relationship "will undoubtedly add glory to this important historical moment."
"Over the past seven decades, China has turned itself from a closed, backward and poor country with a weak foundation into a country that is open and on the move," Wang said in his speech.
"Let me make it very clear," he told the global audience gathered at the United Nations. "China is a country with a 5,000-year civilization, 1.4 billion hardworking and courageous people, and a vast land of 9.6 million square kilometers. China will not ever be cowed by threats or subdued by pressure."
Dhaka, Sep 28 (UNB) - When forestry staff found her deep in the jungle of the Irrawaddy Delta, Ayeyar Sein was three months old. One of her legs was caught in a steel trap laid by poachers. Workers from the government’s timber extraction enterprise saved her and sent her to an elephant camp in Bago Region for treatment. Now she is one of eight calves being sheltered at Wingabaw, Myanmar’s only elephant orphanage, reports global voices.
Another calf, Ayeyar Maung, endured a similar ordeal. Before his arrival at the camp, the six-month-old was snared in a wire trap. As he was stuck among a group of boulders in the same forest where Ayeyar Sein was found, his herd was forced to leave him behind. However, forest workers were able to free him and he arrived at the camp last year.
They are the youngest of the orphans at the camp; the oldest is nearly four years their senior. All have tragic backgrounds. Some were left by their herds, while others were orphaned when their parents were killed by poachers. At Wingabaw Camp, the motherless calves rely on baby formula provided daily by staff. They are allowed to roam in the forest in the morning and wash in a nearby stream before returning to the camp.
Currently, it is believed that Myanmar has nearly 1,500 wild elephants. But they are under serious threat from poaching, with elephants being killed at the alarming rate of one a week.
Tokyo, SEP 27 (AP/UNB) — Japan raised its caution level about North Korea's missile capability, saying in a defense report that the country resumed missile tests while taking no concrete denuclearization steps and had succeeded in making miniaturized warheads.
The annual defense paper, approved Friday by the Cabinet, underscores Japan's fear of being targeted by its neighbor. Its reaction to the North's recent tests contrasts to the low-key U.S. response.
"Taking into consideration its technological maturity acquired by nuclear tests, North Korea seems to have already achieved miniaturization of warheads to place atop ballistic missiles," said the report, which last year only mentioned it as a possibility. The North is now aiming to further increase missile ranges, improve accuracy and operational and surprise attack capability and diversify launching methods, it said.
North Korea's military activity "still poses serious and imminent threat" to Japan's security as well as international peace and safety.
Since the second U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed this year, North Korea has fired 10 short-range missiles and projectiles deemed new and upgraded.
Citing its analysis, the Defense Ministry said they were three new types, including one resembling Russia's Iskander, and flight distances ranging from 200 kilometers (124 miles) to 600 km (370 miles). It said the missiles were new and their capability upgraded, and that Japan needs to further strengthen its missile defenses.
North Korean missiles within those flight ranges could strike targets in Japan and South Korea but not the U.S., which has been the basis for the low-key Trump administration reaction.
Japan's defense report also noted China's threat is expanding into space from the regional seas, saying Japan must prioritize space security.
Japan has been bolstering its defense role under its alliance with the U.S. and is now launching a space unit and measures against cyber and electromagnetic attacks.
While many countries are developing their capabilities to ensure their military superiority, China and Russia have been enhancing capabilities to "impede the U.S. and its allies from using outer space," the report said. It said China and Russia are developing missiles and satellites to destroy satellites or interfere with their communication with the ground. "Threats to stable use of the space are intensifying," it said.
Even though Japan and South Korea are U.S. allies who face shared threats, the defense report gave South Korea a relegated position. Their relations deteriorated rapidly since July over wartime history and export controls that spilled over to defense, prompting Seoul to announce in late August it would terminate a bilateral military intelligence pact. In the report, Japan urged Seoul to "wisely respond to secure appropriate cooperation between Japan and South Korea, and among Japan, the U.S. and South Korea."
The intelligence sharing pact had symbolized the countries' three-way security cooperation countering North Korea and China.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, citing the recent tensions, said it is not inviting South Korea to an international navy review Japan hosts next month.
London, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah Ferguson have announced the engagement of their elder daughter, Princess Beatrice.
They said Thursday that Beatrice is engaged to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, a real estate entrepreneur. The 31-year-old princess is a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
Buckingham Palace says the couple became engaged in Italy earlier this month. The wedding will take place in 2020.
"We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can't wait to actually be married," the couple said.
Andrew and Sarah, who remain on very good terms despite their 1996 divorce, said in a statement they are "thrilled" with the engagement.
"We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future," they said.
They said they are "the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man."
Their younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, married Jack Brooksbank last year.
Paris, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — Affable but armed with a steely will, Jacques Chirac was a consummate politician who served as Paris mayor, lawmaker, prime minister and then president of France for 12 years, always championing the nation's sense of its own grandeur.
Chirac's ambition and determination, which won him the nickname "Le Bulldozer, kept him in office but alienated France's oldest ally when he opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
His death on Thursday at age 86 marked a nation feeling sorely in need of a leader with Chirac's staying power. During 40 years in public life, he weathered political failures and corruption scandals but emerged as a president with a human touch. No French head of state since Chirac has lasted two terms.
Foreign leaders hailed Chirac's statesmanship, while French President Emmanuel Macron said the conservative leader so familiar to the nation "embodied a certain idea of France."
"Whether or not you shared his ideas, his combat, we all recognized ourselves in him, this man who resembled us, assembled us," Macron said in a solemn homage on national television.
"Jacques Chirac was a great Frenchman ... in love with our land, steeped in our history and in love ... with our culture," Macron said.
In a highly unusual move, Macron, a centrist, threw open the doors of the Elysee presidential palace Thursday night through Sunday so citizens could sign a condolence book. They streamed in after dark.
A lifelong conservative, Chirac fashioned himself as the political successor of Gen. Charles de Gaulle, the World War II Resistance hero turned president who even today is a national icon in France.
Chirac founded the party meant to carry on de Gaulle's legacy, the Rally for the Republic. Its name has changed twice as it became tainted by corruption and other scandals, and today is a shadow of its former itself.
Corruption charges dating from his nearly two decades as Paris mayor dogged Chirac himself, but immunity from prosecution protected him. He finally was snared in 2011, four years after leaving the presidency, and found guilty on multiple charges and given a two-year suspended jail sentence.
France's political long-distance runner, Chirac won the presidency on his third try in 1995. He was reelected to a second term in 2002 after a showdown with then-far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. An exceptional groundswell of support from the left and right buoyed Chirac to a 82% landslide victory against Le Pen, a political pariah linked to racism and anti-Semitism.
In a bid to broaden his party's appeal to rising nationalists, Chirac pushed the conservatives' political compass further right before becoming president. He notably referred during a speech at a 1991 party banquet to "the noise and the odors" of a fictitious immigrant family on welfare. The rock group Zebda made a song out of the phrase.
Yet Chirac also raised France's moral stature by acknowledging the French state was an accomplice to the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews during World War II, an admission that a generation of previous leaders failed to make.
"These dark hours soil forever our history and are an injury to our past and our traditions," Chirac said after two months in office.
"The criminal folly of the (German) occupier was seconded by the French, by the French state," he said, referring to the collaborationist Vichy regime.
Chirac embraced European unity as well, once calling it an "art", and was personally and politically humiliated in 2005 when France said "no" in a referendum to a constitution meant to fortify the European Union.
Chirac's considerable people skills were no match for the challenges of the presidency. He struggled to reform France's regulated economy and failed to defuse tensions between police and minority youths that exploded into nationwide riots in 2005.
His popularity didn't fully recover until he left the Elysee in 2007, when he handed power to protege-turned-rival Nicolas Sarkozy. Chirac went on to become one of France's favorite political figures, often praised for his human qualities rather than his political achievements.
At Chirac's side for 63 years was his wife and political accomplice, Bernadette Chirac. A politician in her own right, she served for decades as a local official in the Correze region in the heart of agricultural France, where her husband had his family roots. A stoic partner despite her dashing husband's flirtations, she captured the admiration of the French for her charitable works, and her unperturbable demeanor.
"It's not just a marriage of love," she said in a 2015 interview with France 3 TV. "It was a marriage of ambition."
In his long political career, Chirac was derided by critics as opportunistic and impulsive. But as president, he embodied the fierce independence so treasured in France: he championed the United Nations and a multipolar world as a counterweight to U.S. global dominance, and defended handsome EU agricultural subsidies from protests by the European Union.
In 2002, he reportedly became the first head of state to call global attention to climate change, railing in a speech, "Our house is burning, and we are looking the other way." The phrase was widely repeated in ensuing years.
Chirac was also remembered for another trait valued by the French: style.
Dapper, tall and charming, Chirac was a bon vivant who openly enjoyed trappings of power such as luxury trips abroad and life in a government-owned palace. His slicked-back hair and ski-slope nose were favorites of political cartoonists.
Yet he retained a common touch that worked wonders on the campaign trail, exuding warmth when kissing babies and enthusiasm when farmers — a key constituency — showed off their tractors. His leisure time included American-style western movies and beer.
"I want less protocol, less pomp," Chirac was quoted by aides as saying when he first moved into the Elysee Palace, eschewing the imperial style of his predecessor.
Despite a strong start in the presidency, his government quickly fell from favor. The 1991 parliamentary election forced Chirac to share power with Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
While he had won a convincing mandate for his anti-crime, pro-Europe agenda at home, Chirac's outspoken opposition to the invasion of Iraq rocked relations with France's top ally, a clash that briefly weakened the Atlantic alliance. Angry Americans poured Bordeaux wine into the gutter and restaurants renamed French fries "freedom fries" in retaliation.
The United States invaded anyway - but without U.N. backing.
Yet Chirac was the first head of state to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and fly over the scene of devastation in lower Manhattan.
Chirac used his diplomatic skills to cultivate ties with leaders across the Middle East and Africa.
He was greeted by enthusiastic crowds on a 2003 trip to Algeria, where he once was deployed in the battle against independence fighters in a brutal seven-year war to throw off the yoke of French colonial rule.
Chirac was a survivor — even escaping shots from a lone gunman who lunged from the crowd on the Champs-Elysees Avenue at the start of the 2002 Bastille Day Parade.
In recent years, Chirac was rarely seen in public. Two institutions bear his name and reflect his special interests: The Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum of indigenous art from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania, created in 2006, and the Chirac Foundation, set up in 2008 to support peace projects.
Chirac is survived by his wife and younger daughter. His older daughter, Laurence, died in 2016.