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China demands US cancel arms sale to Taiwan

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China demanded Tuesday that the United States “immediately cancel” a potential sale of $2.2 billion in arms to self-ruled Taiwan, including battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles, adding fuel to tensions between the two powers.

It would be the first big-ticket US military sale to the democratically-governed island in decades, and comes as ties between Washington and Beijing are already strained by their trade war.

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China has lodged formal complaints through diplomatic channels expressing “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the move, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

The deal includes 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, 250 Stinger portable anti-aircraft missiles, related equipment and support at an estimated cost of just over $2.2 billion, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The proposed sale “will contribute to the modernization of the recipient’s main battle tank fleet”, improve its air defense system and “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability (of Taiwan),” DSCA said.

It would not alter the “basic military balance in the region,” the agency added, and Congress has been notified. US lawmakers have 30 days to object to the sale but are unlikely to do so.

Geng said the proposed deal “seriously violates the one-China principle” and “grossly interferes” in the country’s internal affairs.

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“China urges the US to… immediately cancel the planned arms sale and stop military relations with Taipei to avoid damaging Sino-US relations and harming peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers it a part of its territory to be retaken — by force if necessary.

China has significantly stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Taipei since the election in 2016 of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of “One China”.

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It has staged military exercises near the island, and steadily reduced the already small number of nations that recognise Taiwan.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but has remained an important ally — and arms supplier — to Taipei. Laws passed that year by Congress required Washington to provide the island with means of self-defence.

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But it has been wary of big-ticket military equipment sales to Taiwan in recent years, fearful of stoking anger in Beijing.

– Obsolete equipment –

President Donald Trump — whose administration is locked in a trade war with China — has however sought to strengthen ties with Taiwan and appears more willing to sell arms.

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AFP/File / Chris STOWERS Taiwan has sought to upgrade much of its increasingly obsolete military equipment, especially in its air force

Taiwan would be massively outgunned in terms of troop numbers and firepower in any conflict with China, and has sought to upgrade much of its increasingly obsolete military equipment, especially in its air force.

“Taiwan stands in the frontline of China’s ambitious expansion and faces enormous threats and pressure from Beijing,” the Taiwanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“This arms sale of M1A2 tanks and various missiles will help greatly to increase our defensive capabilities.”

Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles — which are portable and can be quickly moved by soldiers in the field — would significantly increase Taiwan’s ability to counter Chinese armour and warplanes in the event of an invasion.

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“The M1A2 tanks are very reliable and will become an essential part of our ground defense” because of their maneuvrability, Lieutenant General Yang Hai-ming of the Taiwanese army told reporters.

“Having the M1A2 to replace our older tanks will quickly and effectively boost our defence capability.”


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Head of Jewish Democratic Council of America denounces Trump speech as anti-Semitic

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The executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America told Salon on Sunday that President Donald Trump's recent comments about Jewish voters continue "what has been a very negative stereotype of Jews and money and power."

"He has said in the past that he wants Jews to be the ones counting his money," Halie Soifer told Salon. "He has repeatedly made references to what has been a very negative stereotype of Jews and money and power." After saying that "I think that he must believe it, and that is why he continues to repeat it," Soifer noted that Trump was repeating claims that he has made when "typically speaking extemporaneously, and clearly he's speaking from his heart. It's clear that there's quite a bit of hatred in it." Soifer also criticized Trump for having "views of Jews as driven largely by money, which is why he said at this events that Jews have no choice but to support him, referring to tax cuts."

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‘I think he went crazy’: Trial lawyer reveals ‘no one can explain’ Rudy Giuliani

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is already under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors. Yet, Giuliani maintains that he will prevail as the ultimate hero of the story.

In a Sunday panel discussion, two top legal minds, NYU Professor Melissa Murray and notorious trial lawyer Steve Sussman discussed the strange pivot made by the mayor.

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MSNBC analyst shreds GOP claim impeachment is an effort to change the 2016 election

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Republicans have claimed that the reason Democrats have sought impeachment, either from the Russia scandal to the Ukraine scandal, is that they want to unmake the 2016 election. Speaking to MSNBC Sunday, NYU Law Prof. Melissa Murray ripped the claim to shreds.

First, impeachment would only remove President Donald Trump is the Republican Senate voted to do so. If the president were removed, the new president wouldn't be Hillary Clinton; it would be Mike Pence, getting Democrats no victories other than upholding the rule of law.

"As these proceedings go away, there is building support for impeachment; it will require a supermajority of the Senate in order to convict and remove the president, which will require some Republican Senators to peel off and depart from the path," Murray said. "But I think the really important thing that Bob has mentioned here is this idea ta the Republicans are taunting that impeachment is a backend effort to basically subvert the will of the people. I think the testimony that was presented yesterday makes clear that that claim is specious."

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