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US environmental chief to visit Taiwan as China cracks down in Hong Kong


Tensions between the United States and China are continuing to escalate with the US in talks to visit Taiwan next month as China ramps up its encroachment in Hong Kong.

The New York Times reported Friday that Environmental Protection Administrator Andrew Wheeler plans to visit the island, and Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang confirmed a visit was in the works.

“We’d welcome a visit by the head of the U.S. EPA at the invitation of Foreign Minister Joseph Wu for bilateral discussions on international cooperation on environmental issues,” Su said. “It will further improve ties between the two sides.”

In August, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-ranking US official to travel to Taiwan since the US broke off ties with Taipei in 1979. A month later, Undersecretary of State Keith Krach visited Taiwan.

Both visits provoked aggressive reactions from Beijing, sending Chinese military aircraft over the median line of the Taiwan Strait during each visit, as Taiwan becomes another flashpoint between the world’s two largest economies.

China’s ruling Communist Party in Beijing claims democratically ruled Taiwan is a “rogue province” and does not acknowledge Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Friday repeated that Beijing “firmly opposes” all forms of official interaction between the US and Taiwan.

Other disputes between the superpowers center on trade, the coronavirus, and China’s violations of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

President Trump has called COVID-19 “the China virus” and has engaged in a trade war with the Communist regime. The Trump administration has also imposed harsh sanctions on pro-CCP Hong Kong officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong police are investigating a campus protest over suspected violations of a security law imposed by China, fueling growing concerns about a crackdown on freedom of expression in the Asian financial center.

The Hong Kong Police Force is probing reports that protesters advocated independence from China during a demonstration Thursday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Protesters “displayed banners and flags, as well as chanted slogans advocating ‘Hong Kong independence,’” and vandalized the campus with spray paint, the police said.

On campus, graduating students — many in ceremonial black robes — held up banners calling for Hong Kong independence and criticizing the government. Other students donned Guy Fawkes masks and gas masks or carried umbrellas, which became symbolic of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-changEPA

Some students hung a banner reading “Revolution is an obligation” from a nearby cliff.

The university called the police and released two statements condemning the deeds, saying the education department in Hong Kong and the police deem this behavior violates the national security of Hong Kong.

China’s top legislative body imposed the measure banning “secession, terrorism, subversion and collusion with foreign forces” on June 30.

Foreign governments led by the US and UK have strongly condemned the new security measures as crackdowns on freedom.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit — hosted virtually by Malaysia — on Friday to discuss the coronavirus and global economic recovery.

Asia Pacific leaders have called for more open and multilateral trade to support economic recovery, and warned against protectionist trade policies such as those introduced by Trump since 2017.

Trump imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products, engaging in a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, and also pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

With Post wires

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