“The political message is greater than the economic hit,” said Chiao Chun, a former trade negotiator for the Taiwanese government.

Even though about 90 percent of Taiwan’s imported gravel and sand comes from China, most of that is manufactured. China accounted for only about 11 percent of Taiwan’s natural sand imports in the first half of this year, according to the Bureau of Mines.

The two types of Taiwanese fish exports that China restricted last week — chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel — are collectively worth about $22 million, less than half the value of the Taiwanese grouper trade that was banned earlier this year. They are also less dependent on the Chinese market.

As for Taiwan’s half-a-billion-dollar citrus industry, its shipments to China account for only 1.1 percent of the island’s total agricultural exports, according to Taiwan’s Agriculture Council. A popular theory is that Beijing singled out citrus farmers because most orchards are in southern Taiwan, a stronghold for the governing political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, a longtime target of Beijing’s anger.

Future bans may become more targeted to punish industries in counties that are D.P.P. strongholds, said Thomas J. Shattuck, an expert on Taiwan at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. There may also be less retaliation against counties run by the Kuomintang opposition party “in an attempt to put a finger on the scale for Taiwan’s local, and even national, elections,” he added.

increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. One producer, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, makes roughly 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, and sells them to both China and the West.

simulated a blockade of Taiwan.

Even though some of the exercises took place in the Taiwan Strait, a key artery for international shipping, they did not disrupt access to ports in Taiwan or southern China, said Tan Hua Joo, an analyst at Linerlytica, a company in Singapore that tracks data on the container shipping industry. He added that port congestion would build only if the strait was completely blocked, port access was restricted or port operations were hampered by a labor or equipment shortage.

“None of these are happening at the moment,” he said.

Vessels that chose to avoid the Taiwan Strait last week because of the Chinese military’s “chest beating” activities would have faced a 12- to 18-hour delay, an inconvenience that would generally be considered manageable, said Niels Rasmussen, the chief shipping analyst at Bimco, an international shipping association.

If Beijing were to escalate tensions in the future, it would indicate that it was willing to put at risk China’s own economy as well as its trade and relations with Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States, Mr. Rasmussen said by phone from his office near Copenhagen.

“That’s just difficult to accept that they would take that decision,” he added. “But then again, I didn’t expect Russia to invade Ukraine.”

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From subway stations to shopping malls, Taiwan prepares its air-raid shelters

TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Taiwan is preparing its air-raid shelters as rising tension with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raise new fears about the possibility of a Chinese attack on the democratic island.

China considers Taiwan its territory and has increased military activity in the air and seas around it. Taiwan vows to defend itself and has made strengthening its defences a priority, with regular military and civil defence drills. read more

The preparations include designating shelters where people can take cover if Chinese missiles start flying in, not in purpose-built bunkers but in underground spaces like basement car parks, the subway system and subterranean shopping centres.

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The capital of Taipei has more than 4,600 such shelters that can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population.

Harmony Wu, 18, was surprised to learn that an underground shopping concourse where she and other youngsters were recently rehearsing some dance moves would be turned into an air-raid shelter in the event of war.

But she said she could understand why.

“Having shelter is very necessary. We don’t know when a war might come and they are to keep us safe,” Wu said at the venue near a Taipei subway station.

“War is brutal. We’ve never experienced it so we aren’t prepared,” she said.

Taipei officials have been updating their database of designated shelters, putting their whereabouts on a smartphone app and launching a social media and poster campaign to make sure people know how to find their closest one.

Shelter entrances are marked with a yellow label, about the size of an A4 piece of paper, with the maximum number of people it can take.

A senior official in the city office in charge of the shelters said events in Europe had brought a renewed sense of urgency.

“Look at the war in Ukraine,” Abercrombie Yang, a director of the Building Administration Office, told Reuters.

“There’s no guarantee that the innocent public won’t get hit,” he said, adding that that was why the public had to be informed.

“All citizens should have crisis awareness … We need the shelters in the event of an attack by the Chinese communists.”

‘NOT STRESSED’

Last month, Taiwan held a comprehensive air-raid exercise across the island for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted regular drills.

Among the instructions citizens got in case of incoming missiles was to get down in their basement parking lots with their hands covering their eyes and ears while keeping their mouths open – to minimise the impact of blast waves.

Some civil defence advocates say more needs to be done.

Authorities are required by law to keep the shelters clean and open but they don’t have to be stocked with supplies like food and water.

Researchers in parliament called in June for shelters to be provided with emergency supplies.

Wu Enoch of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party says the public must prepare survival kits to take with them when they seek shelter.

“What’s important is what you bring with you, for people to stay there for a long period of time,” Wu said, citing medical supplies and even tools to build a makeshift toilet.

After decade of sabre-rattling across the Taiwan Strait separating the democratic island from China, many Taiwan people appear resigned to living with the threat of a Chinese invasion.

“I’m not stressed. I carry on with my life as usual. When it happens, it happens,” said Teresa Chang, 17, who was also going through her paces at the underground dance practice.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee, Fabian Hamacher and Ann Wang; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China says it is in communication with U.S. over Pelosi’s expected Taiwan visit

BEIJING, Aug 2 (Reuters) – China has been in communication with the United States over U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

Pelosi kicked off a tour of four Asian countries on Monday in Singapore amid intense speculation that she may risk the wrath of Beijing by also visiting self-ruled Taiwan. read more

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing, writing by Eduardo Baptista, editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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Website of Taiwan’s presidential office receives overseas cyber attack – source

Taiwanese Presidential Office is seen through barbed wire fence during a rally against the overhaul of the military and civil service pension fund, in Taipei,Taiwan January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – The website of Taiwan’s presidential office received an overseas cyber attack on Tuesday and was at one point malfunctioning, a source briefed on the matter said.

The website was shortly brought back online, the source told Reuters. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, people briefed on the matter said, as frictions rose across the sensitive Taiwan Strait. read more

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Reporting By Yimou Lee

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Taiwan says will appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to enemy threats

Chinese and Taiwanese printed flags are seen in this illustration taken, April 28, 2022. Picture taken April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday they have a full grasp of military activities near Taiwan and will appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to “enemy threats” as tensions rise with China.

The ministry said in a statement that it has the “determination, ability and confidence” to ensure Taiwan’s national security, adding it has made various unspecified plans for an emergency.

Earlier on Tuesday, several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters, as tensions mounted on news U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was set to visit Taiwan during the day. read more

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Reporting By Yimou Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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Snickers maker apologises for advert suggesting Taiwan is a country

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Snickers bars are seen in this picture illustration taken February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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BEIJING, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Mars Wrigley, makers of the Snickers candy bar, apologised on Friday for a Snickers product launch which Chinese social media users said suggested that Taiwan was a country.

Videos and pictures of an event promoting a limited edition Snickers bar that was said to be only available in the “countries” of South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan went viral on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo on Friday.

Mars Wrigley on its Snickers China Weibo account published an apology and said the relevant content had been amended.

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Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; editing by Jason Neely

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Ukraine Live Updates: Brittney Griner Is Expected to Appear in Russian Court for End of Her Trial

Credit…Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

Amid heightened tensions surrounding Taiwan, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Wednesday stressed the importance of Chinese neutrality over the war in his country as Russia finds itself increasingly isolated by the West.

“I would like China to join the unified world position on the tyranny of Russia against Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky said during a meeting with thousands of students organized by the Australian National University. “As for now, China is balancing and indeed has neutrality. I will be honest: This neutrality is better than if China would join Russia.”

Mr. Zelensky said in an interview with the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, that he would like to speak with China’s leader, Xi Jinping. “I had one conversation with Xi Jinping that was a year ago,” he said in the interview, published Thursday. “Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression on Feb. 24, we have asked officially for a conversation.”

Reflecting the delicacy of the moment, Ukrainian officials have been largely silent on the high-stakes visit this week of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. The Kremlin on Tuesday said her visit to Taiwan “provokes the situation” over the island.

The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, pressed China last month to join the United States, which is trying to assemble a global effort to punish Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine, and “stand up” against Russia’s war. In response, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said that Beijing was neutral and criticized the United States for what he called “China phobia” and policies that offered “a dead end.”

From the outset of the war, Washington was able, with the threat of heavy sanctions, to dissuade China from providing weapons and economic assistance to Russia. China claims it is neutral because it has refrained from such explicit support.

In the South China Morning Post interview, Mr. Zelensky suggested that China could use its economic heft to counter Russia. “I’m confident, I’m sure that without the Chinese market for the Russian Federation, Russia would be feeling complete economic isolation,” he said.

Mr. Zelensky’s remarks at the Australian National University event came in response to a student’s question, and he offered a nuanced answer that recognized the geopolitical realities of the moment.

His government, he said, works tirelessly to persuade nations around the world to come together to isolate Russia. “Every day Russia loses more allies,” he said. But each nation, he said, makes its own calculations.

“I believe the people of China will make a prudent choice,” he said. “It’s important for us that China will not help Russia.”

He made the same appeal to the students that he has to leaders from around the world over the past five months — pointing to the atrocities committed by Russian forces and asking what would become of the world order if Moscow succeeded in imposing its will on a sovereign nation through brute force.

When asked by a student what has been the hardest part of leading a nation at war, Mr. Zelensky said it was understanding what people are capable of doing — both the heroism of those defending their homes, he said, and the horrors visited upon them by the invading army.

“I never thought that people are capable of those things,” he said.

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Live Updates: As Pelosi Departs Taiwan, Threat of Military Standoff With China Looms

Credit…Ann Wang/Reuters

After weeks of silence ahead of a high-stakes visit to Taiwan, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was anything but understated on Wednesday during a day of high-profile meetings, in which she offered support for Taiwan and irked China.

In a pair of morning meetings that were partly broadcast online, Ms. Pelosi met with Taiwanese lawmakers and then with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, to whom she offered assurances of United States support despite threats from China.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” Ms. Pelosi said. “America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”

The meetings, though light on substance, were widely welcomed in Taiwan as a symbolic victory. Ms. Pelosi’s trip made her the highest-ranking active member of the United States government to visit the island in 25 years and offered a rare moment of international support for the self-ruled democratic island, which China has worked relentlessly to isolate.

They also presented an affront to China. Ms. Pelosi, who headed to South Korea late Wednesday afternoon, also met with human rights leaders in Taiwan and toured a human rights museum. It was in keeping with her long history of poking China in the eye. She also brought economic assurances, calling a trade deal between Taiwan and the United States hopefully imminent and holding a cordial meeting with the chairman of the Taiwan chip giant T.S.M.C.

The trip took place against the backdrop of increasingly heated warnings from China, which claims Taiwan as its territory. Beijing condemned the speaker’s visit in strong terms, responding with plans for military exercises near Taiwan. It may also damage a push by the White House to shore up support against China from key allies in the region who analysts say have felt sidelined by the trip.

On Wednesday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a regular news conference in Beijing that more punishments for the United and Taiwan would follow from Ms. Pelosi’s visit.

“As for the specific countermeasures, what I can tell you is that they’ll include everything that should be included,” Ms. Hua said, according to People’s Daily. “The measures in question will be firm, vigorous and effective, and the U.S. side and Taiwan independence forces will continue feeling them.”

Yet as Ms. Pelosi toured Taipei, the capital, at times an almost carnival atmosphere followed. Hundreds turned out to watch her plane land, Taipei’s tallest building was illuminated with welcome messages, and protesters and supporters greeted her at her hotel, and then on Wednesday followed her to the legislature and at a human rights museum. Many cheered and held up supportive banners, while others denounced her for stirring up tensions with China.

When Ms. Pelosi arrived at Taiwan’s legislature with a police escort, a group offering support on one side of the building held up banners welcoming her. A gathering of pro-China demonstrators on the other held up signs calling her an “arsonist” and accusing her of interfering in China’s internal affairs.

A mood that was often celebratory in Taiwan was far more menacing across the strait separating China from Taiwan with the real potential for a military showdown.

China’s military has planned a series of live-fire drills, starting on Thursday, that would mark a direct challenge to what Taiwan defines as its coastline. Coordinates for the drills indicated that they could take place as close as 10 miles from Taiwan’s coast, well within the area that Taiwan says is a part of its territorial waters and closer than previous tests during a standoff 26 years ago.

On Taiwanese social media, jubilance sat alongside anxiety over what could be the riskiest military standoff with China in a generation. Some posted pictures of China’s military exercises and expressed concern. Eric Liu, a sales manager at a food company in central Taiwan, said he felt both exhilaration and worry.

“It’s unprecedented for Taiwan and my generation of Taiwanese,” Mr. Liu, 26, said in an interview during Ms. Pelosi’s visit. “I felt quite excited, and also sensed the danger.”

“I believe a war in the Taiwan Strait is inevitable, but I don’t want to see it happen anytime soon,” he added.

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China to address ‘unbalanced and inadequate’ development in next five years – Xi

China’s President Xi Jinping leaves the podium following his speech after a ceremony to inaugurate the city’s new leader and government in Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2022, on the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. Selim Chtayti/Pool via REUTERS

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BEIJING, July 27 (Reuters) – China must focus on addressing “unbalanced and inadequate development” in the next five years, President Xi Jinping told senior leaders this week, indicating he wants to continue the economic priorities adopted in the past five years.

State broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday said Xi made the comments in a special two-day meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, in which he laid out his vision for “the next five years and more”, after the ruling Communist Party holds a Congress later this year.

The party is due to reshuffle its leadership for the next five years at the Congress. While his previous two predecessors stepped down after two full terms, Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as China’s top leader at the Congress.

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Xi had first mentioned the need to address problems of “unbalanced and inadequate development” as a policy priority when he presented a major political document at the last Congress in 2017.

The problems include low quality growth, weak innovation, a wide gap in development and social services available between cities and villages and an over-reliance on fossil fuels, he said in the Congress report in 2017.

Xi told regional chiefs and ministers gathered for this week’s meeting that the party must keep up its “fighting spirit” and strengthen its “ability to fight”, according to CCTV.

In his review of the past five years, Xi listed the modernisation of Chinese military and peace in the Taiwan Strait as some of his achievements.

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian
Editing by David Holmes and Mark Potter

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Heads of MI5, FBI give joint warning of growing threat from China

July 6 (Reuters) – The heads of MI5 and FBI warned of the growing long-term threat posed by China to UK and U.S. interests, in their first joint appearance on Wednesday.

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said the service has already “more than doubled our previously-constrained effort against Chinese activity of concern,” adding it was running seven times as many investigations as in 2018.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the Chinese government “poses the biggest long-term threat” to economic and national security, for the UK, the U.S. and allies in Europe and elsewhere.

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“The Chinese government is trying to shape the world by interfering in our politics (and those of our allies, I should add),” Wray said, saying Beijing had directly interfered in a Congressional election in New York this year, as it did not want a candidate who was a critic and former protester at Tiananmen Square to be elected.

Wray warned that the Chinese government “poses an even more serious threat to Western businesses than even many sophisticated businesspeople realize,” and is “set on stealing your technology.”

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The Chinese governement’s hacking program is “bigger than that of every other major country combined,” according to Wray.

Over the past year, the UK has shared intelligence with 37 countries to help them defend against cyber espionage, McCallum said, adding that in May they had disrupted a sophisticated threat targeting critical aerospace companies.

Speaking about Taiwan, which China regards as a province, Wray said that China may try to forcibly take it over and if that were to happen, “it would represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen.”

“The widespread Western assumption that growing prosperity within China and increasing connectivity with the West would automatically lead to greater political freedom has, I’m afraid, been shown to be plain wrong,” McCallum said.

“The allegations against China by U.S. and UK intelligence officials are completely groundless and the so-called cases they listed are pure shadow chasing,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the UK said, in response to a question about the comments made by McCallum and Wray.

The spokesperson said that China urged both the countries to “have a clear understanding of the trend of the time, abandon the Cold War mentality which has long gone out of date, stop spreading “China threat”, and stop creating confrontation and conflicts.”

Speaking at MI5 headquarters in Thames House, London, both the security services heads gave numerous examples of issues linked to China, asking an audience which included businessmen and academics to be cautious and encouraging them to partner with the FBI and MI5 so they can have the appropriate intelligence about this threat.

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Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill

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