Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
US denounces Chinese military exercises near Taiwan as 'coercion'
Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around Taiwan on Monday, the latest military maneuvers near the self-ruled island that a senior U.S. official denounced as "coercion" and a threat to stability in the region.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.
China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan, whose President Tsai Ing-wen Beijing suspects of pushing for the island's formal independence, a red line for China which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
"Any attempt to influence Taiwan through threats or coercion, we believe, destabilizes the region and threatens stability in the Taiwan Strait," James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, said at a ceremony to mark the last four decades of U.S.-Taiwan relations.
China's People's Liberation Army said its warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft had conducted "necessary drills" around Taiwan on Monday, though it described them as routine.
China has repeatedly carried out what it calls "island encirclement patrols" in the past few years.
Taiwan scrambled jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces, its defense ministry said, accusing Beijing of "trying to change the status quo of the Taiwan Strait."
Moriarty said "flying fighter jets and bombers around the island, presumably in connection with what we are doing this afternoon, certainly does not help at all.
"It hurts stability. It damages the cross strait relationship. It damages any attempt by China to win the hearts and minds of Taiwan people," he told reporters at the institute's new $256 million facility, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan.
A delegation led by former U.S. speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, was in Taipei to mark 40 years since the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act, which governs U.S.-Taiwan relations, and to reaffirm Washington's commitment.
"We couldn't ask for a better friend than Taiwan. Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world," Ryan said. "We want the rest of the world to be more like Taiwan."
Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan's security and democracy, said at the ceremony that China has been ramping up military threats against Taiwan.
The visit by U.S. officials comes just weeks after Tsai said the United States was responding positively to Taipei's requests for new arms sales to bolster its defenses in the face of growing pressure from China.
Last month, Washington sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the narrow strait separating the island from the mainland, part of an increase in the frequency of U.S. movement through the strategic waterway to show support for Taipei.
SEE ALSO: The US Has Been Getting 'Its Ass Handed To It' In Simulated War Games Against Russia And China
WATCH NEXT: FONOPs Are Not Fun Ops
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.