- China Warns of War Risk as Trump Rattles Saber at North Korea
China warned that a war on the Korean Peninsula would have devastating consequences as the U.S. threatened military retaliation against North Korea if it proceeds with a nuclear test this weekend.
As U.S. Vice President Mike Pence heads to Asia on a 10-day trip that will include South Korea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged all parties “to stop provoking and threatening each other and not to make the situation irretrievable.”
“Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but losing all round and no one could become a winner,” Wang told reporters in Beijing on Friday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The world is watching North Korea as speculation mounts that Kim Jong Un’s regime will carry out a ballistic missile or nuclear test this weekend to mark the 105th birth anniversary of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the nation’s founder, on Saturday.
While President Donald Trump’s administration is ratcheting up pressure on China to contain its neighbor and ally, the U.S. says it’s also willing to act on its own. Administration officials said Thursday it’s considering economic sanctions and military options if a provocation by North Korea occurs.
Pence will discuss the U.S. response when he visits South Korea and Japan as part of his Asian tour. He’ll arrive in Seoul on Easter Sunday, a day after North Korea’s biggest holiday. White House foreign policy aides who requested anonymity to discuss the vice president’s travel say North Korea has telegraphed the possibility of a test to coincide with the occasion.
Pence’s trip comes after Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to the waters around the Korean Peninsula. Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site obtained by 38 North, a program devoted to analysis of the country at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, showed activity at the site suggestive of preparations for a nuclear test.
“North Korea is a problem,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “The problem will be taken care of.”
Any U.S. military strike risks leading to a war between the world’s biggest economies that would threaten to devastate South Korea and Japan, two American allies in striking range of retaliatory attacks. China has backed North Korea since the peninsula was last at war in the 1950s, in part to prevent having an American ally on its border.
The Chinese military dispatched 20 submarines in waters around the peninsula, Yonhap News reported Friday, citing Taiwanese media outlet CNA.
‘Vicious and Aggressive’
Trump’s policy toward North Korea is more “vicious and aggressive” than previous administrations, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryo said in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday.
“We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” he said. “We will go to war if they choose.”
While not publicly defining its plans, the White House has said that all options are on the table to prevent North Korea from acquiring the ability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Despite the saber rattling, Trump has found little support — publicly or behind the scenes — from allies South Korea and Japan.
A U.S. strike may prompt North Korea to immediately unleash artillery fire on Seoul and its surroundings, which is home to just more than half of South Korea’s 51 million people, according to a report published by Stratfor last year. It then may activate air or naval assets and larger ballistic missiles that can target South Korean, Japanese or American bases in the region with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The White House expects South Korean officials to discuss responses during the vice president’s visit, and Pence also plans to meet troops and discuss possible military steps with Army General Vincent Brooks, the commander of United States Forces Korea. He’ll promote the deployment of the Thaad missile-defense system in the region, a move that has annoyed China.
Despite the higher tensions, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have shown signs of warmer ties since they met last week in Florida. Trump on Wednesday highlighted China’s move to ban coal imports from North Korea, noting that a fleet of cargo ships had turned back.
“That’s a big step, and they have many other steps that I know about,” Trump said at a news conference. He later said he thought Xi “means well and I think he wants to help.”
The Global Times, a Communist Party-affiliated Chinese newspaper, argued in an editorial this week that Beijing should support stiffer UN sanctions against North Korea, including the limit of oil exports, if the country conducts another another nuclear test.
Even so, China is getting increasingly alarmed at the brinkmanship.
“The situation now is similar to the time before a storm, and this kind of dangerous situation worth of our attention and we must be alert,” Wang, China’s foreign minister, said on Friday. “No matter who the nation is, if it continues to provoke wars in the Peninsula, it has to bear this historical responsibility and pay its price.”
UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.
The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.
Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.
British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use”
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.
“It is very good news,” Hancock said.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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