Lithuanian diplomats leave China as relations sour over Taiwan

By Yew Lun Tian and Andrius Sytas

BEIJING/VILNIUS (Reuters) -Lithuania’s diplomatic delegation to China left the country on Wednesday in a hastily arranged exit, diplomatic sources said, as relations soured further over Taiwan, which opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius last month.

Beijing, which has stepped up pressure on countries to sever relations with the island, downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania in November after Taiwan opened a representative office in the Baltic state’s capital.

Lithuanian authorities said on Wednesday they had summoned their top diplomat back from China for “consultations” and that the embassy would operate remotely for the time being.

A diplomatic source told Reuters a group of 19 people comprising embassy personnel and dependents left Beijing en route to Paris. Another diplomatic source familiar with the situation called their departure a response to “intimidation”.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Like most countries, Lithuania – a European Union member state – has formal relations with China and not self-ruled and democratically governed Taiwan, which Beijing views as its territory.

Speaking to reporters in Vilnius, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said there was uncertainty over the legal status of Lithuanian diplomats in China before their departure.

He told Reuters earlier that China had demanded Lithuania change the status of its Beijing embassy into a lesser charge d’affaires office. This would have mirrored the change China made to its own legation in Vilnius in response to the opening of Lithuania’s Taipei office..

Taiwan’s foreign ministry voiced its “highest respect to the Lithuanian government and its diplomatic decision-making” on Wednesday, and called on Taiwanese companies to support closer economic ties with the small Baltic republic.

Lithuania’s ruling coalition agreed a year ago to back what it described as “those fighting for freedom” in Taiwan.

On Wednesday the Lithuanian embassy building in a gated Beijing compound appeared empty. No one answered a knock on the door or telephone call. A photograph taken a day earlier showed two bouquets of flowers at the front door.

Lithuania had recalled its ambassador in September, several weeks after China demanded the envoy’s withdrawal and said it was recalling its envoy from Vilnius.

The United States has spoken out in support of Lithuania during its row with China, adding to U.S.-Chinese tensions.

Lithuania’s foreign ministry said it was ready to continue a dialogue with China and restore the functions of the embassy once a mutually beneficial agreement has been reached.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Andrius Sytas; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by David Goodman, Andrew Heavens and Mark Heinrich)

China and Laos open $6 billion high-speed rail link

VIENTIANE (Reuters) – A $6 billion high-speed rail line connecting China with its Southeast Asian neighbor Laos opened on Friday, a milestone in Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure plans.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith attended a virtual ceremony to mark the maiden voyages on the line, which stretches from the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming to the Laotian capital Vientiane.

China, which holds a 70% stake in the joint venture project signed in 2015, hopes the 1,000-km (621.37-mile) line will eventually expand through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore.

In a video meeting between the two leaders earlier on Friday, Xi said the countries stood at “a new historical starting point”.

“China is willing to strengthen strategic communication with Laos, promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue to build an unbreakable China-Laos community with a shared future,” he said in comments published by China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

Economists have warned that the rail project could make it difficult for communist Laos, one of Asia’s poorest nations, to repay external debt, much of it owed to China.

Laos state news agency KPL said on Thursday the project was part of the government’s strategy to convert Laos “from a landlocked country to a land-linked one”.

(Reporting by Phoonsab Thevongsa and Ella Cao; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

Chinese stock up on staples after government ‘just in case’ advice prompts confusion

By Dominique Patton and Martin Quin Pollard

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing shoppers stocked up on cabbage, rice and flour for the winter on Wednesday, after the government urged people to keep stores of basic goods in case of emergencies, though it assured them there were sufficient supplies after some panic-buying.

The Ministry of Commerce on Monday published a seasonal notice encouraging authorities to do a good job in ensuring food supplies and stable prices ahead of the winter, following a recent spike in the prices of vegetables and a growing outbreak of COVID-19.

But the ministry’s advice to households to also stock up on daily necessities in case of emergencies prompted confusion, sending some rushing to supermarkets for extra supplies of cooking oil and rice.

China’s cabinet late on Wednesday said it would guarantee supplies of daily necessities, including meat and vegetables, and stabilize prices, state media reported.

China’s instructions also pushed up domestic edible oil futures as well as Malaysian palm oil.

“It’s going to be a cold winter, we want to make sure we have enough to eat,” said one woman loading rice on to a bicycle outside a supermarket in central Beijing.

A long line formed at the supermarket’s cabbage stall, as people bought supplies of the vegetable that is traditionally stored at home and consumed over the winter months.

But many residents said there was no need to buy more food than normal.

“Where could I stockpile vegetables at home? I get enough for my daily needs,” said a Beijing retiree surnamed Shi leaving another Beijing supermarket.

Others said they did not expect any shortages, particularly in the capital.

Government advice to residents to buy supplies ahead of the winter is issued every year, said Ma Wenfeng, an analyst at A.G. Holdings Agricultural Consulting.

“It is necessary because there is often heavy snowfall in the winter … and it seems there will be some uncertainty about the weather conditions this year. So I think this is quite a normal matter,” he said.

China’s National Meteorological Center is predicting a plunge in temperatures over the weekend in the northwest, southwest and most central and eastern regions.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday that there had been some “over-interpretation” of the ministry’s advice.

“Currently, the supply of daily necessities in various places is sufficient, and the supply should be fully guaranteed,” it quoted Zhu Xiaoliang, director of the ministry’s Department of Consumption Promotion, as saying.

Some cities including Tianjin in the north and Wuhan further south have released winter vegetables from stockpiles for sale at lower prices in supermarkets.

But some panic-buying appeared to continue on Wednesday, with several people complaining online of empty supermarket shelves, attributed largely to a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

China reported its highest number of new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in almost three months on Wednesday, including nine new infections in Beijing, the biggest one-day increase in the capital this year.

“Even bulk rice has been stripped off (shelves),” said a resident in the southern city of Nanjing, writing on China’s microblog Weibo.

“There is uncertainty about the occurrence of the COVID-19 outbreaks. Once an outbreak occurs, people’s livelihoods will be affected. That’s why people are stocking up on winter supplies to avoid the impact of COVID-19,” said Ma at A.G. Holdings.

Chinese authorities typically respond to COVID-19 cases by locking down entire communities where they occur, restricting movement in and out of affected areas.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton and Martin Quin Pollard. Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom. Editing by Karishma Singh, Christian Schmollinger and Nick Macfie)

U.S. envoy Sullivan to meet China’s top diplomat Yang amid Taiwan tensions

BEIJING (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser will hold talks with China’s top diplomat in Switzerland on Tuesday and Wednesday, the South China Morning Post said, at a time of rising tension over several issues including Taiwan.

“They aim to rebuild communication channels and implement consensus reached between presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden,” the newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing an official familiar with the arrangements for the meeting between Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi.

Both the White House and the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Ties between China and the United States deteriorated sharply under former U.S. President Donald Trump, and the Biden administration has maintained pressure on China on a range of issues from Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region to the origins of COVID-19.

China has also been angered by increased U.S. support for Taiwan, believing the United States is colluding with forces there seeking the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.

“We have been clear privately and publicly about our concern about the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) pressure and coercion toward Taiwan, and we will continue to watch the situation very closely,” she said.

Trade tensions are also at the top of the U.S.-China agenda, with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai traveling to Paris Monday to participate in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development meetings later this week.

On Monday, the USTR unveiled the results of a months-long “top-to-bottom” review of China trade policy, pledging to hold “frank” talks with Beijing about its failure to keep promises made in Trump’s trade deal and end harmful industrial policies.

The Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in a commentary China was willing to build mutually beneficial trade with the United States but would not make concessions on principle and was not afraid of a drawn-out contest.

“The China-U.S. trade war has lasted for more than three-and-a-half years. Instead of being weakened, China’s economy has taken a step forward in comparison with the scale of the U.S.,” it said.

The meetings this week will be yet another round of in-person talks between officials from the two powers since Biden took office, with little in the way of concrete progress in the earlier sessions.

In late July, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat, held face-to-face meetings with Xie Feng, a Chinese vice foreign minister, in the Chinese port city of Tianjin.

No specific outcomes were agreed and the prospect of a meeting between Biden and Xi was not discussed, senior U.S. administration officials said at the time.

In March, during high-level talks in Alaska, Chinese officials including Yang Jiechi railed against the state of U.S. democracy, while U.S. officials accused the Chinese delegation of grandstanding.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing and Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel, Heather Timmons and Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. Senate passes bill to help Taiwan regain WHO status

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate passed a bill late on Thursday calling on the State Department to submit a plan to help Taiwan regain its observer status at the World Health Organization, one of several U.S. bids to boost Taiwan as it faces pressure from Beijing.

Taiwan is excluded from most global organizations such as the WHO, the U.N. health agency, because of the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces and not a separate country.

The legislation, passed by unanimous consent, was sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The two are also co-chairmen of the Senate Taiwan Caucus.

“The U.S. must continue to stand by Taiwan, and do more to reaffirm our support for our ally’s international engagement,” Menendez said in a statement on Friday.

The measure directs the Secretary of State to establish a strategy for obtaining observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved a similar bill earlier this year, but there has been no word on when the measure might come up for a vote in the full House.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

China’s Wuhan to test all 12 million residents as Delta variant spreads

By Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Wuhan city will test its 12 million residents for the coronavirus after confirming its first domestic cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, had reported no local coronavirus cases since mid-May last year but on Monday authorities confirmed three cases of the Delta variant. The strain has been found in a handful of provinces and big cities including Beijing over the past two weeks.

“To ensure that everyone in the city is safe, city-wide nucleic acid testing will be quickly launched for all people to fully screen out positive results and asymptomatic infections,” Wuhan official Li Qiang told a news briefing.

Parts of an industrial and technology zone were sealed off, a measure rarely seen in the city since a lockdown last year.

The new cases in Wuhan, along with infections in the nearby cities of Jingzhou and Huanggang since Saturday, were linked to cases in the city of Huaian in Jiangsu province, said Li Yang, vice director of the Hubei province disease control center.

The outbreak in Jiangsu is believed to have begun in the provincial capital of Nanjing in late July, with the Delta variant mostly likely introduced on a flight from Russia, officials have said.

China brought the epidemic under control last year and fought just a few localized outbreaks after that.

Emergency response levels were lowered and people outside areas hit by virus could go about their lives largely as normal, which may have contributed to the latest outbreak.

A Nanjing official said on Monday that even after the first cases were reported there, some shops did not rigorously check customers’ digital health credentials and some did not wear masks properly.

Jiangsu officials said the root cause of the Nanjing outbreak was “laxity of the mind”.

The tally of local cases in China since July 20, when the first Nanjing infections were found, stood at 414 as of Monday.

Numerous cities in southern China and a few in the north including Beijing have reported infections, and authorities have advised against non-essential travel, conducted mass testing, and sealed off some higher-risk neighborhoods.

‘LOOPHOLES’

The first of the latest flurry cases in Nanjing were cleaners at the Nanjing Lukou International Airport who were infected, possibly due to poor sanitization and protection after disinfecting a plane from Russia, a city official said last week.

China’s aviation regulator has demanded more frequent testing and insisted on the use of protective gear.

Police in the nearby Yangzhou said the outbreak in that city’s center got worse after a 64-year-old woman who left her locked-down Nanjing neighborhood to visit family in Yangzhou, where she entered restaurants and shops.

Airports in Nanjing and Yangzhou have suspended domestic flights.

In the central city of Zhengzhou, most of the 13 local cases reported since July 31 were linked to a hospital that treats patients arriving from outside China, with the strain in the first two infections bearing a similarity to that in cases recently arriving from Myanmar, an official said.

“This outbreak mainly occurred inside the hospital, involving people including cleaning staffers and medical workers,” said Wang Songqiang, director of Zhengzhou’s disease control center.

“This outbreak has … exposed the loopholes at a few hospitals in their in-hospital infection control,” Wang said.

The city of Zhangjiajie in the southern province of Hunan was hit by infections after carriers from outside the province attended a theatre performance where members of the audience sat next to each other, instead of at socially distanced intervals.

Zhangjiajie said on Tuesday that residents and tourists should not leave the city, effectively imposing a lockdown.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo, Liangping Gao and Roxanne Liu; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)

U.S. and allies accuse China of global hacking spree

By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and its allies accused China on Monday of a global cyberespionage campaign, mustering an unusually broad coalition of countries to publicly call out Beijing for hacking.

The United States was joined by NATO, the European Union, Britain, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada in condemning the spying, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said posed “a major threat to our economic and national security.”

Simultaneously, the U.S. Department of Justice charged four Chinese nationals – three security officials and one contract hacker – with targeting dozens of companies, universities and government agencies in the United States and abroad.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chinese officials have previously said China is also a victim of hacking and opposes all forms of cyberattacks.

While a flurry of statements from Western powers represent a broad alliance, cyber experts said the lack of consequences for China beyond the U.S. indictment was conspicuous. Just a month ago, summit statements by G7 and NATO warned China and said it posed threats to the international order.

Adam Segal, a cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, called Monday’s announcement a “successful effort to get friends and allies to attribute the action to Beijing, but not very useful without any concrete follow-up.”

Some of Monday’s statements even seemed to pull their punches. While Washington and its close allies such as the United Kingdom and Canada held the Chinese state directly responsible for the hacking, others were more circumspect.

NATO merely said that its members “acknowledge” the allegations being leveled against Beijing by the U.S., Canada, and the UK. The European Union said it was urging Chinese officials to rein in “malicious cyber activities undertaken from its territory” – a statement that left open the possibility that the Chinese government was itself innocent of directing the espionage.

The United States was much more specific, formally attributing intrusions such as the one that affected servers running Microsoft Exchange earlier this year to hackers affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security. Microsoft had already blamed China.

U.S. officials said the scope and scale of hacking attributed to China has surprised them, along with China’s use of “criminal contract hackers.”

“The PRC’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain,” Blinken said.

U.S. security and intelligence agencies outlined more than 50 techniques and procedures that “China state-sponsored actors” use against U.S. networks, a senior administration official said.

Washington in recent months has focused heavy attention on Russia in accusing Russian hackers of a string of ransomware attacks in the United States.

The senior administration official said U.S. concerns about Chinese cyber activities have been raised with senior Chinese officials. “We’re not ruling out further action to hold the PRC accountable,” the official said.

The United States and China have already been at loggerheads over trade, China’s military buildup, disputes about the South China Sea, a crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong and treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

Blinken cited the Justice Department indictments as an example of how the United States will impose consequences.

The defendants and officials in the Hainan State Security Department, a regional state security office, tried to hide the Chinese government’s role in the information theft by using a front company, according to the indictment.

The campaign targeted trade secrets in industries including aviation, defense, education, government, health care, biopharmaceutical and maritime industries, the Justice Department said.

Victims were in Austria, Cambodia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“These criminal charges once again highlight that China continues to use cyber-enabled attacks to steal what other countries make, in flagrant disregard of its bilateral and multilateral commitments,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in the statement.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson, Doina Chiacu and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)

U.S. sanctions Chinese officials over Hong Kong democracy crackdown

By Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on seven Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, Washington’s latest effort to hold China accountable for what it calls an erosion of rule of law in the former British colony.

The sanctions, posted by the U.S. Treasury Department, target individuals from China’s Hong Kong liaison office, used by Beijing to orchestrate its policies in the Chinese territory.

The seven people added to Treasury’s “specially designated nationals” list were Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tienui, Yang Jianping, and Yin Zonghua, all deputy directors at the liaison office according to online bios.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Chinese officials over the past year had “systematically undermined” Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, delayed elections, disqualified elected lawmakers from office, and arrested thousands for disagreeing with government policies.

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action. Today we send a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with Hong Kongers,” Blinken said in a statement.

The Treasury Department referred to a separate updated business advisory issued jointly with the departments of State, Commerce, and Homeland Security that highlighted U.S. government concerns about the impact on international companies of Hong Kong’s national security law.

Critics say Beijing implemented that law last year to facilitate a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and a free press.

The advisory said companies face risks associated with electronic surveillance without warrants and the surrender of corporate and customer data to authorities, adding that individuals and businesses should be aware of the potential consequences of engaging with sanctioned individuals or entities.

The actions were announced just over a year after former President Donald Trump ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the territory.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on other senior officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and senior police officers, for their roles in curtailing political freedoms in the territory.

BROKEN COMMITMENT

President Joe Biden said at a news conference on Thursday that the Chinese government had broken its commitment on how it would deal with Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese control in 1997.

China had promised universal suffrage as an ultimate goal for Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which also states the city has wide-ranging autonomy from Beijing.

Since China imposed the national security law to criminalize what it considers subversion, secessionism, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces, most pro-democracy activists and politicians have found themselves ensnared by it or arrested for other reasons.

Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s most vocal pro-democracy newspaper, was forced to end a 26-year run in June amid the crackdown that froze the company’s funds.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular news conference in Beijing before the actions were formally announced that the United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong, and that China would make a “resolute, strong response.”

A source told Reuters on Thursday that the White House was also reviewing a possible executive order to facilitate immigration from Hong Kong, but that it was still not certain to be implemented.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is preparing a visit to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia next week. The State Department’s announcement of her trip made no mention of any stop in China, which had been anticipated in foreign policy circles and reported in some media.

A senior State Department official told reporters on Friday that Washington was still in talks with Beijing over whether Sherman would visit China.

The U.S. government on Tuesday also strengthened warnings to businesses about the growing risks of having supply chain and investment links to China’s Xinjiang region, citing forced labor and human rights abuses there, which Beijing has denied.

(Reporting by Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom, Doina Chiacu, Humeyra Pamuk, and David Shepardson; Editing by Paul Simao)

China, U.S. can coexist in peace but challenge is enormous – White House

By David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Tuesday that it was possible for China and United States to coexist in peace but the challenge was enormous and Beijing had become increasingly assertive.

At an event hosted by the Asia Society think tank, Campbell said President Joe Biden will host a summit later this year with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan – the so-called “Quad” grouping that Washington see as a means of standing up to China.

Asked when he expected a first meeting between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping and whether this could come at the G20 summit in October, he replied: “My expectation will be that we’ll have some sort of engagement before too long.”

Campbell said the challenge for the United States would be to come up with a strategy that presented China with opportunities, but also a response if it takes steps “antithetical to the maintenance of peace and stability”.

There were likely to be “periods of uncertainty, perhaps even periods of occasional raised tensions,” he said.

“Do I think it’s possible that the United States and China can coexist and live in peace? Yes I do. But I do think the challenge is enormously difficult for this generation and the next,” he said.

He said Beijing had been increasingly assertive in recent times, taking on many countries simultaneously, a strategy that contrasted with how it operated in the 1990’s.

​ He criticized China’s approach to U.S. ally Australia.

“I’m not sure they have the strategic thinking to go back to a different kind of diplomacy towards Australia right now. I see a harshness in their approach that appears unyielding”

On Taiwan, the self-ruled U.S.-backed island China sees as part of its territory and wants to reclaim, Campbell maintained a cautious approach.

He said the United States supports having a strong unofficial relationship with Taiwan but does not support its independence.

“We fully recognize, understand the sensitivities involved here,” he said. “We do believe that Taiwan has a right to live in peace. We want to see its international role, particularly in areas like vaccines, and issues associated with the pandemic, they should have a role to play here, they should not be shunned in international community.”

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Low probability of China trying to seize Taiwan in near term -top U.S. general

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The top U.S. general said on Thursday there was a low probability that China would try to take over Taiwan militarily in the near-term as Beijing has some way to go to develop the capabilities needed.

While there has been increasing concern in Taiwan and among some U.S. lawmakers about Chinese military activity near the island, like flying jets in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), U.S. military officials have told Reuters that such moves are not overly concerning.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told lawmakers that while Taiwan was still a core national interest of China, “There’s little intent right now, or motivation, to do it militarily.”

“There’s no reason to do it militarily, and they know that. So, I think the probability is probably low, in the immediate, near-term future,” Milley said during a Congressional hearing.

“My assessment in terms of capability, I think China has a ways to go to develop the actual, no-kidding capability to conduct military operations to seize through military means the entire island of Taiwan, if they wanted to do that,” he added.

The United States is Taiwan’s strongest international backer and main source of arms, which angers China.

Beijing says the democratically ruled island is part of “one China” and routinely denounces foreign involvement as an interference in its internal affairs.

Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives will introduce legislation this week seeking to boost U.S. support for Taiwan, part of an effort in Congress to take a hard line in dealings with China.

NATO leaders, encouraged by U.S. President Joe Biden, warned at a summit on Monday that China presents “systemic challenges,” taking a more forceful stance towards Beijing.

Earlier this week, twenty-eight Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, the largest reported incursion to date.

Like most countries, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Alistair Bell)