Mon. Jun 5th, 2023


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Your Tuesday Briefing: China’s Display of Force Around Taiwan

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China’s military show around Taiwan

China sent record numbers of military aircraft, naval ships and an aircraft carrier near Taiwan yesterday on the final day of military exercises. The spectacle capped three days of drills designed to put pressure on the self-governed island.

On Monday alone, Taiwan said that 91 Chinese military aircraft had flown into its Air Defense Identification Zone, a buffer that’s broader than Taiwan’s sovereign airspace. That number marked the highest daily total of such Chinese sorties since 2020, when Taiwan began regularly releasing the data. The previous high was 71, set in December and again on Saturday.

A first with fighter jets: During the exercises, Chinese J-15 jets took off from the Shandong aircraft carrier deployed near Taiwan’s east coast. The flights appeared to mark the first time that these fighter jets have been tracked entering Taiwan’s zone, an analyst said.

China deployed the Shandong to reinforce the country’s claim that it could “surround and encircle” Taiwan, a Taiwan-based researcher said: “That is to say that it can do it on our east coast as well as our west coast.”

Context: The drills were in retaliation for a visit to the U.S. by Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. Still, experts said that the drills were smaller and less menacing than those held after Nancy Pelosi, then the U.S. speaker, visited Taiwan in August.

Separately, two of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, were sentenced to 14 and 12 years, some of the lengthiest punishments in years and an indication of how the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, has crushed the last vestiges of dissent.

An Irish welcome for Biden

President Biden will begin a five-day visit to Northern Ireland and Ireland today. The president, whose family has Irish roots, is known to approach Irish issues from a sentimental rather than a diplomatic perspective. “Being Irish has shaped my entire life,” Biden once said.

In Belfast, Biden will celebrate the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed 25 years ago and ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

In the U.S., the peace accord is a cherished diplomatic achievement: Bill Clinton mediated between nationalists, who are mostly Catholic and seek a united Ireland, and unionists, who are mostly Protestant and want to stay with the U.K. In 1998, Biden supported the peace process, but his Irish pride has sometimes led him to take sides, critics say.

“I think it’s fair to say that Biden is the most Irish of U.S. presidents, except maybe for Kennedy,” an author of a book about Ireland and the White House said.

Family ties: Biden’s itinerary in Ireland includes potential visits to not one but two ancestral homes. Locals are preparing to celebrate Biden with all of the fanfare their towns can muster.

An eye on 2024: On the eve of his departure, Biden said that he planned to run again for the presidency, though he did not formally announce a campaign.

Netanyahu reverses firing of minister

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, announced yesterday that he had reinstated his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who had criticized the contentious plan to overhaul Israel’s justice system. Gallant’s ouster set off protests, prompting the government to suspend its judicial plan until the summer.

The reversal came amid a wider effort within Israel to project a sense of unity at a time of deep social division and upheaval — and amid fears that Israel’s enemies had been emboldened by the instability created by the judicial plan.

Gallant’s reinstatement was greeted with relief in much of Israel. There have been growing calls for a show of strength after a rise in attacks from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, as well as violence in the occupied West Bank. Many Israelis were particularly alarmed by a rare barrage of rockets from Lebanon last week.

Context: Gallant was fired after he said the plan to limit the influence of the Supreme Court had provoked disquiet within the military he oversees, and that it was endangering Israel’s national security.


Asia Pacific

The Dalai Lama apologized after a video surfaced online showing him kissing a boy on the lips and then saying to the child, “Suck my tongue.”

A group of opposition lawmakers in South Korea denounced the U.S. for spying after leaked documents revealed sensitive information about supplying Ukraine with artillery shells.

From Opinion: Se-Woong Koo, a South Korean-born writer, argues that Koreans should forgive Japan for historical wrongs and turn their focus on China.

The War in Ukraine

Ukraine’s air defenses need a big influx of munitions to keep Russia from changing the course of the war, leaked Pentagon documents suggest.

In this video, see how Ukrainian military psychologists are training soldiers to confront trauma.

The Morning newsletter is about Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter detained in Russia.

Around The World

Italy sent rescue teams to help about 1,200 migrants aboard two overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean, fueling concern about the volume of people attempting the dangerous crossing from Africa to Europe.

A man shot and killed four fellow employees at a bank in Kentucky before he was killed by police.

Eight people are missing after a building collapsed in an explosion in Marseille, France.

Other Big Stories

Truffle hunting, an economic lifeline in Syria during desperate times, has become a dangerous pursuit: At least 84 people have been killed this season, two groups said, either by land mines, gunmen or after being kidnapped.

Bitcoin mines can cause pollution and raise electricity bills for people who live around them.

An Asian elephant at a Berlin zoo taught herself to peel bananas.

A Morning Read

When a new outpost of Shun Lee, a storied Chinese restaurant in New York City, opened last year, it took only a few bites before fans realized that something was off. Soon, tips flooded the local press. My colleague Katie Rosman dug into the very New York drama, which is at the heart of the history of Chinese food on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.


China: Open, but hard to get to

Despite China’s loosened visa rules and relaxed pandemic restrictions, would-be visitors are struggling to book plane tickets: Prices are high, and there are fewer direct flights.

That’s partly because airlines have been slow to ramp up their flights. They’re hesitant to add flights when there are practical hurdles: Many visitors need a negative P.C.R. test before departure, consulates are scrambling to handle visa paperwork and about 20 percent of Chinese passports expired during the pandemic.

Tensions between the U.S. and China also play a role. During the pandemic, the countries, the world’s two largest economies, suspended each other’s flights in a political tit-for-tat. Airlines need the approval of both countries’ aviation authorities to increase routes.

The war in Ukraine is another factor. Russia has banned U.S. and European carriers from its airspace, meaning flights to China now require longer routes with more fuel and flight crew.

As a result, families suffer. Jessie Huang, who lives in New Jersey, hopes to visit China this summer but has struggled to find tickets under $2,000. She has not seen her 86-year-old father, who lives on an island off the coast of Shanghai, in seven years. “I’m just missing my family,” she said.


What to Cook

A reader submitted her French mother’s recipe for tarragon-Cognac roast chicken.

What to Read

In “Calling Ukraine,” an office satire, a lost American expat takes up a job at a call center.

What to Watch

“Showing Up” is a gently funny portrait of a creative rivalry between two artists.


Climate change is making turbulence more common. Fasten your seatbelt.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Deficiency (four letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. The Times is inviting illustrators to share their work with our art directors for a portfolio review. Apply here.

“The Daily” is on Tennessee’s Republican-controlled House, which has expelled two young Black Democrats.

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