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    Latest US arms sale to Taiwan ‘will help destroy half of any Chinese invasion force’

    Taiwan’s ability to strike back at any attack from mainland China has received a further boost after the US approved another potential arms deal to boost its coastal defences.Taiwanese officials said the deal would help the island achieve its goal of being able to destroy half of any PLA invasion force within five years.In a statement on Monday, the State Department said it had notified Congress of its approval for the US$2.4 billion package, which includes 400 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 100 launcher transporters, radar and support systems.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.The arms deal is the second in a week and the ninth approved since Donald Trump became president in 2017.According to the US State Department, Taiwan will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggression, coastal blockades and amphibious assaults.“This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces,” it said.The announcement came amid rising tensions between China and the United States and the same day that China said it would sanction three US firms – Boeing Defence, which makes the Harpoon missiles, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies – over a deal announced last week. Taiwan coastguard ‘drives away’ Chinese vessels including sand dredgerChina‘s defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said the US arms sale to Taiwan could not work and would only lead to a dead-end.“Chinese military has resolute determination, full confidence and enough capabilities to thwart all kinds of foreign interference and pro-independence moves ... China will continue pushing forward the unification process,” Ren said.Taiwan’s deputy defence minister Chang Che-ping told a press conference on Tuesday that the latest deal would help the self-ruled island achieve its goal of being able to destroy half of any enemy force by 2025, saying: “We hope to increase the number [of missiles] so that we can build up our combat power before then.”The Harpoon Block II missiles at the centre of the deal are subsonic anti-ship missiles with a range of around 125 kilometres (78 miles) that can also strike targets on land such as missile launch sites or port facilities.Jerry Song, senior editor of Taiwan-based Defence International magazine, said Taiwan already had Harpoons that could be launched from submarines, ships and aircraft, adding that the land-based missiles would fill in the gaps in the system.Song also said they would supplement the island’s own Hsiung Feng-II (or Brave Wind-II) missiles, an anti-ship system developed by the government-funded National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. The Hsuing Feng III is a medium-range supersonic missile with the capabilities to destroy both land and sea-based targets.Chieh Chung, a national security researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a think tank affiliated with Taiwan’s biggest opposition party the Kuomintang, said: “The second proposed sale in a week indicates the US has gradually normalised its weapon supplies for Taiwan, unlike when [Barack] Obama was president and all proposed sales had to reach a certain level before they would be reviewed and approved,” he said. Taiwan coastguard ‘drives away’ Chinese vessels including sand dredgerSong Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, said: “Although [the deal] will boost Taiwan’s attack ability a little bit when compared to the past, it cannot survive a real war and can barely make any change to the balance of military power between Beijing and Taipei, as the Chinese military can hit and destroy those attack units with all sorts of precision-guided weapons.”The Trump administration has stepped up arms sales to Taiwan in recent years, and last week the State Department sent Congress notification that it had approved a US$1.8 billion deal that included cruise missiles capable of hitting targets on the mainland, rocket launchers and surveillance equipment.Both deals must now be approved by Congress and then be signed off by the president.Beijing – which regards the island as a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary – has consistently attacked the deals.On Tuesday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, told a regular press briefing that the latest deal was interfering with China’s internal affairs and destabilising relations across the Taiwan Strait.“The US should stop selling weapons to and cut military ties with the island to avoid further damaging Sino-US relations. China will take necessary measures to safeguard national sovereign, safety and interests,” said Wang.Additional reporting by Catherine WongMore from South China Morning Post: * US election race being closely watched in Taiwan, where Trump is popular * Taiwan groups to rally in support of Hong Kong fugitives held in Shenzhen, as part of global campaign calling for 12 to be freed * US urged to strengthen military and economic ties with Taiwan by a prominent think tankThis article Latest US arms sale to Taiwan ‘will help destroy half of any Chinese invasion force’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

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    South China Morning Post

    Cathay Pacific: ‘hugely disappointing’ Hong Kong meeting sees no give on flight attendant contracts; pilots plead case to Labour Department

    Talks between Cathay Pacific and its cabin crew staff over a new contract that would slash wages by up to 40 per cent went nowhere on Tuesday, with the union calling management’s refusal to budge “hugely disappointing”.As the 3 ½-hour meeting was taking place at Cathay headquarters in the afternoon, the airline’s pilots union was sitting down with Labour Department officials requesting their help in dealing with their own contentious new deal that would sharply cut salaries.Both groups face a looming deadline, having been told they would be terminated if they failed to accept the new contracts by Wednesday next week.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“It is hugely disappointing that the management just did not want to listen to their colleagues at all,” Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union chairwoman Zuki Wong Sze-man said after the meeting.Wong said managers present at the meeting played union representatives a video featuring top brass explaining why cabin crew needed to sign the new contracts by November 4.When the union demanded the deadline be postponed, Wong said the managers present would only promise to discuss it with upper management.“They are standing firm on the deadline … they have shown no sincerity in negotiating with us,” said Amber Suen, the union’s vice-chairwoman. “However, we are not giving up at this stage.”The union, which represents most of Cathay’s 8,000 flight attendants, has threatened collective action should the airline refuse to adjust its timetable.It will meet with lawyers on Wednesday to seek their advice on possible actions they can pursue, and also discuss the issue with Labour Department officials.Last week, Cathay announced the biggest mass lay-offs to hit Hong Kong in three decades, axing 5,300 jobs in the city and closing its Cathay Dragon brand in a desperate restructuring attempt to survive the coronavirus pandemic. The sackings encompassed 4,000 cabin crew, 600 pilots and 700 ground staff and office workers.The airline then asked the remaining 8,000 flight attendants to sign new contracts the union said would cut wages by 20 to 40 per cent. Cathay set a November 4 deadline, but sought to encourage earlier sign-ups by dangling a one-off payment for those who took the deal by Wednesday. Remaining Cathay staff face dilemma over new contracts with lower pay, fewer perksThe Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, which represents 2,200 Cathay pilots, meanwhile, met officials from the Labour Department for about 1 ½ hours on Tuesday over their own new contracts, which would cut wages by 40 to 60 per cent for more experienced pilots.The union, which has accused the airline of not giving pilots enough time to consider their options, has questioned whether Cathay Pacific Group was in compliance with the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance in crafting the new deals without consultation.The union’s general secretary, Chris Beebe, called on the Labour Department to take action “to make sure Cathay Pacific lives by the rules”.As to whether the union might seek an injunction, Beebe said after the meeting: “It is one of the legal options that is under consideration … all options are on the table.” Can slimmed-down Cathay Pacific still protect Hong Kong’s status as global aviation hub?He noted that his union had not been able to meet with the airline management to discuss the new contracts, saying pilots had been completely left out of the company’s decision-making over its restructuring.“We certainly would like to discuss with them the future of Cathay and its employees, rather than having them do something, that is, quite frankly, heavy-handed and giving people no option whatsoever,” he said.In a statement, Cathay management acknowledged the meeting with cabin crew representatives and said they had tried to answer their questions as best they could.The Labour Department, meanwhile, said it was “highly concerned” about the airline’s restructuring plan and that Cathay should consult employees before varying the terms of their employment contracts.“Failing to secure consent … on the variation of employment contract terms may constitute unreasonable variation of the terms of the employment contract, and employees may claim remedies against the employer under the Employment Ordinance,” it said.It added it had conveyed the two unions’ demands to Cathay and requested the airline strengthen its communication with employees to clarify their doubts.More from South China Morning Post: * Can slimmed-down Cathay Pacific still protect Hong Kong’s status as global aviation hub? * Cathay pilots union tells Hong Kong-based members not to sign new pay-slashing contracts * Cathay Pacific job cuts will hit Hong Kong housing market as axed pilots, cabin crew move away or downsize, say analystsThis article Cathay Pacific: ‘hugely disappointing’ Hong Kong meeting sees no give on flight attendant contracts; pilots plead case to Labour Department first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.