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China’s Military Drills and Other Tensions With Taiwan, Explained

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China said on Monday it would hold new drills near Taiwan, a sign that Beijing may keep up a drumbeat of military pressure on the island after conducting its largest-ever exercises in the area in retaliation for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said it was focused on holding “joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations” on Monday in an unspecified location near the island. The announcement came a day after the military wrapped up 72 hours of exercises encircling Taiwan, effectively simulating a blockade.

The latest drills indicated that Beijing might be seeking to normalize its military’s presence around Taiwan, allowing Chinese forces to practice imposing a slow squeeze of the island that involves cutting off much of the access to the island’s airspace and waters. During last week’s drills, China sent at least 11 missiles into seas north, south and east of Taiwan, and it deployed warships and fighter jets to swarm the island.

Taiwan, an island of 23 million people 80 miles off the coast of China, has long been a source of tension between Washington and Beijing. China claims Taiwan, a democratically governed island, as its territory and has vowed to take it back, using force if necessary.

Ms. Pelosi was the highest profile American official to go to Taiwan since 1997, when Newt Gingrich, then the House speaker, made a contentious visit. After she landed in Taipei on Tuesday night, a chorus of Chinese government bodies denounced her visit, claiming that it thwarted China’s efforts at unification with Taiwan and imperiled regional stability.

Here is a look at the issues surrounding China and Taiwan, and what has changed since Ms. Pelosi’s visit.

China has cast the drills as a show of force intended to punish the island for a visit by Ms. Pelosi that challenged Beijing’s claims to Taiwan. The drills, which pushed ever closer to Taiwan over four days, gave Chinese forces valuable practice should they one day be ordered to attack the island.

On the first day of the drills, five Chinese ballistic missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, east of Taiwan, the first time any had landed in those waters. Analysts saw that as Beijing sending a warning to both the United States and Japan about coming to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a conflict there, reminding Washington that it can strike American bases in the region.

China selected six areas to hold exercises for their importance in a potential campaign to seal off Taiwan, Maj. Gen. Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at the National Defense University in Beijing, said in an interview on Chinese television. One zone covers the narrowest part of the Taiwan Strait. Others could be used to block a major port or attack three of Taiwan’s main military bases. Another one, facing southern Taiwan, could block an escape route.

China’s military buildup has reached a point where some commanders and analysts think an invasion is an increasingly plausible, though still highly risky, scenario. Even if imminent conflict is unlikely, the exercises are putting the region on edge, and Monday’s announcement of new drills would only add to such concerns. Citing experts, Chinese state media said on Monday that the number of jets patrolling the strait would only grow, not decrease.

Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in generations, has made it clearer than any of his predecessors that he sees unifying Taiwan with China to be a primary goal of his rule — and a key to what he calls China’s “national rejuvenation” as a modern, unified superpower.

Taiwan figured in Mr. Xi’s early political career. In 1996, a year when tensions flared in the Taiwan Strait, he became the top political officer of a People’s Liberation Army reserve antiaircraft division in Fujian Province, which faces the island from across the Taiwan Strait.

His growing interest in unification also reflects a domestic political calculus. Mr. Xi is expected to be confirmed to an unprecedented third term as leader at a Communist Party congress in the fall. Before that meeting, Mr. Xi will be keen to project an image of strength at home and abroad, particularly on the question of Taiwan.

The exercises are intended not only to menace Taiwan and the United States, but also to appease Chinese nationalists at home who had seemed disappointed by what they perceived as an insufficiently domineering response.

China’s incursions into airspace and waters near Taiwan have become more aggressive in the past several years, heightening the risk of conflict.

In June, Beijing raised the stakes when the Foreign Ministry declared that China had jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait and that it could not be considered an international waterway. And in the past year, Chinese military planes have increasingly probed the airspace near Taiwan, prompting the Taiwanese military to scramble fighter jets.

Beijing ratcheted up the pressure during Ms. Pelosi’s visit. China’s military announced live-fire drills that started Thursday, some of them in parts of the sea that appear to infringe on areas that Taiwan says are in its territorial waters.

In an intentionally ambiguous diplomatic arrangement adopted in 1979, the United States maintains a “one China” policy that acknowledges, but does not endorse, Beijing’s claim over Taiwan. U.S. leaders have remained vague about how they would help Taiwan if China attacked, but President Biden has pledged to defend the island.

Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic of China. For decades, its population lived under martial law imposed by a U.S.-backed regime led by Chiang Kai-shek, who had fled China after being overthrown by Mao Zedong’s Communist revolution of 1949. China and the United States twice came close to going to war over Taiwan in the 1950s.

That Cold War tension mostly subsided in the 1980s and 1990s as Taiwan democratized and China opened up its economy. But it flared again in 1995 and 1996, when China objected to a visit by President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan to Cornell University, his alma mater.

China fired missiles near Taiwan’s main island as a warning to Mr. Lee, and again as Taiwan prepared for its first open presidential election. The crisis ended only when President Bill Clinton ordered aircraft carriers to opposite ends of the Taiwan Strait.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills

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The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists

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This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
BRIGITTE STELZER

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’

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Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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