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Chinese Stages Show of Force Near Taiwan for a Third Day



China continued on Saturday to project its ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, with its third straight day of military drills that have encroached ever closer to the island and raised concerns about potential conflict.

The Taiwanese defense ministry said on Saturday that several batches of Chinese military aircraft and warships had been detected around the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the informal median line that divides the island from the Chinese mainland. They appeared to be engaged in an exercise simulating an attack on the main island of Taiwan, the ministry said.

Already, China’s show of force, which is expected to run through Sunday, has threatened territory that Taiwan considers its own more directly than any previous exercises had.

China has launched at least 11 missiles into the waters to the north, south and east of Taiwan, including at least one that flew over the island, though Taiwan said it was at a high altitude that constituted no threat. On Friday, it also deployed fighter jets, bombers, destroyers, drones and escort ships to waters near the island. Several of the zones the Chinese military designated for this week’s exercises are closer to the island than areas announced during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the mid-1990s, which also involved China firing missiles around Taiwan.

Since the exercises began on Thursday, at least 49 Chinese military jets have crossed the median line, according to Taiwanese officials.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday that China had “unilaterally created a crisis” by overreacting to Ms. Pelosi’s visit.

“The Taiwanese people have the right to befriend the rest of the world, and China has no right to interfere with the rest of the world befriending Taiwan,” the statement said.

The military exercises are the most visible element of the Chinese response to Ms. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which she had said was intended to show support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Before her arrival on Tuesday, China had repeatedly warned that the gesture by Ms. Pelosi — the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years — would provoke “serious consequences.” China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has promised an eventual reunification, through force if necessary.

China also said on Friday that it would cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts said could increase the chances of a miscommunication spiraling into a full-fledged crisis.

At the same time, the United States is looking to shore up its ties with other Asian countries, as a counterweight to China’s regional and global influence. On Saturday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in Manila. In a public exchange, Mr. Marcos told Mr. Blinken that he did not think Ms. Pelosi’s visit had “raised the intensity” of tensions in the region, which he said had already been high — an apparent rebuttal to China’s claims that the United States was responsible for the current frictions.

Fears that China would seek to physically prevent Ms. Pelosi’s visit were unrealized. But American officials remain concerned that the exercises, which began less than 24 hours after she left Taiwan, could still escalate, intentionally or accidentally, into more direct conflict.

Chinese officials, who have encouraged swaggering and at times virulent nationalism at home, may feel pressure to show that they are putting on a strong response. Some Chinese social media users have expressed disappointment or embarrassment that the government did not go further to prevent Ms. Pelosi’s visit; some made it clear that they had been expecting military action.

Even if the drills do not directly escalate into a full-blown crisis, they could signal a new pattern of aggression and incursions by the Chinese military. The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, said in an editorial on Friday that the work of promoting reunification with Taiwan had “entered a new stage.”

The United States has tried to avoid provoking China further. It has said that it remains committed to the status quo in Taiwan, acknowledging China’s stated claim to the island without recognizing it. The Pentagon ordered the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan to “remain on station” in the region, while maintaining some distance from the Taiwan Strait.

But China has made it clear that it regards any criticism of its exercises as an affront. It has summoned several ambassadors after their countries expressed concern about the drills. After some of the Chinese missiles landed on Thursday in waters that Japan claims as its own, leading Japan’s prime minister to call for an “immediate halt,” a representative for the Chinese Embassy in Japan told Japan not to “slide into the abyss” of geopolitical confrontation.

Amy Chang Chien, John Liu and Edward Wong contributed reporting.

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After Half a Century, Prince Edward Island’s Musical Tradition Takes a Break



Prince Edward Island’s best-known figure, Anne Shirley, is a fictional character. But that doesn’t deter tourists from around the world, and Japan in particular, from traveling to Cavendish to visit Green Gables, the farm that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel about the sassy orphan from the town of Avonlea, itself another fiction.

And since 1965, except during a pandemic-induced two-year break, most of those tourists have taken in performances of “Anne of Green Gables — The Musical” at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.

But now anyone planning to make the show part of a trek to pay homage to red-haired Anne will have to do some additional planning. After 57 years, the center has decided that the musical will be performed every second year rather than annually.

The play was the first production staged at the center, and the decision to break its long run was one of many things that emerged from pandemic reflection, Adam Brazier, the artistic director of performing arts at the Confederation Centre, told me.

It was a change that Mr. Brazier, whose family has a long history on the island, took on with some trepidation.

I suffer from being an absolute people pleaser, and this was a such a large systemic cultural change,” Mr. Brazier said. “The unfamiliar always breeds the uncertainty and fear. I have to acknowledge that absolutely exists.”

But in Mr. Brazier’s view, a biennial “Anne” will allow the theater, which currently offers just two shows each season, to “preserve the legacy” of “Anne” itself.

As he anticipated, there was some immediate backlash on the island, and off, when the change was announced.

In a letter published by Saltwire, an online collective of Atlantic Canada newspapers, Paul Smitz of Brookvale, Prince Edward Island, said the decision was “ridiculous” and called for the resignation of Mr. Brazier as well as that of the art center’s chief executive.

“It has huge implications on tourism,” Mr. Smitz wrote.

Kathy and Dino DelGaudio of Vero Beach, Fla., who own a seasonal house on the island, wrote to say that they had attended the production every summer, except during the pandemic-related shutdown of the border, for the past two decades. They too said they were dismayed.

“Anne represents the essence of P.E.I. to us and put P.E.I. on the global map,” the couple wrote. “Big mistake, folks.”

But one of the new projects Mr. Brazier has taken on is, well, more Anne. The theater will create a musical version of “Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables.”

During the 1930s, Loretta Shaw, a Canadian missionary, gave Ms. Muraoka a copy of Ms. Montgomery’s book, which Ms. Muraoka went on to translate, along with most of the Canadian author’s other works. Japan’s fascination with Anne, however, developed after 1953, when the translation, titled “Red-Haired Anne,” was included in Japan’s school curriculum.

(Michael B. Pass, a doctoral student at the University of Ottawa, has published a fascinating history and analysis of Japan’s relationship with Anne.)

Interest in the various Anne stories in Canada, of course, has largely been driven by television adaptations. The most recent, known simply as “Anne” when it was first aired by the CBC and then “Anne With an E” for a Netflix release, took a darker approach to the character’s story.

But it’s not just television. Catherine Hong wrote for The New York Times Book Review about the proliferation of book adaptations of the spunky redhead’s story. They include “Anne of Greenville” by Mariko Tamaki. Ms. Hong describes that book as “more a playful riff than a retelling — in which Anne is the half-Japanese, disco-loving, ‘deliriously queer’ adopted daughter of two moms.” She adds, “After the family moves to the conservative small town of Greenville, Anne encounters a scary nativist clique and a thorny love triangle involving two girls.”

[Read: Anne of Everywhere]

The musical production in Charlottetown was partly written by Don Harron, who is best remembered for his comedic performances as Charlie Farquharson, a grizzled Ontario philosopher-farmer. Mr. Brazier told me that the production had undergone many revisions and changes over the past half century.

In 1971, Clive Barnes, The Times’s longtime theater critic, gave a largely positive, if somewhat patronizing, review of a New York production of the musical.

“Simple, innocent and Canadian, this is the kind of show that will appeal most to the unsophisticated in heart — if they are still going to the theater these days,” he wrote.

With a cast of 26 actors and 14 musicians, Anne is a large and expensive production. But Mr. Brazier said that giving it a break every other year was not about saving money and that budgets for the theater had not been trimmed.

And Mr. Brazier said that the theater was committed to preserving what he called “a masterpiece of 1960s musical theater.”

He added: “We cherish this show and everything about it. I believe you can learn anything you need to learn about the musical theater from ‘Anne of Green Gables — The Musical.’”

  • A man already in custody in Manitoba has been charged with murdering three Indigenous women and a fourth unidentified woman.

  • In Opinion, Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke with Steven Guilbeault, the former climate activist who is now the federal minister of environment and climate change, on “First Person,” a Times podcast about how people have come to their opinions and what it means to live with them.

  • W.M. Akers has reviewed “Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk” by Buddy Levy. In 1913, the flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition became trapped in a frozen hell of arctic ice. Mr. Akers writes that the book is “is an ugly tale, very well told,” and says, “The only beauty is in the ice — and that is as cold as beauty can be.”

  • Canada has been eliminated from the World Cup. James Wagner writes about what’s next for the national team and declares that while its result at the tournament may be disappointing, “even reaching this far was an accomplishment.”

  • Borje Salming, a Hall of Fame defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs who led the way for other European hockey players in the N.H.L., has died at the age of 71.

  • Bilal Baig, a queer, transfeminine Muslim artist from Toronto, has returned for a second season of “Sort Of,” a melancholy comedy loosely based on the performer’s life and experiences.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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Four Chinese tell why they’re protesting Xi: ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’



All week, China has been rocked by protests against President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party’s extreme zero-COVID” policies, which have forced many to stay at home for months, possibly leading to the deaths of 10 people trapped in an apartment building fire on Nov. 24.

I asked friends in China — using encrypted apps that the Chinese surveillance state has declared illegal — to tell me why they are protesting the lockdowns. Here are four responses, minus the personal details that might get them arrested.

1.    “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

“I am a software engineer from Beijing. The “zero-COVID” policy that has gone on for three years has devastated the economy and the company I work for is on the verge of collapse. I and other employees are lucky to receive one-third of our normal salary. We are all struggling to pay our bills and just to get through daily life.

The nationwide protests were sparked by this apartment building fire in Urumqi that killed 10 people, who were likely trapped due to COVID lockdown restrictions.

My son is suffering, too. When he is allowed to go to school, he has to take a daily COVID test and wear a mask, which harms his health and social development. During lockdowns he is forced to stay at home and take online classes, but even then the school demands daily COVID tests. My son is spending his childhood living in fear. 

My family loves to travel. Before “zero-COVID” we would go on outings almost every weekend, camping in the picturesque outdoors or kayaking down a clear river. Now we can no longer travel freely, enjoying the beauty of nature, and making new friends in distant places.  

During lockdowns we can’t shop in the mall down the street, or even see friends and relatives who live next door.  We can’t even leave our own apartment!  Life has lost all meaning.

A woman and baby sequestered in their Shanghai apartment during an October COVID lockdown. Chinese children, say protestors, are growing up surrounded by fear.
A woman and baby sequestered in their Shanghai apartment during an October COVID lockdown. Chinese children, say protestors, are growing up surrounded by fear.

We are not afraid of COVID-19, but rather of the hell that we are now living. 

We are tired of being deceived by the powerful year after year. We demand an immediate end to the wrongheaded and absurd “zero-COVID” policy.  

Allow the people to enjoy all the freedoms that are guaranteed by our constitution. End the one-party dictatorship.

Give me liberty or give me death!”

Health workers in Beijing on COVID patrols; dubbed “Big Whites” because of their uniforms, they have almost total control over the daily lives of most people in China.
Health workers in Beijing on COVID patrols; dubbed “Big Whites” because of their uniforms, they have almost total control over the daily lives of most people in China.
AFP via Getty Images

2.    “I Hope These Evil Days Soon End.”

“Everyone here in the southern city of Guangzhou has been given a QR code, which the authorities use to track our movements. Because my family accidentally entered into an area under lockdown, this tracking app sent out a red alert.  

The Big Whites [government authorities dressed in head-to-toe PPE] came to our house, told us we were not allowed to go out, and then sealed us in. All of our mobile phones were constantly monitored, and a tracking system was even installed in our house to monitor everyone in our family 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A covid blockade in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where over 10,000 new cases were recorded in a single day last month. Not only is “zero-COVID” severely punitive, it's simply not working.
A COVID blockade in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where over 10,000 new cases were recorded in a single day last month. Not only is “zero-COVID” severely punitive, it’s simply not working.

In all, we were under lockdown for more than three weeks. Not once during this time did the authorities provide any food or other assistance. Even as we were starving, they continued to threaten us if we complained.

We don’t want to live in fear all the time. As long as the “zero-COVID” policy continues, we could be locked down at home, or even sent away to a quarantine camp, at any time. People here have not only lost their freedom, but also their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives because of the lockdowns.

I myself have lost a well-paying job as design engineer, and have been unable to find another, all because I have not been vaccinated against the latest Omicron variant. No one is allowed to hire me.  Nor am I allowed to fly on a plane or travel by high-speed rail.

At a vigil in Beijing for the fire victims of Urumqi, demonstrators held up blank paper sheets to protest China’s censorship of free speech.
At a vigil in Beijing for the fire victims of Urumqi, demonstrators held up blank paper sheets to protest China’s censorship of free speech.

I hope these evil days soon end.  I want to be able to travel freely, without having to show my QR code at every restaurant, at every store, or even to cross the street.  And one day, I hope to be able to speak freely, instead of anonymously, without fear of being imprisoned.”

3.  “I Just Want to Live in a Normal Society.”

“I am a retired bank employee from the central province of Hubei [the original center of the pandemic]. I oppose the “zero-COVID” policy that makes it impossible to work and earn money to support your family, and the endless lockdowns that destroy people and the economy.

A protestor is arrested by police officers at a Shanghai rally in late November. Despite some easing of covid rules, crowds still demanded that Chinese President Xi Jinping resign.
A protestor is arrested by police officers at a Shanghai rally in late November. Despite some easing of COVID rules, crowds still demanded that Chinese President Xi Jinping resign.

Why can’t we manage the virus humanely and scientifically, so that we can live in freedom? I just want to live in a normal society.

4.     “Three Generations of Chinese People Cannot Speak Freely”

“I am from Beijing, in the Communist-occupied part of the Republic of China on Taiwan. For more than 70 years, three generations of the Chinese people have been unable to speak freely in their own country.  

We want to be free of the control of the terrorist organization that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party. 

I am right now locked up in my own home in the prison state run by the CCP, the same CCP that creates viruses in its labs and releases them to destroy mankind!”

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Pandemics.” 

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Why Is This Man With the Famous Name Walking 2,000 Miles Across India?



On the 76th day of his long march north through the entire length of India, Rahul Gandhi, scion of a once-mighty political dynasty, walked into a textile-making town in the middle of this vast country, his face and hair covered in dust.

Gone were the luxury trappings that his adversaries in India’s Hindu nationalist governing party had used to caricature him as entitled and aloof. Now, Mr. Gandhi was speaking of blistered feet and the struggle of the common man. He was shaking hands with children, hugging older men and women who caressed his hair and kissed his forehead, on what he hoped was a 2,000-mile journey out of the political wilderness for his once-dominant Congress party.

“Every democratic institution was shut for us by the government: Parliament, media, elections,” Mr. Gandhi, 52, told supporters late last month in Burhanpur, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. “There was no other way but to hit the streets to listen and connect with people.”

With a national election less than 16 months away, Mr. Gandhi’s march could determine whether India’s fractured political opposition can do anything to halt the era-defining ambitions of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The future of India as a multiparty democracy hangs in the balance. Mr. Modi, one of the most powerful leaders in India’s history, has remade its secular political foundation to privilege the Hindu majority and sideline Muslims and other minorities.

His imprint is so deep, and his successes so complete, that his lieutenants say the B.J.P. will remain in control of the country for decades to come.

As the party has tightened its grip across the country and its institutions, opposition politicians complain that they have been pushed out of platforms where they can reach the masses in the cycle of democratic politics.

Parliament, once a thriving debate chamber, is now largely confined to ministerial speeches, with the governing party avoiding debates on key policy issues. The B.J.P., through a mix of pressure and the threat of withholding government advertising money, has largely cowed the traditional media.

After Mr. Gandhi reached Burhanpur, where a large crowd greeted him, with some watching from rooftops and others from the lean branches of trees, there was barely a mention of it on nightly television programs.

That Mr. Gandhi has found it necessary to walk the whole of India, fighting to steal a ray of the spotlight and project a new profile, is the culmination of a once-unimaginable reversal of fortune for his family and party.

The Indian National Congress party has led the country for two-thirds of its 75 years of independence, and the Gandhi-Nehru family has produced three prime ministers who governed for a total of nearly four decades.

But in Mr. Gandhi’s decade as the party’s official president or de facto leader, it has faced repeated defeats in national and state elections, and currently has just 53 of the 543 seats in Parliament. The B.J.P. has 303 seats.

With the party increasingly defined not by ideas but by loyalty to the family that has been central to its history, the dilemma around its decline is often simplified as: can’t do with or without the Gandhis.

As the Congress party has withered, its messy scandals and infighting have increasingly played out in public. The muddle created by the family’s inability to reconcile warring factions has resulted in stagnation at the local level, party officials say, and high-ranking defections.

“This march, of course, is a last-ditch attempt on his part to revive the fortunes of his party and to bolster his national image,” said Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University. “But beyond the fanfare, he has failed to spell out a clear, alternative vision for the country.”

Mr. Gandhi said he started his journey — which will take roughly 150 days as he and his entourage of 120 cover about 13 miles a day, sleeping in containers hauled on heavy trucks — to help unite a country he says is deeply polarized by Mr. Modi’s Hindu majoritarian politics.

Since September, as he has passed through villages and small towns across seven states, his march has attracted a wide range of followers: farmers facing an inescapable cycle of debt; Indigenous people struggling to protect rainforests from powerful developers; students anxious about upward mobility in an economy failing to provide enough jobs.

In attacking the governing party, Mr. Gandhi has voiced the worries of a vast section of the population suffering from the deeply unequal reality of an economy hindered by high levels of youth unemployment and rising inflation.

“When he listened patiently to us and spoke of the pain of the common man, my opinion about him changed,” said Amar Thakur, who supported the B.J.P. in the last elections and met Mr. Gandhi during a meeting in Burhanpur to hear local grievances. “Enough of hate now, I will vote for his party.”

Mr. Gandhi’s simple message of unity, Congress leaders said, amounts to the party’s first major ideological assault against the Hindu-first idea of India being cemented by the B.J.P.

“It is our last roll of the dice,” said Jairam Ramesh, a former federal minister who has been walking with Mr. Gandhi. “We are putting everything we have in it. If we don’t make a difference through it, then there is a problem for us both as a party and as an ideology.”

Mr. Modi’s mark on Indian politics is so indelible that Mr. Gandhi, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has appeared to emulate him during his countrywide journey even as he has presented himself as an alternative.

Mr. Gandhi’s forehead has often been adorned with a red dot, or tilak, a mark of Hindu piety. He has shed his formerly clean-shaven look for a beard that is growing by the day. He often participates in temple visits and religious ceremonies as he stops in villages and towns.

Such long marches are part of a well-established political tradition in India dating back to the country’s independence struggle. In the 1990s, when the roles were reversed, the B.J.P. undertook a similar march, rallying around the construction of a Hindu temple where a Mughal-era mosque had stood. That march helped fire up the B.J.P.’s ideological base and set the stage for its subsequent rise.

It is far from clear whether Mr. Gandhi can bring his party back from a path to irrelevance in national politics. But he seems to be banking on a two-pronged strategy — at once putting himself at the center of the effort to build a narrative and direction while creating some distance by turning over the party presidency to someone outside the family.

After long periods of resentment within the Congress ranks about the Gandhi family’s refusal to share the leadership, the party in October elected an 80-year-old loyalist as its first non-Gandhi president in 24 years.

To some critics, the choice of the new leader, as well as the march’s singular focus on Mr. Gandhi, made clear that the family was not letting go in meaningful ways that could fix the party’s dysfunction and erosion of support.

Whether the Congress party’s fortunes change or not, it is clear that Mr. Gandhi’s message has resonated with many who view India’s direction under Mr. Modi with dismay.

On a recent morning at the border between the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of young men started chasing Mr. Gandhi, who walked inside a rope held by dozens of police officers in a square shape.

Syed Sharaft Ali, a Muslim day laborer, said he had left his home early in the morning and walked for three hours to express his support for Mr. Gandhi’s march and tell him how religious polarization was dividing friends and destroying families.

As Mr. Gandhi closed in, the crowd pushed Mr. Ali, his body rolling between officers as they tried to corral the well-wishers.

Mr. Gandhi gestured toward Mr. Ali to come inside the ring. They spoke for a minute.

“At least he hugged me,” Mr. Ali said. “Other leaders don’t even want to look at us.”

Mr. Ali then walked back toward his village with moist eyes; Mr. Gandhi continued on through the dust.

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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