Bangla Online News Portal Sat, 06 Aug 2022 10:33:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Bangladesh seek redemption in ‘do or die’ game against Zimbabwe Sat, 06 Aug 2022 10:33:10 +0000 Bangladesh vowed to stay alive in the series, bringing out their best in all departments as they take on the Zimbabwe in the second match tomorrow (Sunday) at Harare Sports Club.

The match which starts at 1.15 PM (Bangladesh Time) will be aired live on T Sports Channel.

Bangladesh lost the first match by five wickets, which ended their 19-match winning streak against the Zimbabwe.

After beating Bangladesh for the first time since 2013, Zimbabwe now lead the three-match series 1-0.

The defeat was particularly shocking for Tigers given the fact that they posted 303-2. Zimbabwe rode on sublime centuries of Sikandar Raza and Innocent Kaia to gun down the target with eight balls to spare. Raza who ensured the victory with a powerful six over deep midwicket was not out on 109 ball-135 while Kaia who scored his maiden century was dismissed on 110.

While the general sentiment is that Bangladesh top order, specially skipper Tamim Iqbal batted too slowly in this benign pitch, the captain himself blamed the fielders for putting down some crucial chances.

The fans also lashed out at Mushfiqur Rahim who though scored an unbeaten 52, failed to push the scoreboard towards the end as Bangladesh made just 39 runs in the last five overs with seven wickets at hands.

The situation was further worsened for Bangladesh due to the injury of Liton Das who struck 81 off 89 before retiring hurt and fast bowler Shoriful Islam. Inform Liton however was ruled out of cricket for at least three weeks.

“We knew the first 10 overs you probably have to bat like a test match where you try and survive,” Tamim explained about his slow batting in the first powerplay.

“And because after 10th over wicket got really really good and as you see tremendous partnership. And we have been doing this (dropping catches) for for a long time now regularly. Earlier I told that dropping catches will cost us someday and the first match was the day.”

He however emphasized on not dropping catches in the second match as they are eying to level the series. As the series is a three-match, a defeat would ensure their first ever series defeat to Zimbabwe after 2013.

Zimbabwe earlier won the three-match T20 International series by 2-1, which was not only their first ever bilateral series victory over Bangladesh but also their maiden series victory against a Test nation in this format. And the victory against Bangladesh after 2013 further motivated them to win the ODI series.

“Obviously it’s really good to get a first win like that. But I think you know whole credit to Raza and Innocent Kaia, the way they went about after we lost a few early wickets and we get it was really important to for them to kick on the way they did and you know, we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Zimbabwe’s stand-in captain Regis Chakabva said.

Bangladesh which won 50 and lost 29 in the 79 matches against Zimbabwe however would have to bring up at least two changes from their first match squad as Liton and Shoriful won’t be available in their ‘do or die’ game.

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal (captain), Liton Das, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan Sohan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nasum Ahmed, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Taijul Islam.

Zimbabwe: Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva (wk), Tanaka Chivanga, Craig Ervine (capt), Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Sean Williams.

Govt adjusts price of fuel oil Sat, 06 Aug 2022 10:27:24 +0000 The government today refixed the price of fuel oil through adjusting the price of refined and imported/purchased diesel, kerosine, octane and petrol at the consumer level considering the uptrend of fuel oil price in global market under the current world situation.

The new price of fuel oil will be made effective on the fuel oil of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) and the Eastern Refinery Limited, said a handout of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.

It said that after 12:00 of August 5 night and within 40 kilometer radius of the depot, the retail price of diesel at consumer level will be Taka 114 per liter, kerosine at Taka 114 per liter, octane at Taka 135 per liter while petrol at Taka 130 per liter.

State Minister for Power Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said that the people-friendly Awami League government always take decision considering the ease and comfort of the common people.

He said the government did not take decision of not hiking fuel oil price as long as it was possible. Under the present circumstances and finding no other alternate way, the government had to go for price adjustment of fuel oil.

Earlier on April 2016, the government reduced the price of fuel oil. If the situation comes stable, the government would then consider re-adjusting the price of fuel oil.

Different countries of the world including the neighboring countries are regularly adjusting the price of fuel oil considering uptrend of fuel oil price in global market. On May 22, the price of diesel in Kolkata was fixed at 92.76 Indian Rupee per liter while that of petrol at 106.03 Indian rupee per liter which is still in force there.

If that price is converted to Taka, then the price of diesel would be Taka 114.09 per liter while that of petrol at Taka 130.42 per liter (considering one RS equal to Taka 1.23).

It means that diesel was being sold in Bangladesh by Taka 34.09 less per liter compared to Kolkata while petrol was being sold by Taka 44.42 per liter compared to Kolkata.

Since the price of fuel oil was less in Bangladesh, there was a chance of smuggling of fuel oil for which it was the demand of time to raise the fuel oil price, added the handout.

It is mentionable that the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has incurred a loss of Taka 8014.51 crore in fuel oil selling over the last six months from February to July this year.

So, it has become indispensable to make rationale adjustment of fuel oil price to make normal the import operations of BPC under the global fuel oil market situation.

Nuclear weapons a ‘loaded gun’, UN chief warns in Hiroshima Sat, 06 Aug 2022 10:25:11 +0000 “Humanity is playing with a loaded gun” as crises with the potential for nuclear disaster proliferate worldwide, UN head Antonio Guterres said in Hiroshima on Saturday, the 77th anniversary of the first atomic bomb attack.

At an annual memorial, Guterres warned of the risk posed by crises in Ukraine, the Middle East and the Korean peninsula as he described the horrors endured by the Japanese city.

“Tens of thousands of people were killed in this city in the blink of an eye. Women, children and men were incinerated in a hellish fire,” he said.

Survivors were “cursed with a radioactive legacy” of cancer and other health problems.

“We must ask: What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city?”

Around 140,000 people died when Hiroshima was bombed by the United States on August 6, 1945 — a toll that includes those who perished after the blast from radiation exposure.

Today, “crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast — the Middle East, to the Korean peninsula, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, Guterres said, repeating warnings he made this week at a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York.

“Humanity is playing with a loaded gun.”

Before dawn, survivors and their relatives began to gather at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to offer flowers and prayers.

A silent prayer was held at 8.15 am, the moment the bomb was dropped.

The Russian ambassador was not invited to the ceremony, but visited Hiroshima on Thursday to lay flowers at the memorial site.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, President Vladimir Putin has made thinly veiled threats hinting at a willingness to deploy tactical nuclear weapons.

In a speech on Saturday, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui cited Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author of “War and Peace”, saying: “Never build your happiness on the misfortune of others, for only in their happiness can you find your own.”

Three days after the Hiroshima bombing, Washington dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and leading to the end of World War II.

The United States remains the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons in conflict.

But around 13,000 are now held in state arsenals worldwide, the UN head said.

Saturday was the first time Guterres attended the Hiroshima memorial in person, with a visit last year cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Top four hit fifties to help Bangladesh post 303-2 Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:34:20 +0000 Bangladesh compiled a hefty 303-2, thanks to a superb performance of their top four batters in the first ODI of three-match series against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club today.

All of the top four batters hit half-centuries with Liton Das being the highest scorer with 81 off 89. Liton who struck nine fours and one six in his knock were well set for his sixth century but had to retire due to muscle cramp.

Even though his Test and T20 comeback was a disappointing one, Anamul Haque Bijoy finally proved his potential with a good comeback in the ODI format, scoring 73 off 62, that studded with six fours and three sixes. His knock was instrumental in propelling Bangladesh past 300 runs mark.

ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal however made 62 and in the process became the first Bangladeshi batter to reach 8000 runs milestone while Mushfiqur Rahim was not out on 52. Mahmudullah Riyad was also unbeaten on 20.

Regis Chakabva who is leading the side in absence of injured Sean Williams won the toss but opted to bowl first, which proved to be good for Bangladesh.

Tamim and Liton had slow start but they kept Bangladesh going with astute batting.

Tamim reached his 54th half-century off 79 balls and looked set for his century.

Sikandar Raza dismissed Tamim to break through after he struck nine fours for his 88-ball knock. That ended a 119-run opening stand, prompting Anamul Haque Bijoy to the crease for ODI format for the first time after three years.

As he and Liton got going well, the latter had a muscle cramp and had to retire hurt.

Bijoy and Mushfiqur Rahim increased the run rate, keeping Bangladesh hunt for going past 300 runs mark. Victor Nyauchi removed Bijoy as he tried to pace the innings further.

However Mushfiqur and Riyad then took the side past 300 runs with Mushfiqur hitting five fours for his 49 ball-52 not out.

Sheikh Kamal’s birth anniversary observed across country Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:30:41 +0000 The 73rd birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s eldest son Sheikh Kamal was observed across the country in a befitting manner. To mark the day, Nilphamari district administration, Zila Muktojoddha Sangsad, district unit Awami League placed wreathes at the portrait of Sheikh Kamal at Sheikh Kamal Stadium this morning.

A discussion was also organised at Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari town. With Deputy Commissioner Yasir Arefin in the chair, the discussion was addressed, among others, by Zila Parishad Administrator Freedom Fighter Joynal Abedin, Police Super Mohammad Mokhlesur Rahman, district unit AL President Dewan Kmal Ahmed and upazila Nirbahi Officer Jesmin Nahar.

In Meherpur, State Minister for Public Adminsitration Farhad Hossain in a discussion said Sheikh Kamal was a brave soul.

With Deputy Commissioner Dr Mohammad Monsur Alam in the chiar, the discussion was addressed, among others, by Police Super Md Rafiul Alam, municipality Mayor Mahfuzur Rahman Riton and Sadar Upazila Parishad Chairman advocate Yarul Islam.

The discussion on Sheikh Kamal’s life was held at the conference room of Deputy Commissioner.

Captain Sheikh Kamal’s birthday was also observed in Pirganj in Rangpur. Pirganj upazila administration placed a wreath at
the portrait of Sheikh Kamal in the town and arranged a Doa Mahfil seeking blessings for the departed soul of Sheikh Kamal, who was brutally killed on August 15, 1975. Upazila Nirbahi Officer Biroda Rani Rao, Officer-in-Charge of Pirganj Thana Abdul Awal, AL leader Ashiur Rahman, Engineer Moshiur Rahman and upazila Agriculture Officer Sadekuzzaman were present.

In Magura, a discussion was held at Sheikh Kamal Indoor Stadium with Deputy Commissioner Dr Ashraful Alam in the chair while advocate Sifuzzaman Shikhor, MP, took part in the discussion as the chief guest.

In Lakshmipur, a discussion on Sheikh Kamal’s life was held at Zila Stadium. Deputy Commissioner Md Anowar Hosain Akhand was present at the discussion as the chief guest.

Police Super Dr A H M Kamruzzaman, Zila Parishad Administrator Veteran Freedom Fighter Md Shahjahan and district unit AL President Golam Faruk Pinku were present. Sheikh Kamal’s 73rd birthday was also observed in Cumilla, Pabna, Rangamati, Bogura, Narail, Habiganj, Mymensingh, Shariatpur, Joypurhat, Natore and Thakurgaon districts.

Kissinger, Bhutto visited Dhaka before Bangabandhu’s assassination Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:28:53 +0000 The US secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a whirlwind visit to Bangladesh before the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.

He came to Dhaka on October 30, 1974 and had a meeting with Bangabandhu for a couple of hours at the Ganabhaban and later appeared at a three-minute press conference in which he refused to say why he had sent the USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal in 1971.

Notably, Kissinger visited Dhaka only after four months of the visit of the Pakistani Premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who came here on June 24 in 1974 and stayed for three days. His huge entourage included 107 persons. On the day of his arrival, the local newspapers were full of file-photos of the barbarity of the Pakistan army in 1971.

About the Kissinger’s visit, renowned US journalist Lawrence Lifschultz in his book “Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution” writes: “Within a month of Kissinger’s visit the US Embassy in Dhaka had become a bee-hive of activity.”

After his meeting with Bangabandhu, Kissinger told journalists that he would not have realised that it is possible for human being to reach that height if he would not have seen Bangabandhu.

Lifschultz in his book further writes: “Those who were aware of Kissinger’s plans felt that the US diplomat’s comments were kind of satirical”.

The different attitude of the then US authorities to Bangabandhu was also evident at that time. For instance, when a foreign head of government goes to the United Nations on a maiden tour, he is usually honored with an invitation to the White House. But despite repeated queries from the Bangladesh foreign ministry there was no clear response from the White House, in this case.

Later, when it was clear that, whatever the circumstances, Bangabandhu would visit Washington D.C., anyway, to visit old friends, the State Department hurriedly arranged a 15-minute meeting with the US president.

But the entire ambience of the meeting was cold. Kissinger did not even have the courtesy to meet Bangabandhu while he was in Washington. But it is true that Kissinger met Bangabandhu at the United Nations’ headquarters, a few days back.

Therefore, Lifschultz says, Kissinger’s effusive remarks about Bangabandhu were all verbiage.

Referring to the role of Kissinger during the War of Liberation in 1971, former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had told a discussion meeting held in Dhaka in 2016 that the US diplomat should be tried for war crime.

Apart from Kissinger’s Bangladesh visit, some significant incidents taken place before Bangabandhu’s assassination in the country and abroad included giving recognition to the revolutionary government in South Vietnam by Bangladesh and rolling out red carpet for the head of state of South Vietnam as well, devastating floods and famine triggered by the floods in 1974, Iran visit of Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed.

Political analysts think that those incidents had a link with the Bangabandhu killing.

Once August appears, BNP’s murderous character gets desperate: Quader Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:27:00 +0000 Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today said when the month of August appears, the murderous character of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) gets desperate as the party is afraid in facing the truth of this month.

He made the remarks after paying homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s eldest son Shaheed Sheikh Kamal at his grave in the city’s Banani area on the occasion of his 73rd birth anniversary.

Claiming that the BNP leaders and workers attacked on police in Bhola with weapons, Quader said: “Who did the incident in Bhola? Watch video
footages…Who held procession carrying weapons and who attacked on the police with those weapons. What will the police do?”

“Will the police remain idle? The murderous face of the BNP got clear in Bhola,” he added.

The AL general secretary said the BNP is trying to create unstable and anarchic situation in the country prior to the upcoming elections.

“By carrying out arson terrorism, the BNP leaders are trying to destroy the electoral environment and make the polls questionable,” he added.

The minister said a huge number of young people gathered on Abahani ground and at the Banani graveyard, which proved that the AL is ready to resist the politics of intrigue.

“We will resist the politics of killing and conspiracy. This is our pledge (on this day),” he added.

Quader said the delight of Sheikh Kamal’s birthday was lost through his bloody farewell in 1975.

The young generation of Bangladesh has a lot to learn from Shaheed Captain Sheikh Kamal as he was a multidimensional talent and genius, he said.

“Sheikh Kamal was found every day in sports like cricket and football, and cultural arena,” Quader said, adding that Kamal also came to Madhur Canteen at Dhaka University (DU) and was involved in Chhatra League. Sheikh Kamal can be a role model for the country’s young generation, he

Youth will elevate country’s status following Sheikh Kamal’s ideals, hopes PM Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:25:34 +0000 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today hoped that the young generation would groom themselves following the ideals, principles, work procedure and directives of freedom fighter Sheikh Kamal to elevate Bangladesh’s status further not only at home but also across the global.

“Freedom Fighter Shaheed Captain Sheikh Kamal had left behind ideals, principles, work procedure and directives for us. I wish that ranging from the country’s little children to the youth generation would groom themselves following Sheikh Kamal,” she said.

The premier expressed this optimism while distributing Sheikh Kamal National Sports Council Award-2022 at a ceremony in city’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium, organised to mark the 73rd birth anniversary of Freedom Fighter Shaheed captain Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

She joined the ceremony as chief guest virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban this morning.

Sheikh Hasina said, “We can improve the status of Bangladesh further not only at home but also at the international level by developing our talent and thinking, I want our sons and daughters to work in the same way.”

With State Minister for Youth and Sports Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel in the chair, secretary of the ministry Mesbah Uddin delivered the welcome address.

Awami League Youth and Sports Affairs Secretary and noted sports organizer Harunur Rashid and legendary percussionist and musician Kazi Hablu, founding member of the Spandan Shilpi Gosthi established by Sheikh Kamal, also spoke reminiscing the life and visionary works of Sheikh Kamal in sports, music and other areas.

At the outset of the ceremony, a video documentary on the life and works of Sheikh Kamal titled “Ek Alor Pather Jatri (A Traveler of the Road of Light)” was screened.

The Prime Minister also unveiled the cover of a pictorial souvenir titled “the Embodiment of Enlightened Youth” highlighting the life and works of Sheikh Kamal.

The Prime Minister said that Kamal is no more today, but he has set examples from introducing the modern football and establishing Abahani Krira Chakra to involving the little children and young generation in various sports .

She said Kamal used to play hockey, football, cricket and sitar, participate in drama and get prizes for extempore lecture at the same time.

He was also politically conscious and had foresight and had been an active activist of Chhatra League since his admission in Dhaka College, she added.

Apart from this, Sheikh Hasina said, Kamal had also done the task of popularizing various local songs using modern instruments and musical practice by establishing Spandan Shilpi Goshthi as he was born with multilateral talent.

“But, Kamal always used to lead a very simple life (even after being a son of the country’s President),” she said.

Noting that her father Bangabandhu taught them to lead a simple life, she said that their motto was “simple living, high thinking” and they used to follow what her father had taught them.

Walking down to the memory lane, Sheikh Hasina said that the practice of his (kamal) music team used to take place on the rooftop at their house where many including Feroz Sai, Ferdous Wahid, Naseeruddin would come.

Being able to return to the country six years after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Premier said, she turned the Bangabandhu’s Dhanmondi No. 32 house into a museum.

Mentioning that Feroz Sai handed over Kamal’s mouth organ to her, with which he used to play music, Sheikh Hasina said that she kept the mouth organ and Kamal’s “sitar” in the museum.

She said that even though Sheikh Kamal got commissioned in the army, since his graduation at Dhaka University was not completed yet, he left the army and joined Dhaka University again to fulfill her mother’s desire.

But, he left the world for the land of no return (as he was killed brutally with Bangabandhu and other family members) before the results of his masters’ examination was published, she added.

Extending gratitude to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for introducing the Sheikh Kamal National Sports Council Award, the Prime Minister hoped that Sheikh Kamal’s contribution as a freedom fighter as well as sports and cultural personality will be remembered by all for it.

At the same time, Sheikh Hasina said, she wants the youth of the country to be more active in all the fields including sports, cultural activities, social services and involve themselves with more.

That’s why her party Awami League whenever assumes power tries to improve the sports and culture of the country, she said.

Following the initiative of Sheikh Kamal that he took in favour of the destitute persons in the field of sports and culture, Sheikh Hasina said, her government has provided seed money and set up various trust funds for the people of different sectors.

Sheikh Kamal was born on this day in 1949 in Tungipara village under the then Gopalganj subdivision. On the night of August 15, 1975, he was martyred along with most of his family members, including father of the nation and Bangamata, at the age of 26.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has nominated nine sports personalities and two organisations in seven categories for the prestigious Sheikh Kamal National Sports Council (NSC) Award in 2022.

Veteran sports organizer Harunur Rashid received lifetime award, while Liton Kumar Das (cricket), Abdullah Hel Baki (shooting) and Mollah Sabira Sultana (weightlifting) were given the award in sport personality category.

Emerging athletes: Diya Siddique (Archery) and Mohammad Shariful Islam (Cricket).

Sports organizer: Saidur Rahman Patel and Nazma Shamim.

Sports association/federation/sports organization: Bangladesh Olympic Association.

Sports sponsor: Green Delta Insurance Company Limited.

Sports journalist: Kashinath Bashak.

Each of the award winner received Taka one lakh, a crest and certificate. The Ministry of Youth and Sports introduced this award for the first time last year on the occasion of Sheikh Kamal’s birth anniversary.

The nominees for this award are finalized after being scrutinized by the concerned committee in the light of specific criteria for recognition of their outstanding contribution to sports.

PM offers Nepal to use Mongla, Chattogram seaports Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:23:35 +0000 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina again proposed Nepal to use Mongla and Chattogram seaports alongside Syedpur airport for mutual benefits.

“Nepal can take advantage of using our Mongla and Chittagong ports,” she said while a visiting parliamentary delegation from Nepal paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister at her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning.

Chairperson, International Relations Committee, House of Representatives, Federal Parliament, Nepal, Pabitra Niruola Kharel led the Nepalese delegation, according to a press release of the Press Wing of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Mentioning that Bangladesh is developing Syedpur Airport as a regional airport, the premier said, “Neighboring countries including Nepal can use the airport.”

During the meeting, both the sides expressed their eagerness to consolidate further the relations between the two countries alongside strengthening bilateral cooperation on business and trade for mutual benefits.

Expressing her gratitude to the leadership and the people of Nepal for supporting Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971, Sheikh Hasina said her government attaches great importance to maintaining good relations with neighboring countries, including Nepal.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the delegation visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi and Bangladesh Parliament and went to Tungipara through the much-cherished iconic Padma Bridge.

At the outset, the Nepalese delegation thanked the government of Bangladesh for arranging an excellent program for them.

The delegation members expressed great satisfaction that Nepal and Bangladesh have been enjoying cordial relations over the years.

They mentioned that this year was very significant for both countries for celebrating the 50th year of establishing diplomatic relations.

They suggested that the two countries could further consolidate their cooperation in sectors like power, hydroelectricity, tourism, education, ICT, connectivity, and people to people contact.

They emphasized high-level visits on a regular basis to strengthen the friendly ties.

The delegation appreciated Prime Minister for her visionary leadership and the recent socio-economic development, which they termed as very impressive.

The Nepalese delegation included Chandtara Kumari, MP, Dr. Deepak Prakash Bhatt, MP, Dev Prasad Timalsena, MP, Lila Devi Sitaula, MP, Narad Muni Rana, MP, and Sarala Kumari Yadav, MP.

China to stage major drills around Taiwan after Pelosi visit Thu, 04 Aug 2022 06:28:40 +0000 China is due on Thursday to kick off its largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan, in a show of force straddling vital international shipping lanes following a visit to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi left Taiwan Wednesday after a less than 24-hour visit that defied a series of increasingly stark threats from Beijing, which views the island as its territory.

The House speaker, second in line to the presidency, was the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

She declared her presence made it “unequivocally clear” that the United States would “not abandon” a democratic ally like Taiwan.

Her trip sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed “punishment” for those that had offended it and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest waterways.

The exercises, set to begin at 12:00 pm (0400 GMT), will involve “training activities including live-fire drills”, according to an announcement in state media.

They will take place in multiple zones encircling Taiwan — at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the island’s shore — and will conclude at midday on Sunday.

Nationalist state-run tabloid the Global Times reported, citing military analysts, that the exercises were “unprecedented” and that missiles would fly over Taiwan for the first time.

“This is the first time the PLA will launch live long-range artillery across the Taiwan Straits,” the newspaper said, referring to China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army.

Drills taking place since last Tuesday have set the stage for the exercises, with Beijing’s Xinhua news agency reporting they had simulated a “joint blockade” of Taiwan.

Taipei has condemned the plans, warning they threaten the security of the East Asia region.

“Some of the areas of China’s drills breach into… (Taiwan’s) territorial waters,” defence ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said at a press conference Wednesday.

“This is an irrational move to challenge the international order.”

The Group of Seven industrialised nations also condemned the planned drills, saying in a statement there was “no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait”.

– ‘Preparation for actual combat’ –

Wednesday saw Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau issue warnings to ships in northern, eastern and southern areas ahead of the drills.

“Ships are urged to avoid areas of the military drills and use alternative routes,” the bureau said.

Beijing has defended the planned exercises — and the drills that took place around Taiwan since late Tuesday — as “necessary and just” and pinned the blame for the escalation squarely on the United States and its allies.

“In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing Wednesday.

“The joint provocation by the US and Taiwan came first, China’s just defence came after,” she added.

A Chinese military source also told AFP the exercises would be staged “in preparation for actual combat”.

“If the Taiwanese forces come into contact with the PLA on purpose and accidentally fire a gun, the PLA will take stern countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the Taiwanese side,” the source said.

– ‘Some limits’ –

Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has intensified under President Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive ruler in a generation.

Just 130 kilometres (81 miles) wide at its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait is a major international shipping channel and all that lies between now democratic Taiwan and its giant authoritarian neighbour.

But it now sits as a flashpoint between the United States, Taiwan and a Chinese leadership keen to project strength ahead of a crucial ruling party meeting this autumn at which Xi is expected to be given an unprecedented third term in office.

“China’s announced military exercises represent a clear escalation from the existing baseline of Chinese military activities around Taiwan and from the last Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-1996,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior analyst for China at the International Crisis Group.

“Beijing is signalling that it rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty.”

Nevertheless, analysts have told AFP that China is not aiming to escalate the situation beyond its control — at least for now.

“I think they are quite careful in not wanting to escalate beyond control,” Chong Ja Ian, an associate professor with a focus on security issues at the National University of Singapore, told AFP.

“Clearly they recognise that there are some limits to what they are willing to do.”

“The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war ignited,” said Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.