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‘This is a dangerous time’ – three Australian states in lockdown

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A third Australian city will go into lockdown tonight as restrictions tighten across the nation in a race to contain a growing number of Covid-19 outbreaks

South Australia in lockdown

Health authorities have confirmed South Australia’s outbreak is the Delta strain, prompting the state to tighten restrictions.

From 6:00pm, there will be just five reasons to leave your home.

It follows the state recording FIVE new infections in its latest reporting period.

Premier Steven Marshall is providing a coronavirus update, he says “we have to act decisively, we have to act quickly.”

He says “there is no need for panic buying”, and there are plenty of supplies across the state.

“This is a dangerous time,” Mr Marshall said.

“I’m 100 per cent convinced that South Australians will rise to the challenge, will make sure they can abide by these new restrictions, and make sure we get through this in as short a time as possible.”

Victoria’s lockdown extended

Melbourne will extend its COVID lockdown by seven days.

It follows the state nine new cases of COVID-19 overnight, but authorities remain concerned about the rampant spread of the Delta strain of the virus.

That’s midnight next Tuesday, July 27.

“As promising as our progress has been avoiding a New South Wales-style long, lengthy, very challenging lockdown, where you just lose control of cases, we’ve avoided that, but we need more time,” Mr Andrews said.

“There are chains of transmission that are not yet contained, that we don’t know about.”

Premier Daniel Andrews has also announced any travel to Victoria using red zone permits will be temporarily paused. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says “the signs are positive” but the state needs more time to be certain as too when it can open up again.

Sydney and the state of New South Wales also remain in lockdown today

NSW is in the midst of a 5-week lockdown.

NSW recorded 78 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Cheif Health Officer Kerry Chant said authorities were seeing more hospitalisations, admissions to ICU and people on ventilators.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the spread of the virus in workplaces and households remains a concern but that it is “always pleasing when we see a drop in the [day-by-day] numbers”.

“That 78 figure would have been much higher had people not been doing the right thing and we just need everyone to stick with it and make sure you protect yourself and your family and your work colleagues in particular. ”

Where did it all begin?

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant confirmed on Thursday that the Sydney driver who tested positive for COVID-19 had the Delta variant.

According to the ABC, while the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria also involved the Delta variant, that outbreak was linked to a different source of infection.

The Delta variant was first detected in India in October last year.

UK authorities have estimated the Delta variant is 40 per cent more infectious than the Alpha variant that sent Britain into lockdown at the start of the year.

Matt Grudnoff from the Australia Institute says there is a possibility of a ‘double dip recession’ due to the variant causing cities to lockdown.

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Who would win a war between the U.S. and China?

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The U.S and China are in the grips of an arms race, which has not been seen since the depths of the Cold War era

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants his armed forces to become a modern powerhouse by 2035.

In his eyes, they should be “fighting and winning wars” by 2050.

It’s an overt and confronting military strategy, at least that’s how the West perceives it.

In May, a reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden if he would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if a conflict ever arises. He answered “yes” at the time because “that’s the commitment we made”.

The answer was a change in the U.S.’ history of strategic ambiguity, and likely caused a stir among Chinese officials.

So, when U.S. House Speaker visited the democratically-ruled island last week, China was hardly going to stay silent.

“We take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER

Pelosi is the most senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. This is an issue for Chinese officials who are committed to the ‘One China’ principle.

As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said “there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.”

China has responded to Pelosi’s visit by test firing ballistic missiles near the island, which is home to over 23 million people. Taiwan has also simulated its defence capabilities, as Chinese Navy vessels remain in the Taiwan Straits.

The U.S. House Speaker meets with Taiwan’s President.

China’s live fire drills sent ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it and those who offend China will be punished.”

WANG YI, CHINA’S FOREIGN MINISTER

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen said the military exercises were “unnecessary responses”.

How does China’s military stack up?

While we don’t know much about China’s military, we do know it is growing at a rapid rate.

In 2014, China overtook the U.S. with the world’s largest navy.

“The crisis will end at a time and in a manner of China’s choosing,” said Dr Michael Sullivan, who is an international relations practitioner at Flinders University.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service, which advises lawmakers and strategy, predicts Chinese navy ships will increase by nearly 40 per cent between 2020 and 2040.

“Some U.S. observers are expressing concern or alarm regarding the pace of China’s naval shipbuilding effort and resulting trend lines regarding the relative sizes and capabilities of China’s navy and the U.S. Navy”

U.S. Congressional Research Service

Of course, the sheer size of a military does not necessarily correlate to its strength. For example, the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers while China has three.

The U.S. also has more nuclear-powered submarines and larger warships.

As such, it’s hard to imagine President Biden risking a rather expensive aircraft carrier to end the current situation in the Taiwan Straits.

The Chinese Navy is growing at a faster rate than any other fleet.

Beijing does not publish its military spending data but analysts believe the nation is seeking to fast-track its military capabilities through hypersonic missiles.

As the name suggests, these weapons are known for their speed. In fact, they can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.

China denies using these weapons but the West remains concerned because of their speed, and limited detection on radar systems.

“The Chinese government is demonstrating that the era of the U.S. calling the shots militarily in the Taiwan Straits is over.”

Dr michael sullivan, flinders university

The U.S. Pentagon increased its budget requests to $3.8 billion to develop hypersonic weapons for this fiscal year.

The nation currently uses cruise missiles but these are inferior to hypersonic weaponry because of their slower speed, shorter range and tracking capabilities.

How will this end?

China has not fought in a war since 1979 after a tense battle with Vietnamese forces.

This means Beijing’s forces have not been on show in the modern era, and it seems the West would very much like it to keep it that way.

“We await further political fallout between Beijing and Washington. Though there is no direct indication of what form that may take, diplomatic retaliation is one possibility, ranging from recalling the Chinese Ambassador in Washington to expelling US Embassy staff from Beijing,” Dr Sullivan said.

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World

Sweden and Finland are one step closer to joining NATO

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U.S. President Joe Biden says NATO will be “more united” as Sweden and Finland edge closer to joining the alliance

The U.S. President has signed a series of documents, which are paving the way for Sweden and Finland to become the newest members of NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a military alliance, which declares an attack on one is an attack on all.

Sweden and Finland raised their hands to become the alliance’s latest members after Russian forces entered Ukraine in February.

It’s the biggest expansion of NATO since the 1990s, and will bring its membership to 32 nations.

“It was and is a watershed moment I believe in the alliance and for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States but of the world.”

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

The accession must be ratified by all existing members’ parliaments before the two countries can be protected.

“Putin thought he could break us apart when this all started. Instead, he’s getting exactly what he did not want.”

President Biden

Moscow has previously warned both countries against joining the alliance.

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China ‘doesn’t want to’ use force against Taiwan

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China’s Ambassador to Australia says the last thing China wants to do is use force against Taiwan

Xiao Qian says he can never rule out the option to use other means, and that China is ready to use those means.

It follows an intense flare up of tensions in the Taiwan Straits, after U-S Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the democratically-ruled island.

China has responded with military drills, including the tests of a ballistic missile for the first time in history.

Taiwan is also responding with defence drills, as the nation seeks to counter China’s growing offensive.

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