The humanitarian, regional, and international dimension of the huge explosion the Lebanese capital Beirut’s port is unfolding.
The explosion that Lebanese military and civilian authorities, including President Michel Aoun, said was caused by 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate held in unsafe conditions for 6 years took more than 100 lives, injured more than 4000, made thousands of buildings uninhabitable and left 250 to 300 thousand residents homeless.
However, US President Donald Trump, who held a press conference on Tuesday, said that the explosion “seemed to be a bomb.”
“I met with some of our great generals and they just seemed to feel that it was (an attack), this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event…They seemed to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind,” he said.
Trump’s statements have not been confirmed by either the Pentagon or Lebanese officials.
Iran-backed Shia militia group Hezbollah, effectively a state within the state in Lebanon, denied allegations that the blast was related to Israel, its southern neighbor and main enemy.
The explosion in Lebanon, a country at the center of regional political conflicts with its economy is already at a point of sinking, increased the precious metal prices that were feeding on China-US tensions. Spot gold (XAUUSD where investors took refuge as a safe haven went up to 2044.64.
As the increasing tensions in Washington-Beijing relations, the most carefully watched issue around the world continues unabated, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet with Chinese Deputy Premier Liu He on August 15.
WSJ’s sources stated the two officials will discuss the Phase-1 trade agreement that their countries agreed on at the beginning of the year, after a long trade and tariff war.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that China’s Liu will make a statement against the US pressure on Chinese technology companies.
South China Sea
While the US and China maintain dialogue on the one hand, they also are in a rush to strengthen theır positions in the new geopolitical process that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself likened to the cold war.
Pompeo also talked with Brunei Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday after his contacts with Australia and Indonesia in recent days. Pompeo stated that the US stood by the countries that have a coast to the South China Sea where Beijing makes extensive territorial claims.
The 3 million 500 thousand square kilometers South China Sea, which has turned into a hot potential conflict area between the two nuclear-armed economies of the world, is one of the most important maritime routes where international trade worth of 3.37 trillion dollars of goods pass through.
US efforts to establish a loose military shield against Communist China, that included Japan, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei seem to be accelerating.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that China will be calm and rational towards the US, preferring soft rhetoric.
New developments are also taking place in Taiwan, another potential hot conflict zone between the US and China.
The independent but widely unrecognized administration on the island of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, will host a cabinet-level US guest at for the first time since 1979. US Secretary of Health Alex Azar said on Twitter that he will visit Taiwan which led one of the most successful campaigns against Covid19.
Taiwan’s Vice President and Foreign Minister thanked Azar.
The United States, like other countries, broke off relations with Taipei in 1979 and switched to the communist regime in Beijing 30 years after the Chinese communist revolution. Due to the One-China policy, countries have to recognize either the Republic of China in Taiwan or the Communist People’s Republic in mainland China. Both rival Chinese governments claim all of each other’s territory.
Communist China should be expected to react strongly to a visit by a US cabinet member to Taiwan without its permission.