China happy as Trump snubs phone call from Taiwan’s President

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  • Yemeni president sacks key cabinet minister, governor

China on Friday praised US president Donald Trump’s snub of , noting that observers had called his decision not to take a second call from the island’s president a “slap in the face”.

Trump rattled China in December after taking a congratulatory call from the self-ruling island’s new Beijing-sceptic president Tsai Ing-wen after his election, smashing decades of diplomatic precedent.

But after Tsai suggested another call could take place in an interview with Reuters Thursday, Trump said he did not want to risk his newfound “personal relationship” with China’s president Xi Jinping.

“I think he’s doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn’t want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So I would certainly want to speak to him first,” Trump told Reuters in a separate interview.

China “has noted the US reaction,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing, adding that online commenters “believe it’s a slap in the face for Tsai Ing-wen”.

“China always opposes that those with whom we’ve established diplomatic relations develop any formal or official exchanges with the Taiwanese side,” he added.

Ties between Trump and Xi seem to have warmed recently after they met at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this month.

Since then, Trump has praised China for helping pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The two leaders have been “in constant touch” Geng told reporters.

Taiwan’s presidential office stepped back from the idea of a call after Trump’s comments.

“We understand the priority of the US side in handling regional issues and have no current planning (for another call) at this stage,” it said in a statement Friday.

The comments were a “serious slap in the face” for Tsai, added political analyst Edward Chen of Tamkang University.

“Tsai is throwing the ball into Washington’s court and Washington is saying no,” he said.

In the meantime, Saudi backed Yemeni President Abdu-Rabbu Hadi on Friday fired a cabinet minister along with the governor of the southern port city of Aden, creating anger among pro-secession southern politicians and supporters.

In a presidential decree, Hadi sacked Maj.-Gen. Aidarous Zubaidi as Aden governor, and replaced him by Abdulaziz al-Mufleihi.

Yemen’s Minister of State Hani Buraik was also fired and forwarded for investigation.

Observers said that the decrees targeted the two southern officials who are considered as the most powerful figures in Aden and key UAE-allied military commanders.

According to the observers, the standoff and odds between Saudi-backed Yemen President Hadi and UAE have just reached boiling point.

UAE-backed Governor of Aden Aidarous Zubaidi held an exception meeting with his team hours after Hadi’s decree but no details have been revealed yet.

Suspected UAE fighter jets hovered early Friday over Aden’s airspace and sporadic clashes occurred in Aden.

Citizens in Aden fear further escalations as a result of Hadi’s presidential decree.

Hadi’s decisions to remove UAE-loyal Aden governor created anger among leading secessionist leaders and supporters who called for anti-Hadi demonstrations in the country’s southern regions.

The southern port city of Aden is the headquarters of Yemen’s internationally-backed Hadi and his government.

Aden witnessed several well-planned assassinations and armed attacks after Saudi-backed forces drove the Shiite Houthi rebels out from the strategic city in July 2015.

Yemen has been suffering from a civil war and a Saudi-led military intervention for close to two years.

The civil war began after the Houthi militants with support from forces loyal to the former president ousted the UN-backed transitional government and occupied capital Sanaa militarily in September 2014.

Report says the legitimate government controls the south and some eastern parts, while the Houthi-Saleh alliance controls the other parts including the capital Sanaa.

The UN has sponsored peace talks between the warring factions several times, but the factions failed to reach common ground.

According to humanitarian agencies, the civil war, ground battles and airstrikes have already killed over 10,000 people, half of them civilians, injured over 35,000 others and displaced over two million

Punch with additional report from Nation

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