Taiwan says US assistance covers ‘all aspects’ in defense against China

Buenos dias. The US is rushing to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses against a potential Chinese attack, including by training its troops, Taipei’s top national security official has said.

Wellington Koo, secretary-general of President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Security Council, said yesterday that Washington’s security co-operation with Taiwan covered “all aspects.” His remarks are likely to rankle Beijing as Xi Jinping prepares for a summit with President today in San Francisco.

“[Our] relationship on these security issues is so close, but we must keep a low profile,” said Koo. “I can only say, they are using all possible ways to help us, no matter if it’s in training or the build-up of asymmetric fighting capabilities.”

Taipei has not previously publicly acknowledged Washington’s expansion of its assistance, including the training of entire battalions from Taiwan’s ground forces in the US.

Koo’s rare public remarks online how vital US support is for Taiwan, especially as the latter prepares for presidential elections in January. Citing Beijing’s reaction to the vote, Koo called next year “a year of uncertainty.” Read the full story.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Xi-Biden summit: US president Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to meet in San Francisco in an effort to stabilize relations between the two powers.

  • Economic data: China reports October retail sales and industrial production data, while Japan releases preliminary third-quarter figures.

  • Chinese companies: Ecommerce giant JD.com and tech power Tencent report earnings.

Five more top stories

1. All but one of the hospitals in the north of Gaza have stopped functioning, according to the UN. Hospitals in Gaza have gradually been forced to stop operating over the past two weeks as Israeli forces advance deep into the Palestinian enclave and severely restrict supplies of fuel, water and food. Here’s the latest on the conflict.

2. China has agreed to crack down on companies exporting chemicals used to make fentanyl, in a deal that will be sealed when Joe Biden and Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco today. The deal is expected to be among several to emerge from the summit as the two sides try to stabilize US-China relations that have sunk to their worst state in four decades.

3. US inflation fell more than expected to 3.2 per cent in October, causing Treasury yields to fall sharply and US and European equities to rise. The soft inflationary data, which marks the first decline in four months, has strengthened investors’ hopes that interest rates have peaked.

4. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has testified in a trial over whether the company uses its popular app store to stifle competition and extract excessive fees. Fortnite maker Epic Games alleges that Google has set up a thicket of contractual and technical restrictions around its Android operating system that in effect makes its Play Store the only channel where users can buy apps.

5. Wall Street is scrambling to minimize the fallout from a ransomware attack on China’s biggest bank, which disrupted trading in the $25tn market for US Treasuries last week. The attack on a New York unit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has exposed vulnerabilities in the Treasury market, which underpins asset prices around the globe.

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We’re also reading and listening to . . .

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>Russian oil sales graphic>

Official Russian statistics on oil sales in October show the average price received was above $80 a barrel, backing up concerns among western officials that “almost none” of the shipments of seaborne crude last month were executed below the $60-a-barrel limit that the G7 and its allies have attempted to impose.

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Take a break from the news

The FT’s yearly round-up of the best books would not be complete without a contribution from our book-loving readers. Here are FT readers’ favorite books of 2023.

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Additional contributions from Grace Ramos, Gordon Smith and Euan Healy

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