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Dozens of tanks and soldiers fired explosives and machine guns in drills Monday on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, a main stronghold for a nation that is perhaps the world’s least-known military powerhouse.

Senior officials from the Slovak Republic are in Taiwan for talks on deepening ties with the island in the highest-level visit by the EU-member country since it opened a representative office in Taiwan in 2003.

The United States and European Union on Thursday voiced strong concern at China's "problematic and unilateral actions" in the South China Sea and stressed the need for close contact to manage "competition and systemic rivalry" with Beijing.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that China’s pursuit of hypersonic weapons “increases tensions in the region” and vowed the U.S. will maintain its capability to deter potential threats posed by China.

Threats and coercion by China towards Taiwan increase the need for the United States to help Taiwan maintain a credible self-defense, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Thursday.

China's foreign ministry summoned Japan's ambassador in Beijing for an "emergency meeting" on Wednesday, after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said neither his country nor the United States could stand by if China attacked Taiwan.

New Zealand said on Wednesday that it will deploy military and police personnel in the Solomon Islands, joining efforts by Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to help restore peace in the Pacific island nation following anti-government rioting.

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