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President warns strong military needed to safeguard security


Body recovered affter house destroyed by blast

A body has been recovered from the scene of a suspected gas explosion that tore through a terraced street in a Swansea suburb yesterday morning. Three people were taken to hospital after the blast, which left two houses in Morriston in ruins. Neighbouri­ng properties also suffered damage. The explosion reverberat­ed deep into the Swansea valley. Ioan Humphreys

lives eight miles away in Rhos, Pontardaw, and had just started a Microsoft Teams meeting when he heard the bang. “The house next door to me is having lots of building work done, so initially I thought it was a massive skip being delivered and dropped on their drive – it felt that close,” he said. ‘Danger to liffe’ text alerts in national security test

People across the country will soon see “danger to life” alerts popping up on their phone screens as part of a UK-wide national security test. Warning texts will be sent to millions of devices, setting off an alarm, as the government puts its new emergency system to the test. The new measure has been establishe­d to warn the public of potentiall­y life-threatenin­g situations nearby, with the first round of tests set to focus on flooding and other extreme weather events. The sounding of an alarm will be accompanie­d by a set of details outlining the emergency and advice on what to do and how to seek help. The government promised in August last year that the scheme would be launched in October.

Avanti West Coast launches cut-price ‘standby’ tickets

Manchester to London in just over two hours for only £20: that is the new offer from Avanti West Coast to passengers who are not fussed about when exactly they travel. The intercity operator is trialling a limited number of “Superfare” tickets aimed at filling key departures on the West Coast main line to and from London Euston. “We match you to an empty seat,” Avanti promises. “You get a bargain Superfare ticket on a fast and comfy Avanti West Coast train.” But it comes with strings attached. Passengers who sign up for Superfare tickets through a dedicated website can choose only between morning, afternoon and evening on the intended day of travel. They must book between one and three weeks ahead and are told the exact departure time a day in advance. The morning slot could be as early as 7am, while the afternoon is classed as 12 noon to

4.59pm. The evening span from 5pm to 11pm could mean arriving in the early hours.

Man takes revenge on neighbours by blasting classical music on loop

Revenge was played out to the sound of ear splittingl­y loud classical music for a Swansea man who had been “driven mad” by his neighbours’ rap obsession. The unnamed man was reportedly at his wits’ end by the constant hip hop playing from a student house next door and took matters into his own hands. Wales Online reported he put his speakers against the wall, dialled them up to 11, programmed Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” to play on loop, and then left his house for “three or four days”. Swansea councillor Allan Jeffery told a meeting last week: “[The 24/7] music almost drove him mad. It did solve the problem. The girls did stop playing music.” The incident was reported to Swansea Council. Mr Jeffrey has been approached for further comment and it has not been reported if the classical musiclovin­g perpetrato­r will face any punishment.

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Xi Jinping has promised to build China’s military into a “great wall of steel” in his first speech since he secured an unpreceden­ted third five-year term as president.

Addressing an audience of 3,000 delegates at the National People’s Congress, he said that “safety is the foundation of developmen­t, and stability is the prerequisi­te for prosperity”. Mr Xi pledged “build the military into a great wall of steel that effectivel­y safeguards national sovereignt­y, security and our developmen­t interests”.

Having made himself into the nation’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, Mr Xi also said that the country must achieve greater self-reliance in science and technology. Beijing has long held such an aim, but deteriorat­ing ties with the West, and particular­ly the US, over technology and security has injected more urgency. The UK has also pledged to double the funding allocated to building its Chinese expertise across government in response to growing concern over the security challenge posed by Beijing.

Mr Xi is expected to tighten party oversight over security matters, a move that comes after he replaced top security officials with his trusted allies. At a closed-door meeting last week with government advisers, Mr Xi said the West, led by the US, “has implemente­d all-round containmen­t to suppress China”.

The US, UK and a number of other nations have expressed concerns over the threat of military action from Beijing against Taiwan and the country’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea. Rishi Sunak has described the Chinese Communist Party as posing an “epoch-defining challenge”. In his speech, Mr Xi stressed the need for China to oppose “pro-independen­ce” influences and secessioni­st activities and the interferen­ce of external forces, with Beijing regarding self-ruling Taiwan as a renegade province. He said that “national reunificat­ion” was the “essence of national rejuvenati­on”, suggesting that the issue of Taiwan’s relationsh­ip to China will be a big part of his new term.

Meanwhile, China’s new premier, Li Qiang – a stanch ally of Mr Xi – sought to inspire confidence within the business community by saying in a speech that the environmen­t for businesses will improve and that equal treatment would be given to all types of companies. Mr Li was handed the second-most powerful position in China’s Communist Party at the weekend and is tasked with reviving the world's second-largest economy after three years of Covid-19 restrictio­ns.

“Developing the economy is the fundamenta­l solution for creating jobs,” Mr Li, said. “Private entreprene­urs or enterprise­s will enjoy a better environmen­t and broader space for developmen­t ... we will create a level playing field for all kinds of market entities and we will make further efforts to support private entreprene­urs to grow and thrive,” he added.

At the opening of the annual parliament­ary session, China set a GDP growth target of about 5 per cent, its lowest goal in nearly three decades, after the economy grew just 3 per cent last year. Achieving the target would not be easy, with China facing many difficulti­es this year, Mr Li said, with his 90-minute address coming in significan­tly shorter than the speeches given by his predecesso­r Li Keqiang in recent years.

Also yesterday, China’s parliament approved changes to a law that would allow it to pass emergency legislatio­ns more quickly. The state Xinhua news agency reported that the amendment to

the Legislatio­n Law, which governs how laws are enacted, gives the 170-member National People’s Congress standing committee special powers to pass laws after just one review session.

Readouts from delegates’ meetings published during the annual parliament­ary gathering said that the move was an “important measure” to “further improve the quality and efficiency of legislatio­n”, and an “inevitable requiremen­t for strengthen­ing the [ruling Communist] party’s overall leadership over legislativ­e work”.

Critics say that the move could further erode public debate and scrutiny in China. The amended Legislatio­n Law could be “abused and may well be abused in ramming through laws without much consultati­on or public notice”, Julian Ku, professor of constituti­onal law at Hofstra University in New York said.

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 ?? (PA) ?? Emergency services survey the wreckage of two houses flattened by a suspected gas explosion yesterday
(PA) Emergency services survey the wreckage of two houses flattened by a suspected gas explosion yesterday
 ?? (Reuters) ?? A speech by Xi Jinping at the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress yesterday is broadcast in a Beijing square
(Reuters) A speech by Xi Jinping at the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress yesterday is broadcast in a Beijing square
 ?? (AP) ?? Xi applauds a speech at the congress yesterday
(AP) Xi applauds a speech at the congress yesterday

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