Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a warning about alleged plans by China to pursue unification with Taiwan; the student loan forgiveness application has gone live; and more affordable hearing aids are now available over the counter. These stories highlight the Daily Rundown for Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Blinken warning on China – Speaking at an event at Stanford University with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday, Blinken warned that China is pursuing unification with Taiwan “on a much faster timeline” than previously expected. He added that if Beijing could not achieve unification by peaceful means it would use coercion and possibly force.
“A very different China emerged in recent years under Xi Jinping’s leadership. It is more repressive at home. It’s more aggressive abroad,” Blinken said. “In many instances, that poses a challenge to our own interests as well as to our own values.”
In Sunday’s speech opening the Communist Party Congress in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping refused to rule out using force to unify with Taiwan. President Joe Biden has said U.S. forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, despite the official U.S. policy of ambiguity on the issue.
Student loan forgiveness application goes live – President Biden officially kicked off the application process for his student debt cancellation program Monday, announcing that 8 million borrowers had already applied during the federal government’s soft launch period over the weekend. That’s already more than one-fourth of the total number of applicants the administration had projected would submit forms.
“As millions of people fill out the application, we’re going to make sure the system continues to work as smoothly as possible so that we can deliver student loan relief for millions of Americans as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Biden said Monday. “My commitment was if elected president, I was going to make government work to deliver for the people. This, this rollout keeps that commitment.”
Lower-cost hearing aids now available – Major U.S. retailers can now sell lower-cost hearing aids without a prescription or medical exam under final Food and Drug Administration rules that took effect Monday. The FDA approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids back in August. It applies to hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
“Reducing health care costs in America has been a priority of mine since Day One and this rule is expected to help us achieve quality, affordable health care access for millions of Americans in need,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said back in August. “Today’s action by the FDA represents a significant milestone in making hearing aids more cost-effective and accessible.”