Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Will a war of words between China and Taiwan escalate into something worse? I'm Carl Azuz, welcome to the show where geopolitics factor into today's first story. China's government calls Taiwan the, quote, "Treasure Island of the Motherland" and insists Taiwan is a part of china, meaning it would be subject to the control of China's communist government. But Taiwan has its own form of government⏤a democracy⏤and it insists that nobody can force it to accept the path that mainland China has laid out for it. This dispute between the two sides is nothing new; it's been going on since the 1940s, when China's Communist Party won a civil war and forced the nation's previous government to flee to Taiwan. Today, China sees the island as a breakaway province that needs to be politically reunited with the mainland. Taiwan's government disagrees with that and says it'll do all it can to keep things as they are with its own democratic government in place. The back and forth statements between the two sides have contributed to what Taiwan calls: their most complex situation in 72 years. And another element at work here is that Taiwan has the support of the United States⏤America is looking for ways to keep mainland China from becoming too dominant in the Asia-Pacific region. So while only 100 miles of sea water separate China and Taiwan, what happens between them could have an impact an ocean away. Taiwan's growing arsenal on full display at this weekend's National Day parade. To defend against a growing threat from China, this small island is spending big on weapons, many made in the USA. F-16 fighters, patriot missiles⏤5 billion dollars in US weapon sold to Taiwan last year. Thank you very much. Taiwan arms sales skyrocketed during the Trump years. The former president's hardline stance against China, One of the few Trump era policies embraced by President Joe Biden. Defending Taiwan's democracy against authoritarian China has rare bipartisan support. Some worry Washington politics maybe provoking Beijing, even pushing Taiwan and the US into dangerous territory. If you do take steps to look like you are aggressively defending Taiwan, then you arguably put them in a more vulnerable position; you arguably, again, irritate China. Taiwan's president Tsai, Ing-wen says the island is on the front lines of a much bigger battle. Free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism, and Taiwan is on the forefront of the defense line of fellow democracies. China sent a record 150 warplanes near Taiwan in just five days this month. Biden's balancing act? Calming cross-strait tensions, defending democracy, and preventing a conflict that could cost American lives. I've spoken with Xi about Taiwan. I think Taiwan really presents a challenge to any American presidential administration because you're trying to balance competing interests. This is an extraordinary sight. Four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the capital in front of Taiwan's presidential palace. An ominous sign of escalating regional tensions. We cannot control whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has the ability to attack Taiwan, but we are able to control and make sure it does not have the motivation to do so. Every Chinese leader since Mao has vowed to take control of Taiwan; analysts say President Xi, Jin-ping may be the first with a military mighty enough to do it⏤even as he calls for peaceful reunification. Whoever wins Taiwan, wins the world. China is locked in territorial disputes across the Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan, Beijing's biggest unresolved issue and some say Biden's biggest test. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei 10-second trivia: What is the largest, low-cost airline carrier in the world? Ryanair, Southwest, JetBlue, or Spirit. With more than 730 planes and 54,000 employees, Southwest holds this title. Mystery and speculation surround thousands of recent flight cancellations by Southwest. The mystery is that Southwest's explanation has been partly denied by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the speculation is based on timing. The cancellations started shortly after the company said its employees would have to get a COVID vaccine as required by the US government. Some travel industry experts and lawmakers have suggested the delays might have been caused by a pilot walkout. Southwest denies that, but whatever caused the cancellations, some passengers have said they don't think they're being told the whole truth. This is a really big operational mess for Southwest Airlines; it is not like turning off a switch and turning it back on again. It's more akin to unplugging something and plugging it back in again, because Southwest says all of these problems really started back on Friday. It pins the blame here on air traffic control and weather issues. But what's so interesting here is that the Federal Aviation Administration put out a rare statement saying that those were not problems on Saturday and Sunday when Southwest experienced the lion's share of its cancellations⏤ 800 flight cancellations on Saturday, more than 1,100 flight cancellations on Sunday⏤30% of Southwest's total schedule for the day. We've seen about 300 cancellations so far today, so this is not over just yet, but in a memo to employees, Southwest really describes a ripple effect of problems here that left people and planes out of position. In fact, some flight crews didn't even have hotel rooms⏤that meant thousands of passengers were stranded by this mess. The airline is a lot smaller than what it was before the pandemic, the airline describes that in a memo to employees and it says that made things worse. It has trimmed down its fall schedule, more people being packed into fewer airplanes. One more important thing to note here is that the pilots from Southwest say this is not on them. They are trying to debunk rumors that were flying around online over the weekend that they may have walked off of the job protesting the airline's recently announced vaccine mandate for workers. Pilots, they say in a union statement, that they had no official or unofficial job actions over the weekend and they're really pinning the blame here on mismanagement by Southwest Airlines. It makes sense that there would be a festive title for an event that includes 600 hot air balloons, pilots from around the world, and more than 860,000 people in attendance over nine days. That title is Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and Jeanne Moos takes us up, up, and away at its most popular event, which has been flying high since 1989. Humpty Dumpty didn't have a great fall; he had a great flight, upside down over Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was the Special Shapes Rodeo at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where an armadillo is named "Airmadillo" and time really does fly. Every which way you turn, there are balloons. You need to have a 360 set of eyes in your head today, Special Shapes day feels a little like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, if all the handlers just let their balloons take off. The fiesta announcers have to keep their "lions" and their unicorns straight. - There's one of the new unicorns. - There's one of the new unicorns. Is that a new pig shape? "Spidey-pig" and "Pigasus". Special Shapes Day starts before dawn with the firing up of the balloons hey call glow-up... And the sunrise is... is just killing it. Just killing it. ... But you can't start the Special Shapes Rodeo without the National Anthem. ♫ Oh, say, can you see... ? ♫ Oh, you can see all right. Motorists can see⏤one of the few times out of the year when slow traffic isn't a bad thing. And with all those special shapes lurking, dogs barked and someone tweeted, "Felt like something was watching me..." From jokers and jesters to a sloth on a stick... It is just the cutest darn thing... ... Everyone had their favorite, even the sun wore shades. As for the balloon of the day, it was "Airabelle" who got the honor of first to fly. ♫ O'r the land of the free... ? ♫ And the home of a flying cow. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. So you could see why folks are all "pumped" up, "gassed" up, "fired" up, "inflated" like "untethered" basket cases who are "floating on air" with their "heads in the clouds", "airing" out their appreciation with their "eye in the sky" and nothing to "troposphere". From the air, we're going down to the valley to visit Valley High School; shout-out to our viewers in Las Vegas, Nevada who subscribed and left a comment on our YouTube channel. I'm Carl Azuz for CNN.