CHINESE

An employee of Airbus works on a computer in a new A320 production line at the Airbus plant in Hamburg
An employee of Airbus works on a computer in a new A320 production line at the Airbus plant in Hamburg, Germany, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

March 25, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus signed a deal on Monday to sell 300 aircraft to China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, including 290 A320 planes and 10 A350, the French presidency said in a statement.

“The conclusion of a big (aviation) contract … is an important step forward and an excellent signal in the current context,” said French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint address with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

(Reporting by John Irish, Marine Pennetier, Michel Rose)

Source: OANN

The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse
FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

March 25, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – European planemaker Airbus is close to signing a deal worth billions of dollars with China following a delay of more than a year in the negotiations, industry sources said on Monday.

The deal is part of a package of trade deals coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Airbus declined to comment.

Boeing shares pared gains briefly on the news and were up about 1.2 percent at 16.26 GMT.

China has become a key hunting ground for Airbus and its leading rival Boeing, thanks to surging travel demand, but the outlook has been complicated by Beijing’s desire to grow its own industrial champions and, more recently for Boeing, the U.S.-China trade war.

French President Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly failed to clinch the Airbus order during a trip to China in early 2018 and the French government and Airbus have been working since to salvage it.

Macron said at the time that China would buy 184 A320 narrow-body jets, an order worth $18 billion at list prices.

Xi arrived in France from Italy on Sunday on a three-day state visit.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by John Irish)

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a Franco Chinese seminar of global governance in Quai d'Orsay in Paris
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a Franco Chinese seminar of global governance in Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France, March 25, 2019. Julien de Rosa/Pool via REUTERS

March 25, 2019

By Michel Rose and John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) – France and China will sign trade deals worth billions of euros on Monday during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping but Paris will also take the opportunity to push back against Beijing’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative.

President Emmanuel Macron wants to forge a united European front to confront Beijing’s advances.

After he and Xi meet later on Monday, the two will hold further talks on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, heads of the EU executive.

Xi arrived in France after visiting Italy, the first Western power to endorse China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative as Rome tries to revive its struggling economy.

The Belt and Road Initiative plan, championed by Xi, aims to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road.

France says Silk Road cooperation must work in both directions.

An official in Macron’s office said significant progress was expected in terms of opening up the Chinese market for some farm goods, especially poultry.

French officials have also expressed the hope that a multi-billion dollar deal for China to buy dozens of Airbus planes could be finalised.

In a column in Le Figaro published on Sunday, Xi made clear he wanted Paris to cooperate in the Belt and Road project, calling for more trade and investment in sectors ranging from nuclear energy, aeronautics and agriculture.

“French investors are welcome to share development opportunities in China. I also hope that Chinese companies can do better in France and make a greater contribution to its economic and social development,” he wrote.

French officials describe China as a both a challenge and partner, saying France must remain especially vigilant over any Chinese attempts to appropriate foreign technology for its own means.

The EU is already weighing a more defensive strategy on China, spurred by Beijing’s slowness in opening up its economy, Chinese takeovers in critical sectors, and a feeling in European capitals that Beijing has not stood up for free trade.

“An awakening was necessary,” Macron said in Brussels on Friday. “For many years we had an uncoordinated approach and China took advantage of our divisions.”

As part of efforts to push that approach, Macron will host Merkel and Juncker on Tuesday to meet with Xi to move away from a purely bilateral approach to ties.

“Macron is not happy to see China win so many prizes in Rome, so he has invented a bizarre European format by inviting Merkel and Juncker as a counterbalance to show that he is the driving force behind European integration,” said one Paris-based Asian diplomat.

($1 = 0.8833 euros)

(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier and Richard Lough; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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FILE PHOTO: INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon
FILE PHOTO: INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018. Jeff Pachoud/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

March 25, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – The wife of the missing Chinese former head of Interpol said she had written to French President Emmanuel Macron to ask for his help on the eve of a visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping.

Grace Meng told France 24 she had not heard from her husband Meng Hongwei since he travelled to China from France, where Interpol is based, in late September. China has said it is investigating Meng for wrongdoing.

“I hope the president can help Mr Meng and his family, to protect our fundamental human rights,” Grace Meng said in the interview broadcast on Sunday evening.

China’s foreign ministry declined to comment.

France’s Agence France Presse said Grace Meng wrote to Macron on March 21.

Meng’s wife, who has remained in Lyon with the couple’s two children, said she feared the Chinese authorities wanted to kidnap her family.

“They have no bottom-line. Even if I am in France, they want to kidnap me and my children.”

Meng, 65, was appointed president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organizations.

Under Xi, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. Chinese authorities said several days after Meng’s arrest that the vice minister was being investigated for bribery.

Macron hosted Xi at a private dinner on the French Riviera on Sunday night, ahead of a working meeting in Paris on Monday.

Grace Meng said her husband was “devoted to the motherland”.

“He was well-known for his reformist views”, she said in the interview.

(Reporting by Richard Lough in Paris, additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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FILE PHOTO: INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon
FILE PHOTO: INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018. Jeff Pachoud/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

March 25, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – The wife of the missing Chinese former head of Interpol said she had written to French President Emmanuel Macron to ask for his help on the eve of a visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping.

Grace Meng told France 24 she had not heard from her husband Meng Hongwei since he travelled to China from France, where Interpol is based, in late September. China has said it is investigating Meng for wrongdoing.

“I hope the president can help Mr Meng and his family, to protect our fundamental human rights,” Grace Meng said in the interview broadcast on Sunday evening.

China’s foreign ministry declined to comment.

France’s Agence France Presse said Grace Meng wrote to Macron on March 21.

Meng’s wife, who has remained in Lyon with the couple’s two children, said she feared the Chinese authorities wanted to kidnap her family.

“They have no bottom-line. Even if I am in France, they want to kidnap me and my children.”

Meng, 65, was appointed president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organizations.

Under Xi, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. Chinese authorities said several days after Meng’s arrest that the vice minister was being investigated for bribery.

Macron hosted Xi at a private dinner on the French Riviera on Sunday night, ahead of a working meeting in Paris on Monday.

Grace Meng said her husband was “devoted to the motherland”.

“He was well-known for his reformist views”, she said in the interview.

(Reporting by Richard Lough in Paris, additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan
FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

March 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Trips organized by China’s government to the western region of Xinjiang for diplomats and reporters have been very successful at showing people the true situation there, the foreign ministry said on Monday, denouncing U.S. criticism as “slander”.

China has been stepping up a push to counter growing criticism in the West and among rights groups about a controversial de-radicalisation program in heavily Muslim Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centers and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.

A U.S. official told Reuters that “highly choreographed” tours to Xinjiang organized by the Chinese government were misleading and propagated false narratives about the troubled region.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said such trips were to raise the international community’s understanding about Xinjiang’s social and economic development.

“The people who have been on the trips felt for themselves the real situation Xinjiang’s calm and order and the happy lives and jobs of all the people’s there, and all positively appraised China’s policy governing Xinjiang,” Geng said.

The U.S. criticism “does not accord with the facts”, he added. “It is purely rumor starting and slander.”

China resolutely opposes the United States interfering in its internal affairs using the Xinjiang issue, Geng said.

“At present Xinjiang is politically stable, the economy is developing and society is harmonious.”

The foreign ministry said late last week it would invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit soon. Sources have told Reuters the invitation was made to European Union ambassadors based in Beijing.

Geng said talks were ongoing about that trip. He did not elaborate.

There have been two visits by groups including European diplomats to Xinjiang this year. One was a small group of EU diplomats, and the other by a group of diplomats from a broader mix of countries, including missions from Greece, Hungary and North African and Southeast Asian states.

A Reuters journalist visited on a government-organised trip in January.

Late last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s top envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan
FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

March 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Trips organized by China’s government to the western region of Xinjiang for diplomats and reporters have been very successful at showing people the true situation there, the foreign ministry said on Monday, denouncing U.S. criticism as “slander”.

China has been stepping up a push to counter growing criticism in the West and among rights groups about a controversial de-radicalisation program in heavily Muslim Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centers and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.

A U.S. official told Reuters that “highly choreographed” tours to Xinjiang organized by the Chinese government were misleading and propagated false narratives about the troubled region.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said such trips were to raise the international community’s understanding about Xinjiang’s social and economic development.

“The people who have been on the trips felt for themselves the real situation Xinjiang’s calm and order and the happy lives and jobs of all the people’s there, and all positively appraised China’s policy governing Xinjiang,” Geng said.

The U.S. criticism “does not accord with the facts”, he added. “It is purely rumor starting and slander.”

China resolutely opposes the United States interfering in its internal affairs using the Xinjiang issue, Geng said.

“At present Xinjiang is politically stable, the economy is developing and society is harmonious.”

The foreign ministry said late last week it would invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit soon. Sources have told Reuters the invitation was made to European Union ambassadors based in Beijing.

Geng said talks were ongoing about that trip. He did not elaborate.

There have been two visits by groups including European diplomats to Xinjiang this year. One was a small group of EU diplomats, and the other by a group of diplomats from a broader mix of countries, including missions from Greece, Hungary and North African and Southeast Asian states.

A Reuters journalist visited on a government-organised trip in January.

Late last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s top envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a poster showing the QR codes for job-seeking information during an internet expo at the fifth WIC in Wuzhen
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a poster showing the QR codes for job-seeking information during an internet expo at the fifth World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Sijia Jiang and Pei Li

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese tech giants are in the hunt for young, energetic staff to take the place, in some cases, of veteran managers.

The companies deny that the moves, which are worrying some older employees, reflect any discrimination based on age. Explicit age discrimination is illegal in many countries, though not in China.

Chinese tech companies are known to prefer young workers, in part because of demands such as the so-called “996” schedule that asks employees to work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

On Thursday, Tencent Holdings confirmed plans to reshuffle 10 percent of its managers.

“Let some older members of management retire from their positions,” Tencent Holdings President Martin Lau said. “Their jobs will be taken up by younger people, new colleagues who may be more passionate.”

Asked to elaborate on the reshuffle, Tencent cited its annual report as stating its employment practice complies with laws and regulations and “does not discriminate on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, race, disability, age, religious belief, sexual orientation or family status”.

Analysts said the move to promote younger managers is driven in part by the rise of a new generation of Chinese internet companies such as Pinduoduo and Bytedance, which are mostly run by entrepreneurs and engineers born in the 1980s or 1990s.

“The environment and external pressures are pushing these companies to reform, if the leadership is too old, it’s easy for them to fall behind,” said Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based tech analyst who used to work at Tencent and e-commerce giant JD.com Inc.

“In the U.S. and Europe you rarely see companies going through structural reform every other year, but it’s quite common in China… core leadership can be replaced within a very short amount of time.”

RETIREMENT PLAN

At Baidu, CEO Robin Li said in an internal letter – which the company made public – that it plans to accelerate efforts to become more youthful this year by promoting more workers born after 1980, and also announced an executive retirement plan.

The first executive to leave under that plan is its president for new business, Zhang Yaqin, who will retire in October, Li said. Local media reported Zhang’s age as 53.  

“For senior managers which have worked hard for the company and accompanied its growth, if they want to choose a new life because of personal or family reasons, we will take care of them under the executive retirement plan,” Li wrote.

A Baidu spokesman said that age is not a factor in whether managers chose to retire or not and that it was up to them if they wanted to join the plan.

Lei Jun, chief of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, said at a news conference on March 20 that the company was appointing new, younger general department managers as part of an organisational restructuring.

A Xiaomi spokesman said the company was not cutting the senior management team but that it needed to promote “younger talents” to support its rapid expansion.

Chinese tech workers in their 30s and 40s told Reuters they had come to accept the industry’s preference for youth but worried that it was becoming more extreme, especially in up-and-coming fields such as artificial intelligence.

“I’m not worrying so much about losing my job, but certainly there is worry that I will not get promoted,” said a 38-year-old engineer at JD.com. Like other employees interviewed for this story, he declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

A JD.com spokeswoman said it did not discriminate and that any high-performing employee is eligible for promotion.

LONGER TIME TO PROGRESS

A 29-year-old female programmer for one of China’s top short video platforms said ageism was of greater concern to women.

“It can take a longer time for women to progress to the better jobs, so the age restriction more heavily affects women,” she said. “There is definitely the feeling that if you are older, you won’t understand the product.”

Older workers have few legal options.

“The only recourse Chinese workers have is if they’re not properly compensated once they’re laid off,” said Geoffrey Crothall of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labour rights group.

While age discrimination is illegal in the United States, it is often hard to prove. Bias in favour of younger workers often shows itself openly in the Silicon Valley start-up scene, where investors often prefer to back entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s.

In China, some in the tech industry said older employees could still get ahead if they were top performers. At telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, known for an aggressive internal culture where everyone’s contract is up for renewal every few years, one employee defended the approach as common in the industry. Huawei declined to comment.

“Companies are moving away from the traditional iron rice bowl type of mentality,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing and Josh Horwitz in SHANGHAI; Writing by Brenda Goh; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Richard Borsuk)

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with former hostage Danny Burch and his family in the Oval Office at the White House
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he meets with former hostage Danny Burch, an oil engineer who was taken hostage in Yemen in September 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By David Lawder, Philip Blenkinsop and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s blunt-force use of tariffs in pursuing his “America First” trade agenda has angered many, from company executives to allied governments and members of both parties of Congress.

But there’s one effort which has drawn broad support from those who oppose him on almost everything else – his push to force Beijing to change what are widely viewed as China’s market-distorting trade and subsidy practices.

As U.S.-China talks to end a trade war reach their endgame, politicians, executives and foreign diplomats are urging Trump and his team to hold out for meaningful structural reforms in China to address entrenched problems in the relationship that hurt U.S. and other foreign companies and workers.

Trump’s trade war “has let the genie out of the bottle” by lifting expectations that the trade war will force China to reform policies that businesses and foreign governments regard as unfair, said Steven Gardon, vice president of indirect taxes and customs at Lear Corp. Gardon’s firm is an automotive seating and electrical supplier with plants in 39 countries, including the United States and China.

“Now that all these issues have been raised, there’s a lot more domestic political support to address these issues, and I don’t think you can pull back from that,” Gardon said at a Georgetown Law School forum this month. “There’s now pressure politically that they have to be addressed for the long term.”

Gardon’s comments reflect a broad shift in U.S. and international business sentiment towards China’s economic and trade policies, one that is aligned with Trump’s goals, if not his tactics.

Trump’s trade team say they are in the final stages of negotiating what would be the biggest economic policy agreement with China in decades. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin head to Beijing this week to try to accelerate talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Liu is set to travel to Washington for another round of negotiations in early April.

Eight months into the trade war that has disrupted the flow of billions of dollars of goods between the world’s two largest economies, it is unclear if a deal acceptable to both sides can be done.

China’s President Xi Jinping is seen as reluctant to make economic reforms under pressure from the United States, and Trump has said he may keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place for “a substantial period” even if a deal is struck.

Xi may find it easier to live with the tariffs Trump has imposed on trade than to change China’s model for economic development.

As part of a deal, Beijing has offered to make big-ticket purchases from the United States to help reduce a record trade gap. Trump’s team has said those purchases would be worth more than a trillion dollars over about six years.

While big Chinese purchases might be tempting for Trump’s administration, they would do nothing to address what U.S. firms competing in China or against Chinese firms say are structural problems with a system stacked against them.

The United States complains China engages in systematic intellectual property theft, forces foreign firms to give up trade secrets for market access and spends huge sums subsidizing its own industry. Redressing those complaints would require policy reform at the highest level from Xi and China’s ruling Communist Party.

A survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in late February showed that a majority of member U.S. companies supported increasing or maintaining tariffs on Chinese goods, and nearly twice as many as last year want the U.S. government to push Beijing harder to create a level playing field.

The U.S. tariff demands have even encouraged some reform-minded Chinese officials and private-sector business executives to call for a faster pace of reform in China as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first steps toward capitalism.

Lighthizer told lawmakers in late February that Chinese-American business people in particular have urged him to “hang tough” in the talks and not to “sell out for soybeans.”

STAY THE COURSE

When Trump delayed a threatened tariff increase well before a March 1 deadline for a deal, he stoked fears that he may be swayed by the big purchase order and leave longstanding structural problems unresolved.

Since then, a steady drumbeat of lobbyists, company executives, foreign diplomats and U.S. lawmakers from both parties have urged Trump to stay the course on his structural demands.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, one of the most pro-trade Republicans and a critic of Trump’s tariffs, recently joined that call.

“While we want China to buy more U.S. goods … it’s even more important for us to hold China accountable to meeting high international standards on intellectual property rights, subsidization, overcapacity, and the other structural ways in which China distorts the global economy,” he said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing just days after the tariff delay was announced.

Last week, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a longtime China trade hawk, took to the Senate floor to urge Trump not to “back down” and take a deal based largely on Chinese purchases of American soybeans and other goods.

On Thursday, Schumer tweeted: “Now’s not the time to drop $200B in tariffs just because China’s close to a deal, @realDonald Trump.”

QUIETLY ROOTING FOR TRUMP

European Union members, traditional allies of the United States, are still smarting about the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on imports into the United States last year. The EU is also worried that Trump will impose duties on autos. But the bloc shares many of the same frustrations over China’s technology transfer policies and market access constraints.

“We get complaints every day from our companies,” one European official told Reuters in Beijing, noting that despite repeated pledges from the Chinese government to make life easier for foreign companies, little had changed.

    EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s assessment of China’s behavior sounds almost like it was written by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, charging that China has abused global trading rules.

China has “blurred the lines between state and private sector. The state has undue influence,” she said in a Washington speech this month. “Intellectual properties of companies are stolen. State subsidies, direct or indirect, are common. And these impacts are felt at home and abroad.”

Malmstrom says that while the U.S. and EU “agree on the diagnosis,” they differ on tactics, and she argues for a more multilateral approach, citing the EU’s work with the United States and Japan to address the issues through reform of World Trade Organization rules.

Some worry that Europe could lose out if Washington and Beijing strike a deal to purchase billions of dollars more in products to try to shrink the U.S. goods trade deficit with China.

“If China is buying more from America then inevitably it will buy less from Europe,” a second European official based in Beijing said, adding that could in particular affect large European multinationals.

But European diplomats and officials acknowledge a begrudging support for Trump’s goals, even if they are repulsed by his blunt tactics. Many are secretly rooting for his success.

“We are against unilateral measures, but nobody is exactly sorry for China. On content we think he does have a point,” said one EU diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity in Brussels. “Beijing has to understand that without reform, the system could just stop working.”

Trump administration officials insist that he has gotten the message and is holding out for “structural changes” to the U.S.-China relationship, along with an enforcement mechanism that holds China to its pledges.

Clete Willems, a White House trade adviser, told the Georgetown Law School forum that Trump is determined to fix problems with China’s trade relationship that he has railed against for years, long before he ever sought office.

“The notion that he’s just going to suddenly accept a bad deal is totally inaccurate. The president is going to walk away from bad deals,” said Willems, who announced on Friday that he is leaving the White House for family reasons.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Simon Webb and James Dalgleish)

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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch
FILE PHOTO: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 25, 2019

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she will travel to China at the end of the week for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ardern said she would travel to Beijing on Sunday.

She first announced her plans to visit China last year but no final dates had yet been announced.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Paul Tait)

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The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

March 25, 2019

By Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The two ships were identified as the Navy Curtis Wilbur destroyer and the Coast Guard Bertholf cutter, a U.S. military statement said.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said.

“The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it added.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help defend the island nation and is its main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said trade negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement “will probably happen,” adding that his call for tariffs to remain on Chinese imported goods for some time did not mean talks were in trouble.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Over the past several decades, the think tank world in Washington has led the conservative movement down a path in which it is essentially the president of the local debate society but has precious little impact on public policy outcomes that affect the lives of real Americans. 

Recent criticisms of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol by the Competitive Enterprise Institute demonstrate this clearly. In addition, these criticisms make plain that the same think tank culture has yet to grapple with the ascent of President Trump and all he represents.

The Kigali Amendment is a relatively obscure proposal, but one that would have a significant and positive impact on American manufacturers and their employees.

In the next decade, one billion air-conditioners will be installed around the world, making it a good time to be in the air conditioning business. America has been the global AC leader since American innovation first brought it to market in 1902. The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration industry — or HVACR — is a domestic powerhouse. It is responsible for over 2.5 million American jobs, almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs, and $621 billion of economic output per year. 

Kigali initiates a phase down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning systems and replaces them with new coolants. As it happens, American manufacturers hold the patents on the bulk of those new products. By signing onto Kigali, America will remain the global leader in the industry.

Despite the undeniable advantages Kigali provides to American manufacturers, it deals with a climate-related issue, so the folks at CEI have adjusted their spectacles and straightened their bow ties and have begun to lecture American workers on how terrible it is.  

CEI argues that China gets more lenient treatment under Kigali. While it’s true that China will be permitted to continue producing HFCs under Kigali, as he states, they will not be permitted to sell these products in the U.S if we sign on Kigali. It’s irrelevant how many HFCs China will be permitted to make, let alone for how long, if it’s illegal to sell them. 

Kigali will have a positive impact on U.S. manufacturing and the U.S. economy. A recent study conducted by Inforum and JMS Consulting titled, “Economic Impacts of U.S. Ratification of the Kigali Amendment,” shows is will have a net positive impact on America’s trade imbalance of more than $12.5 billion by 2027.

But China cheats, they argue in their second point. Well, duh. Of course China cheats. They’ve already gotten pinched for dumping cheap coolants into the U.S. market. But that was under a different president. If nothing else, President Trump has shown he will not stand by as China cheats its way to global economic dominance.  The truth is, Kigali stops Chinese cheating. This is a principal reason why the economic impact study cited above found that ratification would lead to $6.5 billion in reduced imports.  

CEI’s third point is their most onerous and sloppy. They claim U.S. companies like Honeywell and Chemours will just manufacture new products in China anyway. Wrong. So wrong, in fact, that their supporting documentation for this fake news states, “On the fluoroproducts side, Chemours plans to shift most production of its Opteon hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant to its new plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, US.”  That story went on to quote Chemours’ CEO saying that the company “will shift most of our production to Corpus Christi as soon as possible.” 

Overall, American companies have invested more than $1 billion in research, development, and expanded domestic production of next generation coolants.  What’s more, Kigali has the support of virtually the entire U.S. business community, large and small.

Donald Trump is a master negotiator whose stated goal as president of the United States is to reconfigure global agreements to benefit America. He isn’t an ideologue. He isn’t concerned with legacy disputes between competing think tanks in Washington. And he’s tired of deals that meet some precious standard for “free market” purity but hurt American workers.  These are some of the reasons people like me, regular working Americans, flocked to his campaign early and stuck with him when the establishment tried to take him down.

I trust that President Trump will send the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification on its merits, where it will be well received by Republicans and Democrats alike. 

Paul Nagy (SouthTrentonGuy) has worked as a conservative activist in New Hampshire for over 30 years. He is the founder and chairman of Americans for Secure Borders, and worked previously as northeast campaign director for Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign and as the northeast regional director for the National Christian Coalition.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

General view of Duqm Port in Oman
General view of Duqm Port in Oman, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/ Nawied Jabarkhyl

March 24, 2019

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States clinched a strategic port deal with Oman on Sunday which U.S. officials say will allow the U.S. military better access the Gulf region and reduce the need to send ships through the Strait of Hormuz, a maritime choke point off Iran.

The U.S. embassy in Oman said in a statement that the agreement governed U.S. access to facilities and ports in Duqm as well as in Salalah and “reaffirms the commitment of both countries to promoting mutual security goals.”

The accord is viewed through an economic prism by Oman, which wants to develop Duqm while preserving its Switzerland-like neutral role in Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy.

But it comes as the United States grows increasingly concerned about Iran’s expanding missile programs, which have improved in recent years despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure by the United States.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was significant by improving access to ports that connect to a network of roads to the broader region, giving the U.S. military great resiliency in a crisis.

“We used to operate on the assumption that we could just steam into the Gulf,” one U.S. official said, adding, however, that “the quality and quantity of Iranian weapons raises concerns.”

Tehran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route at the mouth of the Gulf, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.

Still, the U.S. official noted that the agreement would expand U.S. military options in the region for any kind of crisis.

Duqm is ideal port for large ships. It is even big enough to turn around an aircraft carrier, a second official said.

“The port itself is very attractive and the geostrategic location is very attractive, again being outside the Strait of Hormuz,” the official said, adding that negotiations began under the Obama administration.

COMPETITION WITH CHINA

For Oman, the deal will further advance its efforts to transform Duqm, once just a fishing village 550 km (345 miles) south of capital Muscat, into a key Middle East industrial and port center, as its diversifies its economy beyond oil and gas exports.

The deal could also better position the United States in the region for what has become a global competition with China for influence.

Chinese firms once aimed to invest up to $10.7 billion in the Duqm project, a massive injection of capital into Oman, in what was expected to be a commercial, not military, arrangement.

“It looks to me like the Chinese relationship here isn’t as big as it appeared it was going to be a couple of years ago,” the second official said.

“There’s a section of the Duqm industrial zone that’s been set aside for the Chinese … and as far as I can tell so far they’ve done just about nothing.”

Still, China has in the past shown no qualms about rubbing up against U.S. military facilities.

In 2017, the African nation of Djibouti, positioned at another geostrategic choke-point, the strait of Bab al-Mandeb, became home to China’s first overseas military base. The U.S. military already had a base located just miles away, which has been crucial for operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: General view of Abu Dhabi
FILE PHOTO: General view of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 3, 2019. Picture taken January 3, 2019. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

March 24, 2019

By Stanley Carvalho

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi will commit up to 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is investing billions of dollars in industry, tourism and infrastructure to reduce its reliance on oil revenue.

Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.

The emirate launched a 50 billion dirham ($13.6 billion) stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic.

The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a 500 million dirham fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.

The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.

Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.

Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.

Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.

Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the 1 billion dirham commitment, Ajami said.

Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S and China trade talks in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese staffers adjust U.S. and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

March 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Ahead of fresh high-level trade talks this week, China is not conceding to U.S. demands to ease curbs on technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to travel to Beijing for talks starting on March 28, the White House said on Saturday.

The FT report said Beijing had yet to offer “meaningful concessions” to U.S. requests for China to stop discriminating against foreign cloud computing providers, to reduce limits on overseas data transfers and to relax a requirement for companies to store data locally.

China made an initial offer on digital trade that the United States judged as insufficient, the report said, citing a source.

China then retracted the offer after the United States demanded stronger pledges, the report said, without giving further details.

The White House and China’s Commerce Ministry did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan
FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

March 24, 2019

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – “Highly choreographed” tours to Xinjiang organized by the Chinese government are misleading and propagate false narratives about the troubled region, a U.S. official said, after China announced plans to invite European envoys to visit.

China has been stepping up a push to counter growing criticism in the West and among rights groups about a controversial de-radicalization program in heavily Muslim Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centers and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.

China’s foreign ministry said late last week it would invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit soon. Diplomatic sources said the so-far informal invitation had gone specifically to ambassadors and was planned for this week.

A U.S. government official, asked by Reuters if the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, had been invited to visit Xinjiang, said there were no meetings or visits to announce.

“Highly choreographed and chaperoned government-led tours in Xinjiang have propagated false narratives and obfuscated the realities of China’s ongoing human rights abuses in the region,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The visit this month would be the first by a large group of Western diplomats to the region since international concern about Xinjiang’s security clampdown began intensifying last year. Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in recent years.

Several groups of diplomats from other countries have already been brought to Xinjiang on tightly scripted trips since late December to visit the facilities.

There have been two visits by groups including European diplomats to Xinjiang this year. One was a small group of EU diplomats, and the other by a group of diplomats from a broader mix of countries, including missions from Greece, Hungary and North African and Southeast Asian states.

A Reuters journalist visited on a government-organized trip in January.

The U.S. official described what was happening in Xinjiang as “a highly repressive campaign”, and said claims that the facilities were “humane job-training centers” or “boarding schools” were not credible.

“We will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies, free all those who have been arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of its Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China has rejected all foreign criticism of its policies in Xinjiang, and says it invites foreigners to visit to help them better understand the region.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang marked the worst human rights abuses “since the 1930s”.

The issue of Xinjiang adds another irritant to already strained ties between Washington and Beijing, who are trying to end a bitter trade war and have several other areas of disagreement, including the disputed South China Sea and U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Late last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s top envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters on Saturday that government officials had said a meeting with Chen was not being offered to the European ambassadors, and that the trip was not to discuss human rights but to talk about China-Europe cooperation on President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road project.

It remains unclear whether they would accept the invitation, though the two sources said it was unlikely.

The European Union’s embassy in Beijing has declined to comment on the invitation.

Xi is currently in Europe on a state visit to Italy, Monaco and France. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang goes to Brussels next month for a China-EU summit.

EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognize that China is as much a competitor as a partner.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng speaks during the meeting with Kuwaiti first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng speaks during the meeting with Kuwaiti first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China December 17, 2018. Wang Zhao/Pool via REUTERS

March 24, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s economy may face a more challenging environment this year but the government is nevertheless confident of achieving its key 2019 targets, Vice Premier Han Zheng said on Sunday.

Han, speaking at the China Development Forum, reiterated that China will further deepen market-oriented reforms and open up its economy. He also said China’s imports of goods are expected to exceed $12 trillion in the next five years.

China targets economic growth of between 6 percent and 6.5 percent for the year, compared with 6.6 percent growth last year.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; writing by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

Tennis: Miami Open
Mar 23, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Su-Wei Hshieh of Chinese Taipei waves to the crowd after her match against Naomi Osaka of Japan (not pictured) in the second round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 23, 2019

(Reuters) – Japan’s world number one Naomi Osaka was sent spinning to a crushing loss when Taiwan’s 27th seeded Hsieh Su-wei defeated her in three absorbing sets at the Miami Open on Saturday.

Hsieh came from a set down to prevail 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3 as her unorthodox style frustrated and finally wore down the U.S. and Australian Open champion.

The stunning upset came after the tournament had earlier lost its eight-times champion Serena Williams.

The great American player withdrew with a left knee injury, the second consecutive WTA event which she has been forced to abandon following her retirement from last week’s tournament in Indian Wells with a viral illness.

Earlier, world number two Petra Kvitova was extended to three sets before the Czech outlasted Croatia’s Donna Vekic.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova finally prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the clash between two heavy hitters but had to fight to earn her triumph after more than two and a half hours.

Kvitova, the third seed, will meet France’s Caroline Garcia in the fourth round. Garcia knocked out 15th seed Julia Goerges, of Germany, 6-0 7-5.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Chadband)

Source: OANN

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, second from left, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, look on before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China February 15, 2019. Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS

March 23, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for the latest round of high-level trade talks scheduled to start on March 28, the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

The United States also will receive a Chinese trade delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He for meetings in Washington that are set to begin on April 3, the White House said.

President Donald Trump said on Friday the negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable, as the world’s two largest economies seek to ease tensions from an eight-month-old trade war.

But earlier this week, Trump warned the United States may leave tariffs on Chinese imports for a while, though Beijing has pushed for them to be removed as part of any deal.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A map illustrating China's silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, or the so-called
FILE PHOTO: A map illustrating China’s silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, or the so-called “One Belt, One Road” megaproject, is displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

March 23, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Italy on Saturday became the first member of the Group of Seven industrialized powers to endorse China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, with Rome brushing off the worries of Western allies as it looks to revive its flagging economy.

The signing ceremony was the highlight of a three-day trip to Italy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was designed to boost ties between the two nations at a time when the United States is locked in a trade war with China.

Chinese and Italian firms additionally signed some 10 deals, including in the energy, steel and gas pipeline sectors.

Full details of the contracts was not immediately revealed, but a government source said they could potentially be worth up to 20 billion euros ($22.62 billion). Italian media put the value at around 5 billion euros.

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the China Development Forum in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

March 23, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Apple chief executive Tim Cook nudged China on Saturday to open up and said the future would depend on global collaboration, as the United States and China remained locked in a bitter trade dispute.

“We encourage China to continue to open up, we see that as essential, not only for China to reach its full potential, but for the global economy to thrive,” Cook said at a China Development Forum in Beijing.

Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets, some analysts worry that its reform project has slowed or even stalled under President Xi Jinping, who has sought greater control over the economy and a bigger role for state-owned firms at the expense of the private sector.

Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China because of a contracting smartphone market, increasing pressure from Chinese rivals, and slowing upgrade cycles. The company reported a revenue drop of 26 percent in the greater China region during the quarter ending in December.

Before those results came out, in a January letter to investors, Cook blamed the company’s poor China performance on trade tension between the United States and China, suggesting that pressure on the economy was hurting sales in China.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Malaysia's new government advisor Daim Zainuddin speaks during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing
Malaysia’s new government advisor Daim Zainuddin speaks during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Andy Wong/Pool/via Reuters

March 23, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia will finalize talks with China in early April regarding a $20 billion rail project that has been suspended since July last year, the Malaysian representative for the negotiations said late on Friday.

The renegotiations could result in cost savings of more than 10 billion ringgit ($2.5 billion) for Malaysia, the country’s envoy for the discussions, Daim Zainuddin said in an interview with a local television station.

China representatives have extended an invitation to Malaysia for a visit on April 2 to conclude negotiations on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) in the first week of next month.

“They were here two weeks ago in talks with me, and they have invited me to China … to finalize talks,” Daim said.

Daim said the renegotiations could include commercial elements that would benefit Malaysia but did not elaborate.

The ECRL had been threatened by cancellation since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who came into power in May last year, vowed to renegotiate or cancel what he calls “unfair” Chinese projects authorized by his predecessor Najib Razak.

Hit by ballooning costs, lack of transparency and the risk it could saddle Malaysia with uncomfortably large debt, the project that was launched in 2017 has come to symbolize Najib’s scandal-ridden administration.

In January, ministers flip-flopped on Malaysia’s decision about the ECRL – the centerpiece of China’s infrastructure push in Southeast Asia – first saying it was canceled and then announcing that talks were still ongoing.

Reuters reported in January, citing sources, that China had offered to nearly halve the cost to save the 688-km (430-mile) rail project.

(Reporting by Liz Lee)

Source: OANN

Audrey Conklin | Reporter

China’s communist government has been steadily trying to eradicate a Muslim ethnic group in the ancient city of Urumqui for several years, though the impact hasn’t been completely visible until now.

While the West has only known about this crisis in Urumqui for several years because of the area’s strict government security, China is making steady progress with its destruction of a once-vibrant community, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Nearly 13 million Turcik Muslims — the majority of whom are Uighur Muslims — make up the northwestern territory of Xinjiang, China, where Urumqui is located. Turcik Muslims have appeared in recorded Chinese history since the third century A.D.

In the city of Urumqi specifically, Uighurs make up about 13 percent of the total population. In 2017, however, the total population of the city fell 15 percent, from 2.6 million to 2.2 million.

The government has already succeeded in forcing about 1 million Uighur people into internment camps that they’ve dubbed “boarding schools” or “re-education camps” in an effort to suppress their religious beliefs, which Chinese officials say will stay unless Uighurs give up Islam. In more recent developments, the government is destroying homes, businesses and general Uighur existence in the area. (RELATED: China Strongly Implies Muslim Internment Camps Will Never Go Away)

“When plans for Urumqi’s urban overhaul were announced in 2017, the party-controlled Xinjiang Daily said the government would offer compensation to residents forced to move, and planned new residential districts ‘designed with full consideration of the customs and convenience of all ethnic groups,’” The Journal explains.

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

While there were about 400 active mosques in Uighur in 2015, there are now only bare-boned remnants of places of worship. Traditional Uighur restaurants and food stands have closed; Uighur language books have been removed from stores; signs written in the Uighur language have been replaced by Chinese characters; homes have been destroyed as Uighur communities are forced out of the area. And as these places disappear, they are replaced by stores and restaurants meant to appeal to Chinese tourists.

The government has allocated billions to Urumqi for infrastructure spending. In 2017, fixed assets exceeded $30 billion to invest in infrastructure, factories and other building (or rebuilding) plans for the city. In 2018, Urumqi spent $10 billion to destroy the city’s increasingly abandoned outskirts.

And those Uighur people who are still living outside of internment camps organized by the government have been subject to massively invasive digital surveillance. (RELATED: Uighur Muslim Woman Recalls Torture In Chinese Government Internment Camp: ‘I Thought I Would Rather Die’)

As The Journal explains, “It is nearly impossible to move about the region without feeling the unrelenting gaze of the government. Citizens and visitors alike must run a daily gauntlet of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras and machines scanning their ID cards, faces, eyeballs and sometimes entire bodies.”

The Chinese government justifies its massive crackdown on this specific population of citizens as a way to keep China unified and safe from radical Islamic terrorism.

A recent TIME magazine article says China has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in Xinjiang.

According to Human Rights Watch, “Domestic state media reports and government documents do talk about the [detainment] camps. They explain that these camps are necessary to cure the minds of Turkic Muslims who have an ‘ideological illness.’”

Source: The Daily Caller

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Friday he was reversing course on new sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with North Korea.

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Trump wrote. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

The U.S. Treasury had announced the new sanctions Thursday, not Friday as Trump wrote, and they immediately received “swift pushback” from both the Chinese and North Korean governments, reported Fox News. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim [Jong Un] and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked about Trump’s tweet.

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump’s decision came a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin detailed the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on two China-based companies.

“The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related UN Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome,” Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday, according to Fox News. “Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk.”

Trump and Kim may have another summit this year after their most recent summit in late February fell apart.

Trump had used Twitter in early March to weigh in on the U.S. and South Korea’s decision to end their annual large-scale joint military exercises.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

March 22, 2019

By Foo Yun Chee and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will next week urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks but will ignore U.S. calls to ban Huawei Technologies, four people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries.

The United States has lobbied Europe to shut out Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue.

Ansip will tell EU countries to use tools set out under the EU directive on security of network and information systems, or NIS directive, adopted in 2016 and the recently approved Cybersecurity Act, the people said.

For example, member states should exchange information and coordinate on impact assessment studies on security risks and on certification for internet-connected devices and 5G equipment.

The Commission will not call for a European ban on global market leader Huawei, leaving it to EU countries to decide on national security grounds.

“It is a recommendation to enhance exchanges on the security assessment of digital critical infrastructure,” one of the sources said.

The Commission said the recommendation would stress a common EU approach to security risks to 5G networks.

The EU executive’s guidance marks a tougher stance on Chinese investment after years of almost unfettered European openness to China, which controls 70 percent of the global supply of the critical raw materials needed to make high-tech goods.

The measures, if taken on board, will be part of what French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday was a “European awakening” about potential Chinese dominance, after EU leaders held a first-ever discussion about China policy at a summit.

Germany this month set tougher criteria for all telecoms equipment vendors, without singling out Huawei and ignoring U.S. pressure.

Big telecoms operators oppose a Huawei ban, saying such a move could set back 5G deployment in the bloc by years. In contrast, Australia and New Zealand have stopped operators using Huawei equipment in their networks.

The industry sees 5G as the next money spinner, with its promise to link up everything from vehicles to household devices.

Alongside from the Huawei issue, the bloc also plans to discuss Chinese subsidies, state involvement in the Chinese economy and more access to the Chinese market at an EU-China summit on April 9.

(Writing by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump meet for the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump meet for the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in this photo released on March 1, 2019 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering the withdrawal of recently announced North Korea-related sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department.

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Trump said on Twitter. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

It was not immediately clear what sanctions Trump was referring to, although the United States on Thursday blacklisted two Chinese shipping companies that it said helped North Korea evade sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Tim Ahmann)

Source: OANN

Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/ TAKE IT EASY

With the U.S. Federal Reserve well and truly doubling down on its dovish guidance this month, the global rate hiking cycle is at an end. There are exceptions of course but the big central banks of the developed world — the Fed, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan — have all reacted decisively to the steady drumbeat of depressing economic data by pushing any policy tightening plans to the backburner.

But instead of deriving any comfort from the pivot, some in the market are interpreting the moves as desperate measures to ward off impending recession. That fear is certainly evident on bond markets where the gap between three-month and 10-year U.S. treasury yields — one of the gauges the Fed uses to assess inflation risks — has inverted. European yield curves too have flattened and German 10-year government borrowing costs have slid back below zero percent for the first time since 2016.

There are outliers. Norway has hiked rates while Hungary and Czech rates may also rise this coming week. One could argue Norway’s economy has been lifted by oil this year, while emerging European economies have been recovering nicely. But the question is: with the world’s biggest economy starting to hurt, Fed rate cuts bring priced for 2020 and G4 bond yields plunging, can any market avoid being sucked in? On Wednesday, New Zealand’s central bank could become the latest to flag downside risks to growth and interest rates.

(Graphic: U.S. federal funds activity png link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2EcJkRq).

2/ DEADLINES, RED LINES

March 29 is when Britain was supposed to leave the European Union, 2-1/2-years after a slender majority voted to leave the bloc. EU leaders have now granted Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve, during which she must persuade lawmakers to accept the divorce deal she has negotiated. Not easy, given they have resoundingly defeated it twice already. She is expected to make another attempt and if the deal still fails, several possibilities open up, from a no-deal Brexit to Brextension and even exit from Brexit.

The question is whether May will be flexible on any of the “red lines” she outlined in 2016, ruling out a customs union with the EU, UK’s membership of the single market and any role for the European court of justice. Seen by many as an extreme interpretation of the referendum, it has stymied efforts to find a solution to the Northern Ireland border issue.

With all this in play, many warn that markets are still assigning too low a probability to a no-deal Brexit — banks such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche reckon that risk at just 15-20 percent. But though this is rising, most analysts warn.

Sterling has tumbled this month after strengthening for two months straight and jitters are bubbling up on derivative markets. Here one-month pound risk reversals show an elevated premium for sterling puts — options that confer the right to sell at a certain price. Implied sterling volatility — a gauge of expected daily swings — has slipped off highs but remain above some typically volatile emerging currencies such as Brazil’s real or the Turkish lira.

(Graphic: No-deal Brexit probabilities IMG link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2VlgLGT).

3/ GLASS QUARTER FULL

Back in January, the U.S. Federal Reserve fired up investors’ appetite for risk by pledging to be patient with future rate rises. In March it sealed that promise by doubling down on its dovish stance and scaling back projected 2019 interest-rate increases to zero. The result: a 10 percent-plus bounce on global stocks in the January-March period. The S&P500 is headed for its best first quarter of any year since 1991. Other big Q1 winners with dollar-based gains close to 30 percent are Chinese shares and Brent crude.

What happens next? To some, the rally in what are inherently risky, growth-reliant assets makes little sense when the world economy is in slowdown mode and should therefore evaporate. But others counter the second quarter will bring more gains. They note that despite double-digit gains, investors have mostly been betting against stocks for most of 2019. Investment research firm TrimTabs says equity funds have seen outflows of $18.7 billion this year through Wednesday. They have instead channeled $73.1. billion into bond funds.

(Graphic: S&P 500 vs U.S.10-Year Treasury Yield link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UNzRFP).

(Graphic: Q1 performance link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UQo3CG).

4/EURO GLOOM TO BOOM — OR DOOM

Despite a strong rally across markets this year, European equities remain one of the most disliked regions in the world. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly fund manager survey confirmed that view, with investors naming “short” European equities as the most crowded trade for the first time.

For contrarians, that’s a gift – a sign bearish positioning on Europe has got too extreme and stocks should rise from here.

Indeed, there are some positive signals from recent macroeconomic data, from retail sales to wages. That has sparked a quiet rise on Citi’s index of euro zone macro surprises which now, interestingly, sits above the equivalent U.S. index. There are also predictions that as China’s economy starts benefiting from the stimulus its authorities have unveiled, Europe too will feel the effect.

But after every glimmer of hope, comes a dampener. February PMI data from Germany and the euro zone sent markets reeling.. Next up are the Ifo business climate survey and consumer confidence figures. Those should tell us whether it is too early to call a bottom.

(Graphic: macro surprises March 22 link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HAy8B0).

5/YUAN: STRONG AND STABLE

Chinese markets aren’t abandoning hopes that authorities may soon relax trading rules for the yuan. Beijing and Washington are locked in heated discussions on a deal to end their trade war and President Donald Trump hopes to extract a commitment to yuan stability. The Chinese have other compulsions. The yuan fell more than 5 percent in 2018 but this year it is rising too rapidly for comfort. As China makes its way into global benchmark stock and bond indices, foreigners are rushing into its markets. In January and February, inflows under the Stock Connect scheme were almost quadruple the amount last year.

Rumors are swirling that China’s currency regulator SAFE will rescind requirements for banks to maintain reserves on dollar purchase contracts and also remove the secretive X-factor used to guide the currency’s trading range. Theoretically, those steps would count as efforts to free the yuan – they were imposed last year to curtail speculators betting against the yuan. Detractors might say China is creating conditions for yuan depreciation. The coming week should offer some visibility as a U.S. trade delegation, headed by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, shows up in China for the next round of tariff negotiations.

(Graphic: China’s yuan rises as foreign investment picks up link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HBZbLX).new york stock

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker, Saikat Chatterjee and Helen Reid in London; Jennifer Ablan in New York and Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore; Compiled by Sujata Rao; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

EU centre-right lead candidate Weber poses during an interview with Reuters in Brussels
Manfred Weber, the centre-right European People’s Party’s lead candidate in the European Parliament elections, poses during an interview with Reuters in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

March 22, 2019

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Germans must be ready to spend to bolster economies elsewhere in Europe, the German lead candidate for the EU center-right said on Friday as campaigning gets underway for European Parliament elections in May.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the EU legislature and bidding to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as EU chief executive, told Reuters his compatriots had to understand that rising anti-EU nationalism in struggling economies like Italy should be countered by greater European investment to stimulate growth.

Under him, he said, the European Commission would expand the investment programs launched under Juncker, a fellow conservative, maintaining tight controls on euro zone public spending but promoting expenditure on infrastructure and new technologies to compete in the globalized world economy.

Insisting he should not be seen as the candidate of the bloc’s powerhouse Germany, Weber said: “I am a European candidate so that’s why we have a European program in mind. That’s why I go to Germany and tell people, don’t be surprised that we have so much populism in Italy and the Germans don’t care about youth unemployment in Italy.

“We have to understand that Europe can only have a good future if they care about the concerns of others.

“It’s only a solidarity based Europe that will work and that’s my message, all over Europe.”

Germany, running a budget surplus, has faced criticism from France, Italy and other governments struggling to free up funds for investment, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, with which Weber is aligned, has insisted that states must guard against wasteful expenditure and promote efficiencies.

Weber said there was funding available outside the public sector that should be encouraged: “We have a lot of money in Europe, there’s a lot of private money in Europe and we must … bring this money really alive,” he said.

The center-right would also distinguish itself from other pro-EU parties to its left by promoting free trade pacts and deepening Europe’s internal open market. It would promote better living standards in poorer EU states to curb the drive for migration of labor across the bloc, he said.

Chinese investment was welcome, he added, but there must be tougher screening to avoid the Chinese state exploiting Europe’s openness to acquire research secrets and undermine EU businesses.

DEMOCRACY DRIVE

Among challenges the next Commission will face will be from governments in the ex-Communist east, such as in Hungary and Poland, which criticize Brussels and are accused of undermining democracy by curbing media and judicial freedoms.

Weber this week helped steer the EPP to suspending its Hungarian member, Fidesz, the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Expulsion was still an option, he said, but for now Fidesz would be kept under review by an EPP monitor.

That, Weber said, was a model he could adopt if he succeeds Juncker. He would push for a mechanism to allow for annual reviews of governments’ support for the rule of law according to three criteria – fighting corruption, judicial independence and media freedom.

A Weber Commission would entrust senior independent jurists to review countries and, if need be, take them to the European Court of Justice under the EU’s infringement process. He would also seek to levy financial sanctions on states abusing rights.

Opinion polls ahead of the May 23-26 elections show the EPP would remain the biggest party in the European Parliament, giving Weber a solid chance of becoming Commission president, though he may face resistance from governments who do not want to be bound to choose from among party leaders.

Commission presidents have traditionally been former prime ministers or senior ministers but Weber said nominating a figure from parliament would bolster Europe’s democratic credentials at a time when the Union was under attack by populists.

“I want to live in a democratic Europe,” he said. “I don’t want to have a bureaucratic Europe.” He described the Council of national leaders as lacking transparency.

“I want to have a parliamentary democracy.”

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

EU centre-right lead candidate Weber poses during an interview with Reuters in Brussels
Manfred Weber, the centre-right European People’s Party’s lead candidate in the European Parliament elections, poses during an interview with Reuters in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

March 22, 2019

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Germans must be ready to spend to bolster economies elsewhere in Europe, the German lead candidate for the EU center-right said on Friday as campaigning gets underway for European Parliament elections in May.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the EU legislature and bidding to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as EU chief executive, told Reuters his compatriots had to understand that rising anti-EU nationalism in struggling economies like Italy should be countered by greater European investment to stimulate growth.

Under him, he said, the European Commission would expand the investment programs launched under Juncker, a fellow conservative, maintaining tight controls on euro zone public spending but promoting expenditure on infrastructure and new technologies to compete in the globalized world economy.

Insisting he should not be seen as the candidate of the bloc’s powerhouse Germany, Weber said: “I am a European candidate so that’s why we have a European program in mind. That’s why I go to Germany and tell people, don’t be surprised that we have so much populism in Italy and the Germans don’t care about youth unemployment in Italy.

“We have to understand that Europe can only have a good future if they care about the concerns of others.

“It’s only a solidarity based Europe that will work and that’s my message, all over Europe.”

Germany, running a budget surplus, has faced criticism from France, Italy and other governments struggling to free up funds for investment, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, with which Weber is aligned, has insisted that states must guard against wasteful expenditure and promote efficiencies.

Weber said there was funding available outside the public sector that should be encouraged: “We have a lot of money in Europe, there’s a lot of private money in Europe and we must … bring this money really alive,” he said.

The center-right would also distinguish itself from other pro-EU parties to its left by promoting free trade pacts and deepening Europe’s internal open market. It would promote better living standards in poorer EU states to curb the drive for migration of labor across the bloc, he said.

Chinese investment was welcome, he added, but there must be tougher screening to avoid the Chinese state exploiting Europe’s openness to acquire research secrets and undermine EU businesses.

DEMOCRACY DRIVE

Among challenges the next Commission will face will be from governments in the ex-Communist east, such as in Hungary and Poland, which criticize Brussels and are accused of undermining democracy by curbing media and judicial freedoms.

Weber this week helped steer the EPP to suspending its Hungarian member, Fidesz, the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Expulsion was still an option, he said, but for now Fidesz would be kept under review by an EPP monitor.

That, Weber said, was a model he could adopt if he succeeds Juncker. He would push for a mechanism to allow for annual reviews of governments’ support for the rule of law according to three criteria – fighting corruption, judicial independence and media freedom.

A Weber Commission would entrust senior independent jurists to review countries and, if need be, take them to the European Court of Justice under the EU’s infringement process. He would also seek to levy financial sanctions on states abusing rights.

Opinion polls ahead of the May 23-26 elections show the EPP would remain the biggest party in the European Parliament, giving Weber a solid chance of becoming Commission president, though he may face resistance from governments who do not want to be bound to choose from among party leaders.

Commission presidents have traditionally been former prime ministers or senior ministers but Weber said nominating a figure from parliament would bolster Europe’s democratic credentials at a time when the Union was under attack by populists.

“I want to live in a democratic Europe,” he said. “I don’t want to have a bureaucratic Europe.” He described the Council of national leaders as lacking transparency.

“I want to have a parliamentary democracy.”

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

The Trump administration recently warned Berlin that it may scale back intelligence sharing if Germany allows Chinese technology company Huawei to move forward with building the country’s 5G infrastructure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately shot back claiming Germany would “set its own security standards” alluding to American concerns that Huawei can be utilized by China’s intelligence services.

But China isn’t the only country causing the German-U.S. relationship unwanted headaches. Iran falls under that category too. As the U.S. has expanded efforts to weaken the Iranian regime, Germany has been working to empower it. This begs the question: Why is Germany cozying up to Iran?

This policy split may be considered surprising given America and Germany’s close relationship since the end of World War II. The U.S. stuck its neck out to ensure a fair shake for Germany during the Marshall Plan negotiations. President Truman pulled off a historic feat by bypassing the Soviet blockade and executing the Berlin Airlift. Armed forces from both countries stood side-by-side to vanquish the USSR to the dust bin of history.

But new global challenges have brought strain to this crucial alliance, particularly in dealing with an increasingly bellicose Iran. President Trump, who has taken a more confrontational stance than his predecessor, has sought to implement an Iranian containment strategy.

Trump recognizes that an emboldened Iran poses a serious threat to U.S. security interests through its funding of radical Islamist terrorism and destabilization activities. In conjunction with Israel and the Gulf Arab states, America has sought to put the squeeze on Iran.

However, Germany views Iran in a different light. Berlin recognizes Tehran as a bad actor but believes it can be reasoned with if given the correct financial incentives. This is precisely why Merkel, the de facto head of the European bloc, has aggressively worked to expand commercial ties with Iran.

Nowhere is this strategic disagreement better illustrated than with the collapse of the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

The Iran deal, which was penned in 2015 under the Obama administration, sought to halt Iran’s production of nuclear weapons and adventurism by lifting sanctions and offering other economic goodies. More than $100 billion in frozen assets were sent to the regime’s coffers and western companies were permitted to conduct business in Iran. European powers signed on as part of the deal.

And yet, instead of spending its newfound funds on economic development, Tehran began to ramp up spending on its terror activities and Islamist proxies across the region. Cash and arms flowed to the Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen.

Trump decided in response to call Tehran’s bluff and in May 2018 unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and slapped stringent sanctions back on Tehran. The president’s team simultaneously moved to pressure America’s allies to also reapply economic sanctions.

Instead of backing Trump, Merkel took it upon herself to save the fledging agreement. She rallied the remaining European signers around the deal and began working to establish a new corporation that would allow companies to conduct business with Iran, a blunder to Trump’s strategy.

But what is more disappointing than Merkel’s reluctance to get tough on Iran is her kid gloves treatment of the regime’s proxies. In a stunning display, Berlin recently refused to designate the Lebanese-based group, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah, which is bankrolled by Iran, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and serves as Tehran’s muscle across the region.

Even Syrian strongman and Iranian puppet Bashar Assad got a free pass after viciously gassing his own people in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018. Hoping to provide a moment of moral clarity and a strong show of force, Trump coordinated an attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities with the backing of both the UK and France. Notably, Germany sat on the sidelines.

Despite Merkel’s attempts to keep the mullahs above water, the Trump strategy is slowly but surely winning out. Iran’s economy is spiraling downward, and the regime is under intense pressure from everyday Iranians who are taking to the streets.

Still, if Merkel were to flip on Iran it may just be the final lynchpin to force real behavior change. Iran ending its maligned adventurism would positively benefit both American and German security interests. As such, Merkel has a unique opportunity to reconsider Germany’s approach to Iran and institute a necessary course correction.

For America’s sake, let’s hope she does just that.

Alex Titus (@ATitus7) is a Public Interest Fellow in Washington, D.C. The Public Interest Fellowship provides exceptional men and women with professional opportunities in the tradition of freedom.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

U.S. trade delegation member Clete Willems leaves a hotel for talks with Chinese officials in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: U.S. trade delegation member Clete Willems leaves a hotel for talks with Chinese officials in Beijing, China February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Clete Willems, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, is planning to leave the White House in the coming weeks, CNBC reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the top trade official’s plans.

The main reason for Willems exit was attributed to the wear of frequent travel on his young and growing family, CNBC reported, adding that his departure was expected to take place as U.S. trade talks with China linger into April.

The report, citing a source, also said that a replacement for Willems was in the works.

(Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN

Traders work on the floor of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

March 22, 2019

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open lower on Friday after downbeat German data exacerbated fears of a slowdown in global growth following an abrupt dovish turn by the Federal Reserve earlier this week.

German manufacturing contracted further in March, showing its lowest reading since June 2013 and adding to worries that unresolved trade disputes were slowing down Europe’s biggest economy.

Another survey showed the Euro zone’s business growth was worse than expected in March as factory activity contracted at the fastest pace in nearly six years.

“Today’s economic numbers indicate the strong relationship that China has with Europe. China has been slowing down, especially in ordering industrial products and automobiles, and that is going to hit Germany out-proportionally,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh

“Moreover, the Fed’s action on Wednesday show that they don’t believe the economies of the world are strong enough to continue their raising program.”

The Fed on Wednesday abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year as policymakers see a U.S. economy that is rapidly losing momentum.

Rate-sensitive financial stocks were set to extend their three-day decline. Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co fell about 1 percent.

Adding to the uncertainty were concerns over trade after Bloomberg reported that U.S. officials downplayed the prospect of an imminent trade deal with China, just as U.S. trade delegates head to Beijing next week.

Chipmakers, which get a huge chunk of their revenue from China, fell in premarket trading. Micron Technology Inc, Intel Corp and Nvidia Corp declined between 0.4 percent and 1 percent.

Their shares rallied in previous session after Micron predicted a recovery in a memory market saddled with oversupply, as demand for mobile phones slows.

Nike Inc dropped 4.6 percent after the sportswear maker’s quarterly revenue failed to beat Wall Street estimates, as sales fell short of expectations in North America.

Nike’s partner Foot Locker Inc fell 3.7 percent.

At 8:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 186 points, or 0.72 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 18.5 points, or 0.65 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 44 points, or 0.58 percent.

In light of bleak factory data from Europe, investors will be watching for the U.S. Services Sector Final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is likely to come in at 53.6 for March, compared with 53 for February. The report is due at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Tiffany & Co dropped 4.6 percent after the luxury retailer missed quarterly sales expectations, blaming low spending by Chinese tourists and weakness in Europe.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 22, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognize that China is as much a competitor as a partner, after calls for a more assertive policy toward Beijing over the openness of Chinese markets and the role of state-led firms.

The bloc has sought to avoid taking sides in a multi-billion dollar trade war between Washington and Beijing.

But it has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies, state involvement in the Chinese economy, and what it sees as a slow pace of change there.

Brussels will host an EU-China summit on April 9.

EU leaders had been intending to discuss China on Thursday at their summit, but their schedule was blown off course by a long day of talks over how to deal with Britain and its looming departure from the bloc.

The goal of presenting a united front on China was complicated by a simultaneous visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Italy, whose eurosceptic government was due to sign an accord drawing the country into China’s giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan.

Other largely eastern EU countries have also signed up to the plan.

The EU debate on China will be combined with a discussion on improving the competitiveness of Europe’s industry. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the debate was long overdue.

“China is a partner, but it is at the same time a competitor,” he said. “It’s crucial that there be fair trade conditions.”

He also questioned why China could be regarded under World Trade Organization rules as a developing country given special treatment, while being on course to become the largest economy in the world – a view shared by Washington.

“We need fair rules and naturally also protection for intellectual property and know-how from Europe and proper treatment of our investors in China,” Kurz continued.

In signs the European Union wants to end unfettered access to Chinese business, it is about to introduce a system to screen foreign investments, particularly those affecting vital infrastructure or technology.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 member nations, has also urged leaders to back its plan to limit access to EU public tenders worth 2.4 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) to companies from countries whose procurement markets were not open.

Pro-free trade countries such as the Nordics and the Netherlands say the plan could unfairly restrict commerce and amount to a surcharge for taxpayers by shutting out cheaper providers.

The EU leaders were also due to discuss Huawei Technologies Co and whether it should be allowed to provide equipment for future high-speed 5G networks. The U.S. government has said the equipment could be used to spy on the West.

“We need a relationship of trust. I know that there are questions now about 5G and Huawei in Europe. I think we need a base of rules to be respected by anyone who wants to do 5G in Europe,” Bettel said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Francesco Guarascio, Andreas Rinke and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

A Tiffany & Co logo is seen outside the store on 5th Ave in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Tiffany & Co logo is seen outside the store on 5th Ave in New York, New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Tiffany & Co narrowly missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly sales on Friday, two months after the luxury retailer signaled soft demand in the holiday season because of low spending by Chinese tourists and weakness in Europe and at home.

Weakening economic growth in China, especially against the backdrop of an ongoing trade spat between Beijing and Washington, has been a worry for luxury goods companies that rely on the country’s burgeoning middle class to boost sales.

“Softer trends in the second half of the year reflected, in part, what we believe were external challenges and uncertainties,” Chief Executive Officer Alessandro Bogliolo said in a statement.

In January, the company blamed a stronger dollar for weak tourist spending globally.

The company reaffirmed its financial forecasts for fiscal 2019 and expects a decline in per share profit in the first half of the year, due to the external factors.

In the reported quarter, comparable-store sales dropped 1 percent as demand for engagement and designer jewelry fell.

Tiffany’s net sales fell to $1.32 billion, while analysts on average were expecting sales of $1.33 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company’s net earnings rose to $204.5 million, or $1.67 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan.31, from $61.9 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier, when the company had higher provisions for income taxes.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Italy
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinal Palace, in Rome, Italy, March 22, 2019. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS

March 22, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Italy and China want to deepen their trade and investment ties, boosting infrastructure and maritime links, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday following talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Xi is set to sign a deal on Saturday that will see Italy become the first Group of Seven major industrialized nations to join China’s giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure project inspired by the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

“We want to strengthen the synergies between our respective development strategies to enhance cooperation in the infrastructure, port, logistics and maritime transport sectors in order to build a series of concrete projects along the Silk Road,” Xi said, speaking through a translator.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Philip Pullella)

Source: OANN

Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. trade negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement “will probably happen,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a television interview aired on Friday.

Asked about his previous remarks about U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods staying in place for a period of time, Trump also told Fox Business Network there was no snag in trade negotiations.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. trade negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement “will probably happen,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a television interview aired on Friday.

Asked about his previous remarks about U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods staying in place for a period of time, Trump also told Fox Business Network there was no snag in trade negotiations.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump salutes U.S. Army soldier as he observes military demonstration with Major General Piatt at Fort Drum, New York
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump salutes a U.S. Army soldier as he observes a military demonstration with U.S. Army Major General Walter “Walt” Piatt, the Commanding General of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, U.S., August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 22, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Defence Ministry on Friday accused its United States counterpart of deliberately seeking to hype up the threat from China and other nations to justify its own military expenditure, calling the move short-sighted and dangerous.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s $750-billion defense spending request to Congress is the largest ever in dollar terms, though not after being adjusted for inflation, and is meant to counter the growing strength of the Chinese and Russian militaries.

By comparison, China this month unveiled a hike of 7.5 percent in defense spending for the year, to 1.19 trillion yuan ($177 billion), though many experts and diplomats say the real figure is probably far higher. China denies that.

In a statement, China’s Defence Ministry reiterated its standard line about being committed to a peaceful path, and said the United States loved to talk up the “China threat theory”.

“We have noted that when the U.S. Defense Department is fighting for military spending, it always likes petty niggling, trying to get even more benefit for itself by exaggerating the threat posed by other countries,” it said.

“This is short-sighted and extremely dangerous,” it added.

It urged the United States to cast aside Cold War thinking, and take steps to promote the healthy and stable development of two-way ties between the two militaries.

The two countries frequently say they are committed to a sound military-to-military relationship, but their armed forces have seen some tense stand-offs in recent years, particularly in the disputed South China Sea, where the U.S. Navy conducts freedom of navigation patrols.

China is also deeply opposed to U.S. arms sales to self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its sacred territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

Responding to reports the Trump administration has approved the sales of more F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Friday said the government had already lodged “stern representations” with the United States.

“We urge the U.S. side to fully acknowledge the extreme sensitivity of the relevant issue, and extreme harmfulness of it,” he added.

The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will stop over in Hawaii next week at the end of a tour of the Pacific, to China’s anger.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

Paris Auto Show
The Daimler is seen during a press conference on the second press day of the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

March 22, 2019

By Kane Wu and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Daimler has asked Goldman Sachs to help it explore increasing its stake in Chinese carmaker BAIC Motor Corp, its main China joint venture partner, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

A deal would be only the second since the world’s biggest auto market relaxed foreign ownership rules last year.

Daimler’s rival BMW became the first to take advantage of the changes when it agreed in October to buy control of its venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd for 3.6 billion euros ($4.08 billion).

Caps on foreign ownership previously prevented overseas carmakers from controlling any Chinese maker or joint venture with foreign peers. Last year those limits were removed for firms making fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which will be followed in 2020 by the removal of limits on makers of commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses.

In 2022, the limits will be lifted on the wider car market. BMW’s deal with Brilliance China will only take effect then.

Daimler’s discussions with BAIC are at an early stage and its plan to increase the stake in BAIC’s Hong Kong-listed entity has not been finalised and could change later, cautioned the people, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.

Daimler holds 30.4 percent of BAIC’s Hong Kong-listed shares, representing a 9.55 percent overall stake in its Chinese partner, according to BAIC’s June 2018 interim report.

State-owned BAIC Group and steel giant Beijing Shougang owns 42.6 percent and 12.8 percent of BAIC through its non-tradable domestic shares, respectively.

It is not clear whether Daimler would seek a majority stake in BAIC, which has a current market capitalisation of $4.9 billion.

Daimler declined to comment on speculation about its partnerships. Beijing-based BAIC did not respond to a request for comments. Goldman declined to comment.

Daimler owns 49 percent in Beijing Benz Automotive Co, its main JV with BAIC, as well as a 3.93 percent stake in Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., a subsidiary of BAIC. It also has a smaller JV with new energy vehicle maker BYD.

It is also setting up a ride-hailing JV in China with Geely Group, Reuters reported in October. Geely bought a 9.69 percent stake in Daimler in early 2018 and demanded an alliance.

Daimler sold 653,000 cars in China last year, its biggest sales market in the world.

Two separate people with knowledge of the matter said Daimler would still like to raise its 49 percent stake in Beijing Benz Automotive. It held talks with BAIC last year but those petered out earlier this year, said one of them.

BAIC denied a Bloomberg report in early December that Daimler had raised the prospect of increasing its stake in Beijing Benz to at least 65 percent.

(Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong, and Yilei Sun in Beijing; Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Edward Taylor in Frankfurt; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Shu Zhang and Samuel Shen

SINGAPORE/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – On a cloudy March morning in Shanghai’s glitzy financial district of Lujiazui, Ye Lixia was knocking on the doors of potential clients, offering loans to bet on a surging stock market.

“We provide money to investors who need quick funding to capitalize on the market rally,” Ye told Reuters.

Ye, in her 30s and a general director at Bo Ying Asset Management, is one of the thousands of gray market lenders operating in the shadows of China’s colossal capital markets.

A stock market that shot up 25 percent in the last three months has revived the undercover margin lending business that was notoriously responsible for China’s 2015 boom-bust market volatility.

In defiance of warnings from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), shadow lenders pitch their business via cold telephone calls and social media advertisements, dangling the prospects of a reversal of fortune.

“In China, speculators adopt very aggressive trading strategies, gaming the rules… and pushing policy-makers’ tolerance to the limit,” said Stephen Huang, vice president of Shanghai See Truth Investment Management Co.

The Shanghai index’s swift recovery from last year’s heavy losses has been primarily driven by signs of an end to the long-running Sino-U.S. trade war.

Beijing’s efforts to lower the cost of lending in a slowing economy, and foreign investment inflows after the inclusion of Chinese A-shares in global equity benchmarks encouraged the rally.

Shenzhen’s start-up board ChiNext, traditionally a hotbed for speculation, has surged more than 30 percent this year.

In the official margin financing market, in which stock investors borrow money from brokerages, outstanding loans have jumped nearly 30 percent since the end of January to 911.6 billion yuan ($136.08 billion). That is just a third of the 2.27 trillion yuan record hit in June 2015.

But unofficial margin financing, in which small investors borrow from grey market lenders, is thriving.

Hui Ju Ying, a margin lending platform, lures clients with suggestions of “returns of 100 percent.” Another platform, www.zfpz.com, says: “young people shouldn’t resign to mediocrity; margin financing can change your fate.”

The CSRC said in late February that it was closely monitoring the situation. But regulators have so far taken a soft approach towards such lending.

“Last year, the government was talking about reducing leverage. Now, the government is talking about steadying leverage, which is good for us,” said Ye, whose company borrows money from banks and lends it to investors.

NO DEJA VU?

Managers at five margin lenders said they began aggressively marketing loans over the past few weeks to investors eager to make outsized stock market bets.

Such lending helped the Shanghai stock index double between 2014 and mid-2015, forcing the authorities to crack down on shadow lending and causing a 40 percent decline in stocks over six months.

Some of the lenders this time around are newcomers. Others are survivors of the last crackdown, emboldened by the belief that regulators, focused on enabling funding for struggling private firms, will look the other way.

“The loans we make are deals between us and investors and are none of brokerages’ business,” said Xiao Xiao, a saleswoman at shadow financing platform xianniuwang.com.

The financing has been a boon to risk takers like Zhang, who more than doubled his investment capital via shadow margin loans through leveraged bets on 5G-related China tech stocks.

With 50,000 yuan in hand, Zhang, who was willing to disclose only his family name, borrowed 500,000 yuan from a gray-market lender named Gu Zhang Gui six months ago. He has earned 56,000 yuan in net returns so far, he told Reuters.

Zhang pays a daily interest rate of 0.06 percent, which translates to an annualized cost of funding of 22 to 24 percent.

“Stocks are rallying so we investors are making money. And then we want to make even more money, so we are turning to those lenders who can leverage our funding,” he said.

Individual investors account for about 80 percent of total stock market turnover. Many are day-traders, frequently churning their holdings for quick returns.

Regular broker financing is regulated and limited at 1:1 leverage – the maximum amount they can borrow is equal to their principal. Shadow margin loans allow for a leverage of up to 10 times the capital the investor provides, and lenders do not dictate what stocks investors can buy.

“No qualification is needed,” said an executive who used to work for Beijing-based Yueda Investment, a gray-market lender. “Investors just come to our office to take a look and then we sign loan contracts.”

Operating in the shadows carries risks, he said, notably that they cannot use the courts to recover losses.

A director at another Shanghai-based margin lender said his company charges interest of 11.5 to 15.5 percent on money that cost them about 9.5 percent.

(For a graphic on ‘China margin lending rises sharply as market jumps’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2HD8Jqa)

BANK INVOLVEMENTTwo of the gray-market margin financiers interviewed by Reuters said their initial funding came from banks. Banks are prohibited from directly financing stock market investment but use complex product structures to bypass regulations.

Both declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. The names of banks lending to trust companies are never revealed on shadow margin loan contracts.

On March 15, the Taizhou branch of China’s banking watchdog fined two lenders for allowing bank money to flow illegally into the stock market. The Guangdong branch of the CSRC has banned brokerages from cooperating with shadow lenders.

That caused a 4 percent drop in China stocks, their worst day in five months.

Domestic brokerage Shenwan Hongyuan Securities estimated there were about 10,000 grey market lenders running 1-1.5 trillion yuan in margin financing in 2015. Volumes are much lower this time, which is why analysts expect regulators look away for a while longer.

“I think regulators want to see more active trading… Investors or speculators are all welcome,” said a senior manager at domestic brokerage Industrial Securities.

(Reporting By Shu Zhang in SINGAPORE and Samuel Shen in SHANGHAI; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

Japan Display Inc's logo is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo
Japan Display Inc’s logo is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

March 22, 2019

By Makiko Yamazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) – When Japan Display Inc broke ground on a new factory in central Japan in 2015, the future looked bright for one of the world’s top vendors of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.

The plant would strengthen the company’s position as the primary screen supplier for Apple Inc as sales of the iPhone 6 soared. And the U.S. smartphone juggernaut said it would front most of the $1.5 billion in costs, with Japan Display paying it back with a percentage of screen sales, according to two company sources.

Four years later, Apple’s shifting fortunes have brought Japan Display to its knees and threaten to end Japan’s long run as a leader in display technology.

A slowdown in iPhone sales, combined with a proliferation of new iPhone models – many of which use newer organic light-emitting displays (OLED) – have left Japan Display’s new factory running at half capacity.

But it still owes Apple a majority of the construction cost, one of the company sources said. He declined to give the exact amount.

Desperate for capital, Japan Display is looking to an investor group, led by China Silkroad Investment Capital, for a bailout, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. The deal would give the Chinese group a near-majority stake in exchange for an investment of $500 million to $700 million, the sources said.

The group plans to build an OLED panel plant in China using Japan Display’s technology, according to those two sources.

The company’s woes show how weak iPhone sales and a broader slowdown in the smartphone business are causing pain across the Asian electronics supply chain.

“In retrospect, the new plant was unnecessary,” one of the sources with direct knowledge of the bailout talks said. “But the decision wasn’t wrong back then. Japan Display started to pick up steam thanks to Apple at the time, and Apple wanted the new plant.”

Japan Display wasn’t alone in betting on robust growth in iPhone sales, which looked especially attractive because of Apple’s now-abandoned strategy of offering few variations in each product cycle.

“We were all thrilled to see lifetime sales of a single iPhone model reaching 100 million units,” a source at another Apple parts supplier said.

“Supplying components for just one model in massive volume is extremely cost-efficient,” he said. “At the same time, we exposed ourselves to huge volatility risks.”

Japan Display has built relationships with other smartphone vendors, including Chinese powerhouses Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO.

But it is losing their orders too as sales growth softens and the Chinese players switch to domestic panel makers such as BOE Technology and Tianma Microelectronics, which have sharply improved the quality of their screens.

Japan Display supplied almost a third of Huawei’s smartphone screens in 2015, but its share had plunged to 4 percent by the third quarter last year as the Chinese company turned to BOE and Tianma, according to researcher IHS Markit.

Sources at Japan Display and other Apple suppliers interviewed for the story declined to be identified as they are not authorised to talk to the media. Suppliers rarely speak about business with Apple on the record because of strict non-disclosure agreements.

NON-APPLE BUSINESSES

Japan Display was formed in 2012 in a government-backed merger of the ailing display units of Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd.

It boasts strength in so-called thin-film transistor technology (TFT), crucial for making high-resolution images on both LCD and OLED panels. In addition to its Apple business, which accounted for more than half the company’s revenue over the last four years, it’s a top supplier of dashboard panels for major automotive component companies such as Continental.

But Japan Display has struggled to navigate the fast-changing display business.

Its new LCD factory was still under construction when Apple informed Japan Display in autumn 2015 that it planned to move quickly away from LCD to the newer OLED technology, two former company officials said. It was too costly by then to abandon the half-completed plant, one of them said.

Japan Display’s management at the time, led by former Sanyo Electric executive Mitsuru Homma, promised to start mass-production of OLED panels by 2018.

In the meantime, the management shut down older, unprofitable LCD lines to shift resources to OLED, but its main investor, a state-backed fund, blocked plans for drastic job cuts for fear of public backlash, one of the former officials said.

Unexpectedly weak sales of the iPhone 6s created a cash crunch in 2016, and Homma resigned early the next year after the company took a $640 million bailout from the state-backed fund.

The new chief executive, Nobuhiro Higashiiriki, declared a full-on shift to OLED. But the company was already behind rivals, notably Samsung Electronics, and still needed more cash for OLED investment. Disappointing sales of the iPhone XR, the only LCD model in Apple’s 2018 lineup, were yet another blow.

“The company now looks exhausted, with many engineers leaving,” one former employee said.

Some board members have expressed concerns about technology transfer that may follow the proposed Chinese investment, sources familiar with the talks said. But the government investment fund has run out of patience.

“We don’t have any other option,” one of the company sources said, adding that the government has been quiet about the bailout plan. “They could argue that display technologies are not something Japan must keep and protect, when Chinese panel makers are ramping up more display plants.”

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida; Editing by Jonathan Weber)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun attends a launch ceremony of the new flagship phone Xiaomi Mi 9 in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun attends a launch ceremony of the new flagship phone Xiaomi Mi 9 in Beijing, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Smartphone retailers in China say it’s a tough sell of late with consumers reluctant to upgrade, put off by chill economic winds.

Even so domestic brands led by Huawei have made big strides, wooing consumers with top-notch hardware and innovative features as they move upmarket in the $500-$800 price range. The result: a loss of share in a key segment for Apple Inc and fresh price cuts for iPhones by Chinese retailers.

“Of those people who are upgrading, there are many switching from Apple to Chinese brands but very few switching from Chinese brands to Apple,” said Jiang Ning, who manages a Xiaomi store in the northern province of Shandong.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Xiaomi Corp, Oppo and Vivo once sought to grab share in the world’s biggest smartphone market with value-for-money devices, but consumer demand for better phones has prompted strategic rethinks.

“People are more attached to their phone than ever and have higher expectations for the function and experience it offers. The response has been constant upgrading of hardware specs,” Alen Wu, global vice president at Oppo, told Reuters.

He Fan, CEO of Huishoubao which buys and resells used phones, said he has seen a consumer shift to Huawei from Apple, driven by the Chinese love of selfies and emphasis on camera quality. Huawei has had a tie-up with German camera maker Leica since 2016.

“Huawei’s cameras have become noticeably better than Apple’s in that they suit the tastes of Chinese consumers more,” he said.

Compared to dual-cameras common in most smartphones, Huawei’s P20 Pro device boasts three rear-facing cameras, with the additional one improving zoom capabilities.

It is one of several new devices in its P20 and Mate 20 lines, which helped Huawei’s share of the $500-$800 segment in China surge to 26.6 percent last year from 8.8 percent, data from research firm Counterpoint shows.

Apple, by contrast, saw its share of the segment tumble to 54.6 percent from 81.2 percent, also hurt by its decision to move even further upmarket with the iPhone X series.

“Most Chinese smartphone buyers are not ready to shell out beyond $1,000 for a phone,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint. “This left a gap in the below-$800 segment, which Chinese vendors grabbed with both hands.”

(For a graphic on ‘Chinese smartphones increase share of home market’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2HvsyQi)

Shipments of phones priced above $600 in China grew 10 percent in 2018, data from research firm Canalys shows. By contrast, the overall market shrunk 14 percent, marking a second year of contraction.

OVERSEAS GAINS

The weaker cachet for Apple in China was underscored this month when several major retailers simultaneously cut iPhone prices for a second time this year.

A 64GB iPhone 8 sold at Suning.com Co Ltd now costs 3,899 yuan ($580), roughly 25 percent less than it did in December. That’s also lower than its $599 price tag in the United States, where iPhones typically cost less to buy than in China. Most iPhone models through to the iPhone 8 series have seen prices in China cut, albeit not equally.

In earnings too, it seems to be a tale of divergent fortunes. Apple’s October-December revenue from the Greater China region fell by about a quarter from a year earlier. Greater China currently accounts for 15.6 percent of its overall revenue.

Huawei, the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker, has estimated revenue for 2018 rose 21 percent, which analysts attribute in large part to robust smartphone sales.

More broadly, fewer sales for Apple means fewer customers for its App Store and media streaming services. The shift to higher-end phones by Chinese brands has also meant greater inroads in overseas markets.

Huawei’s shipments in Europe jumped 55 percent in the latest quarter and it now has 23.6 percent market share, according to Canalys. That’s not far behind Samsung Electronics and Apple which saw small declines in shipments.

OPPO, VIVO

If Huawei is taking the lion’s share of turf that Apple once had in China, Oppo and Vivo – brands owned by electronics hardware conglomerate BBK – are the newest threats.

In June, Vivo launched the Nex which starts from 3,898 yuan ($610) and in July, Oppo launched the Find X, priced at 4,999 yuan ($755).

The models mark the first time the brands have priced a phone above $600, a sharp departure from their roots selling $300-$500 models to young consumers in second-tier cities.

The devices came with features unavailable in the iPhone, including under-the-glass fingerprint sensors and “notchless” displays, both of which increase the size of usable screen.

Xiaomi too is going upmarket, announcing in January it would split off its low-budget Redmi range of phones into a sub-brand. In doing so, it is taking a leaf out of Huawei’s book which has for years sold cheaper devices under the Honor brand, helping differentiate its products.

Redmi will target international markets and e-commerce sales, while the flagship Xiaomi brand will target China and offline retail markets, company founder Lei Jun told reporters.

Last month, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 9, its latest flagship device with a price tag of 2,999 yuan ($450). But the company also said it might be the last time a Xiaomi flagship phone would be priced under 3,000 yuan.

“Xiaomi’s flagship series phones were once always set at 1,999 yuan,” said Lei. “This was a contributing factor to our rise, but it also became an obstacle to our growth,” he said.

(For a graphic on ‘Chinese smartphones increase share of home market’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hx2KD4)

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Paul Sandle in Barcelona and the Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Edwina Gibbs)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - A woman is reflected in a window behind Chinese and Hong Kong flags after celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO – A woman is reflected in a window behind Chinese and Hong Kong flags after celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong, China July 2, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone SiuTyrone Siu

March 22, 2019

By James Pomfret and Anne Marie Roantree

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The United States warned in a report on Friday that increased meddling from China in Hong Kong had adversely impacted the city, straining international business confidence in the Asian financial hub.

The U.S. State Department report cited incidents such as the expulsion of Financial Times editor Victor Mallet, the banning of a pro-independence political party, the jailing of young democracy activists and barring people from local elections.

The city is now also seeking to amend laws to allow individuals to be extradited to mainland China, despite grave human rights concerns toward Beijing.

“The tempo of mainland central government intervention in Hong Kong affairs – and actions by the Hong Kong government consistent with mainland direction – increased, accelerating negative trends seen in previous periods,” the U.S. State Department said in its 2019 report on the Hong Kong Policy Act.

“Growing political restrictions in Hong Kong may be straining the confidence of the international business community.”

The 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong policy act allows Washington to engage with Hong Kong as a non-sovereign entity distinct from China on matters of trade and economics.

The areas of special treatment for Hong Kong are fairly broad and now include visas, law enforcement including extraditions, and investment.

“Policies and practices of the mainland central government adversely impacted Hong Kong in multiple areas, and mainland pressure resulted in new constraints on Hong Kong’s political space,” the report said.

“In some particularly concerning instances, Hong Kong authorities took actions aligned with mainland priorities at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The continuation of the U.S. Congress enacted policy is predicated upon China and Hong Kong maintaining a so-called “one country, two systems” arrangement.

This mode of governance, that came into effect after Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, grants the city a high degree of autonomy, the rule of law and freedoms not allowed under the Communist China controlled mainland.

Some critics, including pro-independence activist Andy Chan, have called on the U.S. to review the viability of this act in future, given China’s tightening grip on the city’s freedoms.

Hong Kong, which has long acted as a leading re-export and entrepot hub for U.S.-China trade, has largely escaped the brunt of current U.S.-China trade tensions, given its special status as a separate customs entity.

Should the policy act be reviewed, however, the economic impact could be much larger, say observers.

In 2018, the United States’ largest worldwide bilateral trade-in-goods surplus was with Hong Kong, at $25.9 billion, the report noted.

The U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong Kurt Tong in February expressed concerns about Hong Kong’s autonomy, noting erosions to the “one-country, two systems” formula

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo
An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany.

March 22, 2019

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar largely held onto the previous session’s gains in early Asian trade on Friday, while sterling edged up on news that Britain could leave the European Union without a Brexit deal at a slightly later date.

Against a basket of key rival currencies, the dollar was about 0.1 percent lower at 96.394.

The index had recovered three-quarters of a percent overnight after falling to a more than six-week low on Wednesday on news the Federal Reserve had abandoned plans to raise rates this year.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday welcomed the European Union’s decision to delay Brexit, saying that lawmakers in the British parliament now had clear choices about what to do next.

Britain could leave the European Union without a Brexit deal on April 12 if lawmakers next week reject May’s agreement with Brussels, EU leaders said on Thursday.

They also gave the British leader an extra two months, until May 22, to leave if she wins next week’s vote in parliament.

Sterling rose one-sixth of a percent to $1.3126. It had retraced sharp losses overnight, when it touched as low as $1.3004.

“Whenever we get news of the can being kicked down the road, the market reacts positively,” said Bart Wakabayashi, Tokyo branch manager at State Street Bank.

“Investors are probably shying away from exposure to the UK right now in terms of positioning – probably going back to benchmark exposures and wait-and-see mode,” he said.

The Bank of England kept interest rates steady on Thursday and said most businesses felt as ready as they could be for a no-deal Brexit.

Figures on Friday showed Japan’s core consumer prices rose 0.7 percent in February from a year earlier, slowing from the previous month’s pace.

The data underlines the fragile nature of Japan’s economic recovery, as escalating U.S.-China trade frictions and slowing Chinese growth weigh on exports and business sentiment.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was a shade lower at 110.71 yen, staying well away from the 111-level last breached before the Fed’s rate announcement.

Three in four Japanese companies expect U.S.-China trade frictions to last until at least late 2019, a sharp contrast to market hopes that presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping might soon strike a deal, a Reuters poll found.

The euro was a tad lower at $1.1370, extending losses into a second session after dipping one-third of a percent overnight.

Data showing the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week had helped lift the dollar overnight.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks
FILE PHOTO: Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) sits on the court after getting fouled in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

LeBron James participated in about half of practice Thursday, and coach Luke Walton expects him to play Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, The Athletic reported.

With the Lakers managing the superstar’s minutes down the stretch, the superstar forward has sat out two of the past three games. He did not play in last Friday in the Lakers’ 111-97 loss at Detroit or Tuesday on Los Angeles’ 115-101 defeat at Milwaukee.

James did start and play 35 minutes Sunday in the Lakers’ 124-123 loss at New York, finishing with 33 points on 11-of-26 shooting with eight assists and six rebounds. His potential game-winning jumper was blocked by Knicks forward Mario Hezonja in the final seconds.

–Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was fined $50,000 by the NBA for shoving Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in a Wednesday game.

In its announcement, the NBA said the amount of Smart’s fine “was also based on his repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct during NBA games.” Smart drew a $35,000 fine earlier this season for an altercation with DeAndre’ Bembry of the Atlanta Hawks, and he has accrued $170,000 in fines during his five-year career, according to MassLive.com.

Smart drew his latest fine after shoving Embiid from behind, sending the 76ers center sprawling to the floor. The 25-year-old Smart was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected from the game after the incident, which occurred with 11:06 to go in the third quarter.

–Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant’s “adopted brother” and close friend Clifford Dixon was shot and killed outside of a metro Atlanta bar early Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Dixon, 32, was shot multiple times in a parking lot just after 1 a.m., police in Chamblee, Ga., confirmed. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A suspect fled the scene on foot, and no arrests were immediately made.

According to the Oklahoman, Durant’s mother, Wanda Durant, took Dixon into the family’s home when he was 16 years old. Dixon was one of the friends Durant thanked during an emotional speech after being named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season.

–Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. will have minor surgery on his left thumb and will miss the rest of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The recovery is expected to be four to six weeks, according to the report.

Oubre, 23, has been playing the best ball of his career after the Suns acquired him in December as part of the trade that sent Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards.

Oubre has averaged 16.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games with the Suns, building on his career average of 9.4 points and 3.7 rebounds over four seasons.

–The Suns reached a two-year deal with Jimmer Fredette, giving the former college phenom a second crack at the NBA, according to reports.

Fredette, 30, is awaiting clearance from his current team, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Fredette averaged 36.9 points per game this season for the Sharks, who were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday.

Fredette, a 6-foot-2 guard who was the all-time leading scorer in BYU and Mountain West Conference history, will be signed through the rest of this season, with a team option for 2019-2020. He was the unanimous national player of the year in college basketball in 2011 after shattering NCAA scoring records.

–The Minnesota Timberwolves announced they will be without forward Robert Covington and guards Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague for their final 11 games of the season.

Covington hasn’t played since Dec. 31 and recently experienced a setback in his recovery from a right knee bone bruise. Rose has missed the past four games because of a chip fracture and a loose body in his right elbow. Teague, having aggravated a left foot injury originally sustained in December, also has missed the past four games.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians stand in front of sale signs on a shopfront at a shopping district in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians stand in front of sale signs on a shopfront at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

March 22, 2019

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s core consumer prices rose 0.7 percent in February from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, slowing from the previous month’s pace and remaining distant from the central bank’s ambitious 2 percent target.

The price data underscores the fragile nature of Japan’s economic recovery, as escalating Sino-U.S. trade frictions and slowing Chinese growth weigh on exports and business sentiment.

The increase in the nationwide core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil products but excludes volatile fresh food costs, compared with a median market forecast of 0.8 percent. In January, annual core consumer inflation hit 0.8 percent.

An index the Bank of Japan focuses on – the so-called core-core CPI that strips away the effect of both volatile food and energy costs – rose 0.4 percent in February, unchanged from the previous month’s gain.

The BOJ faces a dilemma. Years of heavy money printing have dried up market liquidity and hurt commercial banks’ profits, stoking concerns over the rising risks of prolonged easing.

And yet, subdued inflation has left the BOJ well behind its U.S. and European counterparts in dialing back crisis-mode policies, and with a dearth of ammunition to battle an abrupt yen spike that could derail an export-driven economic recovery.

Some analysts say core consumer inflation may grind to a halt in coming months as recent oil price falls push down gas and electricity bills, which could put the BOJ under pressure to ramp up an already massive stimulus program.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A view of the city skyline from the Shanghai Financial Center building
FILE PHOTO: A view of the city skyline from the Shanghai Financial Center building, October 25, 2011. The world’s population will reach seven billion on October 31, 2011, according to projections by the United Nations. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 21, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Several Chinese regions, including the capital Beijing, saw birthrates decline again in 2018, the official China Daily reported, after a 2016 move to relax family planning controls failed to encourage couples to have more children.

Citing figures from local authorities, the newspaper said Beijing’s birthrate fell to 8.24 per 1,000 people, compared to 9.06 in the previous year. And in Shanghai, the birthrate dropped to 7.2 per 1,000, down from 8.1 in 2017.

The birthrate in the northeast rustbelt province of Liaoning, which has experienced a net population decline in recent years after an exodus of younger residents, fell to 6.39 per 1,000, down from 6.49 in 2017.

Alarmed by the rapid rate of aging in its population, China relaxed its controversial “one-child policy” in 2016, allowing all couples to have two children instead of just one.

But the policy change failed to reverse what demographers say is a long-term trend of falling birthrates, brought about by growing levels of prosperity along with concerns about the high costs of raising children.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of births last year reached 15.23 million, down 2 million compared to 2017, and the second consecutive annual decline.

China’s fast-ageing population was one of the major preoccupations during the annual session of China’s parliament earlier this month, with delegates calling for radical new measures to reverse the decline in new births.

Think tanks expect China’s population to peak at 1.4 billion in 2029 and then begin an “unstoppable” decline that could reduce the workforce by as many as 200 million people by the middle of the century.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

The GM logo is seen at the General Motors plant in Sao Jose dos Campos
The GM logo is seen at the General Motors plant in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Roosevelt Cassio

March 21, 2019

By David Shepardson and Paul Lienert

(Reuters) – General Motors Co will announce on Friday plans to invest $300 million in a suburban Detroit plant that builds electric and self-driving vehicles for Chevrolet and the automaker’s self-driving Cruise unit, two people familiar with the plans said on Thursday.

The largest U.S. automaker is expected to announce it plans to build a new electric compact vehicle for Chevy, said the people, who asked not to be identified.

GM executives also will formally endorse a revised North American free trade deal known as USMCA, the sources said.

GM declined to comment.

Company executives are expected to make the case that the new EV – originally considered for one of GM’s Chinese plants – is being built in the United States because of the new trade deal that is still awaiting approval by the U.S. Congress.

GM has come under harsh attacks from President Donald Trump over its decision to end production at its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant.

On Thursday, the company said company executives would be joined at the Orion plant by United Auto Workers union Vice President Terry Dittes and government officials to announce “a major new investment focused on the development of GM future technologies.” GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is expected to make the formal announcement, which could add hundreds of jobs.

The new Chevy vehicle is based on the same compact architecture as the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Cruise AV that are assembled in Orion.

The Orion Township plant is slated to begin building a new generation of electric and self-driving vehicles, using GM’s dedicated BEV3 architecture, but not until 2023, a third source said.

GM said a year ago it would invest $100 million to upgrade the Orion Township plant ahead of commercial production of the Cruise AV in late 2019.

Rival Ford Motor Co this week said it planned to expand its Flat Rock plant outside Detroit to add production of electric vehicles. Ford’s first self-driving vehicles will be assembled nearby at an as-yet-undisclosed location.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Parents in China have spent millions of dollars on application coaches to get their kids into premium U.S. colleges, according to an investigation by Foreign Policy.

Chinese parents have reportedly employed consultants to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into a choice school, using similar tactics to those of U.S. parents recently arrested in a highly-publicized college bribery scheme.

China represented the largest number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in 2018, with 340,000 enrolled, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (RELATED: Charity That allegedly Took Bribes To Get Millionaires Into College Claimed To Be About Helping The Underprivileged)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Hundreds of companies in China offer students application guidance, according to Foreign Policy. Hiring a coaching “agent” is common and can cost as much as $90,000, but this big price tag reportedly guarantees at least three acceptances into a “Top 60” school.

Paid agents suggest extracurricular activities and assist with SAT and ACT preparation. They also help applicants write their personal essay, a critical application component students struggle with because the American essay style is vastly different from Chinese written language.

For $29,800, another company named Bonday offers students pre-application advice, “soft-skills” training, and essay tailoring. They boast acceptances into Princeton and Harvard. Yingtai Education charges $14,900 for similar services, while a company called Jiazhou charges $7,150 for straight application preparation.

Most of the companies interviewed by Foreign Policy denied blatant essay ghostwriting, but some acknowledged that parents expect the counselors to write essays wholesale for the students.

“Unethical behavior is still pretty rampant,” Nina Suet, founder and CEO of Shang Learning. Suet told Foreign Policy that her company adheres to ethical standards on counseling students through the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

U.S. schools are weary of fraud, however, and several colleges have reportedly engaged third parties to verify that Chinese students match their applications in real life.

Follow Whitney on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Parents in China have spent millions of dollars on application coaches to get their kids into premium U.S. colleges, according to an investigation by Foreign Policy.

Chinese parents have reportedly employed consultants to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into a choice school, using similar tactics to those of U.S. parents recently arrested in a highly-publicized college bribery scheme.

China represented the largest number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in 2018, with 340,000 enrolled, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (RELATED: Charity That allegedly Took Bribes To Get Millionaires Into College Claimed To Be About Helping The Underprivileged)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Hundreds of companies in China offer students application guidance, according to Foreign Policy. Hiring a coaching “agent” is common and can cost as much as $90,000, but this big price tag reportedly guarantees at least three acceptances into a “Top 60” school.

Paid agents suggest extracurricular activities and assist with SAT and ACT preparation. They also help applicants write their personal essay, a critical application component students struggle with because the American essay style is vastly different from Chinese written language.

For $29,800, another company named Bonday offers students pre-application advice, “soft-skills” training, and essay tailoring. They boast acceptances into Princeton and Harvard. Yingtai Education charges $14,900 for similar services, while a company called Jiazhou charges $7,150 for straight application preparation.

Most of the companies interviewed by Foreign Policy denied blatant essay ghostwriting, but some acknowledged that parents expect the counselors to write essays wholesale for the students.

“Unethical behavior is still pretty rampant,” Nina Suet, founder and CEO of Shang Learning. Suet told Foreign Policy that her company adheres to ethical standards on counseling students through the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

U.S. schools are weary of fraud, however, and several colleges have reportedly engaged third parties to verify that Chinese students match their applications in real life.

Follow Whitney on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller


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