søndag 25. august 2019

British PM Boris Johnson says he'll ask Donald Trump not to escalate the trade war with China at the G7 summit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters Saturday that he will ask US President Donald Trump not to escalate the trade war with China. Johnson made the statements after arriving for the G7 summit in the southwestern French city of Biarritz.

"Clearly the state of global trade, I'm very worried about the way it's going. The growth of protectionism, of tariffs, that we're seeing," Johnson said. "There are all sorts of people, who will take any excuse at all to interfere with free trade and to frustrate trade deals, and I don't want to see that."The dispute between the US and China accelerated Friday when Beijing announced a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods. Trump responded with a promise to raise the rates importers must pay on Chinese-made goods even higher. There are few signs either side will relent, even as they pursue a larger trade agreement.

When questioned by reporters on whether he would ask Trump not to escalate the trade war with China, Johnson responded "you bet."

Trump claims he has 'absolute right' to order US companies out of China under 1977 law

President Donald Trump claimed he has the "absolute right" to "order" US companies to stop doing business with China that would involve using his broad executive authority in a new and unprecedented way under a 1977 law.

On Friday, China unveiled a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods, the latest escalation in an on-going trade war that's putting a strain on the world's two largest economies. In response, Trump wrote on Twitter later Friday: "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China including bringing ...your companies HOME and making your products in the USA."

When leaving the White House for the G7 summit in France, Trump told reporters, "I have the absolute right to do that, but we'll see how it goes." He later explained that he was referring to the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and in a Friday tweet wrote: "For all of the Fake News Reporters that don't have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!"

Hong Kong protests: fears of clashes with triad gangsters loom in latest march

Hong Kong is braced for fresh demonstrations on Sunday in an area noted for its links to triad gangsters as the police revealed they arrested 29 people during clashes with protesters on Saturday night. Fears have been expressed among many local residents that Sunday’s march in the district of Tsuen Wan, which has a high proportion of low-income mainland migrants, will also end in violence. Many worry that pro-government gangsters might attack protesters and civilians again. Nearly two weeks ago a group of stick-wielding men wearing white shirts clashed with black-clad anti-government demonstrators and residents in Tsuen Wan, leaving several injured.

A peaceful march on Saturday descended into violence after police fired rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper balls and sponge rounds at thousands of protesters and beat a number of them as activists hurled suspected petrol bombs, bamboo rods and bricks back at police. The clashes took place at several districts on the Kowloon peninsula as protesters led police in a game of cat-and-mouse across the city.

lørdag 24. august 2019

Vietnam and America: foes on paper, friends out of necessity


«Almost the single worst abuser of everybody. This was how US President
Donald Trump described Vietnam’s approach to trade in an interview in June. His damning verdict was followed a few days later by an announcement from the US Department of Commerce that it would be imposing duties of up to 456 per cent on Vietnamese steel imports.


Hanoi has been seen as the biggest winner from Trump’s trade war with China, but is now also on the receiving end of a hardening approach from Washington. The change poses a big danger for Vietnam as the country is a trade-dependent economy and the US is its largest export market. Trump has also abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed agreement between 12 nations from which Vietnam stood to be one of the main winners. But despite these troubles, ties remain tight between the two former cold war foes as the two rediscover the importance of their relationship against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive China.

Hong Kong police ban Sunday march in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing citing public safety

Hong Kong police have banned a planned march in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing on Sunday, citing concerns over public safety. Instead, the force has approved a stationary rally in Tsuen Wan Park — the protest’s original endpoint.

Natalie Hong, superintendent at the New Territories South Regional Headquarters, said at a police regular press conference on Friday that the march was prohibited owing to concerns over public order, public safety, and protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Hong said the proposed demonstration at Kwai Fong South Bus Terminus was banned because it would affect traffic in the area and threaten the safety of the public, including protesters. She said Kwai Chung police station, Tsuen Wan police station and New Territories South Regional Police Headquarters, which appear along the march route, were previously besieged by protesters in July.

“We have reasons to believe if a rally and a march are approved, similar situations may occur again,” she said. Organisers of Sunday’s march are calling on attendees to reiterate the five demands of anti-extradition law protesters, as well as condemn alleged police misconduct and collusion with triads. Police have previously banned marches on weekends citing public safety concerns, but such efforts have failed with protesters taking to the streets nonetheless.

'I hereby order': Trump mocked for highly formal, meaningless decree


Leaning further into a burgeoning economic war with China of his own design, Donald Trump on Friday levied a series of bizarre demands of American companies who do business in the country. They included an order for American firms to cease production in China. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

The proclamation, which the president does not have the power to enforce, might have been expected to unleash a wave of panic and terror among America’s mostly capitalist citizenry – such state-mandated orders are, after all, the stuff of planned-economy communist countries. But instead, America’s Twitter-sphere resorted mainly to mocking Trump and his rhetorical flourishes. Soon “I hereby order” was taking on a life of its own: from top politicians down to the man-in-the-street Twitter inhabitant.


UK consulate worker detained in China is freed in Hong Kong, says family

A staff member at the British consulate in Hong Kong who was detained in mainland China has been released, his family said on Saturday, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks.

“Simon [Cheng] has returned to Hong Kong. Thanks to everyone for your support!” said an online message from Rescue Simon Cheng Facebook page run by his family and friends. It said Cheng and his family needed “time and space” to rest and recover and would not take any interviews for the moment.

“Simon is released. Simon is safe,” said Max Chung, organiser of a rally earlier this week to urge the British government to step up efforts to free Cheng. Simon Cheng, 28, a trade and investment officer for Scottish Development International, travelled to Shenzhen, a city that borders Hong Kong, on the morning of 8 August. He disappeared after sending messages to his girlfriend as he was about to cross back over the border at about 10pm.

Trump raises tariffs on Chinese goods as trade war escalates

President Donald Trump angrily escalated his trade fight with China on Friday, raising retaliatory tariffs and ordering American companies to consider alternatives to doing business there. He also blamed Jerome Powell, the man he appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve, for the state of the domestic economy, wondering who was a “bigger enemy” of the U.S. — Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Even by the turbulent standards of the Trump presidency, his actions, all done via Twitter, were notable, sending markets sharply lower and adding to a sense of uncertainty on the eve of his trip to France for a meeting of global economic powers.

Trump’s move came after Beijing announced Friday morning that it had raised taxes on U.S. products. He huddled with advisers, firing off tweets that attacked China and the Fed. And he mockingly attributed a Wall Street drop of 573 points to the withdrawal of a marginal candidate from the Democratic presidential race. The Dow Jones average eventually closed down 623 points.

The Latest: Trump defends ordering companies to leave China

President Donald Trump is pushing back against those questioning whether he has the authority to order American companies to cut trade ties with China. Trump on Friday morning tweeted that he “hereby ordered”U.S. companies to seek alternatives to doing business in China. The White House did not cite what authority the president could use to force private businesses to change their practices.

But at midnight, as he was flying to France, the president tweeted again, saying that those who “don’t have a clue” about presidential powers should look at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. He added, “Case closed!” The law says the president is authorized “to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency” if there is an “extraordinary threat” to the nation.

fredag 23. august 2019

African Countries Take Bold Step to Cancel Chinese Investment Projects


Some African countries are canceling Chinese development projects and licenses as governmentswake up to the potential risks of such deals. Over the past few years, the regime in Beijing has played a huge part in African development projects. At the same time, there have been concerns about how it carries out those projects, often luring African countries into so-called debt traps with the potential to put national assets at risk in the event of a default on repaying their loans.

On Aug. 2, the Financial Times reported that “the government of Sierra Leone has canceled and suspended the licenses of several mining projects, including the Tonkolili and Marampa iron ore mines.” Major companies operating in Sierra Leone include China’s Shandong Iron and Steel, which owns the Tonkolili iron ore project, and Gerald Group, which owns the Marampa mines.

Since he ascended to power last year, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has made considerable changes to the law and reviewed mining contracts to ensure the country benefits from its natural resources. In October 2018, Bio canceled another Chinese-funded project, construction of the Mamamah airport, at a cost of $400 million.


Authorities prepare contingency plans as protesters aim to return to Hong Kong airport on Saturday despite renewal of injunction against demonstrations

Transport officials and police have mapped out contingency plans to cope with any protest-related disruptions to traffic around Hong Kong’s airport on Saturday, as the court indefinitely extended an injunction to prevent further obstructions to one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs.

The anti-government protest movement has Hong Kong International Airport back in its sights this weekend, with protesters trying to skirt round the court order, which only covers roads within or near Chek Lap Kok island where the hub stands as well as airport buildings. They have floated plans to mainly jam road links not on the island as well as overcrowding trains and buses to the airport, which handles 800 flights a day.

Their plans sparked a warning from the government, which said civil unrest had already damaged the local economy.

Demonstrators offer sparkling visions of unity as human chains encircle city in ‘Hong Kong Way’

Anti-government protesters formed long human chains across Hong Kong on Friday night, standing on pavements in snaking lines that stretched along three railway lines in an unprecedented event they dubbed the “Hong Kong Way”.

They began at 7pm, flocking outside MTR stations and at other gathering points, from where they spread out over a couple of hours to stand side by side in human chains extending from Kennedy Town to Causeway Bay, from Kowloon Tong to Yau Ma Tei, along the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront, and from Tsuen Wan to Lai King, as well as further east along the Kwun Tong line. Others trekked up the slopes of Lion Rock, the city’s famous natural landmark, where they turned on their flashlights and used laser pointers to create a spectacular sight. “Hongkongers, add oil!” they chanted, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!”

Raftostiftelsen: — Tør universiteta ta i Tibet? Eller arrangere seminar om Tiananmen-massakren?


Universiteta må vise i praksis at dei støttar opp om den akademiske fridomen, ikkje berre prate om det, meiner Raftostiftelsen.

— Vi må hugse at Kina er ein autoritær stat som er i ferd med å bli endå meir autoritær. Den akademiske fridomen i Kina er blitt reversert dei siste åra. Då blir det endå viktigare for norske samarbeidspartnarar å vise at ein faktisk er uavhengig og truverdig når det gjeld å ivareta akademisk fridom, seier leiar Raftostiftelsen, Jostein Kobbeltvedt.
Den akademiske fridomen i Kina er blitt reversert dei siste åra
Jostein Kobbeltvedt, dagleg leiar av Raftostiftelsen.

Han meiner det ikkje blir gjort nok for å vise at den akademiske fridomen er reell i forskings- og utdanningssamarbeid med Kina.


'We must defend our city': A day in the life of a Hong Kong protester

It is noon on a muggy August day in Hong Kong. Patrick Wong*, 20, has just eaten a breakfast of instant noodles and vegetables with his parents at a nearby cha chaan teng, an old-school local diner. Now he is preparing for another long Sunday on the streets. He is packing a black T-shirt, a yellow helmet, and a pair of goggles that can withstand 0.22-calibre bullets. He hopes for a peaceful march, as organisers and protesters have planned, but he is preparing for the worst.

He stashes a bottle of saline solution to wash tear gas or pepper spray from his eyes. He has been hit by both in past protests. “We don’t know what could happen,” he says.

In June, Wong took part in mass demonstrations against a bill that would allow extradition to China. Like many other Hongkongers, he has been to every major rally since – at times on the front lines, facing off against riot police or further back, where he helps ferry supplies to the “fighters” at the front.

Hong Kong protests: YouTube takes down 200 channels spreading disinformation


YouTube has disabled 210 channels that appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The action by the Google-owned service came as Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and sow political discord in the city. “We disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Shane Huntley of Google’s security threat analysis group said in an online post.

“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.” Twitter and Facebook announced on Monday they had suspended nearly 1,000 active accounts linked to a coordinated influence campaign, while Twitter said it had shut down about 200,000 more before they could inflict any damage.

“These accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said, referring to the active accounts it shut down. Facebook said some of the posts from accounts it banned compared the protesters in Hong Kong with Islamic State group militants, branded them “cockroaches” and alleged they planned to kill people using slingshots.


East Timor’s China friendship won’t compromise its national interests: foreign minister


Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares tells sceptics of Dili’s ties with Beijing that it is not a ‘new, fragile country’ easily swayed by the largesse of others. The foreign minister, in an exclusive interview, says China is not a threat to others and neither are they a threat to China.

US$16 billion ‘hoax’: reports of Chinese loan for East Timor gas project were politically motivated, says foreign minister

East Timor wants to cooperate with China in the oil and gas industry, but reports that Dili would borrow US$16 billion from China’s Export-Import Bank to finance one such project were a “hoax”, the country’s Foreign Minister Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares declared. Reports of the loan were “blown up by politically motivated people around the region”, Soares said, adding that East Timor actually needs much less to tap some of its last remaining oil and gas resources in the offshore Greater Sunrise field.

How the Hong Kong protests inspire Macau’s youth – and teach their government to be wary

Youngsters from Macau are drawn to the demonstrations as their more conservative society lacks an avenue for them to express political views. The local government has also drawn its lessons from the movement, and is avoiding controversial measures that could cause unrest.