Archive for ‘China alert’

15/01/2019

Canadian’s death sentence in China ‘horrific’, family says

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (centre) listens during his retrial in Dalian's court. Photo: 14 January 2019Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionRobert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to jail last year but had his case suddenly reviewed

The family of a Canadian man who has been sentenced to death in China say their “worst fears” have been realised.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was given a 15-year jail term in November but, on Monday, a court said the sentence for drug smuggling was too lenient.

The ruling is likely to worsen a diplomatic row between the countries.

Last month, Canada arrested a top official at the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, on a request from the United States.

The detention of Ms Meng, 46, last month angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US.

Following Schellenberg’s death sentence, Canada has updated its travel advice for China, urging citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones said the death sentence was “a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation”.

“It is our worst case fear confirmed,” she added. “It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the ruling.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty,” he said in a statement.

China’s foreign ministry said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Mr Trudeau’s remarks, and said Canada should respect China’s sovereignty.

Schellenberg has 10 days to launch an appeal and his lawyer told Reuters news agency that he would probably do so.

What is Schellenberg’s case about?

The Canadian, who is believed to be 36, was arrested in 2014 and accused of planning to smuggle almost 500lb (227kg) of methamphetamine from China to Australia.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November but, following an appeal, a high court in the north-eastern city of Dalian on Monday sentenced him to death.

The Dalian Intermediate People's CourtImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe court in north-eastern China where Schellenberg’s case was reviewed

“I am not a drug smuggler. I came to China as a tourist,” Schellenberg said just before the verdict was announced, the AFP news agency reports.

China is believed to execute more people annually than any other country, but is highly secretive about the number.

Human rights group Amnesty International puts the figure in the thousands – more than the rest of the world’s nations put together.

A number of foreigners have been executed for drug-related offenses in the past, including British man Akmal Shaikh, who was executed in 2009 despite claims he was mentally ill, and an appeal for clemency from the UK prime minister.

What’s the bigger picture?

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated rapidly since the arrest of Ms Meng in Vancouver on 1 December.

She was granted bail by a Canadian court several days later but remains under constant surveillance and must wear an electronic ankle tag.

Ms Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, is accused in the US of using a subsidiary of the company called Skycom to evade sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014.

She denies any wrongdoing and says she will contest the allegations.

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. File photoImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMeng Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei’s founder

In the weeks that followed her arrest China detained two other Canadian citizens.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor face accusations of harming national security.

China has denied the detention of the two men is tied to Ms Meng’s arrest, but many analysts believe it is a tit-for-tat action.

Donald Clarke, a specialist in Chinese law at George Washington University, said that Schellenberg’s death sentence appeared to be “an unprecedented step in China’s diplomacy”.

“I have seen cases I considered unjust before, but I cannot recall a previous case that looked so clearly unconnected to the defendant’s guilt or innocence,” Prof Clarke told the BBC’s Chinese service.

China began working hard to push Schellenberg’s case to international prominence, taking the highly unusual step of inviting foreign journalists into the court, the BBC’s John Sudworth in Beijing reports.

And despite the Canadian’s insistence that he is innocent, his retrial lasted just a day, with his death sentence being announced barely an hour after its conclusion, our correspondent says.

An editorial in the nationalist state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Timeson Tuesday said “unreasonable speculation” in Western media linking his case to Ms Meng’s showed “rude contempt toward Chinese law”.

“The trial will also send the message that China won’t yield to outside pressure in implementing its law,” it said.

However, back in December, the editor of the Global Times warned that China would “definitely take retaliatory measures against Canada” if Ms Meng were not released.

Hu Xijin said in a video posted on the Global Times website: “If Canada extradites Meng to the US, China’s revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian.”

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15/01/2019

Two dead in separate stabbing sprees across China

  • Suspect in attack in Fujian province missing after jumping into river following attack on ex-wife’s boyfriend and group of pedestrians
  • Man detained on suspicion of carrying out fatal attack in Guangzhou province
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2019, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2019, 5:03pm

Two people have been killed and 27 injured in separate mass stabbings in China on Monday.

In the first incident one man died and 19 people were injured in Fuzhou, the capital of the southeastern province of Fujian.

According to Fuzhou News, a motorcyclist attacked a group of a pedestrians after getting into an argument with his former wife, a woman named Huang, and stabbing her new boyfriend.

The report named the suspect as a 48-year-old called Hou and said that he had confronted his former wife at her home in Jianxin town at around 8pm.

After stabbing the boyfriend the attacker then rode off on his motorbike, before attacking a group of people in the street.

Hou, who was divorced in November, was reported to be missing after jumping into the river.The report did not provide further details on the victims.

A witness told Beijing Youth Daily that while returning home around 9pm, she saw a man and a woman collapse with stab wounds on the city’s Pushang bridge.

“I thought he was a beggar so I did not give him much attention. Later, I saw a woman collapsing to the ground as well and people running away from the scene, urging others to run,” she told the reporter.

Another witness told local radio station FM987 that the attacker pulled his motorcycle over in front of a street stall selling shoes, said nothing and then stabbed the stall owner in the stomach.

He fled immediately on the motorcycle, and the crowd quickly called the police.

One woman was stabbed while she was standing at a crossroads and making a phone call was sent to the Jinshan branch of the Fujian Provincial Hospital.

“That man just came up to her and stabbed her all of a sudden, before fleeing,” the victim’s son told local media.

The second attack in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in the southern province of Guangdong, left one person dead and eight injured.

Police have arrested a man named Tan in connection with the attack and confirmed they were investigating the case.

Few details have been made available, but officers said they did not believe it was a terrorist attack.

One local resident posted on a WeChat group on Monday evening: “Everyone, please don’t go out. There is a psycho in Huaide area stabbing people randomly. He doesn’t just stab everyone but attacks suddenly.”

15/01/2019

Chinese premier urges efforts to keep growth within reasonable range

CHINA-BEIJING-LI KEQIANG-STATE COUNCIL-PLENARY MEETING (CN)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presides over a plenary meeting of the State Council, which discusses a draft version of the government work report and analyzes economic work in the first quarter of 2019, Jan. 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday called for efforts to ensure economic growth within a reasonable range.

Chairing a plenary meeting of the State Council, which discussed a draft version of the government work report and analyzed economic work in the first quarter of 2019, Li said the country faces a more complicated development environment this year, with growing challenges and downward pressure on the economy, creating arduous tasks for the government.

He urged efforts to strike a balance among stabilizing growth, promoting reforms, restructuring, improving people’s well-being and preventing risks.

The government will strive to innovate and improve its macro-regulation but not resort to massive economic stimulus, Li said.

He said the country will keep economic growth within a reasonable range through range-based, targeted and precise regulation, and resist downward pressure with market vitality unleashed by reform and opening-up.

The government will continue to improve the business environment, foster new momentums, improve weak links, expand the domestic market, and promote coordinated development among different industries and regions.

Efforts will be made to extend the country’s advantage of having sufficient maneuver room for economic development, improve people’s living standards, promote high-quality development, and lay a solid foundation for securing a victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, Li said.

He urged relevant authorities to better implement policies aimed at supporting enterprises and improving people’s livelihood, stabilize and boost market confidence, and strive for a good start to the economy in the first quarter to create conditions favorable to achieving major economic and social development targets set for 2019.

The country achieved its key economic and social targets in 2018, which Li said were “hard-won.”

The draft version of the government work report, which will be submitted for deliberation at the annual session of the National People’s Congress in March, will be distributed to provincial governments and central government departments to solicit opinions, according to a decision made at the meeting.

15/01/2019

China, UAE to cement bilateral cooperation, promote BRI

UAE-ABU DHABI-CHINA-YANG JIECHI-CROWN PRINCE-MEETING

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special representative Yang Jiechi (L), also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jan. 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)

ABU DHABI, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special representative Yang Jiechi here, and discussed means to further bilateral cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative.

The crown prince said that Xi’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year has upgraded the bilateral cooperation to a higher level.

He stressed that under the Belt and Road Initiative, the UAE is willing to implement, together with China, all the consensus between the leaderships of the two countries, enhance cooperation and coordination in international affairs, and boost the comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xi paid a visit to the UAE in July 2018, the first by a Chinese head of state in 29 years to the Arab state. The two sides agreed that both countries will strengthen their in-depth cooperation in various fields, and promote continuous development of bilateral ties.

Yang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, said his visit is to help implement the consensus reached during Xi’s historic visit.

“China will join hands with the UAE to maintain the momentum of frequent high-level visits and make China-UAE ties closer,” he said.

Yang highlighted that bilateral cooperation, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative, has been proceeding smoothly, and both sides will guarantee all the related coordination to realize more practical fruits and benefit the two countries’ people.

Meanwhile, the two sides also agreed on more work on anti-terrorism for mutual interests and regional stability.

Yang is now on his official visits to the UAE, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon scheduled from Jan. 13 to 19.

15/01/2019

China Focus: China, Finland vow to write new chapter in bilateral ties

CHINA-BEIJING-XI JINPING-FINNISH PRESIDENT-TALKS (CN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan (1st R) pose for a group photo with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (2nd L) and his wife Jenni Haukio in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 14, 2019. Xi held talks with Niinisto at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Before their talks, Xi held a welcome ceremony for Niinisto. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto agreed to work together to write a new chapter in bilateral ties during their talks on Monday.

Hailing that China and Finland have been committed to forging a future-oriented new-type of cooperative partnership in recent years, Xi said it is not only in line with both countries’ and people’s interests but also conducive to world peace, stability and prosperity that China and Finland enhance dialogue and cooperation.

The two countries need to adhere to mutual respect and trust, be open-minded and inclusive, respect each other’s development path and take each other’s core interests into consideration so as to promote the steady development of bilateral ties, Xi told Niinisto during the talks held at the Great Hall of the People.

Xi encouraged both countries to expand cooperation in new areas driven by innovation.

China appreciated Finland’s support to the Belt and Road Initiative, said Xi, adding that the country is ready to work with Finland to enhance Belt and Road cooperation.

He suggested the two countries make the best use of the China Railway Express and other facilities to boost two-way trade, conduct third-party cooperation, discuss opportunities for cooperation on the Arctic shipping routes and jointly build the Polar Silk Road.

Xi also called for enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges as the two presidents would jointly launch the 2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports in the hope of forging a model of winter sports cooperation.

The two countries need to jointly promote the reform on global governance, enhance cooperation on international affairs, push forward the establishment of the open world economy, safeguard the multilateral trading system, and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, Xi said.

Stressing that China has always supported the European integration, Xi said China hopes Europe will maintain unity, stability, openness and prosperity and play an active and constructive role in the international arena, calling on Finland to continue contributing to China-Europe ties.

On the Arctic affairs, Xi said China stands ready to work with Finland to enhance cooperation under the framework of the Arctic Council and boost the sustainable development in the Arctic region.

China will also maintain close contact with Nordic countries and the Nordic Council of Ministers to develop cooperation between China and Nordic countries, Xi said.

Hailing the rapid development of bilateral ties, Niinisto said that Finland speaks highly of China’s achievements, values China’s role in international affairs and cherishes its friendship with China.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Xi is very important, he said, adding that Finland is willing to play a positive role to better align this initiative with the European Union (EU) to promote the connectivity of the Eurasian continent.

During Niinisto’s visit to China, the two sides are scheduled to publish a joint action plan (2019-2023) on promoting the future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership between China and Finland.

Finland is ready to work with China to implement the action plan, strengthen pragmatic cooperation in areas including trade, innovation, environment, tourism, and Arctic affairs, boost people-to-people exchanges and cement cooperation on sports, particularly winter sports, Niinisto said.

It is important for the two countries to maintain close communication and coordination on international affairs under the current situation, he said, adding that Finland applauds China’s positive role in tackling climate change and safeguarding the multilateral trading system.

Finland will assume the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of this year. The country will take this as an opportunity to promote closer ties between the EU and China, Niinisto said.

After the talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements and attended the inaugural ceremony of the 2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports.

During the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, the People’s Republic of China made its debut at the Olympic Games, and for the first time China’s national flag was raised at the Olympic arena, Xi said.

There is huge potential for cooperation on winter sports between the two countries given the high complementarity, Xi said while addressing the inaugural ceremony.

“I believe the 2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports will boost the two countries’ sports cooperation, inject new vitality to people-to-people exchanges, and further advance the future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership between China and Finland,” Xi said.

Finland supports China in hosting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Niinisto said, adding that he is glad Finland will be the first country to launch the Year of Winter Sports with China and he believes this will further promote friendship between the two countries.

China is on its way of becoming a big power in winter sports and Finland is willing to lend a helping hand, Niinisto said.

Niinisto is paying a state visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday at the invitation of Xi.

14/01/2019

European shares in reverse after shock China data; luxury stocks fall

LONDON (Reuters) – China’s surprisingly weak trade data brought a four-day rally in European shares to a halt on Monday, with luxury goods and technology stocks leading the drop as investors fretted about slowing global growth and weaker-than-expected earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.6 percent at 0833 GMT, reversing some of last week’s gains which saw the index hit a one-month high. The market notched up four straight days of gains, its longest winning streak since November.

Luxury goods retailers, which rely on appetite for handbags and jewellery from China’s burgeoning middle class, bore the brunt of the selling.

LVMH (LVMH.PA), Hermes (HRMS.PA) and Gucci owner Kering (PRTP.PA) were among the biggest fallers in Paris, each down between 1.2 and 2 percent, while Moncler (MONC.MI) in Milan dropped 1.9 percent. On average, one third of the luxury sector is exposed to Chinese demand.

Danish jeweler Pandora (PNDORA.CO) slumped 7 percent to the bottom of the STOXX 600. Burberry (BRBY.L) bucked the trend, garnering strength from a BAML upgrade to neutral from underperform.

UK-listed miners .FTNMX1770, which are also exposed to the health of the world’s No. 2 economy, were down 0.7 percent.

Gloom across technology stocks .SX8P returned after chip designer and Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor (DLGS.DE) reported fourth-quarter results at the low end of its target range. The shares opened down 2.6 percent.

Around 75 percent of Dialog’s business is supplying power-management chips to Apple, which warned in November of slow year-end sales and on Jan. 3 issued its first sales warning in 12 years, blaming weaker iPhone sales in China.

Continental (CONG.DE) shares were down 0.8 percent after the auto parts supplier warned of deteriorating conditions in the car sector.

14/01/2019

Rare sight of robin in Beijing causes stir and Brexit jokes

Photo of robin spotted in BeijingImage copyrightTERRY TOWNSHEND
Image captionThis is the bird that caused masses to flock to Beijing Zoo

The rare appearance of a European robin in Beijing has caused a stir among Chinese nature fans.

Hundreds of bird-watching photographers flocked to the Beijing Zoo last Friday after word spread that a European robin had been spotted there.

The red-breasted bird is common across Europe but is rarely seen in Beijing – it’s only the third time one has been recorded in the capital.

Some birdwatchers have joked the robin might be a “Brexit refugee”.

“It’s very rare to see [the European robin] in Beijing,” Terry Townshend, founder of Birding Beijing told the BBC.

“Almost 200 photographers camped out for it. I think a lot of people want to [capture it] because it’s a very photogenic bird and it has that sort of exotic feel.”

Birds in odd places

Mr Townshend was among the 200 photographers who camped out at Beijing Zoo last Friday.

200 photographers camped outImage copyrightTERRY TOWNSHEND
Image captionHundreds of photographers camped out for a chance to catch the bird

He said he found out about the sighting through bird watching groups on WeChat – a messaging app in China.

“A lot of people associate the bird with Britain… [so] someone in the WeChat group called the bird a ‘Brexit refugee’ because [they joked that it was] escaping the political chaos in the UK,” said Mr Townshend.

“Then the name kind of just caught on really.”

It is not common for robins to migrate and it is unclear how this one might have landed so far away from home.

“It normally lives in Europe [and] Beijing is at least 1,500 miles of where it should normally be,” said Mr Townshend. “But it’s likely that this bird is from the eastern part of Europe and not Britain.”

European robin perched on branch in winter.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe European robin is, as its name suggests, normally only found in Europe

“We don’t really know why birds sometimes turn up in odd places, it might be related to weather, when they are migrating they could be blown by strong winds.”

However it got there, the European robin is expected to stay in Beijing for some weeks to come.

Mr Townshend said a robin would normally only leave for home at the end of winter.

“So we would expect it to stay in Beijing for the rest of winter and it would probably disappear in March.”

The European robin was in 2015 chosen as UK’s first national bird in a poll of more than 200,000 people.

14/01/2019

China to advance poverty alleviation in health care

BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — China will advance poverty alleviation in health care and ensure all medical institutions at county, township and village levels in impoverished areas reach set standards by 2020, according to the National Health Commission.

Hu Qiangqiang, a spokesperson for the commission, said Thursday that high-level hospitals in China will help their county-level counterparts in poor regions with talent building, and each township-level institution will have one general practitioner by 2020.

Telemedicine services will cover all township-level hospitals in poor regions. Screening of breast and cervical cancers for rural women and screening for newborns in poor areas will make further progress, Hu said.

Incentives will also be raised for medical professionals working at grassroots-level hospitals. Individuals who are impoverished by major or chronic diseases could be further compensated, Hu said.

14/01/2019

Beijing’s new airport to be surrounded by forest

BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — Beijing’s new international airport, which is set to be operational this year, will be an airport in the forest, district officials said Sunday.

The Beijing Daxing International Airport is located 46 km south of downtown Beijing. It sits at the junction of Beijing’s Daxing District and Langfang, a city in neighboring Hebei Province.

Forest will cover 17,866 hectares of surrounding areas of the new airport, officials said at the on-going Daxing district people’s congress.

Decoration work is under way for the interior of the hub. Highways leading to and out of the airport are under construction.

The airport is expected to handle 45 million passengers annually by 2021 and 72 million by 2025, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

The new airport is aimed at taking pressure off the overcrowded Beijing Capital International Airport in the northeastern suburbs, which handled over 100 million passengers last year, the world’s second busiest airport in passenger traffic.

China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines will be the main carriers at the new airport. Overseas airlines can choose which airport to use or operate in both airports, according to the CAAC.

14/01/2019

Economists upbeat about China’s economy

BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — China’s economy is expected to remain steady in 2019 as the country rolled out a raft of fiscal and monetary policies to support the economy, economists and experts have said.

“It takes time for policies to make actual effects on China’s economy after implementation,” Sheng Songcheng from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) was quoted by Securities Daily as saying.

Sheng forecast that the country’s economy will stabilize after the first quarter of 2019 and is likely to warm up in the second half of the year.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 6.7 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2018, above the government’s annual growth target of around 6.5 percent.

Sheng also said the growth of the M2, a broad measure of money supply, is expected to rebound in 2019 with the upgrade of investment structure, the acceleration of industrial transformation and upgrading, and the growth of services consumption.

PBOC data showed that M2 rose 8 percent year on year to 181.32 trillion yuan at the end of November 2018.

The M2 growth was flat with that registered in October 2018 and 1.1 percentage points lower than that of the same period a year earlier.

Zhu Baoliang, an economist with the State Information Center, said the structure, quality, and efficiency of China’s economy have made some progress and the financial risks have also been partly released.

To maintain stable economic growth, China may take measures such as further reducing taxes and fees, and expanding fiscal budget deficit, among others, some experts said.

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