Archive for ‘Mike Pompeo’

29/05/2019

China looks to Russia, Central Asia for support amid tensions with US

  • President Xi Jinping will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month and address economic summit in St Petersburg
  • Diplomatic flurry will also include regional security forums in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Beijing is stepping up efforts to seek support from regional and global players such as Russia and Central Asian nations as its geostrategic rivalry with Washington heats up.

President Xi Jinping is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month, when he will also address the St Petersburg International Economic Summit,

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told state-run TASS news agency earlier.

The Chinese president will also visit the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June, as well as another regional security forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Wang Qishan is visiting Pakistan before he heads to the Netherlands and Germany, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
The latest flurry of diplomatic activity comes as competition between China and the US intensifies on several fronts including trade and technology, the South China Sea and the Arctic, where Beijing’s partnership with Moscow –

funding and building ports, berths and icebreakers off Russia’s shores

– has drawn criticism from Washington.

It will be Xi’s second time at the St Petersburg forum, and observers expect the Chinese leader will reaffirm Beijing’s commitment to multilateralism and promote the nation as a champion of openness and cooperation.
China-Russia ties unrivalled, Beijing warns before Pompeo meets Putin
It will also be his second meeting with Putin in two months, after talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in late April, when the Russian president

offered his support

for the controversial China-led infrastructure and investment initiative.

With China and Russia edging closer, the latest meeting is likely to see efforts to coordinate their strategies on a range of issues – including Venezuela, North Korea, nuclear weapons and arms control, according to observers. Xi has met Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013.

“This time it is very likely that the latest anti-China moves by the US, such as new tariffs and the Huawei ban, will feature prominently in their conversations,” said Artyom Lukin, an associate professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.

Lukin said Russia’s stagnating economy and sanctions imposed by the West limited its role as a substitute for the foreign markets and technologies China could lose access to because of the US crusade. But he said Putin would “provide political and moral support to Xi”.

“That is also significant as Russia has been withstanding intense US-led sanctions pressure for more than five years already,” Lukin said, referring to sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Xi and Putin are also expected to talk about Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido is attempting to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who has the support of China and Russia.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP

“Moscow and Beijing are not able to seriously hurt Washington by raising tariffs or denying access to high technology. However, there are plenty of areas where coordinated Sino-Russian policies can damage US interests in the short term or in the long run,” Lukin said. “For example, Moscow and Beijing could intensify their joint support for the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro, frustrating Washington’s efforts to dislodge him.”

China and Russia would also be seeking to boost economic ties. Bilateral trade, dominated by Chinese imports of gas and oil, reached US$108 billion last year – falling far short of the target set in 2011 by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, of US$200 billion by 2020.

China and Russia to forge stronger Eurasian economic ties

Li Lifan, an associate research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said bilateral trade was a sticking point. “This is one of the potential hindrances in China-Russia relations and Beijing is hoping to [address this] … in the face of a possible global economic slowdown,” Li said.

Given the escalating trade war with Washington, he said China would seek to diversify its investments and markets to other parts of the world, particularly Russia and Europe.

“China will step up its investment cooperation with Europe and Russia and focus more on multilateral investment,” Li said.

But Beijing was not expected to do anything to worsen tensions with Washington.

“China is currently taking a very cautious approach towards the US, trying to avoid heating up the confrontation and further aggravation of the situation,” said Danil Bochkov, a contributing author with the Russian International Affairs Council. “For China it is important to demonstrate that it has a reliable friend – Russia – but that should not be done in an openly provocative manner.”

Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, said Beijing and Moscow would also seek to contain US influence “as far as possible” from Central Asia, where China has increased its engagement through infrastructure building under the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Leaders from the region will gather in Bishkek next month for the SCO summit, a security bloc set up in 2001 that now comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Those members account for about 23 per cent of the world’s land mass, 45 per cent of its population, and 25 per cent of global GDP.

Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE
Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE

There is growing speculation that Xi will meet newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of that summit.

Independent analyst and author Namrata Goswami said India would be seeking a commitment to a WTO-led and rules-based multilateral trading system during the SCO talks.

“This is interesting and significant given the current US tendencies under President Donald Trump focused on ‘America first’ and the US-China trade war,” Goswami said.

Counterterrorism will again be a top priority at the SCO summit, amid concerns among member states about the rising number of Islamic State fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. Chinese scholars estimated last year that around 30,000 jihadists who had fought in Syria had gone back to their home countries, including China.

Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, said earlier that 5,000 fighters from a group affiliated with Isis had gathered in areas bordering former Soviet states in Central Asia, saying most of them had fought alongside Isis in Syria.

War-torn Afghanistan, which shares a border with four SCO member states – China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is also likely to be high on the agenda at the Bishkek summit.

“With the Trump administration drafting plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the SCO will assess the security situation there and decide whether to provide training for Afghan troops,” Li said.

Eva Seiwert, a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Berlin, expected the security bloc would also discuss Iran after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and ordered new sanctions against the country.

Iran, which has observer status with the SCO, was blocked from becoming a full member in 2008 because it was subject to UN sanctions at the time. But its membership application could again be up for discussion.

Iran presses China and Russia to save nuclear deal

“The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 made it easy for China and Russia to present themselves as the proponents of peaceful settlement of conflicts,” Seiwert said. “Discussing the possibility of admitting Iran as a full member state would help the SCO members demonstrate their support of multilateral and peaceful cooperation.

“This would be a strong signal to the US and enhance the SCO’s standing in the international community,” she said.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua
Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua

As well as security, Xi’s visit to Central Asia is also likely to focus on economic ties. Meeting Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Bishkek last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing would continue to “provide support and help national development and construction in Kyrgyzstan”.

Li said China may increase investment in the Central Asian region, especially in greenfield projects.

“China will continue to buy agriculture products from Central Asia, such as cherries from Uzbekistan, and build hydropower projects to meet local energy demand,” Li said. “Investment in solar and wind energy projects is also expected to increase too.”

Source: SCMP

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05/05/2019

China putting minority Muslims in ‘concentration camps,’ U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States accused China on Friday of putting well more than a million minority Muslims in “concentration camps,” in some of the strongest U.S. condemnation to date of what it calls Beijing’s mass detention of mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups.

The comments by Randall Schriver, who leads Asia policy at the U.S. Defense Department, are likely to increase tension with Beijing, which is sensitive to international criticism and describes the sites as vocational education training centres aimed at stemming the threat of Islamic extremism.

Former detainees have described to Reuters being tortured during interrogation at the camps, living in crowded cells and being subjected to a brutal daily regimen of party indoctrination that drove some people to suicide.

Some of the sprawling facilities are ringed with razor wire and watch towers.

“The (Chinese) Communist Party is using the security forces for mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps,” Schriver told a Pentagon briefing during a broader discussion about China’s military, estimating that the number of detained Muslims could be “closer to 3 million citizens.”

When asked by a reporter why he used the term, Schriver said that it was justified “given what we understand to be the magnitude of the detention, at least a million but likely closer to 3 million citizens out of a population of about 10 million.””So a very significant portion of the population, (given) what’s happening there, what the goals are of the Chinese government and their own public comments make that a very, I think, appropriate description,” he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday used the term re-education camps to describe the sites and said Chinese activity was “reminiscent of the 1930s.”
The U.S. government has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, a vast region bordering central Asia that is home to millions of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities. China has warned that it would retaliate “in proportion” against any U.S. sanctions.
The governor of Xinjiang in March directly dismissed comparisons to concentration camps, saying they were “the same as boarding schools.”
U.S. officials have said China has made criminal many aspects of religious practice and culture in Xinjiang, including punishment for teaching Muslim texts to children and bans on parents giving their children Uighur names.
Academics and journalists have documented grid-style police checkpoints across Xinjiang and mass DNA collection, and human rights advocates have decried martial law-type conditions there.
Source: Reuters
16/04/2019

China urges U.S. not to make trouble over China-LatAm ties

BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhua) — China on Monday urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to stop stirring up troubles between China and Latin America.

Pompeo has reportedly made unfriendly remarks on China and China-Latin America relations during a visit to Chile and other Latin American countries.

“It’s utterly irresponsible and unreasonable for U.S. Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo to recklessly slander China and wilfully stir up troubles over China-Latin America relations. We are strongly opposed to this,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang told a press briefing.

Cooperation between China and Latin American countries, guided by principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, focuses on common development and has made significant contributions to the economic growth and improvement of people’s well-being in Latin American countries, Lu said.

For a long time, the United States has regarded Latin America as its own “backyard” and has frequently pressured, threatened and even overthrown other regimes, he added. “We believe Latin American countries will make the correct judgment about who is a real friend and who is a fake one, and about who disregards rules and spreads disorder.”

The spokesperson also pointed out that for a long time, a number of U.S. politicians had maligned China, fanning up flames worldwide and driving a wedge between China and other countries.

Calling such actions “disgraceful,” Lu stressed that lies will always be lies and that “Mr. Pompeo should stop making them.”

Source: Xinhua

06/03/2019

Huawei: The story of a controversial company

The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa is a shiny spaceship-like structure that glistens in the afternoon sun.

With its accompanying skyscraper, it stands out in the Ethiopian capital.

Greetings in Mandarin welcome visitors as they enter the lifts, and the plastic palm trees bear the logos of the China Development Bank.

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

 

Everywhere, there are small indications that the building was made possible through Chinese financial aid.

In 2006, Beijing pledged $200m to build the headquarters. Completed in 2012, everything was custom-built by the Chinese – including a state-of-the-art computer system.

For several years, the building stood as a proud testament to ever-closer ties between China and Africa. Trade has rocketed over the past two decades, growing by about 20% a year, according to international consultancy McKinsey. China is Africa’s largest economic partner.

But in January 2018, French newspaper Le Monde Afrique dropped a bombshell.

It reported that the AU’s computer system had been compromised.

The newspaper, citing multiple sources, said that for five years, between the hours of midnight and 0200, data from the AU’s servers was transferred more than 8,000km away – to servers in Shanghai.

This had allegedly continued for 1,825 days in a row.

Le Monde Afrique reported that it had come to light in 2017, when a conscientious scientist working for the AU recorded an unusually high amount of computer activity on its servers during hours when the offices would have been deserted.

It was also reported that microphones and listening devices had been discovered in the walls and desks of the building, following a sweep for bugs.

The reaction was swift.

Both AU and Chinese officials publicly condemned the report as false and sensationalist – an attempt by the Western media to damage relations between a more assertive China and an increasingly independent Africa.

But Le Monde Afrique said that AU officials had privately expressed concerns about just how dependent they were on Chinese aid – and what the consequences of that could be.

In the midst of all of this, one fact remained largely unreported.

The main supplier of information and communication technology systems to the AU headquarters was China’s best-known telecoms equipment company – Huawei.

The company says it had “nothing” to do with any alleged breach.

Huawei “served as the key ICT provider inside the AU’s headquarters”, said Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a review of the alleged incident.

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

“This doesn’t mean the company was complicit in any theft of data. But… it’s hard to see how – given Huawei’s role in providing equipment and key ICT services to the AU building and specifically to the AU’s data centre – the company could have remained completely unaware of the apparent theft of large amounts of data, every day, for five years.”

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei’s telecoms network equipment was ever used by the Chinese government – or anyone else – to gain access to the data of their customers.

Indeed, no-one has ever gone on record to confirm that the AU system was compromised in the first place.

But these reports played into years of suspicions about Huawei – that a large Chinese company might find itself unduly influenced by the Chinese government.

Ren and the rise of Huawei

“When I first started out 30 years ago… we didn’t really have any telephones. The only phones we had were those hand-cranked phones that you see in old World War II films. We were pretty undeveloped then.”

Huawei’s founder and chairman Ren Zhengfei is reminiscing to the BBC about the origins of the world’s second-biggest smartphone firm, while sitting in the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen – a symbol of the success that he’s worked his whole lifetime for.

A long marbled staircase, covered in plush red carpet, greets you as you first walk in.

At the top of the stairs, a giant painting depicts a traditional Chinese New Year scene.

Inside Huawei's Shenzhen HQ

Inside Huawei’s Shenzhen HQ

A few kilometres away in Dongguan, Huawei’s latest campus is even more eye-catching.

The site – designed to accommodate the company’s 25,000 R&D staff – comprises 12 “villages”, each of which recreates the architecture of a different European city, among them Paris, Bologna and Granada.

It’s as if Silicon Valley had been re-imagined by Walt Disney. Long corridors of Roman pillars and picturesque French cafes adorn the campus, with a train connecting the different areas, running through manicured gardens and past an artificial lake.

It’s a world away from the environment that Mr Ren found himself in when he first started the company in 1987. “I founded Huawei when China began to implement its reform and opening up policy,” he says. “At that time, China was shifting from a planned economy to a market economy. Not only people like myself, but even the most senior government officials, did not have the vaguest idea of what a market economy was. It seemed it was hard to survive.”

Ren was born in 1944 in Southern China – a tumultuous, chaotic place, one of the poorest regions in an already destitute country.

For a long time, hardship was all he ever knew.

He was from a family of seven children. “They were very poor,” says David De Cremer, who has co-written a book on Ren and Huawei.

“I think hardship is something that you can see throughout his life, and which he keeps emphasising himself.”

To escape that life of poverty and drudgery, Ren did what many young Chinese men of that era did. He joined the army.

Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army, 1972

Soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army, 1972

“I was a very low-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army,” he says. “I served in an ordinary construction project, not a field unit. At the time, I was a technician of a company in the military, and then I became an engineer.”

He left the military in 1983 when China began to downsize its forces, and went into the electronics business.

By his own admission, he wasn’t a great businessman at first.

“I was someone who had been in the military all my life at the time, used to doing what I was told,” he says. “Suddenly, I began to work in a market economy. I was at a total loss. So I too suffered losses, I too was deceived, and I was cheated.”

But he was quick to learn, and was a keen student of Western business practices and European history.

“I did research on what exactly a market economy was all about,” he says. “I read books on laws, including those about European and US laws. At that time, there were very few books on Chinese laws, and I had to read those on European and US laws.”

Five years later, he founded Huawei – the name can be translated as “splendid achievement” or “China is able” – to sell simple telecoms equipment to the rural Chinese market. Within a few years, Huawei was developing and producing the equipment itself.

Sometime in the early 90s, Huawei won a government contract to provide telecoms equipment for the People’s Liberation Army.

By 1995, the company was generating sales of around US$220,000, mainly from selling to the rural market.

The following year Huawei was given the status of a Chinese “national champion”. In practice, this meant the government closed the market to foreign competition.

At a time when China’s economy was growing by an average of 10% per year, this was no small advantage. But it was only when Huawei started to expand overseas in 2000, that it really saw its sales soar.

In 2002, Huawei made US$552m from its international market sales. By 2005 its international market contracts exceeded its domestic business for the first time.

Ren’s early days in business instilled in him a desire to protect his company from the whims and fancies of the stock market. Huawei is privately held and employee-owned. This gave Ren the power to plough more money back into research and development. Each year, Huawei spends US$20bn on R&D – one of the biggest such budgets in the world.

“Publicly listed companies have to pay a lot of attention to their balance sheets,” he says. “They can’t invest too much, otherwise profits will drop and so will their share prices. At Huawei, we fight for our ideals. We know that if we fertilise our ‘soil’ it will become more bountiful. That’s how we’ve managed to pull ahead and succeed.”

One story from the early days of the company tells how Ren was cooking for his staff (he loves to cook, or so the story goes). Suddenly he rushed out of the kitchen and announced to the room: “Huawei will be a top three player in the global communications market 20 years from now!”

And that’s exactly what happened. In fact, those ambitions were surpassed.

Today, Huawei is the world’s biggest seller of network telecommunications equipment.

From aspiring to be a company like Apple, it now sells more smartphones than Apple.

But shadows have continued to loom over Huawei’s international success.

Ren and Huawei’s links to the Chinese Communist Party have raised suspicions that the company owes its meteoric rise to its powerful political connections in China. The US has accused Huawei of being a tool of the Chinese government.

It’s an accusation which Ren denies. “Please don’t think that Huawei has become what it is today because we have special connections,” he says. “Even 100% state-owned companies have failed. Do good connections mean you will succeed then? Huawei’s success is still very much due to our hard work.”

The case against

It was 1 December 2018. US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping were dining on grilled sirloin followed by caramel rolled pancakes at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

They had a lot to discuss. The US and China were in the middle of a trade war – imposing tariffs on each other’s goods – and growth forecasts for both countries had recently been cut as a result. This was adding to the fear of a slowing global economy.

In the event, the two leaders agreed a truce in the trade war, with Donald Trump tweeting that “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!”

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

But thousands of kilometres north in Canada, an arrest was taking place that would throw doubt on this rapprochement.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and Ren Zhengfei’s eldest daughter, had been detained by Canadian officials while transferring between flights at Vancouver airport.

The arrest had come at the request of the US, who accused her of breaking sanctions against Iran.

“When she was detained, as her father, my heart broke,” says Ren, visibly emotional. “How could I watch my child suffer like this? But what happened, has happened. We can only depend on the law to solve this problem.”

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Huawei’s problems were just beginning. Nearly two months later, the US Department of Justice filed two indictments against Huawei and Ms Meng.

Under the first indictment, Huawei and Ms Meng were charged with misleading banks and the US government about their business in Iran.

The second indictment – against Huawei – involved criminal charges including obstruction of justice and the attempted theft of trade secrets.

Both Huawei and Ms Meng deny the charges.

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

The charge of stealing trade secrets centres on a robotic tool – developed by T-Mobile – known as Tappy.

According to legal documents, Huawei had tried to buy Tappy, a device which mimicked human fingers by tapping mobile phone screens rapidly to test responsiveness.

T-Mobile was in partnership with Huawei at the time, but it rebuffed the Chinese firm’s offers, fearing it would use the technology to make phones for T-Mobile’s competitors.

It’s alleged that one of Huawei’s US employees then smuggled Tappy’s robotic arm into his satchel so that he could send its details to colleagues in China.

After the alleged theft was discovered, the Huawei employee claimed that the arm had mistakenly fallen into his bag.

Huawei claimed that the employee had been acting alone, and the case was settled out of court in 2014. But the latest case is built on email trails between managers in China and the company’s US employees, linking Huawei management to the alleged theft.

The indictment also details evidence of a bonus scheme from 2013, offering Huawei employees financial rewards for stealing confidential information from competitors.

Huawei has denied any such scheme exists.

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

This is not the first time that Huawei has been accused of stealing trade secrets. Over the years companies like Cisco, Nortel and Motorola have all pointed the finger at the Chinese firm.

But US fears about Huawei are about much more than industrial espionage. For more than a decade, the US government has seen the company as little more than an arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

These concerns have been brought to the fore with the advent of “fifth generation” or 5G mobile internet, which promises download speeds 10 or 20 times faster than at present, and much greater connectivity between devices.

As the world’s biggest telecoms infrastructure provider, Huawei is one of the companies best placed to build new 5G networks. But the US has warned its intelligence partners that awarding contracts to Huawei would be tantamount to allowing the Chinese spy on them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently cautioned against Huawei, saying, “If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The UK, Germany and Canada are reviewing whether Huawei’s products pose a security threat.

Australia went a step further last year, and banned equipment suppliers “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”.

Huawei was not mentioned by name, but Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says the company posed a national security risk because of its government links.

She cites an article in Chinese law that makes it impossible for any company to refuse to help the Chinese Communist Party in intelligence gathering.

“Admittedly, what is missing from this debate is the smoking gun,” she says.

“For the average person who has a Huawei smartphone it’s not a big deal. But if you’re a Western government that has key national security to protect – why would you allow this access to a company that is in the political system that China is in?”

For his part, Ren says that Huawei’s resources have never and would never be used to spy for the Chinese government.

“The Chinese government has clearly said that it won’t ask companies to install backdoors,” he says. A “backdoor” is a term used to describe a secret entry point in software or a computer system that gives access to the person or entity who installed it to the inner workings of the system.

“Huawei will not do it either,” he continues. “Our sales revenues are now hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not going to risk the disgust of our country and our customers all over the world because of something like that. We will lose all our business. I’m not going to take that risk.”

Xi’s China

Zhou Daiqi is Huawei’s chief ethics and compliance officer.

He’s been with the company for nearly 25 years, in a number of different positions – chief engineer, director of the hardware department, head of the research centre in Xi’an, according to his biography on the company’s website. He is also understood to combine his high-ranking executive duties with another role – party secretary of Huawei’s Communist Party committee.

All companies in China are required by law to have a Communist Party committee.

Zhou Daiqi's profile on Huawei's website

Zhou Daiqi’s profile on Huawei’s website

The official line is that they exist to ensure that employees uphold the country’s moral and social values. Representatives of the committee are also often tasked with helping workers with financial problems.

But critics of China’s one-party system argue that they allow the state to exert control on corporate China. And they say the level of this control has increased in recent years.

“[President] Xi Jinping is exerting greater control over the business community in China,” says Elliott Zaagman, who regularly advises Chinese companies on their PR strategy. “As these companies gain power and influence overseas, the party doesn’t want to lose control over them.”

Ren, however, argues that the role of Huawei’s Communist Party committee is far less important than many in the West believe.

“[It] serves only to educate its employees,” he says. “It is not involved in any business decisions.”

In China, most chief executives are Communist Party members.

Every year, they dutifully turn up to the National People’s Congress along with local and national party chiefs, officials and chief executives.

It’s where the big economic decisions are voted on – although no proposal is put forward which hasn’t already been agreed upon.

Still, big CEOs come to show their commitment to the party, and to contribute to working papers that are meant to help the government understand the concerns of the business community.

Being a member of the party is very much a networking opportunity – in the way one would join a business association.

Elliott Zaagman argues that this is a system that demands loyalty.

“There is no separation from the party and the state,” he says.

“The system in China encourages the lack of transparency in companies like Huawei.”

The worry is that these close links mean that if the Communist Party asked a company to do something, they would have no choice but to comply.

And if that company is one that is involved in sensitive global telecoms infrastructure projects, it’s easy to see why Western observers would be worried.

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei is in any way under the orders of the Chinese government, or that Beijing has any plans to dictate business plans and strategy at Huawei – particularly when it comes to spying.

But the way in which the Chinese Communist Party has robustly defended Huawei has raised questions about how independent the company is of its influence.

For example, Beijing stated that Ms Meng’s detention was a rights abuse .

And while her extradition case to the US was moving forward, China detained two Canadian citizens and accused them of stealing state secrets. Critics say the detentions are linked to Ms Meng’s arrest.

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada's embassy in Beijing

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada’s embassy in Beijing

While not commenting on the arrest of the Canadians, Ren says China’s defence of Huawei is understandable.

“It is the Chinese government’s duty to protect its people,” he says. “If the US attempts to gain competitive edge by undermining China’s most outstanding hi-tech talent, then it is understandable if the Chinese government, in turn, protects its hi-tech companies.”

Over the past few years, there have been signs of a bigger push by the government to get private companies, and in particular tech firms, to cooperate with party rules – even when they are firmly resistant.

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing’s troubles are an example of the struggles Chinese firms face when they try to uphold their independence in the face of government pressure.

Chinese attitudes to data collection and data privacy are different to those in the West – many people don’t care if businesses have access to their data, arguing that it adds to the convenience of life and work.

Government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside of China assume it to be

Samm Sacks, CSIS

So it wasn’t unusual when, after the murders of two of its passengers by Didi drivers, regulators used the scandal to force Didi to share more corporate data with the government. But Didi resisted – citing customer privacy. Under Chinese law, it had no choice but to comply.

When it did, it handed over “three boxes of data printed on paper, including 95 hard copies for authorities to review”.

According to Samm Sacks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the case demonstrates that “government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside China assume it to be”.

She says this indicates that there appears to be “a kind of tug of war between the government and companies over data”.

How this plays out will determine how Chinese companies are viewed by foreign governments when they do business overseas.

Companies like Huawei have grown up in a system where to survive and thrive they needed strong links to the Chinese government – there was and is no other choice. But these links could harm their reputation abroad.

“It’s two different systems,” says Zaagman. “Think of it like an electrical outlet. China’s plug doesn’t fit in to the outlets we have in the West.”

What’s at stake

“Basically you want to connect to everything that can be connected.”

Zhu Peiying, head of Huawei’s 5G wireless labs, is showing off devices that can connect to the new technology. From a smart toothbrush that collects data about how well you brush your teeth, to a smart cup that reminds you when you should drink some water, this is a world where everything you can think of is being measured and analysed.

At its most sophisticated, everything in entire cities would be connected – driverless cars, the temperature of buildings, the speed of public transport – the list is endless.

Huawei is thought to be a year ahead of its competitors in terms of its technological expertise and what it can offer customers, according to industry sources.

It’s also thought that the company can offer prices that are about 10% cheaper than its competitors, although critics claim this is because of state support.

Ren dismisses this, saying that Huawei doesn’t receive government subsidies.

He says the real reason behind the US resistance to Huawei is its superior technology.

“There’s no way the US can crush us,” he says. “The world needs Huawei because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily we could just scale things down a bit.”

Many analysts say that Huawei’s exclusion from US networks could actually cause the US to fall behind in its 5G capabilities.

“It would mean we wouldn’t be able to participate in any blended network [using Huawei] in Europe or Asia,” says Samm Sacks of CSIS. “That would put us at a significant disadvantage.”

What this would mean in reality is a world of two internets – or what analysts are calling a “digital iron curtain” – dividing the world into parts that do business with Chinese companies like Huawei, and those that don’t.

Because of US pressure on its allies, Huawei has been on an aggressive public relations campaign to win over customers and government stakeholders.

In recent days, Vodafone’s boss Nick Read called on the US to share any evidence it has about Huawei, while Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, said in a tweet that he had met with Huawei’s rotating CEO to discuss the importance of being open and transparent, as they explored ways of working together.

But suspicions about Huawei remain.

One security firm reports a sharp rise in inquiries by Asian government clients about Huawei.

“Some have asked us how much they should worry about whether Huawei is really a liability,” says an analyst who consults to Asian governments, on condition of anonymity.

Ren is sanguine about such concerns.

“For countries who believe in them [suspicions about Huawei] we will hold off,” he says. “For countries who feel Huawei is trustworthy, we may move a little faster. The world is so big. We can’t walk across every corner of it.”

But this is about more than just one company or one CEO and his family.

Increasingly, this is perceived as a battle between two world orders, and which one is the future.

In the early days of China opening up, US presidents like George HW Bush espoused the merits of engagement.

“No nation on Earth has discovered a way to import the world’s goods and services while stopping foreign ideas at the border,” he said in a 1991 speech. “Just as the democratic idea has transformed nations on every continent, so, too, change will inevitably come to China.”

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing - he encouraged economic engagement with China

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing – he encouraged economic engagement with China

Previous US administrations believed that economic engagement in China would lead to China following a freer, more “liberal” path.

There’s no denying China has made remarkable strides in the past 40 years. The economy grew by an annual average of 10% for three decades, helping to lift 800 million people out of poverty. It is now the second-largest economy in the world, only surpassed by the US.

Some estimates put China’s economy ahead of America’s by 2030.

It achieved this while maintaining one-party rule and the supremacy of the Communist Party.

But its success has raised concerns that it is only possible with a huge amount of government control over the country’s companies. The fear is that control could be used to achieve the Communist Party’s goals – which are at this point unclear.

“It’s a double-edged sword for China,” says Danielle Cave. “[Because of its laws] the Chinese Communist Party has made it virtually impossible for Chinese companies to expand without attracting understandable and legitimate suspicion.”

Added to this, China has become more authoritarian under Xi Jinping’s rule.

President Xi Jinping 

President Xi Jinping 

“Xi is systematically undermining virtually every feature that made China so distinct and helped it work so well in the past,” writes Jonathan Tepperman, editor in chief of Foreign Policy.

“His efforts may boost his own power and prestige in the short term and reduce some forms of corruption. On balance, however, Xi’s campaign will have disastrous long-term consequences for his country and the world.”

But Ren dismisses this, insisting that China is more open than ever before.

“If this meeting took place 30 years ago,” he says of our interview, “it would have been very dangerous for me. Today, I can be straightforward when answering difficult questions. This shows that China has a more open political environment.”

Still, Ren is hopeful of the direction China will take in the future.

“China has more or less tried to close itself off from the outside world for 5,000 years,” he says. “Yet we had found ourselves poor, lagging behind other nations. It was only in the past 30 years since Deng Xiaoping opened China’s doors to the world that China has become more prosperous. Therefore, China must continue to move forward on the path of reform and opening-up.”

In one of Huawei’s vast campus sites across Shenzen, lies a man-made lake. Swimming in these serene waters are two black swans.

There is a story that Ren put the birds here to remind employees of “black swan” events – unpredictable and catastrophic financial eventualities that are impossible to prepare for. He dismisses this as an urban myth, but it’s hard not to read something into it.

For Huawei, and Ren, these are highly uncertain times with no way of telling what lies ahead.

Source: The BBC

06/03/2019

China’s February exports seen falling most in 2 years, imports down again – Reuters Poll

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports likely contracted in February after a surprise bounce in January, while imports fell for a third straight month, a Reuters poll showed, heightening anxiety over whether Washington and Beijing can resolve deep differences over trade.

China’s exports in February are expected to have fallen 4.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the median estimate of 32 economists in a Reuters poll, following a 9.1 percent rise in January.

Such a drop would be the biggest since December 2016, and suggest a further weakening in global demand.

Imports in February are expected to have fallen 1.4 percent from a year earlier, compared with the previous month’s 1.5 percent decline.Stronger-than-expected imports could prompt some China watchers to say the economy is showing signs of bottoming out in response to a string of stimulus measures in 2018.

But most analysts typically caution that China’s data early in the year can be highly distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year holidays, when some business rush out shipments or scale back output before shutting for a extended break. As such, analysts’ estimates for February varied widely.

TRADE DEAL NOT A SILVER BULLET

In recent weeks, the United States and China appear to have moved closer to a trade deal that would roll back tit-for-tat tariffs on each others’ goods, with Beijing making pledges on structural economic changes, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday.

But President Donald Trump will reject any pact that is not perfect, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week.
Even if concrete steps such as dismantling tariffs are agreed, it would not be a panacea for all of China’s economic woes. Its exporters would have to piece supply chains back together, win back market share and contend with slowing demand globally.
Factory surveys have suggested exports and imports will remain weak in coming months, with February’s official gauge showing export orders fell to their weakest level since the global financial crisis.
China’s overall trade surplus is seen to have shrunk sharply to $26.38 billion in February from $39.16 billion the previous month, according to the Reuters poll.
In response to growing domestic and global pressure, China’s government this week unveiled a 2019 economic growth target of 6.0-6.5 percent, down from an actual 6.6 percent in 2018, the slowest pace in nearly 30 years.
China to slash taxes, boost lending to prop up slowing economy
Premier Li Keqiang told parliament on Tuesday that China will shore up the economy through billions of dollars in additional tax cuts and infrastructure spending, and will lower real interest rates.
“A set of pro-growth measures are planned despite positive progress in U.S.-China trade talks, which makes us think that either China doesn’t have full confidence in a trade truce or that the damages from the trade conflict cannot easily be undone,” said Iris Pang, Greater China economist at ING.
Source: Reuters
27/02/2019

Live updates| PM Modi holds key meet on Pak situation with top officials

IAF strike on Jaish camp in Pakistan updates: IAF pilot who engaged Pakistan jets missing in action, said the government. India verifying Pak claims on his custody. Follow live updates here:

Pakistani aircraft violated Indian air space in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Wednesday morning. The Indian Air Force scrambled jets and pushed them back. News agency ANI has reported that a Pakistan Air Force F-16 was shot down in Indian retaliatory fire in Nowshera’s Lam valley.

The Pakistani jets had entered into Indian air space over Rajouri district this morning, sources said.

The air space violation by Pakistani jets comes a day after Indian Air Force jets flew across the Line of Control to blow up Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest terror camp.

Watch| India lost one MiG 21, pilot who engaged Pak jets ‘missing in action’: Govt

 

Follow live updates here:

4:55 pm IST

Army’s Eastern Command chief visits Panagarh base in West Bengal amid escalating tensions

Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, Army’s Eastern Command chief Lt General Manoj Naravane visited Panagarh base in West Bengal on Wednesday and reviewed operational preparedness, a defence official said.

Lt Gen Naravane, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, emphasised the need for remaining alert at all times to meet the emerging security challenges, the official said.

4:50 pm IST

“Whole country is proud of this brave son,” Arvind Kejriwal tweets for IAF pilot’s safe return

“I pray for the safety of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan,” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal. “Whole country is proud of this brave son and everyone is hoping for his safe return. We all stand united to keep our country safe and strong,” Arvind Kejriwal said in the tweet.

4:35 pm IST

Pakistan has long denied its role in terror acts in India

In his last televised statement, Imran Khan appeared to ignore the claims made by Jaish. Pakistan has long denied its role in terror acts in India, which has handed it over several dossiers containing evidence of involvement of terror groups working from its soil.

4:33 pm IST

Imran Khan’s fresh call for dialogue comes in the wake of Pulwama terror attack

Imran Khan’s fresh call for dialogue comes in the wake of India’s effort to corner Pakistan among international community in the wake of Pulwama terror attack, in which at least 40 soldiers were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.

4:26 pm IST

Imran Khan calls for talks to de-escalate rising tensions with India over Kashmir

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan calls for talks to de-escalate rising tensions with India over Kashmir.

3:57 pm IST

Better sense should prevail: Imran Khan after Pak strike

“We offered that we are ready for any kind of investigation after Pulwama attack in India. We didn’t take action on Tuesday morning because we weren’t aware of the damage caused by air strike by India. We did not want to cause much collateral damage in India when there was not much damage on our side. The only motive of Pakistan’s strike today was to demonstrate that we have the capability to hit back.

All the wars have happened due to miscalculation. With all the weapons that Pakistan and India have, can we afford to miscalculate. If we take to war neither I nor Mr Narendra Modi would be in a position to control its course. This is why I suggest that better sense should prevail,” said Imran Khan.

3:25 pm IST

IAF pilot who engaged Pak jets missing in action: Govt

IAF pilot who engaged Pakistan jets missing in action, said the government. India verifying Pak claims on his custody.

Pakistan used air force to target military installations, attempt foiled successfully, the government added.

3:20 pm IST

Foreign ministry and Air Vice Marshal brief media

Foreign ministry and Air Vice Marshal briefed the media.

3:00 pm IST

Maharashtra on high alert amid border tensions

Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai have been put on high alert’ in the wake of the rising tensions on the country’s north-west border, official sources said in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Heightened security was seen in Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country. Police vigil has been enhanced in Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik and Kolhapur as well. The government is ensuring there is no disturbance to the ongoing HSC (Class XII) examinations in the state, reported news agency IANS.

2:45 pm IST

Pakistan closes its airspace for commercial flights

Pakistan has closed its airspace for commercial flights, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Wednesday amid escalating tensions with India.

The aviation authority made the announcement on Twitter after Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Pakistan Army’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), acknowledged the closure of Pakistan’s airspace due to the security situation, Dawn News reported.

2:35 pm IST

Air India avoiding route of Pakistan air space with immediate effect

Air India avoiding route of Pakistan air space with immediate effect. India use Pakistan airspace for flights to Gulf countries, Europe and USA, said an Air India official

1:25 pm IST

Pakistan says 2 IAF jets shot down, India rejects claim

There are no reports of any IAF jet suffering damage in action by India’s adversaries, defence sources said on Wednesday according to news agency PTI.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan claimed it shot down two Indian military aircraft over Pakistani air space and arrested at least one of the pilots, according to PTI.

1:20 pm IST

Army, BSF troops along IB, LoC on highest degree of alertness: Officials

The Army and BSF have been put on the highest degree of alertness along the border in Jammu after air space violations by the neighbouring country and the night-long heavy firing and shelling by Pakistani troops on forward and civilians areas across the LoC which stopped on Wednesday, reported news agency PTI.

Authorities have ordered temporary closure of educational institutions in a 5-km radius along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts on Wednesday amid mounting tensions between the two countries, following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 and an Indian air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday.

1:14 pm IST

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs DAC meeting

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman met here today and accorded approval for acquisition of defence equipment for about Rs 2700 crores.

Approval was granted for procurement of three Cadet Training ships for the Indian Navy, which would be utilised to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including women officer undertrainees. The ships would be capable of undertaking Hospital Ship duties, providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, undertaking Search and Rescue (SAR) missions and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.

1:08 am IST

China reiterates call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it reiterated its call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comment at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

1:00 pm IST

PM Modi rushes to review security situation: Report

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut short his address at a function in Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday and rushed to attend a meeting to review the security situation arising out of Pakistan’s attempt to violate Indian air space, reported news agency ANI.

Modi was replying to the questions from youngsters during the National Youth Festival 2019 when he was handed over a small piece of paper by an official of Prime Minister Office (PMO).

The Prime Minister immediately stopped and walked towards the panelist where Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore was also present.

12:53 pm IST

Pakistan stops domestic, international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad

Pakistan immediately stops its domestic and international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad airports, reported news agency ANI.

12:30 pm IST

Sensex turns negative; cracks over 200 points

The benchmark BSE Sensex gave up all early gains and fell over 200 points in afternoon trade Wednesday on widespread selling after Pakistani fighter jets violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir.

After dropping 238 points, the Sensex was trading 161.74 points, or 0.46 per cent, down at 35,811.97 after hitting a low of 35,735.33. The gauge rallied nearly 400 points in morning trade.

The 50-share Nifty also fell 62.55 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 10,772.75.

According to brokers, investor sentiment took a beating after Pakistan claimed that it shot down two Indian military aircraft over Pakistani air space and arrested one of the pilots.

The Pakistani fighter jets on Wednesday violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Nowshera sectors.

12:08 pm IST

Rajnath reviews security situation

Home Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday reviewed the security situation in the country, especially along the border with Pakistan, a day after Indian fighter jets bombed the biggest camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad in that country, officials said.

During the meeting, attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval among others, a detailed presentation was given about the security situation in the country and steps taken to ensure peace in all sensitive places.

Singh directed the officials to ensure the Border Security Force, which guards the India-Pakistan border continues to remain on highest level of alertness so that any misadventure from across the border could be foiled, a home ministry official said.

12:01 pm IST

‘Don’t want to escalate tensions, but we are prepared’, says Pakistan

“Today, Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace. This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence.

We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight. For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call “a new normal” a thinly veiled term for doing acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day.

If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation,” read a statement released by Pakistan on Wednesday.

11:50 am IST

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval arrives at Home Ministry

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval arrived at the Home Ministry in Delhi.

11:45 am IST

Hope India, Pak conduct dialogue to establish facts through investigation: Wang Yi

“As a mutual friend to both India and Pakistan, we hope that they can conduct dialogue to establish facts through investigation to keep things under control and maintain peace and stability in the region. In this process China is playing a constructive role not the opposite,” said China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.

11:42 am IST

Russia, China and India reaffirmed strong opposition to terrorism: Wang Yi

“Russia, China and India reaffirmed strong opposition to terrorism. At the same time we (China) believe Pakistan has always been opposed to terrorism. China appreciates statements from Indian and Pak friends saying they’ll exercise restraint and avoid escalation of situation,” said China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.

11:37 am IST

Pakistani jets violate Indian air space in Nowshera

Pakistani jets violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector but were successfully confronted.

An official said the jets were immediately pushed back by Indian jets on air patrol.

10:55 am IST

Discussed establishment of UN led global counter-terrorism mechanism: Swaraj

“We need a global strategy, global cooperation. I’m happy to tell you today we discussed the establishment of UN led global counter-terrorism mechanism and finalising CCIT (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism) proposed by India to implement it,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in Wuzhen, China.

“As far as Pulwama is concerned, I had raised this issue in the bilateral meeting with Mr Wang Yi and also at RIC (Russia-India-China) forum,” she added.

10:42 am IST

All countries need to show ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism: Sushma Swaraj

Terrorists attacks like Pulwama are a grim reminder for the need of all countries to show ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday, a day after India conducted pre-emptive air strikes deep inside Pakistan hitting Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps.

The operation was carried out in light of Pakistan’s refusal to acknowledge and act against terror groups operating from its soil and credible information that JeM was planning attacks in India, she said.

10:10 am IST

India’s response to Pulwama attack top agenda of Opposition meet

Left parties will participate in the meeting of the opposition parties, scheduled to be held later today. They had earlier said that they will not participate in the meeting. Pulwama attack and India’s response to it are on the agenda of discussion, reported news agency ANI.

9:55 am IST

Defence minister to meet Army, IAF, Navy chiefs shortly

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will attend DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) meeting shortly today.

9:35 am IST

Mumbai on high alert, govt asks schools to exercise caution

In the wake of air strikes carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot, the Maharashtra government has called for office bearers of the School & Co. Bus Owner’s Association to ensure the safety of school children keeping the prevailing situation in mind, reported news agency ANI.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state legislature that security has been tightened across the city and appealed to people not to panic.

After intelligence informed Mumbai police to be on high alert, the vigilance and CCTV surveillance has been increased in places like the airport, railway stations, and other key locations.

9:22 am IST

2 Jaish terrorists killed

At least two Jaish terrorists were killed in an encounter that broke out with security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

9:20 am IST

Villagers being shifted to safer places

After cross LoC shelling and ceasefire violations , the villagers in some areas of Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri are being shifted to safer places according to officials.

9:05 am IST

Balakot camp blown up by IAF was Jaish’s preferred training spot for 18 yrs

Balakot’s Jaba Top first emerged as a preferred training ground for militants in the time of President Zia-ul-Haq. It was an ideal place for a camp for non-state actors — remote, located near a small town, yet far enough from it, on a wooded hilltop, and on Pakistani territory in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. India crossed into Pakistan’s territory in 1971 (and then again, its aircraft on Tuesday), and so the Pakistanis may have thought it was a good place to host a training camp for militants whom the rest of the world called terrorists.

8:58 am IST

Underscore priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action: Mike Pompeo to Pak foreign minister

“I spoke to Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to underscore the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil,” said US Secy of State Mike Pompeo, according to news agency ANI.

8:50 am IST

Objective was to act against terrorist infrastructure: Sushma Swaraj in China

“It wasn’t a military op, no military installation targeted. Objective was to act against terrorist infrastructure of JeM to preempt another terror attack in India. India doesn’t wish to see further escalation of situation. It’ll continue to act with responsibility and restraint,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th Foreign Ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China.

8:45 am IST

Target selected to avoid civilian casualties: Sushma Swaraj

“In the light of continuing refusal of Pak to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory and based on credible info that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, GoI decided to take preemptive action and target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th foreign ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China, reported news agency ANI.

8:43 am IST

Pakistan outrightly denied any knowledge of Pulwama attack: Sushma Swaraj

“Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need of all the countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism and take decisive action against it.

Following the Pulwama terrorist attack instead of taking seriously the calls by international community to act against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terror groups based in Pakistan, it denied any knowledge of the attack and outrightly dismissed claims by Jaish-e-Mohammed,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th foreign ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China, reported news agency ANI.

8:40 am IST

Did the US know of India’s strike on Balakot? And how much?

Asked about India’s right to self-defence, President Donald Trump told reporters last week, “India is looking at something very strong. And, I mean, India just lost almost 50 people and… with an attack, so I can understand that also.”

And his national security adviser John Bolton had on his own told reporters at a briefing that he had conveyed to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval in a phone call “that we support India’s right to self-defence”.

8:37 am IST

Only 7 people knew of timing of air strike

On February 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the strike. According to intelligence officials, only seven people knew of this decision – Modi, Doval, the three service chiefs, and the heads of RAW and Intelligence Bureau.

Starting February 22, the Air Force started flying night sorties from various frontline bases to confuse the Pakistanis. On February 25, intelligence inputs suggested the presence of a large number of JeM terrorists, around 300-350, at the Balakot camp. The same evening it was decided to go ahead with the strike immediately. Modi knew by late evening that an attack could happen in the next few hours.

8:31 am IST

Exercise ‘maximum restraint’: UN chief to India, Pakistan

UN chief Antonio Guterres is following the situation between India and Pakistan “very closely” and has appealed to the governments of both nations to exercise “maximum restraint” to ensure the situation does not deteriorate further, a top UN official said Tuesday.

The UN Secretary General’s remarks came after Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a pre-dawn air strike on a terror training camp inside Pakistan.

8:27 am IST

Pak must take ‘action’ against terror groups: US after IAF strikes

Pakistan must take ‘meaningful action’ against terror groups, says US after IAF strikes on Jaish camp, reported news agency PTI

8:25 am IST

Encounter underway between militants, security forces in J-K’s Shopian

An encounter broke out on Wednesday between militants and security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Meemendar area of Shopian following information about presence of militants there, the officials said.

They said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened firing towards the security forces, who retaliated.

Source: Hindustan Times

19/02/2019

The US cannot crush us, says Huawei founder

The founder of Huawei has said there is “no way the US can crush” the company, in an exclusive interview with the BBC.

Ren Zhengfei described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, as politically motivated.

The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei and Ms Meng, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets.

Huawei denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Ren spoke to the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani in his first international broadcast interview since Ms Meng was arrested – and dismissed the pressure from the US.

“There’s no way the US can crush us,” he said. “The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.”

However, he acknowledged that the potential loss of custom could have a significant impact.

What else did Mr Ren say about the US?

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the country’s allies against using Huawei technology, saying it would make it more difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.

Australia, New Zealand, and the US have already banned or blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for their future 5G mobile broadband networks, while Canada is reviewing whether the company’s products present a serious security threat.

Mr Ren warned that “the world cannot leave us because we are more advanced”.

“If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world.”

What did Mr Ren say about investment in the UK?

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has decided that any risk posed by using Huawei technology in UK telecoms projects can be managed.

Many of the UK’s mobile companies, including Vodafone, EE and Three, are working with Huawei to develop their 5G networks.

They are awaiting a government review, due in March or April, that will decide whether they can use Huawei technology.

Commenting on the possibility of a UK ban, Mr Ren said Huawei “won’t withdraw our investment because of this. We will continue to invest in the UK.

“We still trust in the UK, and we hope that the UK will trust us even more.

“We will invest even more in the UK. Because if the US doesn’t trust us, then we will shift our investment from the US to the UK on an even bigger scale.”

Huawei boothImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionHuawei has denied that it poses any risk to the UK or any other country

What does Mr Ren think about his daughter’s arrest?

Mr Ren’s daughter Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested on 1 December in Vancouver at the request of the US, and is expected to be the subject of a formal extradition request.

In total, 23 charges are levelled against Huawei and Ms Weng. The charges are split across two indictments by the US Department of Justice.

The first covers claims Huawei hid business links to Iran – which is subject to US trade sanctions. The second includes the charge of attempted theft of trade secrets.

Mr Ren was clear in his opposition to the US accusations.

“Firstly, I object to what the US has done. This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable.

“The US likes to sanction others, whenever there’s an issue, they’ll use such combative methods.

“We object to this. But now that we’ve gone down this path, we’ll let the courts settle it.”

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd"s chief financial officer (CFO), is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters December 6, 2018.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMeng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver last December

What did Mr Ren say about Chinese government spying?

Huawei, which is China’s largest private company, has been under scrutiny for its links to the Chinese government – with the US and others expressing concern its technology could be used by China’s security services to spy.

Under Chinese law, firms are compelled to “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”.

But Mr Ren said that allowing spying was a risk he wouldn’t take.

“The Chinese government has already clearly said that it won’t install any backdoors. And we won’t install backdoors either.

“We’re not going to risk the disgust of our country and of our customers all over the world, because of something like this.

“Our company will never undertake any spying activities. If we have any such actions, then I’ll shut the company down.”

Presentational grey line

Is Huawei part of the Chinese state?

Analysis – Karishma Vaswani, BBC Asia business correspondent – Shenzhen

For a man known as reclusive and secretive, Ren Zhengfei seemed confident in the conviction that the business he’s built for the last 30 years can withstand the scrutiny from Western governments.

Mr Ren is right: the US makes up only a fraction of his overall business.

But where I saw his mood change was when I asked him about his links to the Chinese military and the government.

He refused to be drawn into a conversation, saying only that these were not facts, simply allegations.

Still, some signs of close links between Mr Ren and the government were revealed during the course of our interview.

He also confirmed that there is a Communist Party committee in Huawei, but he said this is what all companies – foreign or domestic – operating in China must have in order to abide by the law.

Source: The BBC

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