Archive for ‘Politics’

26/05/2019

China’s robot censors crank up as Tiananmen anniversary nears

BEIJING (Reuters) – It’s the most sensitive day of the year for China’s internet, the anniversary of the bloody June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square, and with under two weeks to go, China’s robot censors are working overtime.

Censors at Chinese internet companies say tools to detect and block content related to the 1989 crackdown have reached unprecedented levels of accuracy, aided by machine learning and voice and image recognition.

“We sometimes say that the artificial intelligence is a scalpel, and a human is a machete,” said one content screening employee at Beijing Bytedance Co Ltd, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to speak to media.

Two employees at the firm said censorship of the Tiananmen crackdown, along with other highly sensitive issues including Taiwan and Tibet, is now largely automated.

Posts that allude to dates, images and names associated with the protests are automatically rejected.

“When I first began this kind of work four years ago there was opportunity to remove the images of Tiananmen, but now the artificial intelligence is very accurate,” one of the people said.

Four censors, working across Bytedance, Weibo Corp and Baidu Inc apps said they censor between 5,000-10,000 pieces of information a day, or five to seven pieces a minute, most of which they said were pornographic or violent content.

Despite advances in AI censorship, current-day tourist snaps in the square are sometimes unintentionally blocked, one of the censors said.

Bytedance declined to comment, while Weibo and Baidu did not respond to requests for comment.

SENSITIVE PERIOD

The Tiananmen crackdown is a taboo subject in China 30 years after the government sent tanks to quell student-led protests calling for democratic reforms. Beijing has never released a death toll but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

June 4th itself is marked by a cat-and-mouse game as people use more and more obscure references on social media sites, with obvious allusions blocked immediately. In some years, even the word “today” has been scrubbed.

In 2012, China’s most-watched stock index fell 64.89 points on the anniversary day here, echoing the date of the original event in what analysts said was likely a strange coincidence rather than a deliberate reference.

Still, censors blocked access to the term “Shanghai stock market” and to the index numbers themselves on microblogs, along with other obscure references to sensitive issues.

While companies censorship tools are becoming more refined, analysts, academics and users say heavy-handed policies mean sensitive periods before anniversaries and political events have become catch-alls for a wide range of sensitive content.

In the lead-up to this year’s Tiananmen Square anniversary, censorship on social media has targeted LGBT groups, labour and environment activists and NGOs, they say.

Upgrades to censorship tech have been urged on by new policies introduced by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The group was set up – and officially led – by President Xi Jinping, whose tenure has been defined by increasingly strict ideological control of the internet.

The CAC did not respond to a request for comment.

Last November, the CAC introduced new rules aimed at quashing dissent online in China, where “falsifying the history of the Communist Party” on the internet is a punishable offence for both platforms and individuals.

The new rules require assessment reports and site visits for any internet platform that could be used to “socially mobilise” or lead to “major changes in public opinion”, including access to real names, network addresses, times of use, chat logs and call logs.

One official who works for CAC told Reuters the recent boost in online censorship is “very likely” linked to the upcoming anniversary.

“There is constant communication with the companies during this time,” said the official, who declined to directly talk about the Tiananmen, instead referring to the “the sensitive period in June”.

Companies, which are largely responsible for their own censorship, receive little in the way of directives from the CAC, but are responsible for creating guidelines in their own “internal ethical and party units”, the official said.

SECRET FACTS

With Xi’s tightening grip on the internet, the flow of information has been centralised under the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and state media network. Censors and company staff say this reduces the pressure of censoring some events, including major political news, natural disasters and diplomatic visits.

“When it comes to news, the rule is simple… If it is not from state media first, it is not authorised, especially regarding the leaders and political items,” said one Baidu staffer.

“We have a basic list of keywords which include the 1989 details, but (AI) can more easily select those.”

Punishment for failing to properly censor content can be severe.

In the past six weeks, popular services including a Netease Inc news app, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s news app TianTian, and Sina Corp have all been hit with suspensions ranging from days to weeks, according to the CAC, meaning services are made temporarily unavailable on apps stores and online.

For internet users and activists, penalties can range from fines to jail time for spreading information about sensitive events online.

In China, social media accounts are linked to real names and national ID numbers by law, and companies are legally compelled to offer user information to authorities when requested.

“It has become normal to know things and also understand that they can’t be shared,” said one user, Andrew Hu. “They’re secret facts.”

In 2015, Hu spent three days in detention in his home region of Inner Mongolia after posting a comment about air pollution onto an unrelated image that alluded to the Tiananmen crackdown on Twitter-like social media site Weibo.

Hu, who declined to use his full Chinese name to avoid further run-ins with the law, said when police officers came to his parents house while he was on leave from his job in Beijing he was surprised, but not frightened.

“The responsible authorities and the internet users are equally confused,” said Hu. “Even if the enforcement is irregular, they know the simple option is to increase pressure.”

Source: Reuters

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25/05/2019

Taiwan begins mass production of home-grown missile corvettes, minelayers

  • Self-ruled island cannot match Beijing’s spending, but innovation can help it succeed in a one-sided military conflict, observers say
  • First of Tuo Jiang-class stealth warships expected to be ready by 2021
Taiwan began mass production of its Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes on Friday. Photo: Handout
Taiwan began mass production of its Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes on Friday.

Taiwan has begun mass production of its home-grown Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes and high-speed minelayers as it seeks to shore up its naval forces amid rising hostility from Beijing.

Dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer”, the small but powerful corvette, which has a displacement of 680 tonnes and a top speed of 45 knots, is a state-of-the-art stealth warship built by Lung Teh Shipbuilding.

A total of three corvettes will be built under the NT$31.6 billion (US$1 billion) Hsun Hai project, the self-ruled island’s navy said.

The warship is equipped with one of the world’s most technologically advanced computer systems and built partly with high-entropy metal alloys for extra strength and durability, it said. Its stealth technology and low radar cross section makes the ship virtually invisible at sea and even more obscure when operating close to the coastline.
Armed with eight subsonic Hsiung Feng II and eight supersonic Hisung Feng III anti-ship missile launchers, the corvettes are intended to take over many of the missions currently undertaken by larger, less manoeuvrable and more expensive frigates and destroyers, the navy said.
In the event of an actual armed conflict with Beijing, the warships would also boost Taiwan’s ability to counter a much larger and better equipped rival, a concept known as asymmetric warfare.
Taiwan simulates repelling invasion as Beijing threat persists

In a ceremony on Friday at Lung Teh’s shipyard in Suao, Yilan county, to mark the start of mass production, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the move was made possible after the navy succeeded in overcoming a number of design and technological issues regarding the warship, an earlier version of which she boarded soon after becoming the island’s leader in 2016.

Together with the construction of the high-speed minelayers, also by Lung Teh, and a home-grown submarine at a separate shipyard in Kaohsiung, Tsai said Taiwan was entering a “new era” of naval strength that would give it the ability to thwart any attempts by the People’s Liberation Army to invade its territory.

“This proves we are able to build our own warships and launch a new era of the naval force,” she said.

Construction of the Tuo Jiang-class corvettes was under way, with the first expected to be ready for delivery to the navy in 2021 and the last by 2025, Tsai said.

The first batch of four minelayers would also be ready by 2021, she said.

Taiwan has sought to counter the rising threat from mainland China by developing more of its own military hardware in recent years. Beijing’s military budget for 2019 is 1.2 trillion yuan, or about 16 times as much as Taiwan’s.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, and suspended all official exchanges with it after Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president and refused to accept the one-China principle.

Experts doubt China’s ability to launch assault on Taiwan

Over the past three years Tsai has prioritised Taiwan’s military expansion, ordering the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology – the island’s top weapon research and development agency – to speed up production of weapons like the surface-to-air Skybow-III and supersonic anti-ship Hsiung Feng-III missiles.

Taiwan is also expected next year to begin mass production of its CM-34 Clouded Leopard eight-wheeled armoured vehicles and has set a target to manufacture 284 of them by 2023.

Four prototypes of the vehicles, which passed pre-production tests in October, are expected to take part in the island’s annual Han Kuang war games next week.

Chieh Chung, a national security research fellow at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said that because of the huge discrepancies in their military budgets Taiwan could not engage in an arms race with the mainland so had to be more innovative.

“Taiwan has to develop an asymmetric defence strategy,” he said. “Take the Tou Jiang corvettes, for example. Because of their high speed, stealth function, small size and powerful weaponry, they can be deployed anywhere near Taiwan’s coast and called into action very quickly to fend off enemy vessels,” he said.

“The same applies to the high-speed minelayers, which can drop mines very quickly and make it very hard for enemy ships to attack the coast,” he said.

Source: SCMP

24/05/2019

Indian forces kill leader of al Qaeda affiliate in Kashmir – police

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Indian forces have killed the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, police said on Friday, triggering protests in parts of the disputed region.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, 25, was trapped by security forces in a three-storey house in southern Kashmir late on Thursday, said a senior police officer, adding that the house was set ablaze during the operation.

“As we were clearing debris from the house, he tried to get up. Our troops fired at him and he was killed,” said the officer, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to media.

For decades, separatists have fought an armed conflict against Indian rule in Kashmir, with the majority of them wanting independence for the Himalayan region, or to join New Delhi’s arch rival Pakistan.

India has stepped up an offensive against militants in the Muslim-majority region since a suicide attack in February killed 40 Indian troopers in Kashmir and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Pakistan denies giving material support to militants in Kashmir but says it provides moral and diplomatic backing for the self-determination of Kashmiri people.

Protests by supporters of Bhat broke out in parts of Kashmir on Thursday and there were reports of demonstrations early on Friday, the police officer said.

Fearing more unrest, authorities said schools were closed and railway services suspended in the affected areas.

Any large scale unrest in the region would be a challenge for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he prepares for a second term after winning a general election on Thursday.

Bhat, a former commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest of the militant groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir, founded his own group and declared its association with al Qaeda in 2017.

Also known as Zakir Musa, he was seen as a successor to Burhan Wani, a popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander whose death in 2016 sparked clashes that left 90 civilians dead.

Source: Reuters

23/05/2019

U.S. Navy again sails through Taiwan Strait, angering China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, angering China at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

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

The voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, which views the island as a breakaway province.

The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

Doss said all interactions were safe and professional.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.
“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in China-U.S. relations,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the two U.S. ships had sailed north through the Taiwan Strait and that they had monitored the mission.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said there was no cause for alarm.
“Nothing abnormal happened during it, please everyone rest assured,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
U.S. warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait at least once a month since the start of this year. The United States restarted such missions on a regular basis last July.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.
The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.
China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers part of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if needed.
Beijing said a recent Taiwan Strait passage by a French warship, first reported by Reuters, was illegal.
China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on exercises in the past few years and worked to isolate it internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.
On Sunday, the Preble sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.
The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Wednesday that China had shown “utmost restraint”.
“With tensions between the two countries already rife, there is no guarantee that the presence of U.S. warships on China’s doorstep will not spark direct confrontation between the two militaries,” it said.
Source: Reuters
22/05/2019

Chinese, Kyrgyz officials vow to enhance bilateral cooperation

 KYRGYZSTAN-BISHKEK-CHYNGYZ AIDARBEKOV-CHINA-WANG YI-MEETING

Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chyngyz Aidarbekov attend a signing ceremony of the Cooperation Program from 2020 to 2021 between Chinese Foreign Ministry and Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 21, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Yong)

BISHKEK, May 21 (Xinhua) — Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday held talks with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chyngyz Aidarbekov in Bishkek, vowing to enhance cooperation in various fields between the two countries.

Wang noted that China and Kyrgyzstan are friendly neighbors and comprehensive strategic partners linked by mountains and rivers. The two heads of states reached a wide range of consensuses on further developing bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum of International Cooperation in Beijing in April.

Taking the opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road, China is ready to pursue coordination of the development strategies between China and Kyrgyzstan and effectively implement the key projects for the benefit of the two peoples, the Chinese state councilor said during the meeting.

To this end, the two sides should work to build closer people-to-people ties, promote local-level cooperation, further strengthen security cooperation ties and expand cooperation in fighting the “three forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism, transnational crime and drug trafficking, said Wang, adding that China fully supports Kyrgyzstan in hosting the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June to promote further cooperation among the member states.

Wang stressed that the sustained, steady and sound development of bilateral relations serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. China appreciates Kyrgyzstan’s firm support on some major issues concerning Taiwan and Xinjiang, and will resolutely support Kyrgyzstan’s independent choice of development path as well as its internal and external policies to maintain national independence, sovereignty and security.

For his part, Aidarbekov extended warm congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and expressed sincere admiration for China’s great achievements during the 40 years of reform and opening up.

He noted that Kyrgyzstan attaches great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, fully supports the Belt and Road Initiative, and is ready to further promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, energy, transportation, agriculture and disaster relief.

The Kyrgyz foreign minister stressed that his country firmly upholds the one-China policy, fully supports China’s stance on its internal affairs including Taiwan and Xinjiang issues and hopes the mutual political trust between the two countries can be further strengthened.

Following their talks, the two officials signed the Cooperation Program from 2020 to 2021 between Chinese Foreign Ministry and Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry and jointly met with the press.

Source: Xinhua

21/05/2019

Supreme Court dismisses new petition on verifying all votes with VVPAT, says ‘let country elect its government’

Supreme Court dismisses new petition on verifying all votes with VVPAT, says ‘let country elect its government’

INDIA Updated: May 21, 2019 14:54 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,VVPAT,EVM
Calling the petition a “nuisance”, the court said, “We won’t entertain such a plea over and over again.(HT Photo)
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a new petition that sought matching of all voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes on May 23.
Calling the petition a “nuisance”, the court said, “We won’t entertain such a plea over and over again. Can’t come in the way of people electing their representatives. Let country elect its government.”
A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra refused to entertain the plea filed by a Chennai-based organisation ‘Tech for All’ saying that a larger bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had already dealt with the matter and passed an order, news agency PTI reported.
The apex court had on May 7 dismissed a review plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu seeking that random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs be increased to 50 per cent.
The top court had on April 8 directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls, saying it would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but also to the entire electorate.
Source: Hindustan Times
20/05/2019

Xi Jinping visits rare earth minerals facility, amid talk of use as weapon in US-China trade war

  • China produces 90 per cent of the world’s rare earth minerals, used in hi-tech production such as electric vehicles
  • Rare earth minerals one of the few goods not hit by incoming US tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese goods as trade war escalates
President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the country’s rare earth mining base in Jiangxi province on Monday, according to the official Xinhua news agency, in his first domestic tour after the trade talks between Beijing and Washington ended without a deal. Photo: Xinhua
President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the country’s rare earth mining base in Jiangxi province on Monday, according to the official Xinhua news agency, in his first domestic tour after the trade talks between Beijing and Washington ended without a deal. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited one of the country’s major rare earth mining and processing facilities on Monday, in his first domestic tour since the 
recent escalation

of the US-China trade war.

Xi’s visit, reported by the official Xinhua news agency, comes amid growing discussion in China that Beijing could consider banning the export of such minerals as a weapon 
in the trade war

with the United States.

Rare earth minerals were among the few items excluded from the latest US government plans to implement tariffs on almost all of China’s remaining exports to the United States, highlighting their strategic importance. These tariffs, which are set to be levied on Chinese goods worth an estimated US$300 billion, 
could go into effect

as early as July, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The state media report, which includes one sentence of text and two pictures, made no mention of the trade war, but speculation is mounting that rare earth minerals could form a key part of China’s retaliation.

China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earth minerals, which contain at least one of the 17 rare earth elements, many of which are vital to a number of low-carbon technologies, such as high-performance magnets and electronics. Photo: Xinhua

China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earth minerals, which contain at least one of the 17 rare earth elements, many of which are vital to a number of low-carbon technologies, such as high-performance magnets and electronics.

It accounts for 90 per cent of global production, however the government has been carefully managing mining levels and it was reported last year that amid production quotas, the country became a net importer of rare earth minerals last year.

Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, wrote an article last week suggesting that China could ban rare earth exports to the US as a way to punish the US for

imposing additional tariffs

. China does not import enough goods from the US to retaliate in pure tariff terms.

The Chinese government has weaponised the trade of rare earth exports before, slashing the export quota by 40 per cent in 2010. The US, Japan and the European Union filed a compliant against the Chinese quota at the World Trade Organisation in 2012, with the WTO ruling against China. Beijing dropped its export restrictions in 2015.

According to the report, Xi visited JL Mag Rare Earth Co, a major rare earth processing company based in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province and “studied” the local rare earth industry. Ganzhou is the heartland of China’s rare earth mining and processing industry.

Xi was accompanied by vice-premier Liu He, who has been China’s top trade negotiator in the long-running talks with the US and who is Xi’s most trusted economic adviser. Also on the trip was a delegation of company officials and local cadres.
JL Mag is a leading supplier of high-performance rare earth magnets, which are widely used in intelligent manufacturing operations, energy-saving applications, and in the production of robots and new energy vehicles, according to the company’s website.

Images of Xi’s trip show a sign saying that the company is trying to build up “a rare metal industry base of tungsten with strong international competitiveness”.

Banning rate earth exports to the US is one of several ideas percolating in Chinese public discussions of possible trade war 

retaliation measures.

Other analysts have suggested that China could sell its $3 trillion stockpile of US dollar-denominated securities, or allowing the yuan exchange rate to depreciate significantly, which would make Chinese exports cheaper for overseas buyers, helping to mitigate the effect of tariffs.

Source: SCMP
20/05/2019

U.S. ambassador to China to make first visit to Tibet since 2013 – report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad was due to begin visiting Tibet on Sunday for official meetings and visits to religious and cultural sites, according to a news report on Sunday.

Branstad was scheduled to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province, a historic region of Tibet known to Tibetans as Amdo, from Sunday to Saturday, Radio Free Asia said in a report.

The State Department did not immediately comment on the story.

Radio Free Asia said it would be the first visit to Tibet by a U.S. official since the U.S. Congress approved a law in December that requires the United States to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies that restrict access to Tibet for foreigners. The U.S. government is required to begin denying visas by the end of this year.

In December, China denounced the United States for passing the law, saying it was “resolutely opposed” to the U.S. legislation on what China considers an internal affair, and it risked causing “serious harm” to their relations.

Since then, tensions have been running high between the two countries over trade. China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changed course.

On Saturday, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recent U.S. words and actions had harmed the interests of China and its enterprises, and that Washington should show restraint.

While the Trump administration has taken a tough stance towards China on trade and highlighted security rivalry with Beijing, the administration has so far not acted on congressional calls for it to impose sanctions on China’s former Communist Party chief in Tibet, Chen Quanguo, for the treatment of minority Muslims in Xinjiang province, where he is currently party chief. 

A State Department report in March said Chen had replicated in Xinjiang, policies similar to those credited with reducing opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet.

Beijing sent troops into remote, mountainous Tibet in 1950 in what it officially terms a peaceful liberation and has ruled there with an iron fist ever since.

Source: Reuters

19/05/2019

China’s top legislator visits Norway to promote bilateral ties

NORWAY-OSLO-LI ZHANSHU-NORWEGIAN KING-MEETING

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), meets with Norwegian King Harald V in Oslo, Norway, May 16, 2019. China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

OSLO, May 18 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress.

During the stay in Norway, Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), met with Norwegian King Harald V, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and President of the Norwegian parliament Storting Tone Wilhelmsen Troen.

When meeting with Norwegian King Harald V, Li conveyed the greetings of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the King, and expressed congratulations on the Norwegian National Day, which falls on May 17.

Li said during the King’s successful visit to China last year, the two heads of state made strategic plans for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. As this year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Norway, the two sides are expected to seize the opportunity to cement friendship and expand cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and treating each other equally, so as to realize better development of bilateral relations.

Harald V expressed gratitude to China’s friendliness to the Norwegian side, saying Norway admires China’s tremendous development achievements. He said Norway is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in such fields as winter sports, and will make efforts to help China successfully host the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

When meeting with Solberg, Li said although Sino-Norwegian relations have experienced ups and downs, friendship and cooperation has always been the main theme of the ties. As both countries share common interests on safeguarding current global mechanism, building an open world economy, the two sides should jointly support multilateralism and free trade. Moreover, the two countries have similar development concepts and share strong economic complementarities, so the outlook of bilateral cooperation is very broad.

Norway is welcome to actively participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. And bilateral cooperation on economy, trade, environmental protection, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and tourism is expected to be forged ahead, said China’s top legislator.

“China hopes the Norwegian side provides a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises’ investment and operation in Norway,” said Li.

Solberg said bilateral cooperation has maintained sound momentum since the normalization of bilateral ties, expecting the two sides to push forward talks on inking a free trade deal and deepen cooperation in such areas as maritime affairs, shipping, fishery and environmental protection. She also voiced the will to advance communication and collaboration with China on issues concerning the United Nations, coping with the climate change and Arctic affairs.

When respectively meeting with Troen and members of the parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs and defense, Li introduced China’s development path and political system.

“The reasons why China continues to make new development achievements are that we have embarked on a development path that suits our national conditions. This is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” said Li, stressing that the Chinese people will unswervingly follow this path.

He said that the NPC of China is willing to work with the Norwegian parliament to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen friendly exchanges at all levels, enhance understanding and trust through frank dialogues, and create a favorable environment for pragmatic cooperation.

Troen said that this visit is of great significance as Li’s tour marks the first visit of a Chinese leader since the normalization of bilateral relations in 2016. The Norwegian parliament is willing to carry out all-round exchanges and cooperation with the NPC of China, and make positive contributions to the development of state-to-state ties.

The two legislators also exchanged views on jointly safeguarding multilateral trade system, sustainable development and other issues of common concerns.

On May 16, Li attended the economic and trade conference in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Norway-China diplomatic relations. He said in a speech that President Xi’s proposal of the high-quality development of jointly building the Belt and Road and the policy of China’s further expansion of opening up have provided new opportunities for the common development of all countries. The two countries’ enterprises are expected to seize the opportunity, tap cooperation potentials, so as to translate the desire for strong cooperation into more practical results.

During the tour, Li visited the Chinese skiers who were training in Norway and encouraged them to train hard and carry out bilateral friendship.

He also visited a local ecological agriculture project, an oil gas processing plant, and met with local officials in Norway’s southwestern county of Rogaland and its southern city of Stavanger.

Norway is the first lag of Li’s ten-day tour in Europe, which will also take him to Austria and Hungary.

Source: Xinhua

16/05/2019

Trump administration hits China’s Huawei with one-two punch

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Wednesday took aim at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, banning the firm from buying vital U.S. technology without special approval and effectively barring its equipment from U.S. telecom networks on national security grounds.

Taken together, the two moves threaten Huawei’s ability to continue to sell many products because of its reliance on American suppliers, and represents a significant escalation in the U.S. government’s worldwide campaign against the company.

The steps also come at a delicate time in relations between China and the United States as the world’s two largest economies ratchet up tariffs in a battle over what U.S. officials call China’s unfair trade practices.

Washington believes the handsets and network equipment for telecommunications companies made by Huawei could be used by the Chinese state to spy on Americans.

Huawei, which has repeatedly denied the allegations, said in a statement that “restricting Huawei from doing business in the U.S. will not make the U.S. more secure or stronger; instead, this will only serve to limit the U.S. to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the U.S. lagging behind in 5G deployment.”

“In addition, unreasonable restrictions will infringe upon Huawei’s rights and raise other serious legal issues.”

The ban on U.S. suppliers, which appears similar to one on Huawei rival ZTE Corp. last year, could hit the shares of Huawei’s biggest U.S. suppliers, including chipmakers Qualcomm Inc and Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O).

In the first action taken on Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a long-awaited executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk.

The order invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States. It directs the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up an enforcement plan by October.

Members of Congress said Trump’s order was squarely aimed at Chinese companies like Huawei, which generated $93 billion in revenue last year and is seen as a national champion in China.

“China’s main export is espionage, and the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese ‘private-sector’ businesses like Huawei is imaginary,” Republican Senator Ben Sasse said.

ENTITY LIST

Soon after the White House announced the order had been signed, the Commerce Department said it had added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its so-called Entity List – a move that bans the telecom giant from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.

U.S. officials told Reuters the decision would make it difficult, if not impossible, for Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment producer in the world, to sell some products because of its reliance on U.S. suppliers. It will take effect in the coming days.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement Trump backed the decision that will “prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”

With Huawei on the Entity List, U.S. suppliers will need to apply for licenses to provide the Chinese company with anything subject to U.S. export control regulations. Obtaining such licenses will be difficult because they will have to show the transfer of items will not harm U.S. national security, said John Larkin, a former export control officer in Beijing for the Commerce Department.

The United States in January unsealed a 13-count indictment against Huawei accusing the company and its chief financial officer of conspiring to defraud global financial institutions by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with a suspected front company that operated in Iran.

The indictment was unsealed a month after CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant for her role in the alleged fraud. Meng, who maintains her innocence, is fighting extradition.

5G NETWORKS

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Trump was expected to sign his long-awaited executive order this week. The order does not specifically name any country or company, but U.S. officials have previously labeled Huawei a “threat”.

The United States has been actively pushing other countries not to use the Chinese company’s equipment in next-generation 5G networks that it calls “untrustworthy.” In August, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government from using equipment from Huawei and another Chinese provider, ZTE Corp.

ZTE was added to the Commerce Department’s Entity List in March 2016 over allegations it organised an elaborate scheme to hide its re-export of U.S. items to sanctioned countries in violation of U.S. law.

The restrictions prevented suppliers from providing ZTE with U.S. equipment, potentially freezing the company’s supply chain, but the restrictions were suspended in a series of temporary reprieves, allowing the company to maintain ties to U.S. suppliers until it agreed to a plea deal a year later.

The status of Huawei and ZTE has taken on new urgency as U.S. wireless carriers rollout 5G networks.

While the big wireless companies have already cut ties with Huawei, small rural carriers continue to rely on both Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be cheaper. Trump’s order applies to future purchases and does not address existing hardware, officials said Wednesday.

Source: Reuters

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