Posts tagged ‘Washington (state)’

08/06/2016

U.S. Firm to Build Six Nuclear Reactors in India – India Real Time – WSJ

The U.S. and India agreed to move ahead with the construction of six nuclear reactors in India by an American company, the first such move since the countries signed a landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008.

The breakthrough capped a wide-ranging White House meeting on Tuesday between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who are seeking closer cooperation as Washington wants to boost New Delhi’s role in counterbalancing China.

The meeting, which included lunch at the White House, will be followed on Wednesday by a speech by Mr. Modi to Congress, wrapping up the Indian leader’s fourth visit to the U.S. as part of an increasingly close relationship that has been sought by both governments.

The warming Indian relationship is backed by the lure of accelerating growth in that country, signs of improvement in the business climate, shared democratic values and some overlapping strategic goals.

By contrast, recent U.S. interactions with China, a far bigger Asian economy and U.S. trading partner whose growth appears to be slowing down, have been marked by strains and warnings over economic and security issues.

Source: U.S. Firm to Build Six Nuclear Reactors in India – India Real Time – WSJ

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24/11/2015

The elephants fight back | The Economist

FOR anybody who fears that China’s interest in elephants’ tusks could spell doom for the great beasts, there have been two pieces of good news.


On September 25th Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, joined Barack Obama in pledging “significant and timely steps” to halt commercial trade in ivory. Then on October 15th China announced a one-year ban on the import of ivory hunting trophies from Africa, closing a big loophole. Wildlife activists are delighted. These moves should have “a profound effect” on elephant numbers, says Peter Knights of WildAid, a charity.

The world’s elephant population has dived from 1.2m in 1980 to under 500,000 today. In 1989 the sale of ivory was banned worldwide. But in 1999 and again in 2008, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a conservation pact, allowed the sale of stockpiles of ivory from southern Africa to China. The countries vowed to use the proceeds for conservation; China claimed it had a robust registration system that would keep illegal ivory out. But conservationists rightly predicted the concession would fuel more smuggling and so more killing.

Permitted sales became a cover for illegal ones. In 2010-12 about 100,000 elephants were slain for their tusks. In the past five years, Mozambique and Tanzania have lost half their elephants to poaching.

This dire trend reflects China’s deeper engagement with Africa, combined with corruption and the presence of criminal gangs. But it seems that Chinese leaders have seen the trade’s effects on their reputation, says Dominic Dyer of the Born Free Foundation, a charity. They should now close the legal carving workshops and ban the domestic trade, too, he adds.

Despite strong demand for ivory among China’s rising middle class, attitudes may gradually be changing. As of 2012, nearly half of Chinese people saw elephant poaching as a problem, according to a survey by WildAid. The figure has been boosted by the support of celebrities. Yao Ming, a basketball player, and Jackie Chan, an actor, appear on posters everywhere with the message: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” The government has donated $200m worth of media space every year since 2008.

Opinion on ivory has shifted fast, says Mr Knights, partly because of the success of another campaign, to protect sharks. In the markets of Guangzhou, the global centre for the trade, dried shark fins have fallen from 3,000 yuan ($470) per kilo five years ago to 1,000 yuan today, as Chinese people abjure shark-fin soup, a delicacy.

WildAid raised its voice over that issue, too, but more important was the Communist Party’s ban in 2013 of shark-fin soup at official banquets, part of a drive against corruption and excess. The Hong Kong government followed, as did airlines and hotels. A survey in 2013 found 85% of people said they had stopped eating shark-fin soup in the past three years.

One scourge is untouched by all this: the illegal trade in rhinoceros horn. More than 1,200 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2014 in South Africa alone, up from just 13 killed in 2007. This partly reflects a huge rise in demand in Vietnam, but China is also a consumer. Ground rhino horn is believed to cure fever and improve sexual performance. One kilo can cost up to $70,000.

Ominously, some African nations now want a one-off sale of rhino-horn stocks, as happened twice with ivory. To secure this, South Africa must win two-thirds of the member states at the next CITES conference, which it hosts next year. Mr Dyer hopes other countries, including China, will dissuade the Africans. “We are in exactly the same place we were with ivory nearly ten years ago,” he frets.

Source: The elephants fight back | The Economist

07/11/2015

China-Taiwan Summit a Success for Singapore – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The choice of Singapore as the venue for Saturday’s historic meeting between the Chinese and Taiwanese presidents is a diplomatic coup for the famously neutral city-state.

The meeting is the first between China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, and the first time leaders from both sides have met since Taiwan and China split in 1949.

The decision to hold the summit in Singapore shows it maintains its reputation as a rare neutral ground in a region where tensions are rising, even after the death in March of the city-state’s widely-respected former leader, Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr. Ma said this week the summit is the product of years of diplomacy between the two sides, and that Singapore was chosen for its impartiality.

Singapore’s selection as host “further highlights Singapore’s role in international politics,” said Huang Jing, professor of U.S.-China relations and director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore. The meeting “gives Singapore a status that no other country except Singapore can match up to,” he said, adding that the city-state’s relations with both sides will likely improve as a result.

Mr. Lee, Singapore’s first and longest-serving prime minister, earned the admiration of many national leaders, such as Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the U.S., during his 31-year tenure in the top job. Many foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, sought meetings with Mr. Lee to discuss international relations, both before and after he stepped down.

His son, Lee Hsien Loong, now heads a government that is keen to maintain Singapore’s regional relations. The younger Mr. Lee, although viewed as a competent and respected leader, has not inherited his father’s reputation for straight-talking, no-nonsense politics, and doesn’t yet have the leadership experience that drew his predecessor favor with other politicians in Asia.

Still, the younger Mr. Lee has worked to maintain diplomatic and economic relations with Singapore’s neighbors, sharing his father’s view that a small, multi-ethnic island surrounded by much larger countries is best served by fostering strong relationships, rather than by taking sides. It’s a position that is rare in a region brimming with diplomatic tension, as shown by current disputes such as the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Singapore, which Chinese ethnic majority and large Indian and Malay populations, is frequently chosen as a diplomatic hub, hosting Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings and other summits. It is also the annual venue for the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-profile international security conference.

The Shangri-La Hotel, close to the city’s central shopping district, was the venue of choice for Saturday’s meeting between Messrs. Xi and Ma. The National University of Singapore’s Mr. Huang said that allowed the Singapore government to maintain its policy on China-Taiwan relations by avoiding hosting the meeting in a government facility.

The city-state maintains a “one-China” policy on cross-strait issues, officially recognizing only Beijing as China’s capital. Lee Kuan Yew broke Singapore’s relations with Taiwan in 1990 to open them with China, although relations with both sides today are close. He also helped ease decades of tension between the two nations. In 1993, shortly after Mr. Lee stepped down from his post as prime minister to take an advisory role, Singapore hosted the first talks between representatives of China and Taiwan since the two sides clashed.

Source: China-Taiwan Summit a Success for Singapore – China Real Time Report – WSJ

04/11/2015

Prepare for Takeoff: China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s first large passenger jet rolled off the assembly line on Monday after years of delays, bringing Beijing’s dream of developing a rival to Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE closer to reality.

As WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports: Still, the single-aisle C919 airliner won’t be delivered to airlines for at least another three years, highlighting the difficulties

China has faced in becoming a global player in aviation. Developed by the state-run Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. (Comac), the twin-engine jet was initially set for its first flight in 2014, ahead of commercial deliveries starting in 2016. Production setbacks forced Comac to extend its deadlines repeatedly. Company executives say flight testing should start next year, with deliveries expected in 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.

Thousands of guests, including government officials and aerospace executives, witnessed the C919’s rollout at an assembly plant near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, according to Chinese state media.

Source: Prepare for Takeoff: China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet – China Real Time Report – WSJ

18/10/2015

China’s Xi lauds Britain for ‘visionary’ openness, prods others to emulate | Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping heaped praise on Britain for what he called a “visionary and strategic choice” to strengthen commercial ties with China, as he prepared for a state visit to the United Kingdom that’s expected to be richer in pomp and considerably warmer in tone than his recent trip to the United States.

The trip comes at a time of global anxiety about China’s slowing growth. Xi himself acknowledged “concerns about the Chinese economy”, but sought to allay them in a written interview with Reuters.

China itself is worried about the slowing of the broader global economy, Xi said, even while he expressed confidence that China would weather the current downturn as it reshapes its economy to be more resilient in the future.

That confidence will be on display when Xi arrives in London on Monday evening to kick off a four-day visit that is expected to cement ties between Britain and China, including through a host of business deals.

“The UK has stated that it will be the Western country that is most open to China. This is a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain’s own long-term interest,” Xi said in a written response to questions from Reuters.

“China looks forward to engaging with the UK in a wider range, at a higher level and in greater depth.”

WARMER WELCOME

Xi’s visit comes amid debate in Britain and many other Western countries over what is the best way to engage with a Communist-ruled China that has grown more influential economically and diplomatically, but which maintains stances in areas from human rights to the South China Sea that are often at odds with those widely held in the West.

Such tensions were on display when Xi visited the United States last month, with friction over issues from cyber theft to China’s maritime disputes with its neighbors at the center of discussions.

Xi’s visit to Britain, during which he and his wife Peng Liyuan will stay at Buckingham Palace as guests of Queen Elizabeth II, is expected to be much warmer, with Xi saying it could be the start of a “golden time” in bilateral relations.

Britain was the first Western nation to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) earlier this year, leading to a stampede of other countries signing up and marking an embarrassment for Washington, which had been pressing its allies not to join.

At the time, Britain said joining the AIIB at the founding stage would “create an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together”.

British finance minister George Osborne set the tone with a preparatory visit to China last month, when he courted Chinese investment into Britain and won praise from Chinese state media for having the “etiquette” not to press human rights issues.

Still, Xi’s visit, the first state visit by a Chinese president since 2005, will not be without potentially awkward moments. Newly installed opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn intends to bring up the issue of human rights when he meets Xi, his official spokesman has said.

Source: Exclusive – China’s Xi lauds Britain for ‘visionary’ openness, prods others to emulate | Reuters

15/10/2015

China slaps one-year ban on imports of African ivory hunting trophies | Reuters

China slapped a one-year ban on African ivory hunting trophy imports, the state forestry authority said on Thursday ahead of a trip by President Xi Jinping to Britain, where members of the royal family have urged China to crack down on the ivory trade.

A government official picks up an ivory tusk to crush it at a confiscated ivory destruction ceremony in Beijing, China, May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-HoonConservationists say China’s growing appetite for contraband ivory imports, which are turned into jewels and ornaments, has fueled a surge in poaching in Africa.

In March, Britain’s Prince William urged an end to the trade during a visit to a Chinese elephant sanctuary in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Xi is scheduled to travel to Britain between Oct. 19-23, where he will stay at Buckingham Palace, home to the royal family.

China’s State Forestry Administration said in a statement posted on its website that it would “temporarily prohibit” trophy imports until Oct. 15, 2016 and “suspend the acceptance of relevant administrative permits”.

It did not give further details, though the official Xinhua news agency said a government review is under way on whether to extend a separate one-year ban made in February on imports of African ivory carvings.

The policy also follows a deal to enact nearly complete bans on ivory imports and exports made during Xi’s September state visit to the United States.

Within China, the trade and sale of ivory carvings are legal if the items were imported before the country joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1981, or come from a stock of 62 tonnes of raw-ivory bought from four African countries in 2008 as a one-time exemption.

The government releases a portion of that stockpile each year to ivory carving factories.

China crushed 6.2 metric tonnes (6.83 tons) of confiscated ivory early last year in its first such public destruction of any part of its stockpile. However, the country still ranks as the world’s biggest end-market for poached ivory, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

In June, a Tanzanian government minister described elephant poaching as a national disaster, and urged China to curb its appetite for ivory.

Source: China slaps one-year ban on imports of African ivory hunting trophies | Reuters

19/04/2015

India issues fresh tax notice to Vodafone – report | Reuters

Tax authorities have issued a fresh notice to Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) seeking re-assessment of tax returns for assessment year 2009-2010, news channel ET Now reported on Saturday citing sources familiar with the development.

A man checks his mobile phone as he walks past a shop displaying the Vodafone logo on its shutter in Mumbai January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

The government in January said it would not appeal a regional court ruling in favour of Vodafone in a long-running dispute under which the taxmen had accused a unit of the British telecoms firm of under-pricing shares in a rights issue.

Vodafone has 30 days to respond to the fresh notice, the news channel’s report said. (bit.ly/1JUMvap)

However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in comments carried by Business Standard newspaper, said: “Barring a case that is pending under that law (Income Tax Act) or another case that has arisen now, I think we’ve put most issues to rest, as far as retrospective legislation is concerned.” (bit.ly/1EZM9Q7)

via India issues fresh tax notice to Vodafone – report | Reuters.

21/01/2015

As Obama visits, signs that India is pushing back against China | Reuters

When Sri Lanka unexpectedly turfed out President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an election this month, it was the biggest setback in decades for China’s expansion into South Asia – and a remarkable diplomatic victory for India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a campaign rally ahead of state assembly elections, at Ramlila ground in New Delhi January 10, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

Despite New Delhi’s protestations, diplomats and politicians in the region say India played a role in organizing the opposition against pro-China Rajapaksa.

His successor, President Maithripala Sirisena, has said India is the “first, main concern” of his foreign policy and that he will review all projects awarded to Chinese firms, including a sea reclamation development in Colombo that would give Beijing a strategic toehold on India’s doorstep.

India has pushed back against China elsewhere in the region since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May, improving ties with Japan and Vietnam, both locked in territorial disputes with Beijing, and contesting a port project in Bangladesh that could otherwise have been a cakewalk for China.

The new robust diplomacy, which Modi calls “Act East”, has delighted Washington, which has been nudging India for years to dovetail with the U.S. strategic pivot toward the region.

When President Barack Obama makes a landmark visit to India starting Sunday, he will be the chief guest at New Delhi’s showpiece Republic Day military parade, and rarely for a presidential trip, is not scheduled to visit any other country before returning to Washington.

“What is appealing to me and my colleagues is the fact that Prime Minister Modi has undertaken to build from what has been a ‘Look East’ policy to an ‘Act East’ policy,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel said in Washington last month.

“He has shown in word and deed his interest in involving India in the thinking and the affairs of the broader region. That’s very much to be welcomed.”

Washington made no bones about its distaste for Rajapaksa, who critics accuse of war crimes, corrruption and nepotism. But until last year India was indecisive, perhaps afraid of pushing the hero of the war against Tamil separatists even closer to China.

That changed in September, when Rajapaksa allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in Colombo, without informing India, as it was bound to under an existing agreement.

“That was the last straw,” a senior Indian diplomat told Reuters.

“He told Modi: “the next time I will keep you informed,”” the diplomat said, a promise that was broken when the submarine visited again in November.

In the build up to the Jan 8 election, India played a role in uniting Sri Lanka’s usually fractious opposition, for which the station chief of India’s spy agency was expelled, diplomatic and political sources say.

“At least that was the perception of Mahinda Rajapkasa,” said M.A. Sumanthiran, a prominent member of the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of parties close to India. “He managed to get one of their top diplomats recalled.”

The Indian government denies any of its officers was expelled. But Sumanthiran said Modi had in a meeting encouraged the Tamil alliance to join forces with others in politics.

“The Indians realized that you can’t do business with this man and they were hoping for a change,” he said.

“FAMILY MATTER”

On Friday, Sri Lanka said it would review a $1.5 billion deal with China Communication Construction Co Ltd to build a 233 hectare patch of real estate on redeveloped land overlooking Colombo’s South Port.

In return, China was to get land on a freehold basis in the development. This is of particular concern for India, the destination for the majority of the trans shipment cargo through Colombo.

“The message is clear, that you do not ignore Indian security concerns,” said the Indian diplomatic source.

Modi is looking for similar good news elsewhere in South Asia. He has already visited Nepal twice, becoming the first Indian prime minister to travel to the Himalayan buffer state with China in 17 years, and signing long delayed power projects.

India has muscled into an $8 billion deep water port project that Bangladesh wants to develop in Sonadia in the Bay of Bengal, with the Adani Group, a company close to Modi, submitting a proposal in October. China Harbour Engineering Company, an early bidder, was previously the front-runner.

“Modi is willing to engage on long-term issues that stretch beyond India’s border, including maritime security in the South China Sea, as well as North Korea and Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria,” said Richard Rossow at policy think tank CSIS.

“That’s when we start to think about India as a regional global provider – or as a global provider of security.”

However, the bonhomie has limits – India and the United States do not see eye-to-eye on Pakistan, New Delhi’s traditional foe that enjoys substantial funding from Washington.

Tricky conflicts over trade and intellectual property hold back business, and India has limits to its ability to project force outside its immediate neighborhood.

But Modi’s policies mark a departure from India’s traditional non-aligned approach to foreign power blocs.

“Having the U.S. president at the Republic Day celebration is a good thing, he is blessing Modi,” said Mohan Guruswamy, of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think-tank.

“And that is a lesson to the Chinese that you have to mend your fences with us.”

via As Obama visits, signs that India is pushing back against China | Reuters.

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