Global Internet Firms Operating in Russia Face New Rules September 1

August 31, 2015

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A new Russian law imposes restrictions on foreign Internet firms. It’s a feeling locals already know all too well.

By 
Bloomberg

Global Internet firms operating in Russia wake up on Tuesday to a new era in Kremlin regulation.

A law now forces tech firms with Russian customers to operate local servers to handle Russian personal data. It’s the latest in a string of about 20 laws tightening government control of the Internet, all put into place since President Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2012.

Taken at face value the new program is aimed at protecting the privacy of Russian citizens. It’s not a uniquely Russian idea, and is something Brazil and Germany are also exploring in the post-Snowden era. Yet human rights activists fear the regulation will be misused, allowing officials to spy on citizens and suppress political activists. It comes into force days after Wikipedia was briefly blacklisted because of an article about cannabis.

“The regime is already ramping up censorship and surveillance and using it to target opposition activists, so the requiring of companies to host data on servers in the country makes it easier for the government to access that data,” says Laura Reed, a research analyst from Freedom House.

In theory Russia’s intelligence services need a court order to access any data, but observers say they are rarely turned down.

All eyes are now on Facebook, Google and Twitter, which have been meeting with the Kremlin in private to make sense of the law. At this stage it’s not clear whether they will agree to comply. Facebook simply says it won’t comment on speculation, and that “we regularly meet with government officials and have nothing more to share at this time.”

Russian investigative journalist and author Andrei Soldatov thinks the lack of transparency is concerning. “If global companies agree to talk in secret, the Russian authorities will think they are ready to cooperate in more sensitive areas,” he says.

After the Protests

The Internet clampdown started after riots in Moscow following Putin’s 2012 re-election. The mass protests prompted the Kremlin to wake up to the power of social media.

A series of quickly drafted laws are now enforced by Internet regulator Roskomnadzor, which has the power to block websites without court rulings – sometimes because of a single article containing banned content. That can include anything considered to harm children, linked to extremism, or that incites illegal gatherings.

Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated since 2012, and the situation is now being exacerbated by a weak ruble and trade sanctions imposed since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Businesses face a bureaucratic overload, foreign companies are leaving Russia (Google moved an engineering office to Poland and Microsoft closed its Moscow Office), talent is fleeing. Russia’s once-flourishing Internet sector is now stagnating.

Wikipedia’s run-in with the regulator made it just the latest popular Internet service to be blocked within Russia:

  • Software repository GitHub was blocked over a suicide reference
  • Social network Reddit was banned because of a single post about magic mushrooms
  • Internet archive The Wayback Machine was blacked out over a post deemed extremist by regulators
  • Satirical wiki site Lurkmore (1.2 million visitors per month) was closed because of “extremist” content
  • The editor of news site Lenta.ru was dismissed for publishing an “extremist” interview with a Ukrainian nationalist in March 2014.
Wikipedia was blacklisted over a marijuana derivative. An article about a marijuana derivative was deemed too informative.

Critics – and those affected – say the regulations encourage self-censorship, often prompted by fear of fines or jail time. Roskomnadzor did not respond to several requests for comments on the issue.

Lurkmore founder Dmitry Homak fled Russia and now lives in Israel. “You can’t assure any investor that your site won’t be blocked, or that you won’t be labeled as a traitor or criminal,” he says.

“I’m just trying to recover. Everything I did for 15 years was stomped, crashed and burned.”

Galia Timchenko, the sacked Lenta.ru news editor, moved to Latvia to set up a new Russian news site, Meduza, which she says would be “much harder” to operate in Russia. “The situation is getting worse and worse by the day,” she says.

Even Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte, Russia’s most successful social network, quit after a lengthy dispute over Ukraine with the company’s new Putin-friendly owners.

Yandex Defiant

Only the biggest players such as Yandex – Russia’s equivalent to Google – have been able to resist the administrative pressures.

Despite evidence that the Kremlin tried to manipulate Yandex.News, the search giant’s news aggregator, critics say it hasn’t really mastered the art. “They don’t know how to control Yandex, because they don’t understand how it works,” says blogger Anton Nossik, who founded Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru.

The next legal milestone will be the introduction of a “right to be forgotten” law on Jan. 1, 2016. This will hold search engines such as Yandex and Google liable for linking to information that individuals want to be deleted, with a possible fine of up to 3 million rubles ($45,000). Unlike the EU version of the law, the Russian model lets public figures ask for links to be removed from search results if they can show the information is inaccurate or outdated.

“If the law works, every policeman who got drunk and ran over a baby can try to sue Yandex,” says Nossik. He believes all Internet businesses will end up answering to “Putin’s cronies” or going out of business.

“Many of us tried to bring international culture to the post-Soviet media,” says Dmitry Homak, of Lurkmore. “We succeeded at first, but then everything turned sour.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-31/russia-internet-law-tests-facebook-google-and-other-foreign-firms

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Vietnamese Fishermen Arrested in Malaysian Waters

August 31, 2015

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KUALA TERENGGANU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained 24 Vietnamese fishermen and seized four fishing boats for encroaching into Malaysian waters to fish.

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A team of MMEA personnel in a vessel made the arrests and seizures last Thursday, about 118 nautical miles from Kuala Terengganu.

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Kuala Terengganu MMEA logistics director Lt Cdr Mohamad Zainal said the operation to bring the culprits to book was launched about 9am, after an MMEA air unit detected the boats moving in a suspicious manner.

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“With the information, we directed a ship with 23 officers and men to track down the four fishing boats. “The fishermen were so engrossed in operating their trawlers that they did not know an MMEA ship was approaching them,” he said in a media statement here today.

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According to Mohamad, the suspects aged between 15 and 54 did not possess permit to fish, or personal identification documents. He said MMEA also seized two tonnes of fish and 12,000 litres of diesel amounting to about RM2 million from the suspects.

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“Our investigations also revealed that two of the boats were carrying fuel supply to be transferred to the trawler boats.” The fishermen have been remanded until Sept 10. – BERNAMA

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/node/98447

Ukraine policeman killed and at least 100 injured in Kiev as rebels throw petrol bombs and grenades at parliament building

August 31, 2015

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By OLIVIA BLAIR
The Independent

One policeman has been killed and 100 injured after rebels threw petrol bombs and a grenade at Ukraine’s parliament.

Groups gathered outside the government building in Kiev to protest following the successful parliamentary vote for further autonomy in the Pro-Russian, rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The blast killed one person and seriously injured 10 policemen who were guarding the building, according to the Interior Ministry.

A policeman helps a wounded colleague in Kiev

It is not yet known which object caused the blast, but security forces say live grenades were thrown by the crowd. Petrol bombs and fire crackers were also used, while police used tear gas on the crowds.

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Reports say 50 National Guard members and some journalists covering the vote have also been caught up in the violence.

According to the AFP news agency, some of the injured were seen lying down in front of the parliament building, covered in blood.

Most protesters are thought to be members of the Svoboda (“Freedom”) Party — a nationalist party which has a few seats in the Ukrainian parliament.

They were protesting after the vote for further decentralisation to the rebel-held regions was backed by 265 MPs out of 450. Svoboda say the decision will threaten Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

Protesters have clashed with police in front of Parliament in Kiev

The vote was a condition of the Minsk peace agreement which agreed on immediate ceasefire, and was signed in February of this year, by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov said 30 people have been detained. He took to facebook to criticise the leader of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok for the violence.

Since conflict broke out in the region in February 2014, more than 6,800 people have been killed.

http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/ukraine-policeman-killed-and-100-injured-as-rebels-throw-petrol-bombs-and-grenades-at-national-parliament-10479915.html

Blast Reported at Chemical Plant in Northern China

August 31, 2015

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Reuters

BEIJING — An explosion shook a chemical plant in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, state media said on Tuesday, though there were no immediate reports of casualties in a country on edge after blasts killed more than 145 people last month.

A single “loud” blast occurred at the plant in Dongying shortly before midnight, state radio said on its official Weibo microblog, showing pictures of the explosion in what appeared to be a fairly remote industrial area.

There were no other details available and Reuters was not immediately able to reach officials for comment.

One person died last month when an explosion hit a chemical plant in a different part of Shandong.

On Aug. 12, explosions at a warehouse storing dangerous chemicals devastated an industrial park in the northern port city of Tianjin, killing at least 145 people.

The latest incident will likely raise more questions about safety standards in China, where industrial accidents are all too common following three decades of fast economic growth. A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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The massive blast was heard and seen from a great distance – just a fortnight after a different blast killed more than 100 at Tianjin

A massive explosion has ripped through a region in China.

Bright flames and black smoke were seen from what is thought to be a chemical factory this evening.

The explosion was seen and heard in the industrial zone of Lijin, Dongying City of Shandong, just before 11.30pm local time.

It is not yet known if there are any injuries or fatalities.

The explosion was reported by the People’s Daily newspaper – the Communist Party-owned publication.

No further details have yet been released.

The blast comes just a fortnight after another huge explosion in the country killed dozens and injured hundreds.

The explosion a fortnight ago was so large that they were seen by satellites in space, sent shockwaves through apartment blocks kilometres away in the port city of 15 million people.

It is also the SECOND blast to occur in Shandong, after a previous one injured eight people just over a week ago.

More to come.

Includes video:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/china-explosion-city-shandong-rocked-6357544?ICID=FB_mirror_main

Caijing magazine journalist “confessed” to causing “panic and disorder” on China’s stock market

August 31, 2015

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Journalist Wang Xiaolu

BEIJING (AFP) – A financial journalist has “confessed” to causing “panic and disorder” on China’s stock market and inflicting “huge losses on the country”, state media reported on Sunday.

Wang Xiaolu, a journalist with Caijing magazine, was detained by Chinese authorities following China’s recent stock market crash.

Wang was held for fabricating and spreading fake information on securities and futures market, according to Xinhua, a state-run news agency.

According to the report, Wang “confessed” that his “false information” had “caused panics and disorder at [THE]stock market, seriously undermined the market confidence, and inflicted huge losses on the country and investors”.

Wang wrote a story in July saying the securities regulator was studying plans for government funds to exit the market.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) quickly denied the Caijing story, labelling it “irresponsible”.

But Caijing said it “defended journalists’ rights to do their duty under the law”, according to a statement posted on its website.

Xinhua reported that authorities had also detained an official from China’s securities watchdog and four senior executives of the country’s major securities dealer for “stock market violations”.

Liu Shufan, an official with the CSRC was held on suspicion of insider dealings, taking bribes and forging official seals, said the report.

Liu “confessed” that he has forged official seals to fake a court ruling on divorce and taxation certificates for his mistress.

Chinese state media regularly carries what it presents as confessions of suspects in high-profile cases.

Formal arrest in China normally comes after some time in police detention, when the case is handed to prosecutors, with trial and conviction almost guaranteed.

The news agency also reported that 197 people have been punished in a special campaign by Chinese police targeting online rumours about China’s stock market, the recent fatal explosions in Tianjin and “other key events”.

No details of the punishments were given, but according to the report, the crimes punished included claiming a man had jumped to his death in Beijing due to the stock market slump, falsifying the number of people who had died in the Tianjin blasts, and circulating “seditious” rumours about China’s upcoming commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

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Chinese authorities took a hedge fund chief into custody to ‘assist’ with a police investigation into market manipulation

Li Yifei, Man Group

Chinese authorities have taken Li Yifei, the head of hedge fund Man Group’s China division, into custody, Bloomberg reports. 

She is not under criminal investigation, and officials just want her to help them with a police probe into market manipulators, according to the report.

Comforting.

China’s stock market indices have been convulsing since June 12 when both the Shenzen and Shanghai indexes reversed what had been a year-long monster rally.

Chinese regulators have done everything from canceling IPOs and share issues to throwing money into the market in an effort to stem the bleeding

None of it has really worked though. It seemed like the carnage had stopped on July 8, but the slide started again on August 15.

Authorities have blamed foreigners and bad actors in the market for causing chaos.

On Monday, China’s CCTC aired the confession of a Chinese business journalist for magazine Caixin. Wang Xiaolu admitted to causing instability in the market by getting information “through private channels” and then adding his “own subjective judgment” to his reporting.

“During a sensitive period, I should not have published a report which had such a huge negative impact,” he said.

More than a hundred others have been arrested for issues relating to the stock market crash as well.

Li’s husband told Bloomberg that she was with the relevant authorities (though he doesn’t know who they are) and that he expected her home soon. Her cell phone was turned off when reporters tried to contact her.

Man Group, with $78.8 billion under management, is the largest publicly traded hedge fund in the world. Li is a national champion in Chinese martial arts and has been voted one of Fortune’s 50 most powerful women in the world for four years in a row.

http://www.businessinsider.co.id/china-takes-man-group-chair-into-custody-2015-8/#.VeSklflVhBc

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Russia Puts Off Data Showdown With Technology Firms

August 31, 2015

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Russia: Facebook, Google and Twitter get more time to comply with law requiring Russian data centers

A new law that goes into effect on Tuesday requires companies to store and process data about Russian users within the country’s borders. Above a Facebook server in Prineville, Ore.
A new law that goes into effect on Tuesday requires companies to store and process data about Russian users within the country’s borders. Above a Facebook server in Prineville, Ore. PHOTO: MEG ROUSSOS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Russia is postponing a showdown with a handful of U.S. tech titans, including Facebook Inc., over putting data centers on Russian soil, handing an interim victory to tech companies that have resisted the divisive new rule.

Ahead of a new law that goes into effect on Tuesday requiring companies to store and process data about Russian users within the country’s borders, Russian regulators have told companies such as Facebook, Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. that they don’t plan to check until at least January whether the companies are in compliance, tech executives and Russian officials said.

The three companies have so far either told officials they won’t have new data centers on Russian soil in the immediate future, or haven’t made clear whether they plan to comply, some of the tech executives said. But Russian officials provided a loophole when they said these companies weren’t on the list of those the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor was planning to check before 2016.

“We understand that in transnational companies where offices are spread globally, it takes a while to make a decision,” said Vadim Ampelonsky, spokesman for the regulator, adding that checking up on companies like Google would take resources the regulator doesn’t have. “There’s only that much we can physically do.”

Russia’s regulatory stance eases immediate pressure on big U.S. technology firms involved in social media and messaging to implement rules that Russia says are meant to ensure privacy for Russians, but critics say could be a back door to government surveillance.

While it is unclear whether Russian regulators will later move to enforce the new law against the U.S. firms, their initial reluctance to do so illustrates how difficult it can be for governments to exercise control over U.S. tech superpowers when it comes to the sensitive issue of where they locate their data and who has access to it.

Last year, for instance, tech companies successfully resisted an attempt in Brazil to implement such a measure, arguing it would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars to build new data centers and upset the structure of the Internet.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have at times bent to censorship requests from countries including Turkey to remain online, arguing they must respect the rule of law in countries where they operate. But the companies have been far less willing to compromise on the location of their data centers, of which they typically operate only a handful globally. They say doing so would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We’re not thumbing our nose at law. But saying you respect local law doesn’t mean you always implement it fully if it wouldn’t work with how you deliver your service,” one technology executive said.

To be sure, the Russian regulator says it intends to enforce the law against small and medium-size domestic and foreign companies with offices in Russia, and reserved the right to conduct spot checks on them if necessary. Some foreign companies have said they will agree to implement the law, including Samsung Electronics Co., Uber Technologies Inc. and eBay Inc., representatives for the three companies said, potentially giving it momentum.

But the regulator says it hasn’t recently been in touch with Apple Inc. about the new law. And one U.S. technology executive said the companies that had said they were complying operate in hardware-manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, which often have accounting and other data already located within countries like Russia—in contrast to firms like Facebook or Twitter.

In addition, many Russians use home-grown services like market-leading social network VKontakte, which already have servers in Russia. That gives regulators more leeway to allow foreign providers to slide, some observers say. “It would be a lousy PR hit for Russia to try to take on Facebook, especially when they already have access to the personal data of online discussions,” said Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Russia is a dilemma for technology companies. With a large population but relatively low penetration of Western firms, the country represents one of Silicon Valley’s biggest growth opportunities. But with a government that has passed new rules giving it the ability to crack down on online speech, Russia also highlights the compromises companies must consider in that expansion, putting principles and profits in conflict.

A law that obliged bloggers to register with the government caused consternation last year, and Facebook, Twitter and Google were briefly locked in a conflict with the government over their refusal to block pages promoting a rally for opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Russia’s push for a so-called data localization law has been among the most worrying for technology executives. The executives argue the new law, passed last year as a privacy initiative, could serve as a pretext for Russian authorities to demand deeper access to user data and could give governments more power to control how the Internet behaves in their territory.

“It’s not how our network is built,” the U.S. tech executive said of the Russian law. “And it would set a bad precedent.”

Google has been trying to run a fine line between resisting the new rules without calling attention to itself in a way that could lead regulators to crack down, or endangering local staff, according to people familiar with the matter. While the company said last year it would shutter its engineering operation in Russia, it maintains sales and marketing staff in the country.

Russian state-controlled telecommunications company OAO Rostelecom’s officials said earlier this year that Google had started to move some data into Russia in preparation for the law, but the Russian regulator’s spokesman now says it isn’t clear whether Google will comply with the law.

Facebook, which has no office in Russia, told Russian regulators last week that it won’t be ready to comply before Sept. 1, and added that it has very few data centers and therefore wouldn’t commit to putting one in Russia, according to a person knowledge with the meeting. The company told Russian officials that it would be willing to discuss its privacy practices with them to address any concerns.

As recently as July, Russia had indicated that Twitter—which has no office in Russia—likely wouldn’t be subject to the law because it didn’t collect enough personal data. Now the Russian regulator says the company may in fact be subject to the law but that it still doesn’t plan an inspection. A person familiar with the matter said Twitter isn’t currently planning to locate a data center in Russia.

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com and Olga Razumovskaya atolga.razumovskaya@wsj.com

Ukraine president vows ‘severe’ punishment for instigators of deadly Kiev clashes

August 31, 2015

AFP

Smoke rises near the parliament building in Kiev as activists of radical Ukrainian parties, including the Ukrainian nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom), clash with police officers on August 31, 2015.

KIEV (AFP) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday said those behind deadly Kiev clashes deserved severe punishment, calling the violence a “stab in the back.””It was an anti-Ukrainian act for which all of its organisers without exception — all representatives of political forces — should be severely punished,” he said in a televised address.

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Japan defense budget to fortify “southern sea frontier” islands facing China

August 31, 2015
 
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) reviews members of Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) during the JSDF Air Review, to celebrate 60 years since the service’s founding, at Hyakuri air base in Omitama, northeast of Tokyo, in this October 26, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/TORU HANAI/FILES

Japan’s Ministry of Defense is seeking a fourth straight annual military budget hike to help fortify the country’s far-flung island chain in the East China Sea, close to ocean territory claimed by Beijing.

In a document submitted to the government on Monday, the ministry asked for a 2.2 percent increase in military spending to 5.09 trillion yen ($42.38 billion) for the year starting in April. If approved, the new defense budget would be Japan’s biggest in 14 years.

China’s military budget for this year rose 10.1 percent to 886.9 billion yuan ($138.37 billion), the second largest in the world after the United States.

Japan’s Defense Ministry will buy AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles made by BAE Systems (BAES.L), F-35 Stealth warplanes made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft from Boeing Co (BA.N) under the budget plan, said the document.

Other purchases would include Global Hawk drones made by Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), mobile missile batteries, helicopters and other kit the military wants to defend island-dotted ocean territory stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) from the Japanese mainland almost to Taiwan.

Money would also be allocated to building and extending military bases along the island chain, the document added.

As China’s military power grows, Japan is shifting from defending its northern borders from a diminished Russian threat with tanks and heavy armor to deploying a lighter, more mobile force in the East China Sea and the Western Pacific

By bolstering its military presence on islands with radar stations, troop bases or missile batteries Japan could gain a tactical advantage over China, which with far fewer islands under its control in the region would have to rely more on naval vessels or ocean platforms.

Japan and China contest ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyu by Beijing. Japan administers the chain.

Only 150 km (94 miles) south of the outcrops, Japan is building a military radar station on Yonaguni island, home to 1,500 people.

In the budget request, defense officials have allocated $90 million to expand an army base on Miyakojima island, 300 km (188 miles) east of Yonaguni and $72 million for base construction on Amami Oshima, an island halfway between the main Okinawan island, home to the largest contingent of U.S. Marines in Asia, and the Japanese mainland.

The Osprey troop carrying aircraft, amphibious assault vehicles and new maneuverable armored fighting vehicles on Tokyo’s shopping list will bolster a force including Japan’s first detachment of marines since World War Two.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Dean Yates)

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China’s Stock Market Volatility Brings Government Investigation To Financial Industry Amid Allegations of “Malicious Short-Selling”

August 31, 2015

China’s government has nerves on edge as probe of stock market mayhem gets going

 

The head of hedge fund manager Man Group Plc’s China business has been taken into custody to help authorities in a probe into recent market volatility, Bloomberg reported on Monday, while separately a local financial reporter confessed on national TV to having spread false information that caused “panic and disorder”.

Both are likely to jangle nerves in the financial industry as regulators try to find out who they think was behind China’s wild stock market rollercoaster ride in the past three months.

Authorities have been investigating possible market manipulation following wild swings in the stock markets, which have plunged around 40 percent since mid-June on concerns of a slowing economy and a surprise devaluation of the yuan currency earlier this month.

Officials are probing the financial industry amid allegations of malicious short-selling and other strategies seen as weakening confidence in the market.

Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, said Li Yifei, Man Group’s China chairwoman, was assisting with police inquiries, noting this doesn’t mean she faces charges or has done anything wrong. Reuters could not independently confirm the report.

Li Yifei, Man Group, China

Man Group spokeswoman Rosanna Konarzewski declined to comment on the matter, and China’s Ministry of Public Security could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular working hours.

Li’s husband, Wang Chaoyong, told Reuters he had spoken to his wife on Sunday and Monday, and she had told him she was in “highly confidential” meetings. “She said she was in meetings and it’s inconvenient for me to contact her,” he said by phone, adding he did not know where the meetings were taking place.

Separately, Chinese police are looking into the spreading of rumors about the stock market, as well as other issues such as the fatal explosions at a chemical storage facility in Tianjin.

On Monday, Wang Xiaolu, a reporter for the Caijing business magazine, read a confession on national state television, saying he spread false information in his reporting of the stock market that had caused “panic and disorder”.

“I shouldn’t have sought to make a big splash just for the sake of sensationalism,” he said.

It was not possible to verify whether Wang made his confession freely or under any coercion.

State news agency Xinhua said earlier that 197 people in total have been punished in the rumor campaign.

The investigations are likely to unsettle China’s investment community, and the report of Li’s involvement could leave foreign investors particularly on edge.

“Short run, any sane foreign businessman would have pause about doing business in China, given the environment,” said Bob Eisenbeis, vice chairman and chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors. “Long run, people will not overlook the size of the market and what that offers.”

Li, a former MTV Networks executive, was appointed Country Chair, China in 2011, according to a page on Man Group’s website archived by Google on Aug. 6. The page is not currently accessible.

Man Group says on its website it has $78.8 billion of assets under management.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten and Nishant Kumar, with additional reporting by Michelle Price, Shu Zhang, Richard Leong and Chris Kaufman; Writing by Rachel Armstrong; Editing byMark Bendeich and Ian Geoghegan)

Migrant crisis: Merkel warns of EU ‘failure’

August 31, 2015

BBC News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says “Europe as a whole needs to move” on how to deal with refugees and migrants arriving in the EU.

“If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for,” she said.

She was speaking after Austrian authorities arrested five suspected people smugglers along the country’s eastern borders.

On Thursday, 71 dead migrants were found near the Hungarian border.

Austrian police say more than 200 others were recovered alive overnight.

Ms Merkel said European countries must share the burden of refugees.

Regarding the challenges facing Germany, Mrs Merkel said “Germany is a strong country – we will manage.”

Germany is the main destination for migrants arriving on the EU’s eastern borders and expects the number of asylum seekers it receives to quadruple to about 800,000 in 2015.

Ms Merkel said there would be “no tolerance for those who question the dignity of other people” after a spate of arson attacks on refugee shelters and anti-migrant demonstrations.

“The number of people… helping strangers get through cities and communities and even taking them into their homes is far greater than the number of xenophobes,” she went on.

Mrs Merkel’s call for greater co-operation was echoed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who warned that Europe’s migrant crisis would be a “long and difficult challenge”.

map

Also on Monday, trains from Budapest carrying hundreds of migrants were stopped at the Austrian frontier. Austria’s rail service OeBB said the route from Budapest was facing severe disruption due to “overcrowding”.

Austrian police said they would check whether anyone on board had made a request for asylum in Hungary – if so they would be turned back.

If they had not they would be given two weeks in Austria to decide whether or not they wanted to claim refugee status there.

Late on Monday afternoon it was reported that trains had been allowed to proceed on to Vienna and Munich.

Austria introduced extra checks on vehicles entering from Hungary on Sunday evening, causing long traffic jams on Hungary’s major roads leading to the Austrian border.

Austrian police checking a lorryAustrian police are checking lorries at Nickelsdorf on the border with Hungary

The Austrian checks appear to undermine the EU’s Schengen system, which normally allows unrestricted travel. But in exceptional circumstances countries can reintroduce border controls under Schengen.

Five people have been detained in connection with the deaths of 71 people, most of them thought to be Syrians, in a lorry found last week on the A4 at Parndorf. Austria was shocked by the gruesome nature of the deaths.

As well as the bodies in the lorry in Austria, hundreds more people drowned in the Mediterranean last week while trying to reach Europe from Libya.

Composite showing migrant stories

10 days of the migrant crisis

  • Crowds of migrants rush at Macedonian border forces in an attempt to enter from Greece
  • Hundreds of people are feared dead after two boats carrying about 500 migrants sink in the Mediterranean, off Libya. More than 300,000 migrants have risked their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, according to the UN
  • A lorry abandoned near Parndorf in Austria is found to have 71 dead peopleinside including four children
  • Twenty-six migrants are rescued from a van in Austria, near the border with Germany.

A record number of 107,500 migrants reached the EU’s borders in July.

The UN says the continuing conflict in Syria is a major factor behind the rise in migrant numbers.

Greece, Italy and Hungary have particularly struggled with the surge of migrants from not only Syria but the rest of the Middle East and Africa.

An extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers is to be held on 14 September.

Why is EU struggling with migrants and asylum?

Some governments have refused to take in refugees and resisted EU proposals to agree on a common plan.

Others are tightening their policies on asylum and border security, sometimes because of rising anti-immigration sentiment.

On Sunday France condemned Hungary for building a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia to try to keep out migrants travelling north from Greece via the Balkans.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May blamed the Schengen system – which the UK did not join – for “exacerbating tragedies”. She has demanded tighter EU rules on free movement.

A map showing movements of migrants in Europe

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34108224

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