Posts Tagged ‘China’

Wall Street Struggles to Cash In on Yuan’s Swoon

January 21, 2017

High cost of borrowing in China, country’s effort to punish short sellers are cited

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Jan. 21, 2017 9:00 a.m. ET

Across Wall Street, many see further declines in the Chinese yuan as a nearly sure thing. But making money on them is proving anything but.

Investors and analysts widely expect that the yuan will fall against the dollar this year, extending a 6.6% drop in 2016 that was the largest in two decades. The bearishness reflects China’s slowing economy, rising debt and volatile capital outflows, as well as concern that the world’s…


China keeps shedding US Treasuries to stem yuan’s slide

Forex intervention expands as Trump win spurs dollar rally

ISSAKU HARADA, Nikkei staff writer

January 20, 2017 7:00 am JST

The People’s Bank of China.


BEIJING — China’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries shrank for a sixth straight month in November, falling by $66.4 billion from the previous month as Beijing stepped up currency intervention to halt the yuan’s descent.

China hit a roughly six-year low of $1,049.3 billion of the debts, ceding the title of largest foreign holder of Treasuries to Japan for the second month running. Japan has likewise been shedding the bonds since August, but not as quickly.

The People’s Bank of China has been selling the U.S. government debts, then selling dollars and buying yuan to temper the currency’s slide. The central bank has tried to refrain from buying the yuan in excess, in an effort not to dip too deeply into its foreign currency reserves, but has unloaded Treasuries nevertheless to finance expanded foreign exchange intervention.

Forex trading heated up after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November, stoking expectations for a strengthening dollar. The Chinese central bank’s purchases shot up 45% on the month to 15.89 trillion yuan ($2.31 trillion), as it apparently required vast sums just to guard against sudden price swings.

China’s intervention is seen as having peaked in December 2015 and January 2016, but its Treasury reserves did not decline as much over that period. This is thought to be because Beijing financed intervention mainly with cash dollar reserves at the time, but has turned to selling debt as cash savings dwindled, according to a financial expert.

Prompting this intervention is the country’s capital outflow. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, reported Thursday that the country’s outflow exceeded inflow by $305.3 billion in total overseas trade via bank accounts by businesses and individuals for 2016. That marks a second straight year of deficit, with the outflow balance up 57% on the year.

President Xi Jinping’s leadership, fearful of a market panic over capital flight combined with the cheap yuan, effectively implemented in November new capital controls. These controls required that monetary authorities be consulted in advance on transactions topping $5 million — including money exchanges and overseas remittances. Also, as of this month, individuals looking to buy foreign currency at a bank must first fill out an application form covering two sheets of size A4 paper, stating the goal of the purchase and other information.

China limits individuals to $50,000 in foreign exchange per year. Most years, January would see a swell in foreign exchanges as the quota resets. But “foreign exchange in January is down on both the month and the year,” said SAFE spokeswoman Wang Chunying.

The government strengthened capital restrictions without formally changing conventions or laws because in 2016, the yuan joined the basket of currencies used to determine the value of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Right, or SDR, reserve asset. SDR currencies are required to be open to free trading, and China could have faced criticism if it had placed restrictions on the yuan.

Asian media decry isolationist Trump, fear economic, diplomatic turmoil

January 21, 2017
By Elaine Lies | TOKYO,

A day after Donald Trump became U.S. President and vowed to put “America First”, Asian media decried his isolationist policies, fearing they will chill the global economy and sow widespread international discord.

In a defiant inaugural address, Trump said U.S. workers have been devastated by an outflow of jobs overseas, one of the main themes of a divisive campaign that emphasized making America strong again.

In Japan, one of Washington’s oldest and staunchest Asian allies, newspapers across the political spectrum criticised the new administration, with more than one saying the world was now in “unpredictable territory.”

“Has there ever been a new U.S. administration that began by spreading unease, not expectations, throughout the world?” said the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun, adding that Trump appeared ready to take both alliances and global norms lightly if they didn’t benefit the United States.

The liberal Asahi Shimbun went further and said Trump, who called on allies like Japan and South Korea to shoulder a greater share of defense costs or face the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops, posed a risk to the freer global order born after World War Two and the Cold War.

“Will the unpredictable Trump whirlwind cross the U.S. borders to spread division and conflict? The new master of the White House must realise the heavy responsibility that accompanies his words and actions”, it said.

State media in China, accused of stealing U.S. jobs during Trump’s campaign, said they hoped his government understood the importance of relations with China but that Beijing should also brace for the worst.

“What’s crucial is to control and manage disputes and find a way to resolve them,” said the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.

Worry about friction between the two superpowers loomed over many in the region.

“As an exporting nation reliant on both China and the U.S., we would suffer from greater U.S. protectionism and any trade war,” said the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We may have to negotiate our way through a new world order not just regarding trade and China but also climate, Russia and regional security given Trump’s lack of interest in the U.S. playing the role of sheriff.”

A less-engaged Washington could also lead to shifting alliances and more reliance on regional networks.

“India must not only prepare for a more protectionist America, but also prepare of a United States that does not plan to mess around with other people’s affairs or squander blood and treasure in the name of promoting democratic values,” wrote policy analyst C. Raja Mohan, head of Carnegie India, in the Indian Express.

A few said they expected U.S. political institutions to prevail and that Trump should be given the benefit of the doubt as the duly-elected U.S. leader. “It is wisest to hope he succeeds,” added The Australian in an editorial titled “President Trump Seals the Deal.”

But uncertainty prevailed for the most part.

“Under Trump, the United States is apt to be as edgy and unpredictable as his former television reality show,” said Thailand’s The Nation on Friday.

“The reality show has become reality. We are about to discover whether America can become great again – and whether the word ‘great’ takes on unexpected meanings.”

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Harry Pearl in SYDNEY, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, Douglas Busvine in NEW DELHI, and Orathai Sriring in BANGKOK; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

New China-Mongolia Mining Deal: Economic Windfall or Environmental Threat?

January 21, 2017

The new agreement could be both, as it shifts much of China’s coal production outside its borders and helps Mongolia pay down billions of dollars in debt


Jan. 21, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET

Mongolia recently reached a new deal to sell coal to China, helping it boost its faltering economy and start repaying billions of dollars it owes Wall Street lenders.

Under the landmark agreement completed late last year, Mongolia’s state-owned mining company will sell coal to China at roughly double the previously agreed-upon rate.

The deal follows a devastating four-year period when Mongolian miners exported coal to China at…

Chinese Express Doubts About US Relations Under Trump

January 21, 2017

BEIJING — People in Beijing expressed doubts Saturday about President Donald Trump’s ability to steer the U.S. economy and manage China-American relations, underscoring concerns over trade, Taiwan and other issues.

While Trump didn’t mention China in his inaugural address Friday, he referred often to the country during the campaign and upended diplomatic protocol after the election by speaking on the phone with the president of self-governing Taiwan, the island China considers its own territory.

Aaron Wang, who works for a logistics company, said he hoped for the best but was wary of Trump’s threat to disrupt commerce between the countries, including imposing a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.

“I will wait and see what Trump actually does in the future, but I do hope that the China-U.S. relations can develop in a good direction under Trump’s presidency,” said Wang.

A retired teacher, who would only give her surname, Wei, said Trump hadn’t yet shown that he could handle the U.S. presidency.

“It’s really uncertain whether he can properly run the U.S.,” Wei said. “A business person can run a country very well, but he can also do a very bad job.”

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On a visit to Beijing, Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Davis said he wanted to reinforce the importance of global free trade to Trump, who opposes the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and has suggested he might renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I will give him concrete examples and talk to him about how you can overcome obstacles,” Davis told The Associated Press.

China is the world’s second-largest economy behind the U.S., and Trump railed during his campaign against alleged Chinese cheating at trade and manipulation of its currency. Those assertions came despite evidence that for the past couple of years, China has been intervening in markets to prop up its currency, not push it lower in a manner that would benefit exporters to the detriment of U.S. businesses.

China’s economy slowed over the past year and exports fell back into contraction last month, signaling renewed weakness as it faces possible trade tensions under Trump. However, China still sells considerably more to the United States than it buys, resulting in a trade deficit in goods amounted to $289 billion through the first 10 months of 2016.

In a commentary on Trump’s inaugural address, the official Global Times newspaper said he had made a number of “lofty promises” but offered few details on how he intended to carry them out.

“It remains to be seen if he can keep his ambitious promise throughout his term — correcting the domestic and foreign policies and the world order he believes to have strayed off track,” the paper said.

The commentary also stated that Trump has yet to formulate a China policy despite his constant references to the country during the presidential election campaign.

“His China policy will hinge on how well he understands the overlapping interests of the world’s two largest economies, how their national interests intertwine, and whether he is motivated to change the existing structure with force,” the paper said.

Along with stating that relations with Beijing were open for re-negotiation, Trump has criticized China’s creation of man-made islands in the South China Sea furnished with airstrips and military infrastructure.


Associated Press reporter Peng Peng contributed to this report.

Trump inaugural speech makes international waves — Some React With Alarm to Trump’s ‘America First’ Pledge

January 21, 2017

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President Donald Trump speaks after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
– The Washington Times – Friday, January 20, 2017

There were protests in London, Tokyo and Manila. There were celebrations in Moscow, and expressions of anger, joy and congratulations on social media across the world.

President Donald J. Trump’s inaugural address, in which he warned “every city in every foreign capital” to heed the message that “from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” triggered a range of reactions among international observers Friday.

Some of the most sober came from Germany, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has traded barbs with Mr. Trump in recent days over his criticisms of NATO and her open-door embrace of Syrian refugees.

“We have to prepare for a rough ride,” Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said in the first official German reaction to Mr. Trump’s first speech as the new U.S. president.

Mr. Trump’s election was the result of “a bad radicalization,” Mr. Gabriel said in an interview with the German public broadcaster ZDF, according to Reuters. He also warned that Germany will need a new economic strategy geared toward Asia should the Trump administration start a trade war with China.

There was little reaction Friday from China, itself, amid reports that Chinese government censors had ordered media outlets in the nation not to carry any live streaming or visual coverage of Mr. Trump’s speech.

Chinese news outlets, according to the Financial Times, were also ordered to publish only central state media coverage of the U.S. inaugural proceedings while the Communist party weighed first official response to the Trump presidency.

Mr. Trump, who has railed against Beijing on the campaign trail — asserting that the U.S. cannot “continue to allow China to rape our country” — did not reference the nation by name during his inaugural address.

He instead offered a broad-stroke lament on the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to foreign lands.

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry,” the president said. “[We’ve] spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

“One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind,” Mr. Trump said. “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

“But that is the past,” he said. “And now, we are looking only to the future.”

The speech drew quick praise from some nationalist and protectionist politicians in Europe.

“A very strong speech by @POTUS. He means it,” tweeted the anti-European Union British politician Nigel Farage.

“Great speech,” added the anti-immigrant Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen had praised Mr. Trump on Twitter before he took the stage Friday. And hours before the inauguration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent out his own warm message on Twitter, saying, “Congrats to my friend President Trump. Look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel&USA stronger than ever.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also considered a nationalist, tweeted that he’s “looking forward to working with” President Trump to “deepen India-US ties & realise the full potential of our cooperation.”

Political elites in Russia reveled on Thursday night, gathering for large parties in Moscow and other cities in Russia. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Facebook that while Mr. Trump’s policy toward the nation is not yet clear, “we are hoping that reason will prevail” and “we are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship.”

Pope Francis, meanwhile, issued a statement calling on Mr. Trump to uphold “ethical values” and to not forget America’s ability to help the world’s poor. “Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need,” the pope said.

CNN reported that there was little love for Mr. Trump at the Grand Mosalla, a complex of religious halls and other facilities in Tehran, as people gathered for their usual fiery Friday prayers.

“It makes no difference which president is in power,” a young man wearing a scarf depicting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the network. “Whoever is in power will have that same outlook on Iran, which is a pity.”

And then there was the anger on social media, where some international observers slammed Mr. Trump.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox was perhaps most harsh.

“Today we turn into an era of uncertainty. If Donald the Unready doesn’t learn to behave, the rest of the world needs to come together,” Mr. Fox tweeted. “Speaking of allegiance, Trump? Speaking of greatness? Speaking of success? America was already great and successful, then you happened!”

Anti-Trump protests were held outside the U.S. Embassy in London, as well as in other European cities, including Berlin, where activists with the Netherlands-based Greenpeace organization held signs with the message: “Mr. President, walls divide. Build Bridges!”

Reuters reported that several hundred people, most of them expatriate Americans, held a protest against Mr. Trump Friday in the Japanese capital of Tokyo hours before he took the stage in Washington.

Some people held up electric candles and others carried placards reading “Love Trumps Hate” and “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” as they marched along a downtown street.

In the Philippines, about 200 demonstrators from a nationalist group rallied for about an hour against Trump outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Reuters said.

Some held up signs demanding U.S. troops leave the Philippines while others set fire to a paper U.S. flag bearing a picture of Trump’s face.



 (NATO leader agrees with Trump)


Overseas, Some React With Alarm to Trump’s ‘America First’ Pledge

HONG KONG — In the Philippines, nationalists rallied outside the United States Embassy in Manila, setting fire to an American flag with a picture of President Trump’s face. In China, state media highlighted the “violent” protests that accompanied his inauguration.

In Germany, the vice chancellor warned of a “drastic radicalization” in American politics and said Berlin stood ready to fill the void left by an isolationist Washington. And in Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would tell a skeptical Mr. Trump how important NATO and the European Union are for European and world stability.

“With the threats we face, it’s not the time for less cooperation,” she told The Financial Times. Mrs. May is supposed to travel to Washington to meet Mr. Trump soon, perhaps as early as this week.

In countries around the world, small demonstrations and alarmed reactions greeted Mr. Trump’s ascent to power and his inaugural pledge: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.” But some world leaders embraced the new reality, seeking to accommodate a galvanizing political force whose message has been echoed in mass movements across continents.


Smoking out the source of China’s smog

January 21, 2017

QIAN’AN, CHINA: Day and night, huge chimneys belch out thick smoke into the often-grey skies on the outskirts of Qian’an city, about 220 kilometres southeast of Beijing.

Steel mills around the area have been identified by the government as among the major emitters of air pollutants in northern China.

Songting village lies at the heart of the area. It is dubbed “the source of Beijing’s smog” by some local media and residents have also complained about yellowish ground water.

The seemingly dull village is also closely guarded, tucked between steel mills Jiujiang Wire and Hebei Shougang Qian’an Iron and Steel, as well as a coal chemical plant.

According to Chinese media reports, the pollution is so bad that many villagers have died from cancer and other illnesses.

On Channel NewsAsia’s first visit to the village, we were tailed by a white car so we did not stop until we had left the area. But we went back again in the afternoon.

During our short visit, the village looked abandoned with many houses overgrown with weed and we did not see any residents. When we exited the village, we were blocked by a car whose driver got out to take pictures of our vehicle.

And when we tried to leave Qian’an, there were cars tailing us for almost an hour. It was clear someone did not want the story to be told.

Dong Liansai, a climate and energy campaigner from Greenpeace, said: “This shows that they lack the awareness, and also, the fines for violating emission targets could be too low. So it’s not enough to deter them from polluting the environment and they feel that by spending some resources to chase away people who go there to investigate, it’ll be okay.”

Channel NewsAsia did not get to speak to any villagers in Songting, but residents in the nearby village of Ma’ke showed us the sediments that were left behind after their well water was given time to settle. They also said that no matter how many times they cleaned their house, it was always covered in a layer of dust.

One of them, Madam Wang, said: “The air pollution is not good for the lungs and we don’t dare to … drink the water. If we have the economic means to move away, of course we want to.”

Residents in a village in Qian’an say their well water has been affected by the smog. (Photo: Jeremy Koh)

Other residents echoed her sentiments.

One who did not want to be named said: “Of course we’re worried about our health. Many here have died from illnesses in their 50s. It’s not easy to diagnose. There have been brain hemorrhages and several have died from heart attacks.”

Another said: “I’m worried, but what can I do? No one cares. I want to leave, but if I leave, how can I survive? If I stay on, at least I can work and survive.”

More than three decades of breakneck economic growth has put a strain on China’s air, soil and water. In recent years, China has made fighting pollution a top priority, but that determination seems to have been weakened recently by the need to support growth as the Communist Party gets ready for a once-every-five-years congress later this year.

Just as the government declared stabilising economic growth last year, severe and prolonged smog returned.

Mr Dong from Greenpeace said: “We see that there are supervision mechanisms, but why are such mechanisms unable to effect a positive change?

“Firstly, can such mechanisms give companies a signal, a warning to show them that things are not how they were a few years ago, and that you will be punished if you don’t do a good job in protecting the environment? And also, are such mechanisms insufficient?”

A resident of a village in Qian’an showing the layer of smoke on his windowsill. (Photo: Jeremy Koh)

He added: “Many people still think they can get away with pollution. In other words, they’ll think that there aren’t many cats to catch the rats and everyone’s a rat, so maybe they won’t be caught.”

For residents living at ground zero of China’s fight against pollution, the future is truly foggy.

Nations React to Inauguration With Mix of Good Will, Uncertainty

January 21, 2017

Leaders emphasize need to work together as Donald Trump vows ‘America first’

People watch the U.S. inauguration at a gathering of Trump supporters in Moscow on Friday.

People watch the U.S. inauguration at a gathering of Trump supporters in Moscow on Friday. PHOTO: IVAN SEKRETAREV/ASSOCIATED PRESS


Updated Jan. 20, 2017 10:59 p.m. ET

Global leaders responded to the inauguration of President Donald Trump with wishes for good, and in some cases improved, relations with the U.S.—amid concerns amplified by his inaugural pledge that, “from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.”

Mr. Trump had indicated before Friday’s ceremony that he would rewrite many long-established U.S. policy positions, and a common thread in official reactions from around the world was a hope for healthy ties.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he looked forward to working with the new president. Mr. Trump criticized Japan on the campaign trail, but a meeting with Mr. Abe after the election appeared to calm things down.

Amid security concerns in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr. Abe said, “I would like to further strengthen the unwavering tie between Japan and the United States based on the relationship of trust between us the two leaders.”

In Germany, a spokesman for Angela Merkel said the chancellor would study the inaugural speech—and that close cooperation with Mr. Trump and his team would begin in the coming days.

Yet Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tweeted words of warning: “Dear USA, stay the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Some German politicians reacted to Mr. Trump’s address with concern. “Closing borders, America first, and the blood of a patriot. I am very cold,” Katrin Göring-Eckardt, co-head in the German parliament of the left-of-center Greens, wrote on Twitter.

Pope Francis sent Mr. Trump a message from the Vatican: “I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom world-wide.”

The two sparred in February 2016 after the pope criticized Mr. Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants. Mr. Trump called the pope “disgraceful.”

A protester holds a placard during a rally in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Friday.

A protester holds a placard during a rally in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Friday.PHOTO: FRANCIS R. MALASIG/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

There also were notes of caution from Asia. In an opinion piece Saturday in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, an influential English-language newspaper owned by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, columnist Andrew Sheng suggested that Asians would need to be more self-sufficient under a potentially unpredictable U.S. president willing to shake up the status quo, even with America’s staunchest allies in the region.

“As America moves to a new…junction, the choice is not between left or right, but between a great America or a small-minded America. Time for Asians to think and act for themselves,” Mr. Sheng wrote.

South Korea’s center-right newspaper Joongang Ilbo, one of the country’s biggest-circulation dailies, said in an editorial Saturday that “our relations with the U.S. will face a challenge as Trump will most likely call for us to assume a bigger share in the cost of U.S. forces here and a renegotiation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.” But the editorial also praised Mr. Trump for taking a hard-line on North Korea’s nuclear-development program.

The Hangook Ilbo, another Seoul daily, was blunt: “Now, everything becomes uncertain,” the headline read, with a close-up photo of Mr. Trump blanketing most of the front page.

Officials in countries that have had frosty ties with the U.S. signaled hope that they could work with the new administration.

Russia’s embassy in Washington tweeted: “It is possible to solve many problems if Russia, U.S. focus on a pragmatic search for shared interests” and attached a photo of an invitation to the inauguration festivities.

In Moscow, more than 100 Russians from the nationalist-leaning sectors of society gathered in a Soviet-era telegraph office, where they drank champagne and toasted the new U.S. president.

Members of the pro-Kremlin art collective “White Star” attended the event. “We didn’t hack the election!” said member Mikhail Kovalyov, wearing a Trump and Pence baseball cap.

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales, a critic of the U.S. who expelled the American ambassador nearly a decade ago, said on Twitter that he hoped to improve ties with Mr. Trump’s administration by exchanging ambassadors.

He said he hoped Mr. Trump reduces foreign interventions and the expansion of military bases “to guarantee peace with social justice.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisisaid he expects “a new momentum in the trajectory of Egyptian-American relations” under Mr. Trump’s administration.

In Mexico, which has had strong relations with the U.S., officials and business owners are watching the start of the presidency with concern and caution. Since Mr. Trump’s victory, the Mexican peso has plunged to historic lows against the dollar, while new investment has dried up—victims of Mr. Trump’s pledge to renegotiate or rescind the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“For the whole world a period of turbulence is beginning, without direction, in which there appears nothing good will happen, at least not in the short and medium term,” wrote former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda.

A man reads a newspaper ahead of the U.S. inauguration in New Delhi on Friday.

A man reads a newspaper ahead of the U.S. inauguration in New Delhi on Friday. PHOTO: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

Hillary Clinton outperformed Mr. Trump in global popularity polls during the 2016 campaign, and anti-Trump protests sprung up in several foreign cities Friday, including Brussels and Berlin.

In Manila, protesters gathered near the U.S. Embassy to warn their country’s leader not to get too close to Mr. Trump. Holding placards and chanting “Dump Trump,” they said they wanted to send a message that Mr. Trump’s presidency could endanger the status of Filipino immigrants living in the U.S. They also protested against U.S. access to Philippine military bases and complained that Mr. Trump’s election set back the cause of women’s rights.

Write to Felicia Schwartz at


John Kerry was applauded at the World Economic Forum in Davos as he appeared to say the Trump administration would only last 'a year, two years'

John Kerry was applauded at the World Economic Forum in Davos as he appeared to say the Trump administration would only last ‘a year, two years’ — AFP photo

 (NATO leader agrees with Trump)

George Soros: Donald Trump is a “would-be dictator” who will fail — Theresa May will not last because Brexit cannot work

January 21, 2017

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George Soros. Getty Images

AFP and The Associated Press

Billionaire George Soros on Thursday delivered a scathing assessment of US President Donald Trump, calling him a “would-be-dictator” who is “going to fail.”

Ahead of Trump’s inauguration in Washington, Soros said the president was “gearing up for a trade war” that would have “a very far reaching effect in Europe and other parts of the world.”

The “would-be-dictator… didn’t expect to win, he was surprised,” the Hungarian-born financier told an audience of business leaders and journalists at a hotel in Davos, where the World Economic Forum is being held.

“I personally have confidence that he’s going to fail … because his ideas that guide him are inherently self-contradictory,” Soros said, adding that members of Trump’s Cabinet are each fighting for different interests.

Soros, who was a supporter of Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton during last year’s campaign, lost nearly US$1 billion as a consequence of the rally prompted by Trump’s surprise election victory, press reports said.

With the inauguration scheduled for shortly after press time last night, hundreds of thousands of people were expected to fill the US capital.

While the majority were there to celebrate, some protesters said their plan was to do their best to disrupt the day.

A coalition calling itself DisruptJ20, after the date of the inauguration, said people participating in its actions were to attempt to shut down or cause delays at security checkpoints going into the ceremony.

They intended to block checkpoints and perhaps risk arrest.

“Our goals are to have massive protests and to shut down the inauguration if at all possible, and if not possible — if we can’t shut the inauguration down — then make it as difficult as possible for Trump to act as if he has a mandate,” organizer David Thurston told reporters last week.

On Thursday night, protesters and supporters of Trump clashed outside a pro-Trump event in Washington called the “DeploraBall.”

Police used chemical spray on some protesters in an effort to control the crowd.

The demonstrations are not expected to end when Trump takes up residence in the White House.

A massive Women’s March on Washington was planned for today.

Organizers estimated 200,000 people would attend the event.

District of Columbia Homeland Security Director Christopher Geldart said 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city today, which would mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus.

Additional reporting by AP


The 86-year-old Mr Soros also said Trump was an “imposter and con-man” who was “gearing up for a trade war” which would have far-reaching consequences on the rest of the world.


Palestinian demonstrators take part in a protest against a promise by Donald Trump to re-locate the US embassy to Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Nablus on 19 January Reuters

“I personally am convinced that (Trump) is going to fail,” Mr Soros said, in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the Swiss town.

“Not because of people like me who would like him to fail, but because the ideas that guide him are inherently self-contradictory.”

Mr Soros, who donated $1m (£810,000) in June 2015 to Priorities USA Action which supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign, also said Mr Trump “didn’t expect to win, he was surprised”.

“In my opinion it is unlikely that Prime Minister May is actually going to remain in power. Already she has a very divided cabinet, a very small majority in Parliament. And I think she will not last,” said Mr Soros, who was nicknamed The Man Who Broke the Bank of England because of his $10bn (£8.1bn) short sale of sterling in 1992.

“At the moment the people in the UK are in denial.

“The current economic situation is not as bad as was predicted and they live in hope. But as the currency depreciates, and inflation will be the driving force, this will lead to declining living standards.

“This is going to take some time, but when it does happen they’ll realise that they are earning less than before because wages won’t rise as fast as the cost of living.


China's President Xi Jinping after his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Picture: AP

China’s President Xi Jinping after his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Picture: AP

“The divorce is going to take a very long time. It’s much harder to divorce than to get married, so I think the desire for rapprochement will develop, and in theory or maybe even in practice you could have a situation in 2019 or 2020 when Britain will leave the EU, because it does have to take place, but they could leave on a Friday but join over the weekend and have the new arrangement in place on Monday morning.”

Theresa May has already hailed the UK as a foreign investment hub at Davos, despite HSBC’s plan to move 1,000 jobs to Paris.

It followed US Vice President Joe Biden’s stinging attack at the forum on the world’s richest one per cent, and Chinese President Xi Jinping warning against isolationist trade wars.

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John Kerry was applauded at the World Economic Forum in Davos as he appeared to say the Trump administration would only last 'a year, two years'

John Kerry was applauded at the World Economic Forum in Davos as he appeared to say the Trump administration would only last ‘a year, two years’ — AFP photo

Philippines: Better ties possible with Trump-led US — Hear Trumps Words, “America will not impose its way of life on other nations.”

January 21, 2017
Abella said that the government’s priority in foreign relations is “the common good of the Filipino people and the national interest.” File photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines welcomes a change in US foreign policy under President Donald Trump, who said in his inauguration speech that America will not impose its way of life on other nations, a Palace official said.
In a statement released to the media, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the Philippines and the US can have a “placid and mutually beneficial relationship” as longtime allies.
“Our diplomatic ties need to reflect our long-standing relationship but under terms and conditions that protect our people’s interests,” Abella said.
Relations between the Philippines and the US have been strained in recent months, especially over concerns raised by the Obama administration over potential human rights violations in the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the Philippines will seek an independent foreign policy and closer ties with China, Russia and with Asian neighbors. He has also announced the country’s “separation” from the US, its former colonizer and longtime ally.
Trump said Friday night (Manila time) that his administration “we will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”
He said that the US does not “seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”
Trump, who has promised more protectionist policies for the US, said that he will bring jobs that have been outsourced to other countries back to the US.
“Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” he said.
Abella said that better relations with the US are possible but also said that the Philippines will continue to strengthening ties with “other friends and partners in the international community.”

Donald Trump launches radical agenda including plan to build nuclear missile defence system against North Korea and Iran, Scrapping Obamacare

January 21, 2017

President Donald Trump CREDIT: AFP


President Donald Trump wasted no time launching the most radical agenda of any president in living memory, vowing to build a nuclear missile defence system to counter attacks from North Korea and Iran, and announcing a plan to eviscerate his predecessor’s actions on climate change.

Within minutes of his inauguration Mr Trump’s team posted a statement on the White House website announcing the “state-of-the-art” nuclear defence plan although no further details of cost, or whether it differed from technology already in development, were given.

Climate change plan scrapped

There was also an announcement from the White House on Mr Trump’scommitment to overhaul Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at enforcing clean water.

Mr Trump said his predecessor’s plan, which involved cutting carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations, was “harmful and unnecessary” and he was committed to “maximising the use of American resources”.

He said revenue from energy production would be used to pay for rebuilding roads, bridges, schools and other crumbling infrastructure, and doing so would increase wages by more than $30 billion over the next seven years.

Watch | Donald Trump delivered the most ‘American’ inauguration speech ever


National Day of Patriotism

Mr Trump had previously indicated that he would consider Monday “day one” of his administration.

But he appeared to have instead decided to hit the ground running, saying he was keen to “get the show going”.

Only an hour after after finishing his inaugural address he signed his first three official orders.

They were a proclamation for a “National Day of Patriotism,” a formal document that will allow General James Mattis to serve as Defence Secretary, and a paper bearing formal nominations to the Senate.

Mr Trump’s team moved in to offices in the White House the moment he was sworn in, with one of them suggesting he could “erase the Obama presidency in several hours”.

Watch | Trump supporters rejoice at his inauguration


US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus look on at the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017. Jim Watson, AFP

Ending Obamacare

Repealing Obamacare, immigration controls, efforts to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and strictures on lobbying in Washington, were also high on his list of priorities.

Aides said Mr Trump was still working through exactly which orders to sign but there was expected to be a frenzy of activity over the next five days.

Republican Party officials said they expected several executive orders relating to repealing Obamacare, Mr Obama’s signature healthcare policy, almost immediately.

An official at the Department of Health said they were “nervous,” adding: “I don’t know what we’re rolling out on Monday.”

Watch | Highlights of President Trump’s inaugural speech


Bringing back jobs

Mr Trump also began using his Twitter account to make announcements minutes after finishing his inaugural address, promising to give power “back to the people”.

He said: “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams. We will follow two simple rules – buy American and hire American.

“This will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

Radical agenda

As part of his radical populist platform Mr Trump has promised to deliver a $1 trillion programme to rebuild infrastructure, and is considering $10.5 trillion cuts to government spending over a decade,

Immigration was central to his campaign and he has vowed to build a “beautiful” wall and “make Mexico pay for it”.

Mr Trump wants to begin building the wall within months and the first funding for it could come from Congress by April.

As part of his commitment to “draining the swamp” of Washington politics he is expected to announce hiring freeze on all government employees, reducing the workforce through attrition.

He will renegotiate the North American Free Trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

In his first televised interview after winning the election in November Mr Trump vowed to immediately deport up to three million illegal immigrants with criminal records as one of his first acts.

Through his America first foreign policy he could break from the traditional Republican commitment to free trade, imposing punitive tariffs on foreign goods.

Mr Trump has also called Nato “obsolete” and indicated he may not guarantee protection to allies who don’t “pay their way”.