Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras

July 9, 2018

In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station.

In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped the police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival.

In Wuhu, a fugitive murder suspect was identified by a camera as he bought food from a street vendor.

With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with crucial help from its thriving technology industry.

By Paul Mozur
The New York Times
July 8, 2018

A video showing facial recognition software in use at the headquarters of the artificial intelligence company Megvii in Beijing. Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

“In the past, it was all about instinct,” said Shan Jun, the deputy chief of the police at the railway station in Zhengzhou, where the heroin smuggler was caught. “If you missed something, you missed it.”

China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a great democratizer, bringing people more freedom and connecting them to the world. In China, it has brought control.

Megvii employees at the company’s offices in Beijing.CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

In some cities, cameras scan train stations for China’s most wanted. Billboard-size displays show the faces of jaywalkers and list the names of people who can’t pay their debts. Facial recognition scanners guard the entrances to housing complexes. Already, China has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras — four times as many as the United States.

Such efforts supplement other systems that track internet use and communications, hotel stays, train and plane trips and even car travel in some places.

 

Even so, China’s ambitions outstrip its abilities. Technology in place at one train station or crosswalk may be lacking in another city, or even the next block over. Bureaucratic inefficiencies prevent the creation of a nationwide network.

For the Communist Party, that may not matter. Far from hiding their efforts, Chinese authorities regularly state, and overstate, their capabilities. In China, even the perception of surveillance can keep the public in line.

Some places are further along than others. Invasive mass-surveillance software has been set up in the west to track members of the Uighur Muslim minority and map their relations with friends and family, according to software viewed by The New York Times.

“This is potentially a totally new way for the government to manage the economy and society,” said Martin Chorzempa, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“The goal is algorithmic governance,” he added.

Police officers wearing A.I.-powered smart glasses in Luoyang.CreditReuters

The Shame Game

The intersection south of Changhong Bridge in the city of Xiangyang used to be a nightmare. Cars drove fast and jaywalkers darted into the street.

Then last summer, the police put up cameras linked to facial recognition technology and a big, outdoor screen. Photos of lawbreakers were displayed alongside their names and government I.D. numbers. People were initially excited to see their faces on the board, said Guan Yue, a spokeswoman, until propaganda outlets told them it was punishment.

Read the rest:

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/business/china-surveillance-technology.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

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Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Falls in Hong Kong Trading Debut

July 9, 2018

Company’s performance could affect other tech companies looking to list in the city

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun bangs a gong as his company makes its debut on Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Monday.
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun bangs a gong as his company makes its debut on Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Monday. PHOTO: BOBBY YIP/REUTERS
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Shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp., which raised US$4.7 billion in one of Hong Kong’s largest tech initial public offerings in recent years, fell on their debut Monday as the broader market rose.

The lackluster start came after Xiaomi priced its IPO at the low end of an expected range, giving the company a valuation of $54 billion. If the shares perform poorly in the coming days and weeks, they could hurt the prospects of other tech companies who are preparing their own multibillion-dollar listings in the city.

Xiaomi opened at HK$16.60, 2.4% lower than its IPO price of HK$17. Shares fell as low as HK$16 a share and were recently at HK$16.82. The broader Hang Seng Index rose 1.6%.

The stock that was made available to retail investors drew orders represented 9.5 times the shares offered, the company said Friday. That is far short of the oversubscription rates for other tech IPOs in Hong Kong. Orders for a separate block for foreign investors only slightly exceeded the amount offered.

Xiaomi’s debut comes at a challenging time for Chinese stocks as investor sentiment has been hurt by an escalating trade conflict with the U.S. Last month, Shanghai’s key index entered bear-market territory—meaning a 20% drop from its recent high—and Hong Kong’s benchmark is down more than 10% from a January peak.

“Investors are skeptical about Xiaomi’s growth momentum as the global smartphone market seems to be on a downward slope,” said Jacky Zhang, an analyst at BOC International in Shanghai.

Xiaomi is one of China’s top makers of cheap yet stylish smartphones and other consumer gadgets. Founder and CEO Lei Jun hopes the IPO can fuel more international expansion after the company previously pushed into India, Southeast Asia and Europe. Eventually, it would like to sell phones in the U.S.

Yet Xiaomi stumbled in the lead-up to the flotation. It tried to position itself as an internet company instead of a pure maker of gadgets, in the hope that it would garner a higher valuation.

Investors were skeptical, and the eight-year-old company ultimately priced its IPO at the bottom end of expectations. The $54 billion valuation was well below not only early projections of $100 billion, but short of several analysts’ estimates of $65 billion to $85 billion.

“Hong Kong investors have never seen something like this before,” said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital and an early investor in Xiaomi, at the stock exchange’s listing ceremony on Monday. “Hong Kong investors need time to get used to the story, just like U.S. investors took time to get used to Facebook . ”

The company is the first to list in Hong Kong with supervoting shares under new rules implemented by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.

Write to Dan Strumpf at daniel.strumpf@wsj.com and Joanne Chiu at joanne.chiu@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-smartphone-maker-xiaomi-falls-in-hong-kong-trading-debut-1531106876

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U.N. experts seek urgent release of widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

July 4, 2018

U.N. human rights experts urged China on Wednesday to release Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and allow her to seek treatment for deteriorating health, including traveling abroad.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses

FILE PHOTO: A pro-democracy protester holds a portrait of Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, during a protest to call for the freeing of Chinese dissidents outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The appeal came nearly a year after Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer on July 13, 2017 while in custody, having been jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power”.

Liu Xia, an artist and poet who suffers from depression, has been under effective house arrest since her husband was awarded the prize in 2010. She has never been charged with any crime and was last seen in public at his funeral accompanied by Chinese authorities.

“We are disturbed by reports of the deteriorating health of Liu Xia. She is reportedly physically restricted at an unknown location and suffers from severe psychological distress,” U.N. independent experts on enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and human rights defenders said in a joint statement.

“We reiterate our call to the Chinese government to disclose her whereabouts and release her,” they said.

China has repeatedly said Liu Xia is free and is accorded all rights guaranteed to her by Chinese law.

However, Beijing-based Western diplomats have said she has been closely monitored by Chinese authorities since her husband’s death and has only been able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.

A friend who recently spoke to her by telephone said in May that she was losing hope of leaving the country.

In the past, Chinese dissidents have been allowed to leave the country and take up residence in a willing Western nation.

But President Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2013, has presided over a sweeping campaign to quash dissent throughout Chinese society, detaining hundreds of rights activists and lawyers, with dozens jailed.

The U.N. experts voiced alarm at “the growing trend of deaths in custody in China” – who have included activist Cao Shunli in 2014 and Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in 2016.

Image may contain: Hoa Nguyen

Cao Shunli

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a speech last month, accused China of preventing independent activists from testifying before U.N. rights bodies. He voiced concern that conditions were “fast deteriorating” in the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

“A number of Chinese human rights lawyers are in detention or simply disappeared,” Alim Seytoff, director of the Uighur service at Radio Free Asia, said at a panel last week.

“The situation of freedom of expression of Uighurs in the northwest of China is even worse,” he said.

Image result for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, photos
Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

China, responding to “unfounded accusations” by Western states at the U.N. Human Rights Council, said last week that it encourages activists but “does not allow any organization or individual to engage in subversive or destabilizing activities using the pretext of protecting rights or freedom of speech”.

“Meanwhile, the government is cracking down on ethnic separatists and violent terrorists’ activities to safeguard national security and protect people’s lives and property,” Chinese diplomat Jiang Yingfeng told the forum.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra

Reuters

Chinese yuan down 4 per cent in 11 days as central bank arms itself for trade war with US

June 28, 2018

The PBOC continues to lower the currency in what analysts say may be an attempt to make exports more competitive as trade tensions escalate

South China Morning Post
June 28, 2018

The Chinese yuan fell for an 11th straight day on Thursday, taking its losses during the period to 4 per cent against the US dollar.

This morning’s decline comes after the People’s Bank of China lowered the currency’s daily fixing rate for a seventh consecutive day, a strong signal that the central bank wants to see a weaker yuan as it gears up for a possible all-out trade war with the US.

The offshore yuan traded at a fresh six-month low of 6.6300 per US dollar on Thursday morning, down 0.2 per cent from Wednesday and 3.8 per cent from June 13, just before its 11-day losing streak began.

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It is becoming increasingly clear that global trade developments have weighed heavily on the yuan
LUKMAN OTUNUGA, RESEARCH ANALYST, FXTM
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The currency has tumbled every day since June 14, when the PBOC opted not to follow the US Federal reserve in increasing the interest rate. Its decline has also tracked the escalation in trade tension between the US and China.

The PBOC set the yuan’s midpoint at 6.5960 per dollar on Thursday morning, down 0.6 per cent or 391 points from Wednesday’s 6.5569, which itself was 0.6 per cent lower than Tuesday. The central bank has lowered the midpoint for the last seven days in a row, reducing it by 2.7 per cent. It is now down 3.1 per cent from June 14.

kman Otunuga, a research analyst at FXTM, a British foreign-currency trading company, said the PBOC’s tactic of lowering the official fixing of the yuan was an effort to cushion the effects of trade tariffs imposed by the US. Generally, a weaker yuan helps exporters by making their prices more competitive overseas.

“The yuan has weakened to its lowest level this year against the US dollar with prices punching above the 6.6000 level. It is becoming increasingly clear that global trade developments have weighed heavily on the yuan,” Otunuga said. “While the yuan could recover if trade tensions start to ease, any signs of escalating trade war fears are likely to pressure the currency.”

The yuan has never yet been allowed to trade freely. Its price depends on a daily fixing rate set by the PBOC every morning, around which it can only trade in a range of 2 per cent either side. The fixing rate is therefore seen by the market as a signal of the central bank’s strategy.

After PBOC set the fixing lower, the offshore yuan traded in the international market trade at 6.6300 per US dollar on Thursday morning, down 0.2 from previous close. and is now trading a fresh six month lowest. The yuan now traded at a similar level in mid December.

The onshore yuan, traded in Shanghai, also hit a six-month low of 6.6247 against the greenback on Thursday morning, down 0.4 per cent from the previous close.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at forex trading company Oanda, expected the weak yuan would lead the US dollar higher against other emerging-market currencies during the trade war.

“With the US dollar reasserting itself as the unquestionable hedge against an escalating trade war, there’s no escaping the wrath of a stronger US dollar,” Innes said.

http://www.scmp.com/business/banking-finance/article/2152848/chinese-yuan-down-4-cent-11-days-central-bank-arms-itself

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China Sends Yuan to Fresh Six-Month Low

June 28, 2018

The currency’s value has also started to weaken not just against the dollar, but on a global basis

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China’s central bank guided the yuan to its weakest value against the dollar in more than six months Thursday, the latest leg down for the Chinese currency in a slide that has gathered pace this week.

 

The People’s Bank of China set the dollar’s reference rate at 6.5960 yuan, 0.6% lower than its value in the previous day’s “fix,” which reflects the previous day’s close and overnight currency moves. That put the yuan at its lowest level against the dollar since Dec. 20.

A portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong on a yuan bank note is reflected in water droplets.
A portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong on a yuan bank note is reflected in water droplets.PHOTO: NICKY LOH/REUTERS

The yuan fell further shortly after trading began in mainland China, hitting its weakest value since Dec. 13, according to Wind Info. In recent action, one dollar bought 6.6167 yuan, putting the Chinese currency on track for a daily loss of 0.3%.

In the offshore market, the yuan was little changed from the previous day with one dollar buying 6.6192 yuan.

The yuan’s drop accelerated after China and the U.S. escalated threats of trade tariffs in the middle of this month, and got another push Sunday after China’s central bank announced measures to inject more than $100 billioninto the financial system.

The diverging fortunes of the world’s two largest economies argue for a weaker yuan. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates two more times this year due to the strong economy, while recent Chinese data suggest growth is starting to slow and the country’s central bank is likely to loosen policy further.

Some analysts have argued China could use a yuan devaluation to fight back against U.S. tariffs on its exports.

Still, Chinese authorities are eager to moderate the pace of the yuan’s depreciation, traders said. If the currency slides too quickly, it could spark destabilizing capital outflows that proved hard to tame in the months after the yuan’s 2015 devaluation.

Traders and investors say they are now watching the scale of the yuan’s latest decline in relation to other major currencies. The yuan has dropped 1.8% against the dollar this week, outpacing the euro’s 0.8% fall, the Japanese yen’s 0.2% slip and the Korean won’s 0.8% pullback.

That means the yuan’s value has also started to weaken not just against the dollar, but on a global basis. The dollar, euro, yen and won make up more than 60% of the yuan’s trade-weighted basket, which is closely monitored by the Chinese central bank.

The yuan has now dropped 1.6% against the greenback this year.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-sends-yuan-to-fresh-six-month-low-1530159998

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Has the Big Chinese Yuan Short Finally Arrived?

June 26, 2018

China is grappling with the same issues that heralded the last big yuan selloff

As long as Chinese investors see a bright future in housing, the yuan should be OK.
As long as Chinese investors see a bright future in housing, the yuan should be OK. PHOTO: TPG/ZUMA PRESS
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Chinese markets are in trouble once again.

China’s currency is down nearly 1% from Friday’s close, wiping out the yuan’s gains for the year, after the People’s Bank of China cut reserve requirements for banks over the weekend. Slowing growth and rising trade tensions are pummeling Chinese shares, with the Shanghai Composite entering a bear market Tuesday. And rising defaults are testing the country’s gargantuan debt market.

To investors with a long memory, this may sound uncomfortably familiar. The last big yuan selloff, beginning in mid-2015, was heralded by a historic stock-market collapse, a rash of corporate bond defaults and Chinese monetary easing. China’s currency will probably come under further pressure. But a 2016-style blowout—when the currency dropped 7% over the year—may be avoided.

Big capital outflows have yet to reappear. As in 2015, the U.S. and Chinese central banks are moving in opposite directions, making yuan assets less attractive. Investors owning Chinese rather than U.S. 10-year government bonds pocketed a measly 0.6 percentage-point yield premium in May, the smallest since late 2016. Still, Chinese banks purchased a net $19 billion of foreign exchange in May, compared with sales of more than $100 billion in late 2015—a sign that investors remain relatively happy to hold yuan.

Bricked UpChinese property prices, change from a monthearlierSource: CEIC
%Top-tier citiesTier-2 citiesTier-3 cities2014’15’16’17’18-2-101234

One reason is that investors are more confident in Beijing’s ability to defend the currency, thanks to tough capital controls put in place after the 2015 debacle.

A more compelling reason: The most important yuan-denominated asset, Chinese real estate, is still doing rather well. By late 2015, housing prices in many small and medium-size cities had been falling for 18 straight months. By contrast, Chinese housing prices have gained steam in recent months. And although sales growth has slowed, inventories remain low, helping support the market. As long as Chinese investors can make money gambling on housing—and companies can make money building or selling them—weakness in the stock and bond markets may not be enough to trigger a full-scale stampede out of the yuan.

But foreign investors still look too sanguine on China’s currency. Prices for offshore nondeliverable yuan forwards, used to speculate on the Chinese currency, put it at 6.6 against the dollar one year ahead, only marginally weaker than the current spot price of 6.5.

That sort of complacency looks risky. China is now gradually easing monetary policy, while the Federal Reserve is tightening. Trade tensions are rising, and China posted its first current-account deficit since 2001 in the first quarter. Growth will probably slow further in the second half.

Panic or no panic, a weaker Chinese currency in the months ahead still seems likely.

Write to Nathaniel Taplin at nathaniel.taplin@wsj.com

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China Takes The “Confusion Defense” on Trade — “We are too stupid to understand this” (Pure Propaganda)

June 24, 2018

China says it is confused by the demands of President Trump. But wanting intellectual property theft to stop is very clear.

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South China Morning Post

Donald Trump has called on China to capitulate to U.S. demands on trade. The problem is nobody knows exactly what Trump actually wants – including the Chinese.

One week, he condemns threats to American national security interests and the next, agrees to lift a ban on doing business with Chinese telecom giant ZTE. He rails about the U.S. trade deficit with China, then dismisses Beijing’s offer – negotiated by his own officials – to boost its purchases of U.S. goods by billions of dollars.

Image result for Wang Qishan, photos

Wang Qishan (left) with Xi Jinping

Beyond the feints and jabs, he’s raised so many different issues that it’s hard to know what his priorities might really be.

The strategy is straight out of “The Art of the Deal”: “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” But some doubt that approach translates to negotiating with a global superpower. By all accounts, it has left the Chinese increasingly mystified about what Trump really wants at a pivotal moment when the world’s two largest economies are teetering on the edge of sustained trade warfare.

“They’re absolutely confused,” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of the Chinese.

Without clear demands, he argued, Beijing is unlikely to offer much. “The concession has to get them something. And they don’t know what they’re going to get because the U.S. doesn’t have a strategy.”

Chinese officials, for their part, are increasingly blunt about their frustration.

Liu He, china’s vice premier and President Xi Jinping’s economic captain, dispatched central-bank governor Yi Gang to talk to state media to try to calm jittery investors.
Liu He knows exactly what the U.S. wants. He is  China’s vice premier and President Xi Jinping’s economic captain. He dispatched central-bank governor Yi Gang to talk to state media to try to calm jittery investors on Sunday, June 24, 2018. PHOTO: LINTAO ZHANG/GETTY IMAGES

“We appeal our American interlocutors to be credible and consistent,” Li Kexin, minister at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said in a speech Tuesday at the Institute for China-America Studies. “When you agree, you mean it.”

And on Friday, Gao Feng, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, criticized the U.S. as “capricious.”

Trump’s aggressive approach is a reversal from more than a decade of U.S. policy toward China, which involved negotiating on a suite of business issues every year to make incremental progress. Any gains were secured largely by convincing Beijing that a more open economy was ultimately in its best interests – a tactic that worked very slowly and only to a point.

The president’s willingness to antagonize China more directly has largely been embraced by the U.S. companies and workers desperate for quicker and more substantial results. But veterans of international negotiations are skeptical that negotiations will succeed unless they’re more clearly focused.

“Yes, they have a plan. No, I don’t think it will work,” said Bill Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The plan is always push harder, demand everything and offer nothing.”

The underlying structure of China’s economy is the cause of many of U.S. companies’ most intractable complaints, something that won’t change in a matter of weeks or even months.

Beijing makes U.S. companies jump through more hoops than domestic companies. It conducts cyber espionage and steals U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property, like patents. And the Chinese government subsidizes its companies on a grand scale, guaranteeing that they can sell goods below a market-set price.

All of these policies have been identified by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as the impetus for new tariffs set to be imposed on $50 billion in Chinese goods. But across the ideological spectrum, China watchers are worried the president’s laser-like focus on the trade deficit may lead him to lose focus on seeking structural changes to the Chinese nonmarket system.

“This is a multiyear process that involves a lot of pain,” Scissors said. “If you don’t want to face the pain and take the time, then don’t do it.”

Chinese officials have similarly cautioned that this negotiation may take years.

“Let’s talk about it, no matter on trade deficit or structural issues,” Li said.

Adding to the confusion, senior administration officials have said they don’t know exactly what Trump will decide to say or do on trade at any given moment. That uncertainty has led advisers to compete for his attention in a bid to sway him, which leads to varied tactics and mixed messaging.

Officials like National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow have indicated the goal is to knock down barriers to U.S. exports, such as tariffs. But under the rules of the World Trade Organization, China is bound to give the United States the same tariff treatment as every other WTO member, making negotiations on the reduction of duties difficult.

Meanwhile, the new U.S. tariffs, aimed at extracting concessions from the Chinese, were designed largely as a response to intellectual property theft, with a nod to China’s policy of propping up companies in particular sectors.

China responded to the announcement of those tariffs by scheduling duties on U.S. goods that mirror the size and timing of the administration’s action. On Tuesday, Trump responded by threatening to slap tariffs on as much as $450 billion in Chinese goods. The administration is also planning next week to place new investment restrictions on the Asian nation.

“Increasingly, I’ve been asked by fairly high-level folks [in China] to just explain what is going on,” said Taiya Smith, who worked under former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to develop formalized trade talks between Washington and Beijing, then called the Strategic Economic Dialogue.

In a press call on Tuesday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro criticized Beijing’s offers thus far. “If they thought that they could buy us off with a few extra products sold and allow them to continue to steal our intellectual property and crown jewels, that was a miscalculation,” he said. “We hope going forward, there is no more miscalculation.”

So what concessions might be enough? The clearest document outlining U.S. demands looked more like asks in negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement than a targeted deal aimed at heading off punitive tariffs.

The administration in May said it wanted China to commit to reducing the trade deficit by $200 billion by 2020. It also asked China to stop subsidizing high-tech sectors like robotics and alternative energy vehicles identified in its China’s strategic economic plan, cut tariffs on “all products in non-critical sectors” to levels at or below U.S. duties and assure that it would not challenge U.S. actions taken in intellectual property disputes.

Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s chief negotiator, said at the time that it wasn’t his goal to “change the Chinese system,” despite his long list of criticisms of that system.

“If they want to do it, that’s fine, but I have to be in a position where the United States can deal with it, where the United States isn’t a victim of it,” he said.

A source familiar with the negotiations said Lighthizer and Navarro both seem to be of the view that China is not going to change, and so they’re taking action to protect the U.S. market. It’s possible, the source added, that a lot of the new trade restrictions will simply remain in place.

Trump himself has railed repeatedly against the massive trade deficit between the U.S. and China, which stood at $566 billion in 2017. He’s also nodded to China’s practice of forcing companies to hand over valuable technology and data.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump tweeted in April. “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

But he muddied the waters last month by offering to strike a deal to save embattled Chinese telecom giant ZTE, which policy experts argue could’ve been used as an example to Chinese companies that break the law.

The Commerce Department in April imposed a seven-year ban on American companies doing business with ZTE, alleging the company had conducted illegal sales to North Korea and Iran. The ban threatened to shutter the company.

But then Trump tweeted that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping were working on a way to get ZTE “back into business, fast,” adding, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) criticized the move as inconsistent with Trump’s effort to get tough on China. “While we simply cannot let China’s unfair trade practices go unchecked, this President’s erratic approach to resolving this issue gives me pause,” he said in a statement.

The Senate has since moved to block Commerce’s deal with ZTE.

Beyond uncertainty about the administration’s goals, U.S. business groups also aren’t pleased with the approach taken by the administration — imposing a lot of new tariffs — in a bid to spur change.

“One way we’ve been putting it lately is: right question, wrong answer,” said Josh Kallmer, senior vice president of global policy at the Information Technology Industry Council.

“We’ve actually been really supportive of the administration for undertaking the investigation and raising this to a level of seriousness that past administrations have not,” added Kallmer, a former career official at the USTR with experience in negotiating with China.

But “the path they’ve gone on, we’ve found it to be pretty counterproductive and bordering on irresponsible,” he added, saying tariffs are merely going to hurt American standards of living by raising prices.

He argued instead that the U.S. should be focused specifically on intellectual property theft, and it should recruit the help of U.S. allies like Canada, Europe and Japan, rather than further antagonizing those countries.

“There’s no question that the attorneys and key policy officials at USTR are seeing the big picture,” Kallmer said. “But then when it gets to be time for political-level officials to make a judgment about what to do, I think they are being selective and incomplete. They’re really taking their eye off the ball.”

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2152195/chinese-leaders-absolutely-confused-trumps-demands

Peace and Freedom Note:  Donald Trump wants a “New World Order” which includes a totally new way of looking at China, free and fair trade without tariffs or government support to businesses. He does not want intellectual property theft. He wants all to have access to U.S. and Chinese markets without fear of coercion, human rights abuses, unfair business practice and violations of international law. He is against “dumping” of steel and aluminum. He wants mutual trust between China and the U.S.

China — And The Road Toward Greatness

June 24, 2018

We keep hearing a lot about Chinese greatness amid stories of a surveillance state, intellectual property theft, coercion and censorship.

People in the West keep hoping China will become “more like us” but that is not likely ever to happen. At least not in the near future.

The Chinese people today can be viewed as an army of national patriots in service to Emperor Xi Jinping. But they could be slaves to their own repressive government and the surveillance state.

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Chinese leaders certainly see the maelstrom of chaos someday choking western democracies to death. But true adherents to democracy, often Asian immigrants, see counties that operate by principles of freedom, human rights, transparency, and free and fair elections.

China watcher Gordon G. Chang recently appeared on a cable news segment to say he was proud of the American system and that democracy is working. He said our transparency and public debate would never be allowed in China.

If China’s version of the FBI was embroiled in a political scandal we would never even know. The perpetrators would be in prison, perhaps tortured, or dead.

So instead of Americans constantly ripping down their government and their president, they might look around and be grateful for their right to protest, exercise free speech and offer solutions.

Calling people Nazis accomplishes nothing except adding fuel to hatred.

“Resistance” was a cherished word of anti-Nazi freedom fighters in France during World war II — when trains full of people were being sent to death camps and Zyklon B “showers.”

Since we are still allowed to pray, let’s pray that China finds a new path toward greatness and human rights and freedom.

Because a New World Order is coming. The post-World War II, Berlin Wall, Soviet Union, early EU era may be running out of time. Peace could actually break out in Korea — a nation at war since 1950. The rush for nuclear weapons could be replaced by calls for denuclearization. Ballistic missiles could someday be mere museum pieces.

Palestinians might even live in peace with Israelis.

Maybe even the problems of immigration and migration could be solved.

Closed minds and hatred don’t seem to be working.

But we can hope. And work toward a better world.

The world needs to think Big.

Thinking small since the dawn of the new century in 2000 has gotten us where? In a mess of religious wars and terrorism. We don’t need to be killing Uyghurs or Rohingya.

Unless we want to leave a world in chaos and oppression and hatred and death to our children and grandchildren.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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China dog meat fest opens as S. Korea goes the other way

June 22, 2018

As South Korea moves closer to banning dog meat, diners tuck into bowls of stewed canine in southern China, where activists are rethinking their tactics to counter a notorious festival that butchers thousands of dogs.

The annual Yulin dog meat celebration opened without a hitch on Thursday, a day after a South Korean court announced it had ruled that the slaughtering of dogs for meat was illegal.

© AFP | Eating dog meat to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi province

Activists say the ruling could pave the way for the outlawing of dog meat consumption in South Korea, but there is less progress in China where advocates fear their tactics have been counterproductive.

Eating dog to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi region, where the festival has been held since 2009 to mark the occasion in the town of Yulin.

Despite rumours last year that Yulin authorities would ban dog meat sales altogether, many restaurants advertised the controversial offering this week with the veiled moniker of “fragrant meat”.

Carcasses were on display for purchase in the city’s open-air markets — though there were fewer of them than in previous years, locals said.

The Dongkou wet market downtown bustled with shoppers meandering past piles of dogs laid out atop butcher stalls for them to inspect. Others hung from hooks, their faces locked in a rigid grimace.

Market workers pulled in cartfuls of dead dogs while sweaty men blow-torched the fresher carcasses to remove any remaining fur. On the street, a man transported two live mutts in a cage on the back of his scooter.

As police patrolled outside the market premises, one woman bought a full dog for 662 yuan ($102), saying she would eat it with her family to celebrate the summer solstice.

“It’s very tasty,” another local surnamed Chen told AFP, insisting “they’re all strays — strays and pets are different”.

Chen did not consider it cruel to consume the meat during what the Chinese zodiac system deems the Year of the Dog, quipping: “don’t you eat chicken in the year of the rooster, and pork in the year of the pig?”

But vendors were more discreet than usual.

They cooked in narrow alleys or inside their restaurants instead of preparing dog dishes in front of patrons, ushering diners inside and not serving outdoors.

– Mao dog ban –

Thousands of dogs are butchered during the event, the animal protection organisation Humane Society International estimates — a fraction of the more than 10 million consumed each year in China.

Animal rights activists have typically attended the festival to purchase ill-fated dogs and save them from slaughter, said Qiao Wei, an activist from the Si Chuna Qiming Animal Protection Centre.

But now they feel that working to establish a general ban on the dog meat trade would be much more effective.

“We have no hope that we can bring change just by going to Yulin,” he said. Simply buying dogs “doesn’t help”.

International animal rights groups concur, saying that focusing so intensively on dog meat consumption in just one city at an annual event risks becoming counterproductive.

“It would be far better to have a holistic campaign that works collaboratively across the country, engaging the government and public to acknowledge animals as our friends, not food,” said Jill Robinson, founder of the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation.

Chinese leader Mao Zedong had banned dog ownership for being bourgeois, but the ranks of China’s rising middle-class are now full of proud and loving dog owners.

This year, the foundation set up an online portal where Chinese citizens can report restaurants that operate illegally.

Tipsters have already flagged some 1,300 restaurants in 153 cities, with over 200 of them shut down, forced to stop selling the meat, or issued warnings, said Robinson.

Before the festival, animal protection groups from around the world submitted a letter with 235,000 signatures to Beijing, calling for the event’s abolishment.

– Changing ways –

The tide appears to be turning against dog meat consumption elsewhere in Asia, and Chinese animal lovers like Zhang Huahua, a 62-year-old retired lecturer-turned-activist, sense change is in the air.

Zhang came to Yulin all the way from her home in the southern province of Guangdong to submit a letter with recommendations to the local government.

Her hope is to save dog lives by changing the system itself.

In South Korea, where one million dogs are believed to be eaten annually, a court ruled that meat consumption was not legitimate grounds for killing canines, after an animal rights group accused a dog farm operator of slaughtering dogs “without proper reasons” and violating building and hygiene regulations.

Last April, Taiwan banned the consumption, purchase and possession of both dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to Tw$250,000 ($8,170).

But many in Yulin viewed the news with a shrug.

“They can do what they want,” said a resident surnamed Huang, who nonetheless wasn’t fond of the taste of dog himself.

AFP

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Home of China’s dog meat festival defiant amid outcry

June 21, 2018

 

Dead dogs hanging by hooks

Residents of China’s southern city of Yulin defended eating dog meat to celebrate the summer solstice on Thursday, as animal rights activists seek new ways to pressure organizers to cancel the annual festival.

The ten-day event, dubbed the lychee and dog meat festival by residents, has become a lightning rod for dog lovers, who every year confront those who buy, sell and eat canines.

In recent years, animal rights activists have raided slaughterhouses and intercepted truckloads of dogs in efforts to limit the number of animals killed.

Activists say the dog meat trade is inhumane and unhygienic, pointing to videos of dogs caught with wire lassos, transported in tiny cages and slaughtered with metal rods.

Festival-goers remain defiant.

“Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. Popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong,” Yulin resident Wang Yue told Reuters.

“Those scenes of bloody dog slaughter that you see online, I want to say that the killing of any animal will be bloody. I hope people can look at this objectively.”

Dog meat is a traditional food in some areas of southern China, where it is believed to be good for the body in warm weather.

However, animal protection group Humane Society International said in a statement the festival was “manufactured” by the dog meat traders and that dog meat was not part of mainstream food culture in China.

The event is not sanctioned by Yulin authorities, but police told Reuters their efforts to “maintain stability” had reduced the number of activists in the city this year.

Opinions on Chinese social media were divided.

Calls from animal lovers to boycott or cancel the festival provoked a defense of local tradition and accusations that activists were disturbing public order.

International animal rights groups say putting pressure on the dog meat trade has become harder after China stepped up scrutiny of foreign groups by requiring them to register with police.

Chinese activists are trying new tactics to convince authorities to end the dog meat trade.

Zhang Huahua, a university professor at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou province, complained to Yulin authorities that the festival infringed environmental protection regulations.

“The messy slaughter of numerous dogs transported to Yulin without inspection severely damages public order, popular custom and the environment,” Zhang said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Authorities told Zhang her letter would be processed in line with regulations.