Posts Tagged ‘US’

Pakistan rejects ‘politically motivated’ listing as violator of religious freedoms by US

December 12, 2018
Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal. ─ File photo
Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal. ─ File photo

The Foreign Office (FO) today issued Islamabad’s reaction to the listing, saying: “Pakistan rejects the US State Department’s unilateral and politically motivated pronouncement … Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions over the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise.”

The FO explained measures that the government had taken to safeguard the rights of its citizens, including the use of legal and administrative mechanisms, adding that Islamabad submits compliance reports on its obligations with respect to fundamental freedoms as a party to seven of nine core human rights treaties.

How Pakistan safeguards its minorities, according to FO:

  • Equal treatment of minorities enshrined in Constitution
  • Special seats reserved for minorities in Parliament
  • National Commission on Human Rights addresses concerns over violations of minorities’ rights
  • Successive governments make protection of minorities a priority
  • Judiciary has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worship of minority communities

“Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities,” the statement asserted.

The FO suggested that honest introspection on Washington’s part would have been a timely move in order to ascertain the causes behind the exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US.

“Sadly, the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes to the systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement added.

The FO described Pakistan as a “multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together.”

Last year, Pompeo had placed Pakistan on a special watch list — a step short of the designation — which is used to persuade the targeted nation into introducing reforms suggested in annual US reports for religious freedom.

The designation is based on these annual reports and opens the door for further actions, including US economic sanctions. The US has already imposed strict economic sanctions on Pakistan for its alleged refusal to follow the Trump administration’s Afghan strategy.

The designation also includes al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, Isis, Isis-Khorasan, and the Taliban as entities of particular concern.

Blacklisting Pakistan a ‘brazen political tactic’: Mazari

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari expressed surprise at the US administration’s decision to designate Pakistan among “countries of particular concern”, terming it a “brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan to mitigate US failures in Afghanistan”.

The PTI minister, in her official statement on the development, acknowledged that “there is no doubt that Pakistan’s record on religions freedom is not ideal” but questioned if “the EU’s record” is any better “given the restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Mulsims, refusal of entry of certain preachers — the list continues.”

Mazari reminded the US that “in our own neighbourhood we have India where Muslims are being targeted and where the BJP is supporting violence against Muslims ostensibly over beef.”

“The timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in the wake of Pakistan opening the Katarpur corridor to ease access for the Sikhs of India,” the statement reads.

The human rights minister said that she would “like to educate the Trump administration” that a “diverse denominations of Christian churches are present in Pakistan”, including Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian and others.

Mazari made it clear that the US attempt to pressurise “Pakistan to do its bidding” will not work, directing their attention to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent remarks that he would net allow the country to be anyone’s “hired gun” anymore.

“It is time for the US to take responsibility for its failures in Afghanistan … and if it is serious about religious freedoms then it needs to examine the record of Modi’s India and and some of its EU allies,” she added.

Pompeo waives CPC sanctions for Pakistan

A US Embassy spokesperson today told DawnNewsTV that Pompeo, along with placing Pakistan on the list, had concurrently issued a waiver of ‘country of particular concern’ (CPC) sanctions against Pakistan “as required by ‘the important national interest of the United States’.”

The spokesperson explained that each country given the CPC designation “presents unique challenges, as well as a different potential for change”.

“The measures the United States carries out or waives with respect to a CPC are part of a broader strategy that aims to improve respect for religious freedom in that country,” the spokesperson added.

“In certain instances, the Secretary (Pompeo) has determined that a waiver of the Presidential Action was required in the important national interest of the United States.”


Pakistan rejects US blacklist for religious freedom violations

December 12, 2018

Pakistan on Wednesday rejected Washington’s decision to place it on a blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, branding the move “politically motivated” and defending its treatment of minorities.

The US move to designate Pakistan “among countries of particular concern” comes at a difficult time for relations between the nations, with the Trump administration accusing Islamabad of failing to act against Islamist militants on its soil.

“Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country (on) how to protect the rights of its minorities,” a statement from the foreign ministry said, adding that Islamabad “rejects” the designation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move to blacklist Pakistan in a congressionally mandated annual report released Tuesday.

In October, a Pakistani court exonerated Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had spent eight years on death row for blasphemy

In October, a Pakistani court exonerated Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had spent eight years on death row for blasphemy In October, a Pakistani court exonerated Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had spent eight years on death row for blasphemy AFP/File

The measure means the US government is obliged to exert pressure, including imposing sanctions if necessary, to end freedom violations.

However, a spokesman with the US embassy in Islamabad clarified on Wednesday that Pompeo had issued a waiver over potential sanctions against Pakistan as required by “the important national interest of the United States”.

Blasphemy is an inflammatory charge in Pakistan, and high-profile vigilante murders and mob lynchings have been carried out in the past.

In October, a Pakistani court exonerated Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had spent eight years on death row for blasphemy.

She remains in protective custody in an unknown location after violent protests against her acquittal, and a hardline cleric has been charged with terrorism and sedition over the demonstrations.

Bibi is currently seeking asylum abroad. Her family claims her life will be in danger if she remains in Pakistan.

The foreign ministry statement did not mention Bibi, or the issue of blasphemy.

“Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together,” it said.

It also warned that honesty would have required Washington to examine the “exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US”.

– ‘Particular concern’ –

Pakistan says around four percent of its total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh faiths.

Human rights advocates have long voiced alarm about the treatment of religious minorities in Pakistan including Shiites and the Ahmadis, whom Islamabad forbids from identifying as Muslim.

The State Department had earlier held off on condemning Pakistan, a vital gateway for US forces in Afghanistan.

But it last year placed Pakistan on a special watch list — a step short of the designation — and Washington has separately curbed military assistance.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured in recent years, with US officials repeatedly accusing Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups like the Afghan Taliban, which attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The troubled relationship hit another snag last month after Trump declared he had cancelled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars because Islamabad does not do “a damn thing” for the US.

Nine countries remained for another year on the US list of “countries of particular concern” — China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The United States removed one country from the blacklist — Uzbekistan — but kept it on the watch list.



President Trump still has an opportunity to challenge the military spending status quo

December 12, 2018
On Dec. 3, President Trump tweeted a statement that got defense hawks in Washington incredibly nervous.

Donald J. Trump


I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!


Apparently, Trump has already changed his mind.

After meeting last week with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the chairmen of the armed services committees, the White House has reversed course. According to Politico, Trump will now propose to Congress a $750 billion military budget for fiscal year 2020, a $50 billion hike from his previous position.

By Daniel DePetris


Image result for donald trump, photos

Trump is on the verge of making a dangerous mistake, one that would both worsen America’s budding fiscal crisis and perpetuate the strategic drift national security policy has taken over previous years.

No honest person can look at the U.S. military budget today and credibly claim the country is vulnerable, left defenseless, or at risk of being usurped by a great-power competitor. In 2017, the U.S. share of global military expenditures was 35 percent, a figure more than 2.5 times larger than the second-highest country, China. U.S. defense spending has only risen since that time to the highest it has been in history, a number defense hawks continue to believe is too low. For legislators such as Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, money grows on trees alongside the Capitol Rotunda. All Congress needs to do is go outside and pluck the dollars from the leaves.

The more important point to remember, however, is that a higher defense budget does not automatically equal greater security. As has been the case throughout history, a nation’s economic prosperity is the foundation of national strength, prestige, and influence and serves as a harbinger of what a nation can or cannot do on the world stage. To conflate military spending with more security, as Washington too often does, is to work off an inaccurate paradigm.

Too often, the solution to a problem in the Beltway is to appropriate more taxpayer money. The Pentagon is no exception. Too many lawmakers have persuaded themselves that the issues surrounding military readiness, equipment maintenance, and training are the products of insufficient resources when the real problem is overcommitment, an inability to establish appropriate national security priorities based on our interests.

This strategic overstretch has persisted since the end of the Cold War and has meant a continuous loop of highly stressful operations around the world largely disconnected from defending U.S. security, prosperity, or our way of life here at home. With soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines ordered to do everything from stability operations in the deserts of Eastern Syria and bombing missions in the poppy fields of Afghanistan to backstopping Europe’s territorial defense and training African troops in the Sahel, politicians and foreign policy officials should not be shocked when these operations degrade the Navy’s sea vessels and the Air Force’s aircraft.

Before any discussion of Pentagon budget increases should come a sober analysis of what matters for our security and prosperity and what priorities are best left for regional countries to address. Not every problem around the world holds the same significance. Rather than attempting to do everything everywhere and failing to achieve strategic gains, budgets should align with a realistic, pragmatic, but wise strategy that distinguishes the truly important with the tertiary distractions.

The solution to Washington’s many foreign policy failures from the last decades is not spending more money and pretending that dollars will paper over our foreign policy failures. The solution is setting national security priorities, distinguishing which military programs and security policies are essential to America’s national defense and which are actually drains on the military, and making difficult decisions to ensure America’s economic prosperity is maintained instead of saddled with unsustainable debt and overseas commitments that hollow out the force and further deteriorate the military’s readiness problem.

Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it succinctly in 2016: “[I]f we don’t get our fiscal house in order, it’s going to dramatically affect our security of our country.”

Fortunately, security is readily available. The U.S. is in the privileged position of having two benign and friendly neighbors, a dominant presence in its own hemisphere, a durable system of alliances and partnerships around the world, a highly innovative population, and enormous influence in the international financial system. Washington simply doesn’t need to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations or engage in decades-long nation-building projects to promote its own security. Doing so only outsources our military power to countries that should be taking more responsibility for their own defense and overburdens the military.

The world has changed drastically and continues to shift. Foreign policy leaders need to shift with it and rethink our strategy, especially because a debt crisis would weaken the country, creating a catastrophe for Americans and the world.

President Trump still has an opportunity to challenge this status quo. But he will not be able to do it if he defers to his more hawkish advisers, all of whom continue to advocate for policies — a continuation of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war, and perpetual containment of Russia — that delay the difficult but strategically vital conversation the country needs.

UN reports more suspected Iranian missiles found in Yemen

December 12, 2018

More suspected Iranian-made weapons have been found in Yemen, the UN says in a report that will be discussed Wednesday by the Security Council.

The Gulf monarchies and United States accuse Iran of supporting Huthi rebels in Yemen — and see this as justification for the military campaign they have been waging in Yemen since 2015.

Iran supports the rebels politically but denies supplying them with arms.

Iran supports the Huthi rebels in Yemen politically but denies supplying them with arms

Iran supports the Huthi rebels in Yemen politically but denies supplying them with arms Iran supports the Huthi rebels in Yemen politically but denies supplying them with arms AFP

The report from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ office says his staff examined two container launch units for anti-tank guided missiles recovered by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The Secretariat found that they had characteristics of Iranian manufacture,” the report said.

“The Secretariat also examined a partly disassembled surface-to-air missiles seized by the Saudi-led coalition and observed that its features appeared to be consistent with those of an Iranian missile,” it added.

Image result for Houthis , Yemen, ballistic missile , photos

A photo distributed by the Houthi rebels shows the launch of a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia on March 25, 2018. Reuters

surface-to-air missile seized by the Saudi-led coalition and observed that its features appeared to be consistent with those of an Iranian missile,” it added.

A probe into the origin of the weapons continues, it said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting on Iran, scheduled to start at 1500 GMT.

Guterres’ report mainly addresses Iran’s obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with six major powers. The United States pulled out of the accord in May and has reimposed sanctions on Iran.

The report concludes that Iran continues to abide by the nuclear accord, under which it won sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear program.

The UN has said in the past that Yemen’s Huthi rebels have fired Iranian-made missiles at Saudi Arabia. But it said it could not be certain that these weapons were in fact supplied by Iran in what would be a violation of UN resolutions.



Nigeria’s anti-corruption policy a “joke,” “disaster”

December 12, 2018

PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, Vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, on Tuesday, lampooned the anti-corruption policy of the President Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government, saying the country has receded in attempt to frighten and muscle the opposition with anti-graft campaign.

Peter Gregory Obi The Anambra state former governor told the federal government that fight against corruption was not economic policy, and could boomerang when it is fought with intent to be vindictiveness.

Obi spoke at the 3rd South East Economic Summit with the theme, “South East Nigeria: An Investment Destination.”

Peter Obi

Peter Gregory Obi

He gave an instance that when peoples’ businesses that employ thousands of people and which render crucial services to the society are shut down in guise that they were established through corrupt means, the nation would lose more than the value of the looted money, if any.

He blamed the nation’s poverty on over dependence on oil revenue to the detriment of other resources, arguing that oil has become a declining asset which many nations are dumping. Obi gave the example of Venezuela, which he noted has the largest deposit of oil in the world, with 23 million population but is economically a failed nation because it failed to adopt modern economic model like developed countries that run knowledge-based economy.

He said “Nigeria in the past three years actually came down from GDP of 520 billion to a GDP of less than 400 million, and that was why I was worried when people say we are doing well… fighting corruption is not an economic policy; it’s a disaster…”

Image result for Muhammadu Buhari, photos

President Mohammadu Buhari

The PDP presidential candidate said that South East and South South geopolitical zones of the country have the capacity to change Nigeria economically as they have the regions with the fastest growing cities in the country.

“Knowledge economy is the driver of the word today. Nobody is talking about baggage (oil) economy; in our own, its’ even a diminishing asset.

“People are now trying to build vehicles, they don’t need petroleum and we are still busy arguing everything, price of oil went up, price of oil went down; when we have talented young men that can change this place if supported, and this is what we need to look at and support them.

“Like I always said to people, your country in 2016 had 70 something million poor people and India had 76 million poor people. Within three years India pulled 102 million people out of poverty. They have no oil. Your country pulled 12 million into poverty and we became number one, they became number two. They have no oil.”

In a remark, first Republic Minister of Aviation and elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi lambasted the present crop of Igbo politicians for always shouting that Ndigbo were marginalized in the country, declaring that nobody was marginalizing Ndigbo.

He enjoined the people of the zone to take advantage of their entrepreneurial acumen to build super economic structure within the region so that what they cannot get politically, they get economically.

“I told the present set of politicians whom I regard as opportunists, and careerists, people who are in politics for what they can get and not for what they can give; people who are in politics as surrogates of the rotten military that we have had in this country; if they do not give leadership, we can grab leadership and let us grab that economic leadership.

“If political power eludes us and we are economically powered in this country, politicians will respect us, they cannot do without us. Let us develop an Eastern Region, let us develop South East states that this country cannot do economically without.

“If we develop it people will respect us, even the so called governmental power will come to you, people will come to you begging you, come and take power, come and lead us and come and show us what you have done in your place.” The economic summit chaired by founder of Diamond Bank, Dr. Pascal Dozie was supported by United Kingdom Department for International Development through Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL); and Ford Foundation.

Boycotting 2019 polls will amount to shooting ourselves in the foot, Methodist Prelate warns Ndigbo Although none of the South East governors attended, but the South East Governors Forum Secretariat was fully represented with the Director General of the Forum, Prof. Simon Ortuanya leading the team.

The summit was attended by business and political leaders from Igboland, including Prof. Barth Nnaji. Oil price maintains upward trend but…Knowledge based economy is the future.

Read more at:



Pakistan rejects downgrading by US in religious freedom

December 12, 2018

Pakistan’s foreign ministry has rejected Washington’s move of placing Islamabad on its annual list of worst offenders for nations that infringe on religious freedom.

In a statement on Wednesday, it termed the decision as “unilateral and politically motivated.”

A Pakistani Muslim prays at an illuminated mosque in connection with Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, in Karachi on November 20, 2018. (File/AFP)

It said “besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise.”

Pakistan’s reaction came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he added Pakistan to the US list of “countries of particular concern” regarding protection for people to worship according to their beliefs.

Pakistan had previously been on a special watch list for religious freedom.

The downgrade means Pakistan could be hit with US sanctions, although Pompeo waived those penalties in the US national interest.

Arab News

A Pakistani supporter of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a hardline religious party, holds an image of Christian woman Asia Bibi during a protest rally following the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Bibi of blasphemy in Islamabad.  Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

The cultural anxiety fueling France’s protests, Brexit and Trump

December 10, 2018

There’s an atmosphere of uncertainty and crisis looming over Western societies.

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France’s anti-government “gilets jaunes” movement rumbled into its second month. For the fourth consecutive Saturday, protesters clad in yellow reflective jackets symbolic of their rebellion marched through the country’s cities. In Paris, disturbances and clashes with police led to more than 670 arrests, though the worst scenes of violence — including last week’s vandalism of the Arc de Triomphe — were not repeated.

Image result for Yellow vest protests, photos

But there’s a mounting toll: French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has slid further amid the havoc, while tourism in the traditionally busy Christmas period has taken a hit. On Saturday, the Eiffel Tower and a number of major Paris museums kept their doors shut; government officials warned of the “severe impact” to the economy caused by the unrest.

The demonstrators don’t look like they’re going to stop anytime soon. “What began as opposition to a carbon tax designed to curb climate change has morphed into a working-class revolt against Macron,” explained my colleague James McAuley.

By  Ishaan Tharoor
Washington Post

A chastened French government suspended the carbon tax last week, prompting President Trump to crow over Macron’s doomed commitment to a climate agenda. But that has not dimmed the rage of the protesters, who have expressed a broader anger at Macron’s supposedly highhanded governance and economic reforms widely viewed to benefit the rich and no one else. Macron is expected to address the nation on Monday evening as he attempts to formulate a substantive response to the greatest challenge to his political career so far.

Kaya Burgess


Shouts of “string them up” and “off with their heads” as UKIP’s leader criticises the government in address to the pro-Brexit march. The latter came shortly after Gerard Batten warned that the king “lost his head” during the Civil War.

Kaya Burgess


Someone is carrying a gallows and noose on the ‘Brexit betrayal’ march

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Image result for Brexit, photos

Already, there are signs that the activists are inspiring similar demonstrations elsewhere. More than 400 people were arrested last weekend in anti-government protests in Belgium that took their inspiration from the “gilets jaunes.” In Britain, pro-Brexit campaigners donned yellow vests during a right-wing march over the government’s supposed “betrayal” of Brexiteers in their negotiations with the European Union.

In France, the movement, spawned largely through coordination on social media, doesn’t have a fixed structure, and its wide sweep of demands reflects a somewhat inchoate mix of ideologies. Polls show that a significant bloc of the French far right identifies with the protesters, but so do others from across the political spectrum, including the radical left and even supporters of Macron’s own centrist political project.

Race, too, appears to matter. “Most protesters tend to be white and many are from the provinces — sharing anxiety over dwindling purchasing power and what they see as Macron’s aloof style,” reported McAuley, who noted that protests have not flared in the marginalized suburbs of big cities, where many of the country’s poorer ethnic minorities and immigrants live.

The protests underscore the rift between France’s wealthy, dynamic metropolitan centers and the “other France” — postindustrial towns and rural villages hollowed out by lack of opportunity and a stagnating economy. “Rising rents, prices and taxes, high levels of unemployment in rural and peri-urban areas, generalized precarity, stagnant wages: the yellow vests movement has united people from all political fronts around common ground: the anger of all those who barely earn enough to live,” noted French journalist Pauline Bock.

This sense of economic insecurity in the hinterlands would be familiar to politics-watchers in Britain and the United States. It provided the kindling that sparked support for Trump in many Midwestern states, former industrial hotbeds hit by the steady disappearance of manufacturing jobs. As John Judis wrote in an essay for The Washington Post Magazine this weekend, voters who in a previous generation would have identified with their factory, or union or working-class community now find their factory jobs gone, their unions withered, their neighborhoods emptied.

In their despair and feelings of loss, Judis argued, they cling to “identities” that play into the hard-line, nativist pitch of Trumpism. “Interwoven among these identities,” wrote Judis, “are ones that are fundamentally rooted in resentment: toward undocumented immigrants whom they believe their taxes subsidize; toward both legal and undocumented immigrants who they see as upending the mores and language of their hometowns; toward those minorities who, in their minds, benefit unfairly from affirmative action; and toward distant elites in the cities who project disdain for them and their way of life.”

The 2016 vote for Brexit echoed a similar set of grievances and suspicions among Britons — in particular, resentment of the “distant elites” holding sway over their lives. Macron, now viewed by his critics as an aloof, technocratic would-be monarch, came to power as an outsider bent on shaking up France’s political establishment. But his efforts toward reform have mostly fanned the flames of public discontent.

Experts fear a similar backlash as Britain stumbles toward a potentially calamitous crisis over Brexit. “The 2016 Brexit vote, like the election of Macron and the protests against him now, represented a rejection of the established political order and a burbling dissatisfaction with the status quo,” wrote Bloomberg View’s Therese Raphael.

The unrest in France underscores an atmosphere of uncertainty and crisis looming over Western societies. Widening economic inequality and deepening political polarization are straining democracies built through decades of moderating, consensus politics. Though protests and mass strikes are in France’s DNA, wrote Benjamin Haddad in Politico Europe, “there is something different” about the vehemence and mobilization of the yellow vests, a movement that calls into question “the stability of democratic institutions” themselves.

“The terms of our social and republican compromise was generated throughout fifty years of our history,” Danielle Tartakowsky, a historian at Paris 8 University, told French daily Le Figaro. “But there is not much left of it now. A new social compromise remains to be born. In my opinion, the yellow vests are a serious symptom … of a problem whose outcome nobody seems to be able to control.”

Instead, as the leftist former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis recently put it, the West seems to be teetering into “a post-modern 1930s,” where right-wing populists stir a toxic cocktail of cultural fear and rage, while others seek the wholesale dismantling of the establishment. Critics fear they are circling the edge of a volcano.

“What unites Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon with France’s rioting gilets jaunes and the UK’s fiercest Brexiters is not just their will to upturn the existing order. It is their belief that transient economic strife is the worst that could possibly happen,” wrote Janan Ganesh of the Financial Times. “None of these people actively desires civilizational meltdown. They just under-rate the prospect of it happening as an inadvertent result of their actions.”


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Will Arrest Of Huawei Exec Meng Wanzhou Derail U.S.-China Trade Talks — Trump Says “No”

December 9, 2018

China has ratcheted up the pressure on Canada to release the detained executive of Huawei Technologies over the weekend by threatening “grave consequences”

China critical of US side’s unilateral hegemonic behaviour — “This is a dilemma, and it is difficult to predict what will happen.”

Donald Trump Upbeat On China Talks; Aides Downplay Huawei Arrest Friction

Donald Trump Upbeat On China Talks; Aides Downplay Huawei Arrest Friction

“China talks are going very well,” Donald Trump said on Twitter, without providing any details (File)

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump sounded an optimistic note about trade negotiations with China as two of his top economic advisers downplayed friction from the arrest of a senior executive of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies.

“China talks are going very well,” Trump said on Twitter, without providing any details.

Major companies have expressed concerns about how the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities would affect U.S.-China relations or that it would cause a potential backlash against American firms operating in China.

Photographer: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Meng, 46, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, appeared in a Vancouver court for a bail hearing as she awaits possible extradition to the United States in the investigation of whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Image result for Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, photos

Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told CNBC he did not believe Meng’s arrest would “spill over” into the talks with China aimed at increasing Beijing’s purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities, lowering Chinese tariffs and making sweeping changes to China’s policies on intellectual property and technology transfers.

Kudlow said the investigation of whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran was on a “separate track” from the trade talks and was a matter of national security and U.S. law.

“You can’t break the law. You break the American law, you break the Canadian law, you’ve got to pay the consequences of that,” Kudlow said of the Huawei case. “That was the case with other companies, and will continue to be the case. These are issues of national security.”

Continued concerns over U.S.-China trade relations caused stocks to sell off on Friday, with technology shares leading the decline. The Nasdaq Composite fell 2.4 percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 2.1 percent and the S&P 500 index down 1.9 percent in afternoon trade.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN that the U.S.-China trade talks and the Huawei arrest “are two separate events,” calling the timing of Meng’s arrest a coincidence.

Navarro said the arrest was the result of “the bad actions of Huawei,” adding there was a “frightening” risk that the Chinese government could use the company’s products for spying.

“The timing was unusual, but the actions were legitimate.”

Asked if the United States would walk away from trade talks if U.S.-China differences were not resolved in 90 days, Navaro said: “It’s not a question of walking away. It’s a question of moving forward on the strategy, which is to simply raise the tariffs” on Chinese goods.

Kudlow expressed optimism that the United States and China will make substantial progress during the 90-day period allocated for talks, ending around March 1.

“I think there will be a lot of success in the next 90 days; President has indicated, that if there’s good solid movement and there’s good action, he might – he might – be willing to extend the 90 days,” Kudlow told CNBC.

He reiterated that the Trump administration was expecting immediate movement from China on purchases of agricultural commodities and energy and added that he expected Chinese autos tariffs to be reduced. He said it was a positive sign that China was willing to discuss core issues related to intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and computer hacking of U.S. companies.

However, Kudlow said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who will lead the American side in the talks, will be looking to ensure that any agreements can be fully enforced and monitored to ensure follow-through by Beijing.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Shipenkov)

The chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou of China’s Huawei Technologies


Beijing escalates dispute over arrest of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou by lodging diplomatic protest

  • China official Xinhua news agency attacks Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for not telling Beijing in advance and ‘letting this nasty thing happen’
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 1:12pm
China has ratcheted up the pressure on Canada to release the detained executive of Huawei Technologies over the weekend by threatening “grave consequences” and accusing Canada of “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people”, escalating the case into one of the worst diplomatic rows between Beijing and Ottawa.

Chinese foreign vice-minister Le Yucheng on Saturday summoned Canadian ambassador John McCallum to lodge a “strong protest” against the arrest of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver and urged Ottawa to release Meng immediately, according to a brief foreign ministry statement.

Meng, the chief financial officer at Huawei and a daughter of the Chinese telecom giant’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran in defiance of sanctions.

The arrest of Meng in Canada, which took place on the same night that Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump dined together in Buenos Aires, has infuriated Beijing.

The official Xinhua news agency published an editorial on Sunday morning condemning the arrest as an “extremely nasty” act that had caused “serious damage to Sino-Canada relations”.

“According to the words of the Canadian leader, he had known of the action in advance,” Xinhua said, referring to the fact that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – whom it did not did name directly – had a few days’ notice of the arrest.

“But he didn’t notify the Chinese side. Instead, he let this kind of nasty thing to happen and assisted the US side’s unilateral hegemonic behaviour – this has hurt the feeling of Chinese people,” Xinhua added.

Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

The last time that Beijing called Canada of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people was more than a decade earlier in 2007 when the then prime minister Stephen Harper hosted the Dalai Lama.

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, published a similarly strongly worded statement, condemning Canada for arresting Meng and threatening to take action against Ottawa if Meng is not released.

“The Canadian side must realise clearly that there’s no vagueness between justice and arbitrariness,” the People’s Daily editorial reads.

“The Canadian side must correct its wrongs and immediately stop its infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen to give the Chinese people a right answer so that it can avoid paying a dear price.”

The joint condemnation by China’s foreign ministry, Xinhua and the People’s Daily against Ottawa is an unusual step, reflecting how seriously Beijing is taking the case and its determination to set Meng free.

While China did not specify what action it would take to inflict pains on Canada, the harsh wording suggests that it has plans to retaliate.

These could range from the freezing of diplomatic exchanges to the suspension of trade and would be likely to be set in motion if Meng is extradited to the US.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, told Reuters on Friday that there will probably be “a deep freeze with the Chinese in high-level visits and exchanges”.

“The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that. That’s the price of dealing with a country like China,” Mulroney was quoted as saying.

Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University’s Centre for American Studies and an adviser to the State Council, said that the Meng incident put China in a bind between the need to show it can protect its business people abroad without spooking other advanced industrial nations with a strong response against Canada.

“China is concerned that in the future more of its important people abroad will be seen as a threat, and that their safety will become an issue.”

“On the other hand, especially in the context of the comprehensive tension between Beijing and Washington, China has an interest to maintain and improve relations with other advanced industrial countries.

“If China takes a very strong revenge against Canada, it will hurt these relations. This is a dilemma, and it is difficult to predict what will happen.”

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Saturday there is “nothing to add beyond what the minister said yesterday”.

Freeland told reporters on Friday that the relationship with China was important and valued, and Canada’s ambassador in Beijing has assured the Chinese that consular access will be provided to Meng.

A court hearing over whether Meng should be bailed will continue on Monday.

Additional reporting by Reuters


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China threatens ‘serious consequences’ for Canada for Huawei episode

December 9, 2018

Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou is “in disregard of the law, unreasonable, merciless and very evil”

Image result for china, canada flags, pictures

By Kathrin Hille in Taipei

China has threatened “serious consequences” for Canada for Ottawa’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei, in a sign the technology stand-off between the US and China is spilling over into other countries’ relations with Beijing.

Canada arrested Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on a US extradition request on 1 December on transit in Vancouver.

According to a prosecutor at a bail hearing on Friday, Washington accuses Ms Meng lying to US banks to circumvent US sanctions on Iran.  In a sharply worded statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Le Yucheng, vice foreign minister, had summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing on Saturday to lodge a strong protest.

“China strongly urges Canada to release the detained person to effectively protect her legitimate rights,” the statement said. “Otherwise it will create serious consequences, and Canada will bear the full responsibility.”

Mr Le said Canada’s detention of Ms Meng was “in disregard of the law, unreasonable, merciless and very evil”.

Image result for Huawei, 5g, pictures

Huawei, one of China’s most successful technology companies, has failed to make inroads in the US market as Washington has long blocked its attempts at acquiring local companies and selling its gear to major local networks.

The US administration believes that the Chinese company poses a threat to national security because it is concerned Huawei could help the Chinese military, through compromised equipment, spy on America.

Recommended Analysis US-China trade dispute Huawei executive’s arrest threatens US-China trade talks

US security officials cite the fact that Mr Ren was an officer in the People’s Liberation Army before he founded the company as an indication of close links between the company and the Chinese armed forces. Huawei insists it is a private company owned by its employees.

Until recently, Huawei had found success in western markets, supplying the gear for 3G and 4G networks in the UK. But this year, Washington has launched a campaign to convince its allies of the alleged risks of Huawei gear, and subsequently governments in the ‘Five Eye’ group of countries that share intelligence with the US have moved to exclude Huawei from contracts for 5G, the next-generation mobile networks that are now being deployed.

Ms Meng’s arrest immediately raised fears that the truce in the US-China trade war which US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping announced a week ago would be derailed.  It has also sent a chill through companies engaged in bilateral economic exchanges as executives feared that they might be targeted should China retaliate.

Huawei, which says it is not aware of any wrongdoing on the part of Ms Meng, said that it would continue to follow the bail hearing on Monday. “We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

Oil rallies after Opec agrees to cut output by 1.2m barrels a day

December 7, 2018

Brent crude jumps 5 per cent on news of pact

By David Sheppard in Vienna

Oil prices jumped 5 per cent as Opec broadly agreed a deal to cut oil production by 1.2m barrels a day.

One Opec delegate said the pact between cartel members had been reached for a combined cut with allies outside the group led by Russia. Iran has been granted an exemption from the cuts as it is under sanctions from the US, the delegate said. Brent was recently up 5 per cent to $63 a barrel.

More to come….


Oil dives after OPEC delays output decision

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, left, at the OPEC conference in Vienna, Austria. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
  • OPEC met in Vienna to decide production policy in coordination with other countries including Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan
  • An OPEC delegate said the organization had agreed on a tentative deal to cut oil output but had not come up with a final figure

NEW YORK: Oil prices fell in choppy trading on Thursday after OPEC and allied exporting countries ended a meeting without announcing a decision to cut crude output, and prepared to debate the matter on Friday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met in Vienna to decide production policy in coordination with other countries including Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan.
An OPEC delegate said the organization had agreed on a tentative deal to cut oil output but had not come up with a final figure.

Earlier, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said OPEC needed Russia to cooperate, and said a decision was likely by Friday evening.

“If everybody is not willing to join and contribute equally, we will wait until they are,” Al-Falih said.

Market watchers had expected a joint cut of 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd).

Brent crude futures were down $2.57, or 4.2 percent, on the day to $58.99 a barrel by 4:41 p.m. GMT, off the session low of $58.36. US crude futures fell $2.37, or 4.5 percent, to $50.52 a barrel, bouncing off the session low of $50.08 a barrel.

The crude benchmarks have slumped about 30 percent this quarter.

Prices found support briefly after data showed US crude stockpiles declined last week for the first time in 11 weeks. The US became a net exporter of crude and refined products for the first time since at least 1991, data from the US Energy Information Administration showed.

“Fears of a further escalation in the US-China trade war, and potential for OPEC+ not cutting oil production deep enough will continue to weigh on oil prices in today’s trading session,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

“All eyes are now fixated on (an) OPEC+ joint declaration, and a combined output cut of at least 1 million barrels per day will be required to see a meaningful recovery in oil prices.”

Led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s crude oil production has risen by 4.1 percent since mid-2018, to 33.31 million bpd.

European equities hit their lowest in two years and commodity-sensitive currencies such as the Russian rouble fell sharply, in part because of the slide in the oil price, but also with the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Canada for extradition to the US. The arrest came just as Washington and Beijing prepare for crucial trade negotiations.

Barclays said in its Global Outlook published on Thursday that “investors need to lower their expectations” and “2019 should be a period of lower returns and higher volatility.”

Barclays said it expected “the global economy to slow over the next several quarters” although it added that “not one major economy is near recession.”

US crude inventories have climbed steadily as domestic production surged to new peaks. Exports of US crude also jumped to a record 3.2 million barrels per day last week, adding to global supplies. Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, rose to the highest in nearly a year.