Tag Archives: china

China debt to be added to key global bonds index.

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Chinese government debt is set to be included on a key global bonds index, which could see tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country’s increasingly internationalised financial markets.

The move by FTSE Russell comes as trading in China becomes an increasingly controversial move in Washington as relations between the superpowers grow increasingly fraught.

But analysts said the attraction of higher yields — the yield on 10-year Chinese government bonds is 2.4 percentage points higher than US Treasuries — and a relatively stable currency have made the country an attractive prospect for investors.

Inclusion in the World Government Bond index, which could begin next October if approved, means CGBs will be a must-have asset for investment giants such as pension funds desperate for good returns as the global bond market is battered by the virus pandemic.

Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor at the central People’s Bank of China said international investments in the Chinese market had grown more than 40 percent over the past three years, with 2.8 trillion yuan ($410 billion) of Chinese bonds currently held by international investors.

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Goldman Sachs said inclusion could see up to $140 billion floods into the debt market.

AxiCorp strategist Stephen Innes said the move was “big news” which would open up China’s bond market to “a broader band of passive investors”.

This photo taken on September 24, 2020 shows workers setting up national flags along a street ahead of the upcoming National Day in Ningbo in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

FTSE Russell, which is owned by the London Stock Exchange, decided against including Chinese debt in the index last year owing to several worries such as liquidity and the settlement of transactions, but it said the concerns had been addressed.

In the statement its CEO Waqas Samad said authorities had “worked hard to enhance the infrastructure of their government bond market”.

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Jason Pang of JP Morgan Asset Management said that while foreign ownership of CGBs had risen to around nine percent from two percent in recent years, it is still well below the 15-30 percent seen in other Asian markets.

But he added: “It is increasingly clear that China bonds’ globalisation is simply a matter of time, further accelerated by increasingly accessible hedging options that enable investors to manage risk.

“Over the past 20 years, China’s bond market has grown more than sixtyfold to nearly $14 trillion.”

The Chinese economy has largely bounced back after a virus-induced sharp economic shock seen earlier in the year, with most people back to work after the government brought the disease largely under control through lockdowns and mass testing.


#Newsworthy…

China blast United States over Tik Tok, WeChat ban.

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China warns of necessary measures to safeguard interests of its companies after US bans downloads of TikTok and WeChat.

China has accused the United States of “bullying” and threatened to take “necessary” countermeasures after Washington banned downloads of the Chinese video-sharing app, TikTok, and effectively blocked the use of the messaging super-app, WeChat.

Separately, Beijing also launched on Saturday a mechanism enabling it to restrict foreign entities that it deems a threat to its sovereignty and security, in a development seen as retaliation to US penalties against other Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei.

The latest Chinese moves come as tensions with the US escalate on a range of issues from trade and human rights to the battle for tech supremacy.

In a statement on Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce condemned Washington’s decision on Friday to ban TikTok and WeChat from US app stores, saying: “China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease its wrongful actions and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order.”

It then warned: “If the US insists on going its own way, China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

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The US Department of Commerce announced the bans in response to a pair of executive orders signed in August by US President Donald Trump, in which he said the two Chinese-owned apps presented a threat to the country’s national security.

China and the companies, however, have denied US user data is collected for spying.

WeChat app would lose functionality in the US from Sunday onwards, while TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through November 12.

WeChat developer Tencent Holdings called the order “unfortunate” and said it “will continue to discuss with the government and other stakeholders in the US ways to achieve a long-term solution”.

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The owners of TikTok, which has 100 million users in the US, said it will challenge “the unjust executive order”.

A picture of US President Donald Trump is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed Tik Tok and WeChat logos [Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters]

‘Very, very popular’
Friday’s order follows weeks of deal-making over TikTok, with Trump pressuring ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US operations to a domestic company to satisfy Washington’s concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues.

California tech giant Oracle recently struck a deal with TikTok along those lines, although details remain foggy.

Trump said on Friday said he was open to a deal, noting that “we have some great options and maybe we can keep a lot of people happy,” suggesting that even Microsoft, which said its TikTok bid had been rejected, might continue to be involved, as well as Oracle and Walmart.

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Trump noted that TikTok was “very, very popular,” said “we have to have the total security from China,” and added that “we can do a combination of both”.

ByteDance has now asked a US judge to block the action against it, according to Bloomberg News.

Amid the escalating row, the Chinese commerce ministry issued on Saturday regulations for its “unreliable entity list” aimed at foreign companies it says endangers its sovereignty, security or development interests.

Companies that end up on the list could be banned from importing or exporting from China, and may be barred from investing in the country. Other measures include imposing fines, entry restrictions on employees into China, and revoking their work or residence permits.

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The launch of the “unreliable entities list” ups the ante in the escalating commercial fight with the Trump administration, which has used its own “entity list” to bar Huawei from the US market on national security grounds.

The Chinese announcement did not mention any specific foreign entities, but in May, state-run tabloid Global Times reported the measures would target such US companies as Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Qualcomm Inc, while suspending purchases of Boeing Co aeroplanes.

Authorities will set up a working mechanism and an office to help implement work related to the list, the ministry added.

Foreign firms could be removed from the list if they correct their behaviours and take steps to eliminate the consequences of their actions, it said.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Thousands infected with ‘Brucellosis’ after China lab leaks.

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Thousands of people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease after a leak from a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant making animal vaccines last year.

Health officials in Lanzhou city said 3,245 people had contracted brucellosis, a disease often caused by close contact with infected animals or animal products that can bring about fevers, joint pain and headaches.

Another 1,401 people tested as an early positive for the disease, and health authorities said there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission so far.

Chinese authorities found a biopharmaceutical plant had used expired disinfectant in its production of Brucella vaccines for animals between July and August last year — meaning the bacteria was not eradicated in its factory exhaust.

Contaminated gas from the China Animal Husbandry Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Factory in Lanzhou formed aerosols containing the bacteria, and this was then carried by wind to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, infecting nearly 200 people there as of December last year.

More than 20 students and faculty members of Lanzhou University, some of whom had been to the institute, subsequently tested positive as well, according to Xinhua news agency.

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Lanzhou’s health commission said Friday that sheep, cattle and pigs were most commonly involved in the spread of the bacteria.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is “extremely rare” but some symptoms may reoccur or never go away.

These include recurrent fevers, chronic fatigue, swelling of the heart or arthritis.

The factory — which apologised earlier this year — has had its brucellosis vaccine production licence revoked, Lanzhou authorities said.

Compensation for patients would start in batches from October, according to local authorities.


#Newsworthy…

China, India agrees to withdraw troops from border.

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In joint statement, Wang Yi and S Jaishankar say current situation in border areas not in the interest of either side.

The foreign ministries of China and India agreed in a joint statement on Friday that their troops must quickly disengage from a months-long standoff at their long-disputed Himalayan border.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow to try and end the dispute, the most serious in decades at the undemarcated border.

“The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” the statement said.

Separately, China’s foreign ministry said it would maintain communications with India through diplomatic and military channels and commit to “restoring peace and tranquillity” in the disputed border area.

China and India have agreed to quickly disengage from a standoff at the countries’ disputed border in the Himalayas [File: Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

Elaborating on the Moscow meeting, China said Wang had told Jaishankar that the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides”.

All personnel and equipment that have trespassed at the border must be moved and frontier troops on both sides “must quickly disengage” in order to de-escalate the situation, Wang added.

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“This deal is significant but on the other hand I am still cautious. Let’s wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks and months. That will be the crucial test,” said Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University in Bloomington, the United States.

This deal is significant but on the other hand I am still cautious. Let’s wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks and months.
SUMIT GANGULY, A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY

“I think both sides have considerable reasons to de-escalate,” he told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media.

“In the case of India, the economy has cratered in the wake of the COVID crisis and the shambolic handling thereof. And consequently India can ill afford to devote significant resources to the military at this particular juncture,” he said.

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“The Chinese did not want it to become a major distraction as their economy is finally recovering, and they are focused on the November elections in the US.”

Speaking on the five-point agreement between the two countries, Ganguly said they would probably involve withdrawing troops from eyeball-to-eyeball contact with one another.

“They would involve reducing certain kinds of actual deployment of artillery and other weaponry along particular band of territory.”

‘State of puffing’
The Global Times, a tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, took a more strident tone in an editorial published ahead of the two ministers’ meeting.

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“The Chinese side must be fully prepared to take military action when diplomatic engagement fails, and its front-line troops must be able to respond to emergencies, and be ready to fight at any time,” the paper said.

It accused India of holding a grudge over the 1962 conflict, and described the country as in “an unprecedented state of puffing”.

Wang and Jaishanka’s meeting took place after a border clash earlier this week when each accused the other of firing in the air during a confrontation on their border in the western Himalayas, a violation of long-held protocols on the use of firearms on the sensitive frontier.

The Chinese ministry said the two countries reached a five-point consensus on reducing tension in the area including the need to abide by existing agreements to ensure peace.


#Newsworthy….

Border War: China, India blames each other.

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Beijing accuses New Delhi of ‘severe military provocation’ but India denies its soldiers crossed the disputed border.

China and India have accused each other of firing shots on their flashpoint Himalayan border in a further escalation of military tension between the nuclear-armed Asian rivals.

The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated since a hand-to-hand combat clash in the Ladakh region on June 15 in which 20 Indian troops were killed.

Experts fear the latest incident will intensify a months-long standoff between the Asian giants that erupted in late April.

Beijing’s defence ministry accused India of “severe military provocation”, saying soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western border region on Monday and “opened fire to threaten the Chinese border defence patrol officers”.

“According to the Chinese side, Chinese troops approached the India side for negotiations, and then they say some Indian troops fired at the Chinese side,”

“As a result, China’s military said it was forced to take countermeasures – although we don’t know what those countermeasures were, or if there were any casualties,” she added.

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India denies transgression
New Delhi was swift to give its own account, accusing Chinese border forces of “blatantly violating agreements” and firing “a few rounds in the air” to intimidate their Indian rivals.

“It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres,” the Indian army said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” the statement said.

Reporting from New Delhi NRM said that, according to India, “China’s army was trying to close in on one of India’s positions – and that when they [China] were dissuaded by their own troops, they fired in the air”.

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The countries fought a brief border war in 1962 but, officially, no shots have been fired in the area since 1975 when four Indian troops were killed in an ambush.

A spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) gave no specifics and did not report casualties, calling on India to investigate the incident.

India has deployed thousands of soldiers following deadly border clashes in June [File: Danish Ismail/Reuters]

China’s western military command said the incursion occurred on Monday along the southern shore of Pangong Tso Lake in the area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan. On the Indian side, the area is known as Chushul, where the two countries’ local military commanders have held several rounds of talks to defuse the tense standoff.

Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the PLA, said India had violated agreements reached by the two countries and warned their actions could “easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgements”.

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China’s foreign ministry said Indian troops had illegally crossed the LAC and had been the first to fire shots. “This is a serious military provocation,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

Late last month, India said its soldiers had thwarted the Chinese military’s moves “to change the status quo”, also on the southern shore of Pangong Lake, in violation of a consensus reached in past efforts to settle the standoff. In turn, China also accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.

Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the disputed Himalayan border, which sits at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres (13,500 feet).

China said the incursion occurred on Monday along the southern coast of Pangong Lake in the area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan [File: Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

Their troops have had several showdowns since the June 15 clash. China has also acknowledged it has had casualties but not given figures.

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Detailed border protocols in place for peaceful disengagement seem to have broken down since the June clash. India’s military has also reportedly changed its rules of engagement, allowing troops to carry guns.

Military commanders and diplomats have held several rounds of talks since July to reduce tension, but have made little progress to calm the border tensions.

Last week, defence ministers from the two countries spoke in Moscow on the sidelines of an international meeting – with both sides later releasing rival statements accusing each other of inflaming the showdown.

And earlier this week, an Indian minister said New Delhi had alerted China to allegations five men had been abducted by the PLA close to the disputed border in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh


#Newsworthy

Oil slumps after China drops demand.

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Saudi Arabia cuts its oil prices to Asia amid falling energy demand as economies struggle to recover from coronavirus.

Oil prices were trading down more than 1 percent on Monday after hitting their lowest since July, as Saudi Arabia made the deepest monthly price cuts for supply to Asia in five months and optimism about demand recovery cooled amid the pandemic.

Brent crude was at $42.11 a barrel, down 55 cents or 1.3 percent by 06:42 GMT, after earlier sliding to $41.51, the lowest since July 30.

US West Texas Intermediate crude skidded 64 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $39.13 a barrel after earlier dropping to $38.55, the lowest since July 10.

The world remains awash with crude and fuel despite supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, and government efforts to stimulate the global economy and oil demand. Refiners have reduced their fuel output as a result, causing oil producers such as Saudi Arabia to cut prices to offset the falling crude demand.

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“Sentiment has turned sour and there might be some selling pressure ahead,” Howie Lee, an economist at Singapore’s OCBC bank said.

The Labor Day holiday on Monday marks the traditional end of the peak summer demand season in the US, and that renewed investors’ focus on the current lacklustre fuel demand in the world’s biggest oil user.

China, the world’s biggest oil importer which has been supporting prices with record purchases, slowed its intake in August and increased its products exports, according to customs data on Monday.

Demand for oil in China fell in August, customs data released on Monday showed, adding to the downward pressure on crude oil prices and the economies of the world’s top oil exporters including Saudi Arabia [File: LM Otero/AP]

‘So many uncertainties’
“There are so many uncertainties with regard to the Chinese economy and their relationship with key industrialized countries, with the US and, these days, even Europe,” Keisuke Sadamori, director for energy markets and security at the International Energy Agency told the Reuters news agency.

“It’s not such an optimistic situation – that casts some shadow over the growth outlook.”

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Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, cut the October official selling price for Arab Light crude it sells to Asia by the most since May, indicating demand remains weak. Asia is Saudi Arabia’s largest market by region.

In August, the OPEC+ group eased production cuts to 7.7 million barrels per day after global oil prices improved from historic lows caused by the coronavirus pandemic cutting fuel demand.

Oil is also under pressure as US companies increased their drilling for new supply after the recent recovery in oil prices.

US energy firms last week added oil and natural gas rigs for the second time in the past three weeks, according to a weekly report by Baker Hughes Co on Friday.


#Newsworthy…

Dozens arrested in Hong Kong’s protest. [China]

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Hundreds take to the streets to demonstrate against the postponement of legislative election and the new security law.

More than 30 people have been arrested by Hong Kong police as riot officers swoop in on pro-democracy protesters – opposed to the postponement of the local legislative election – with rounds of pepper balls.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Sunday in the Asian financial hub to demonstrate against a new national security law imposed by China and the postponement of the legislative poll.

Sunday was meant to be voting day for the city’s partially elected legislature, one of the few instances where Hong Kong voters get to cast ballots.

But Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed the election for one year, citing a surge in novel coronavirus cases. Critics say her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting was held as scheduled.

The poll would have been the former British colony’s first official vote since Beijing imposed the new security legislation in late June, which critics say aims to quash dissent in the city.

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Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over opposition to a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the city.

Police fire pepper balls
Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon Peninsula on Sunday as marchers waved placards and chanted popular anti-government slogans such as, “liberate Hong Kong”.

One woman was arrested during a protest in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. It said such slogans are illegal under the newly enacted National Security Act.

Police fired pepper balls at protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kong neighbourhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

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Some 30 other people were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly and two were arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.

In the Jordan neighbourhood, protesters raised a banner criticising the election delay, the Post said. It put the number of arrests at 33.

“I want my right to vote,” activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.

Reporting from the city, Noble Reporters Media said many people were also carrying out individual acts of defiance across the city, carrying banners or chanting slogans, to protest the new law.

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“These acts are remarkable because these individuals are doing that in the face of the sweeping national security law, which makes chants like that, saying things like that illegal,” he said.

“The demonstration was also an unconventional one as people tried hard to blend in with regular shoppers in the heart of the city, and occasionally chanted slogans or make the hand sign of the opposition.”

Limited gatherings
Anti-government demonstrations have declined this year mainly because of limits on group gatherings and the security law that punishes actions China sees as subversive, secessionist, “terrorist” or colluding with foreign forces.

Hong Kong police arrested several well-known pro-democracy activists during the demonstration [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong has reported about 4,800 coronavirus cases since January, far lower than in other large cities around the world. The number of new daily infections has fallen substantially from triple digits in July to single digits currently.

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While street protests have largely lost momentum, anti-government and anti-Beijing sentiment persists, with China’s offer of mass coronavirus testing for Hong Kong residents prompting calls for a boycott amid public distrust.

Gatherings are currently limited to two people. Police have cited such restrictions in rejecting applications for protests in recent months, effectively preventing demonstrations.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a guarantee of autonomy but critics say the new law undermines that promise and puts the territory on a more authoritarian path.

Supporters of the new security law say it will bring more stability after a year of often-violent anti-government and anti-China unrest and it plugs loopholes in national security left by the city’s inability to fulfil a constitutional requirement to pass such laws on its own.


#Newsworthy…

New Report: China Plans Huge Investment in Next Generation Chips.

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Facing pressure from the US, China wants to develop its own chip-making technology, sources tell Bloomberg.


China is planning a sweeping set of new government policies to develop its domestic semiconductor industry and counter Trump administration restrictions, conferring the same kind of priority on the effort it accorded to building its atomic capability, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Beijing is preparing broad support for so-called third-generation semiconductors for the five years through 2025, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing government deliberations. A suite of measures to bolster research, education and financing for the industry has been added to a draft of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which will be presented to the country’s top leaders in October, the people said.

China’s top leaders will gather next month to lay out their economic strategy for the next half decade, including efforts to ramp up domestic consumption and make critical technology at home. President Xi Jinping has pledged an estimated $1.4 trillion through 2025 for technologies ranging from wireless networks to artificial intelligence. Semiconductors are fundamental to virtually every component of China’s technology ambitions — and an increasingly aggressive Trump administration threatens to cut off their supply from abroad.

“The Chinese leadership realizes that semiconductors underpin all advanced technologies, and that it can no longer dependably rely on American supplies,” said Dan Wang, technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics. “In the face of stricter U.S. restrictions on chip access, China’s response can only be to keep pushing its own industry to develop.”

Shares in several major Chinese chipmakers gained. Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics Group Co. finished 4.3% higher in Hong Kong. On mainland bourses, Will Semiconductor Ltd. — the second most valuable listed Chinese chip firm — rose almost 10%. Xiamen Changelight Co. closed 14% up while Focus Lightings Tech Co. jumped 5.6%.

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The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is responsible for drafting the tech-related goals, did not reply to a request for comment.

China imports more than $300 billion worth of integrated circuits each year and its semiconductor developers rely on U.S.-made chip design tools and patents, as well as critical manufacturing technologies from U.S. allies. But deteriorating ties between Beijing and Washington have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese companies to source components and chipmaking technologies from overseas.

The U.S. government has blacklisted dozens of China’s tech companies so they can’t buy American parts, and slapped bans on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. In the case of technology giant Huawei Technologies Co., the Trump administration sanctioned the company and pressed allies to ban the company’s equipment from their telecom networks.

Chinese firms such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, whose chips are seen here, Will Semiconductor Ltd and National Silicon Industry Group Co could benefit from the government’s new push [File; Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

This month, Huawei, the country’s largest handset maker, will even lose access to chips from the likes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. under new American regulations that prohibit suppliers anywhere in the world from working with the company if those suppliers use American equipment. The tighter rules have raised the urgency of building domestic alternatives in Beijing.

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Third-generation semiconductors are mainly chipsets made of materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. They can operate at high frequency and in higher power and temperature environments, and are widely used in fifth-generation radio frequency chips, military-grade radars and electric vehicles.

Since no single country now dominates the fledgling, third-generation technology, China’s gamble is its corporations can compete if they accelerate research into the field now. Global leaders such as U.S.-based CREE Inc. and Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. are just beginning to grow this business, while Chinese tech giants such as Sanan Optoelectronics Co. Ltd. and state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. have made inroads on third-generation chipsets.

The country’s other chipmakers, which include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., Will Semiconductor Ltd. and National Silicon Industry Group Co., may benefit more broadly from the state support.

“This is a sector about to see explosive growth,” Alan Zhou, managing partner of Fujian-based chip investment fund An Xin Capital Co., told an industry forum last week. Because of China’s increasing demand and investment, this is an area that could create a “world-class Chinese chip giant.”


#Newsworthy…

[China] Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai cleared of charges, released.

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Case against media tycoon dates back to 2017 and is not related to his arrest under China-imposed national security law.


A court in Hong Kong has declared media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai not guilty of criminal intimidation, ending one of several cases against him after his high-profile arrest under a new national security law.

Thursday’s verdict was for a case that dates back to 2017 and was unrelated to his arrest last month.

Lai, who is a key critic of Beijing, had used foul language when confronting a reporter from Oriental Daily News, a major competitor to Lai’s tabloid Apple Daily.

Police, however, only charged him in February this year.

The mainland-born media magnate had pleaded not guilty.

He smiled after the verdict was read out and shook hands with supporters who filled the courtroom.

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Lai’s case comes after he was arrested for suspected collusion with foreign forces on August 10, making him the highest-profile person to be arrested under the Beijing-imposed law.

Jimmy Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year [Tyrone Siu/ Reuters]

The 71-year-old had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he met officials including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

After Lai’s August arrest about 200 police officers searched the office of his Apple Daily newspaper.

The national security law punishes any act China considers subversion, succession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.

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Lai’s Apple Daily has vied with pro-Beijing Oriental Daily for readership in the special administrative region. In 2014 the Oriental Daily published a fake obituary of Lai, claiming that he had died of AIDS and many types of cancer.

Prosecutors in the case said Lai had intimidated the Oriental Daily reporter.

Lai’s lawyers said Lai had been followed by reporters for three years and his comments were not intended to harm the reporter but expressed his exasperation.

Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: United States further place embargo on Chinese diplomats travel.

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The US says Chinese diplomats will need approval to visit US universities and hold cultural events.


The United States has said senior Chinese diplomats will now be required to secure State Department approval before visiting US university campuses and holding cultural events with more than 50 people outside embassy grounds in a move that drew condemnation from Beijing.

Washington has cast the move as a response to what it said was Beijing’s restrictions on American diplomats based in China. It comes as part of a Trump administration campaign against alleged Chinese influence operations and espionage activity.

The State Department said it also would take action to help ensure all Chinese embassy and consular social media accounts were “properly identified”.

“We’re simply demanding reciprocity. Access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access that Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news briefing on Wednesday.

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Rising tensions
The Chinese Embassy in Washington condemned the move as a “gross violation” of Vienna Conventions that govern diplomacy.

The US should “correct its mistakes, revoke the relevant decisions, and provide support and facilitation for Chinese diplomats in the US to carry out the relevant activities,” the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, reported the embassy as saying.

The US has been taking steps to restrict Chinese activity in the country in the run-up to the November presidential election, in which President Donald Trump faces a strong challenge from Democratic challenger Joe Biden and where he has made a tough approach to China a key foreign policy platform.

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Relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate amid disputes over trade, Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has blamed China for failing to adequately respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cast the move as a response to what he said was Beijing’s restrictions on American diplomats based in China [Nicholas Kamm/Pool via Reuters]

The US has recorded the most cases and deaths in the world and Trump’s handling of the pandemic has become a key campaign issue after the president pushed for a lifting of restrictions designed to curb the spread of the virus.

Despite Trump’s previous affinity for Chinese President Xi Jinping, his administration has been ratcheting up up restrictions and sanctions on Chinese officials, government agencies and companies since last year, beginning with travel limits imposed on diplomats, and registration requirements for Chinese media outlets.

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In June, the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, which prompted Beijing to force the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.

University ‘threats’
Pompeo on Wednesday also revealed that Keith Krach, the State Department’s under-secretary for economic erowth, had written recently to the governing boards of US universities alerting them to alleged threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“These threats can come in the form of illicit funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of foreign students and opaque talent recruitment efforts,” Pompeo said.

He said universities could ensure they had clean investments and endowment funds, “by taking a few key steps to disclose all (Chinese) companies’ investments invested in the endowment funds, especially those in emerging-market index funds.”

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On Tuesday, Pompeo said he was hopeful Confucius Institute cultural centres on US university campuses, which he accused of working to recruit “spies and collaborators”, would all be shut by the end of the year.

Last month, Pompeo labelled the centre that manages the dozens of Confucius Institutes in the US “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence” and required it to register as a foreign mission.

The State Department announced in June it would start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, calling them mouthpieces for Beijing.

It took the same step against five other Chinese outlets in February, and in March said it was slashing the number of journalists allowed to work at US offices of major Chinese media outlets to 100 from 160 due to Beijing’s “long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists”.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: China working to double nuclear warheads – Pentagon

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Report says China aims to double its arsenal from current level of about 200 warheads in next decade, US has over 6,000


China is expected to at least double the number of its nuclear warheads over the next 10 years – from an estimated figure in the low 200s it has now – and is nearing the ability to launch nuclear attacks by land, air and sea, a capacity known as a triad, the Pentagon has revealed.

The annual report to Congress on China’s military marks the first time it has put a number to China’s nuclear warheads. The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320.

The Pentagon said the growth projection was based on factors including Beijing having enough material to double its nuclear weapons stockpile without new fissile material production.

“We’re certainly concerned about the numbers … but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, told reporters.

The annual report comes as the US Congress debates the pending $700bn defence authorisation bill amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Noble Reporters Media learnt the bill amounts to three times China’s annual defence budget.

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She said US President Donald Trump’s Republican allies want some of the money to cover potential nuclear testing, which is opposed by the Democrats.

Nuclear triad capacity
In his statement, Sbragia said China was also nearing completion of its nuclear triad capacity, as it develops an air-launched ballistic missile that would have nuclear capability.

The report said that in October 2019, China publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear-capable air-to-air refuelling bomber.

Earlier this year, Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time [File: Wu Hong/EPA]

Washington has repeatedly expressed its desire to expand an Obama-era nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia to include China instead of simply extending the pact, known as New START, when it expires in February.

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China has shown no interest in joining the negotiation.

In July, a senior Chinese diplomat said Beijing would “be happy” to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations, but only if the US was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level.

Earlier this year, the Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time.

In an interview with Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on Wednesday, China analyst Andrew Leung said China’s nuclear posture was “largely defensive”, adding that even if China doubled its nuclear warheads, from 300 to 600, it would still be only a tiny fraction of the US arsenal.

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“The US is said to possess something like 6,000 nuclear warheads, and the US has much more extensive military bases, with about 800 bases in more than 20 to 30 countries around the world. And so, even if China built some bases, it’s still way behind the US.”

Russia has roughly 4,300 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-armed missile designed to evade US defences were displayed in Beijing in 2019 as the country marked the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party taking power in China in 1949 [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said China’s growing nuclear arsenal should not be used as an excuse for the US and Russia to not extend New START.

It “further reinforces the importance of extending New START and the folly of conditioning extension on China and China’s participation in arms control,” Reif added.

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Tensions have been simmering between China and the US for months.

Washington has taken issue with China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and moves to curb freedoms in Hong Kong. The increasingly aggressive posture comes as President Donald Trump bids for re-election in November.

Another source of tension has been Taiwan. China has stepped up its military activity around the democratic island Beijing claims as sovereign Chinese territory, sending fighter jets and warships on exercises nearby.

The Pentagon report, based on 2019 information, said China’s military continued to “enhance its readiness” to prevent Taiwan’s independence and carry out an invasion if needed.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

China-India Border War: Indian Soldier Killed.

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A Tibetan-origin soldier with India’s special forces was killed in the latest border showdown with Chinese troops on their contested Himalayan border, a Tibetan representative said Tuesday.

The death is the first reported from two incidents in 48 hours on the border which has heightened tensions between the giant nations just two months after a battle that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.

India and China, which fought a border war in 1962, have accused each other of seeking to cross their unofficial frontier in the Ladakh region in a bid to gain territory on Saturday night, and then again on Monday.

Neither side has announced any casualties but Namghyal Dolkar Lhagyari, a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) that the Tibetan-origin soldier was “martyred during the clash” on Saturday night.

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She said another member of the Special Frontier Force that reportedly includes many ethnic Tibetans who oppose China’s claim to their home region was wounded in the operation.

“Provocative military movements”
The world’s two most populous countries have sent tens of thousands of troops to the region since a brutal June 15 battle fought with wooden clubs and fists.

India has said 20 troops were killed. China acknowledged casualties but did not give figures.

The two sides blamed each other for the latest incidents.

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India’s defence ministry said Chinese troops “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo” at the border on Saturday.

FILE: Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China, in Gagangir on June 17, 2020.  Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP

China’s People’s Liberation Army said that India was “seriously violating China’s territorial sovereignty” with its operation staged Monday and demanded that Indian troops withdraw.

India’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that China had caused the latest incident “even as ground commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation.”

Indian media reports, quoting military sources, said PLA forces tried to take hilltops traditionally claimed by India around Pangong Tso, a lake at 4,200 metres (13,500 feet) altitude.

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India’s defence ministry said its troops “undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

Newspaper (new to Noble Reporters Media) said that the SFF had been used to take heights that China considers its own. The Indian government does not comment on the special force’s operations.

Amid calls for boycotts of Chinese goods, India has stepped up economic pressure on China since the June battle and repeatedly warned that relations would suffer unless its troops pull back.

India has banned at least 49 Chinese owned-apps, including the TikTok video platform, frozen Chinese firms out of contracts and held up Chinese goods at customs posts.


#Newsworthy…

China pressure: United States raise support for Taiwan.

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Washington declassifies six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, vows new economic dialogue with Taipei.


The United States said on Monday that it was establishing a new bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan, an initiative it said was aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei and supporting it in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.

Washington also said it had declassified six security assurances given to Taiwan during the era of US President Ronald Reagan – a move analysts said appeared intended to show further support for Taipei.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell, made the announcements on Monday, amid a continued deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing and increasing pressure from China on democratically-ruled Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory.

Stilwell said the US is intensifying support to the island because of the “increasing threat posed by Beijing to peace and stability in the region” and its “deepening ties of friendship, trade, and productivity” with Taiwan.

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Taiwan flexes military might amid China tensions
Washington broke off formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing, but the US is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself and is the main arms supplier to the island.

The administration of current US President Donald Trump has made strengthening its support for the island a priority, and has also boosted weapons and equipment sales.

Trump is campaigning for re-election in November with a tough approach to China among his key foreign policy platforms, accusing his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, of being weak on China.

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In August, Trump also dispatched his health secretary, Alex Azar, to Taipei – the highest-ranking US official to travel to the island in years – angering Beijing.

Among the security assurances to Taiwan that the United States declassified on Monday is that Washington, DC has not agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan [File: Wally Santana/AP]

‘Significant adjustments’
Stilwell told a virtual forum hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation that the latest US moves were not a policy shift, but part of a set of “significant adjustments” within Washington’s long-standing “one-China” policy.

“We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalise Taiwan,” Stilwell said.

“With a population of 23 million, Taiwan continues to punch above its weight in economics as well as governance, thereby making the world a better place.”

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Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed thanks for the show of support at a time when it said China was using military intimidation to damage peace and stability near Taiwan, and said it would continue to strengthen its defence capabilities.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s recent visit to Taiwan and meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen angered China, which considers the island as part of its territory [Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters]

Earlier on Monday, Beijing said that the anti-China pronouncements by certain US politicians are destined to fail, after another Trump official, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, said on Friday that the US should use its alliance in the region to cope with “challenges” posed by China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing on Monday that some officials in the US were “driven by their zero-sum game mindset” and “Cold War mentality and personal gains.”

‘Six Assurances’
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, both wearing face masks, pose for photos during their meeting at the presidential office, in Taipei

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Daniel Russel, a predecessor of Stilwell until early in the Trump administration, said the “Six Assurances” made to Taipei by the Reagan administration in 1982 had been a “loosely kept secret” at best.

He said the decision to publish them looked like a compromise response to pressure from administration hawks to abandon “strategic ambiguity” – a long-standing policy of withholding a clear-cut US commitment to defend Taiwan while still showing sufficient support to deter any Chinese military adventurism.

Among the assurances made in 1982, but never formally made public, are statements that the US has not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, nor agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on such sales, or to revise the Taiwan Relations Act that underpins US policy towards the island.

The assurances, Stilwell said, “endure today”.


• Happy New Month From Noble Reporters Media •



#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Australia set to probe Chinese influence in public universities.

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Australia’s parliament is set to probe alleged foreign interference at public universities, a government minister said Monday, as concerns grow about Chinese influence.

A proposed inquiry by the security and intelligence committee follows a series of controversies over China’s clout on Australian campuses, ranging from hacks of university data to questionable financial donations and intimidation of Beijing’s critics.

Concerns have also been raised about the nature of research links between academics and scientists in the two countries.

Alan Tudge, the minister for population and cities, told Sky News the mooted inquiry was the latest government attempt to tackle spiralling foreign interference now at “levels not seen since World War II”.

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The move comes after Canberra announced last week that it was seeking new powers to scrap deals between local authorities and foreign countries that threaten the national interest — sweeping powers that would extend to universities.

It also comes less than a year after Australia announced new guidelines for universities for research collaboration, cybersecurity, and international partnerships.

FILE: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) attends a videoconference with G20 leaders to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Parliament House in Canberra on March 26, 2020. Gary Ramage / POOL / AFP

Tudge said the inquiry would “go further” than previous probes into alleged foreign interference.

“We need to be assured and the public need to be assured that there isn’t that foreign interference in our universities sector,” he said.

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He did not say if the probe was aimed at China.

The Australian newspaper reported that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton outlined the terms of reference for the inquiry in a letter Sunday to committee head Andrew Hastie, a government parliamentarian and outspoken China critic.

Advisors to Dutton did not respond to a request for comment.

The university guidelines announced in November push public institutions to enhance cybersecurity systems, undertake due diligence before signing partnerships with overseas organisations, and train staff to recognise foreign influence attempts.

Academics have been urged to be wary of sharing knowledge on sensitive topics and discern how joint research with international scholars could potentially be misused.

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Schools and government officials also committed to more intensive consultation to protect Australia’s national interests.

Beijing has repeatedly denied interfering in Australian campus life.

China-Australia relations have reached a new ebb in recent months, with the two governments at loggerheads over trade and competing for influence in the Pacific.

Tensions spiked in April when Australia infuriated China by calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.


#Newsworthy…

Border War: India blames China

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India says it has foiled Chinese attempt to change the status quo on their disputed Ladakh border in a fresh flare-up.


China has carried out “provocative military movements” in the Himalayan border area disputed between the two countries overnight from Saturday to Sunday, according to an Indian army statement, in a fresh flare-up between the two nuclear-armed countries.

Indian troops pre-empted Chinese army’s activity on the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, part of which was transgressed by the Chinese soldiers in May, the statement said on Monday, adding that Indian troops took steps to thwart the Chinese attempt to “unilaterally change” facts on the ground.

“On the Night of 29/30 August 2020, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” the Indian army said in a statement.

Army officials from the two sides are meeting to resolve the latest border dispute that comes more than two months after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in fighting that broke out between the two sides in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

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“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground,” it said.

China has carried out ‘provocative military movements’ in the disputed Himalayan border area in Ladakh [File:Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

The two Asian giants have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the border dispute that erupted in late April after Chinese troops transgressed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control – the de facto frontier between the two countries.

There was no immediate comment from China.

For months, troops have been locked in a face-off in the western Himalayas, where each side accuses the other of violating their nearly 3,500km-long (2,000 miles) border, most of which remains undemarcated.

The recent border tensions are the most serious in more than half a century.


#Newsworthy

Breaking: China threatens Czech republic over Taiwan visit.

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The arrival of the Czech delegation marks the second high-profile foreign visit to the democratic island in a fortnight.


Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil would “pay a heavy price” for violating the so-called “One China” principle by making an official visit to Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday with a delegation of 90 people including the mayor of Prague on a trip designed to promote business links with Taiwan, which China claims as its own and tries to isolate on the world stage.

He said the Czech Republic would not bow to objections from Beijing, which considers the democratically-ruled island a breakaway province.

China’s state media quoted Wang saying the visit was a “provocation” and that Taiwan was an “inseparable part of China”.

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It is the second high-profile visit by a foreign delegation to the island in a fortnight, after a visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Vystrcil is expected to deliver a speech in Taiwan’s parliament and meet President Tsai Ing-wen during the five-day trip, which continues until September 4.

In a post on Twitter, Tsai noted that Taiwan and the Czech Republic shared “many core values”. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who met the delegation at the airport, thanked the Czechs for “putting friendship before politics” and used the hashtag #defenddemocracy.

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China has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, ramping up pressure since Tsai came to power in 2016. A number of countries that did have formal relations with Taiwan have shifted their allegiance to China and the island now has official ties with just 15 nations.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil (left) was greeted at the airport by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (right) [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Tsai won a second term in office in January in a landslide victory.

Tsai has portrayed the island as a progressive democratic ally to other nations hoping to push back against Beijing’s authoritarianism, helped by Taiwan’s defeat of its coronavirus outbreak and its global shipments of personal protection equipment.

In a speech to an Australian think-tank last Thursday, Tsai described Taiwan as being “on the front line of freedom and democracy” as China cracks down on dissent in nearby Hong Kong and elsewhere.


#Newsworthy…