WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden spoke with China’s Xi Jinping on Thursday amid growing frustration on the American side that high-level engagement between the two leaders’ top advisers has been largely unfruitful in the early going of the Biden presidency.
Biden initiated the call with Xi, the second between the two leaders since Biden took office. It comes at a moment when there is no shortage of thorny issues between the two nations, including cybersecurity breaches originating from China, Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what the White House has labeled as “coercive and unfair” trade practices by the Chinese.
But Biden’s aim with the 90-minute call was less focused on any of those hot-button issues and instead centered on discussing the way ahead for the U.S.-China relationship after it got off to a decidedly rocky start in his tenure.
(CNN)North Korea appears to have restarted operations at a power plant capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.The International Atomic Energy Agency said that clues, such as the discharge of cooling water, observed in early July indicated the plant is active. No such evidence had been observed since December 2018, the IAEA said.The IAEA said the findings, published Friday in an annual report on Pyongyang’s nuclear program, were “deeply troubling” and “a cause for serious concern.”“The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable,” the report added, referring to North Korea by its official acronym, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).The IAEA said there also were signs of activity at the nearby radiochemical laboratory, from mid-February until early July. The power plant is used to make nuclear fuel, and the radiochemical laboratory is used to reprocess the fuel rods from the plant into plutonium that can, theoretically, be used in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.Both the plant and the lab are located in North Korea’s best-known nuclear complex, Yongbyon.The IAEA and other independent analysts have previously reported on the observed activity at the radiochemical laboratory and believed it may have been part of a campaign to turn nuclear fuel into plutonium for nuclear weapons.IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said in June that the duration of activity at the lab was consistent “with the time required for a reprocessing campaign.”
More than 200 Chinese businesses have gone public in U.S. capital markets, but many investors don’t realize that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) refuses to let these companies open their books to American regulators. This refusal threatens the savings of American workers and families. The financial risk resembles an iceberg: Chinese companies such as Didi and Luckin Coffee are just the tip.
One of the safeguards Americans rely on is the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Its regulators vouch for the accuracy of the books of every firm — American and foreign — operating on a U.S. exchange.
Firms under the thumb of the CCP, though, have a penchant for lying to the PCAOB or snubbing its oversight altogether. That leaves Americans looking to invest flying blind.
At a time when the PCAOB estimates that the Chinese firms registered with it have a global market capitalization of roughly $2.3 trillion, China has made it impossible “for the PCAOB to obtain timely access to relevant documents and testimony necessary to carry out [its] mission.”
As a result, Chinese businesses are freer to commit fraud than their American, Asian, and European competitors. Luckin Coffee, for instance, made up a nonexistent $310 million in sales in less than a year. When such fraud comes to light, these businesses’ stock values can drop quickly — dragging Americans’ savings down with them.
Congress has taken decisive bipartisan action to force companies that flout the PCAOB off U.S. markets, but the CCP probably won’t accept such accountability graciously. In fact, President Xi Jinping’s regime is becoming more belligerent by the day. It’s up to President Biden to protect American investors as the CCP vies for global leadership.
Georges Berges, who is representing Hunter Biden as he ventures into the art world, has talked about his business dealings in China in the past, but his reported ties could pose an ethics issue as he sells Biden’s art to anonymous buyers.
A representative for Berges previously told Fox News that the sales of Biden’s art will be kept “confidential.” The White House has said they have an ethics plan in place to ensure the president’s son doesn’t know who buyers are, though Hunter has raised eyebrows with plans to attend art shows where potential buyers will be in attendance.
Berges said in a 2015 interview with Resident that he wanted to be the art world’s leader in China.“My plan is to be the lead guy in China; the lead collector and art dealer discovering and nurturing talent from that region,” Berges said. “I plan to find and discover and bring to the rest of the world those I consider China’s next generation of modern artists.”
He also said that that he believes “China’s economy is transforming the global economy and everything is changing because of a rising China,” and that he was fascinated by “cultural impact” China is “having on the world.”
Twelve people have been killed in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, where more than 20cm (7.8in) of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday. About 100,000 people have been moved to shelters, state media Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing local government. The rainfall shut the city’s subway system, leaving passengers trapped in waist-high water.
From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan, one of China’s most populous provinces with 94 million people, reported rainfall exceeding 5cm. Among the stations 1,614 registered levels above 10cm and 151 above 25cm, the authorities said.
Footage on China’s social media show the world-renowned Shaolin Temple, known for martial arts, as well as other cultural sites, badly affected. Hundreds of trapped residents in Henan called for help online as flooding cut electricity to their homes.
Washington (CNN)The United States and its foreign allies on Monday accused China of widespread malfeasance in cyberspace, including through a massive hack of Microsoft’s email system and other ransomware attacks, a dramatic escalation in the increasingly urgent attempt by the Biden administration to stave off further breaches.In a coordinated announcement, the White House and governments in Europe and Asia identified China’s Ministry of State Security, the sprawling and secretive civilian intelligence agency, with using “criminal contract hackers” to conduct a range of destabilizing activities around the world for personal profit, including the Microsoft hack, according to a senior US administration official.The administration official also said China was behind a specific ransomware attack against a US target that involved a “large ransom request” — and added that Chinese ransom demands have been in the “millions of dollars.”The public disclosure of the Chinese efforts amounts to a new front in an ongoing offensive by the Biden administration to bat away cyberthreats that have exposed serious vulnerabilities in major American sectors, including energy and food production. The extent of Chinese involvement in hiring criminal networks to invade and extort money around the world came as a surprise to the White House, officials said.“What we found really surprising and new here was the use of criminal contract hackers to conduct this unsanctioned cyber operation and really the criminal activity for financial gain. That was really eye-opening and surprising for us,” a senior administration official said on Sunday ahead of the announcement.
The Biden administration on Wednesday ordered a ban on U.S. imports of a key solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry over forced labor allegations, two sources briefed on the matter said.
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Asian stocks were broadly steady Thursday after U.S. shares moved in narrow ranges as traders digested commentary from Federal Reserve officials on the outlook for stimulus. Treasuries held a retreat.
Stocks were little changed in Japan, climbed in Hong Kong and edged lower in China, where the central bank increased its injection of short-term cash into the financial system. U.S. futures advanced, following a modest drop in the S&P 500 despite gains among firms that benefit from economic reopening. A rally in Tesla Inc. helped the Nasdaq Composite eke out another record. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remained below 1.50%.
Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who’s penciled in a rate hike next year, said the economy will likely meet the Fed’s threshold for tapering asset purchases sooner than people think. His Atlanta counterpart Raphael Bostic said the central bank could decide to slow such purchases in the next few months. Neither are currently voting members of the Fed’s rate setting committee.
The dollar was little changed, while the yen held a slump, in part as the rebound from the pandemic dents the allure of haven currencies. Traders were monitoring for any impact from news that the U.S. is poised to bar some solar products made in the Xinjiang region over alleged human rights abuses.
The record volume of cargo has overwhelmed longshoremen, truck drivers, warehouses and railroads. Vessels are waiting up to five days just to get into port, and it can take 10 more days for a container to be loaded on a train.
Concrete from the collapsed building in the southern city of Gwangju fell on the bus carrying 17 people which had stopped on a nearby street, the National Fire Agency said.
Emergency officers dispatched to the site rescued eight people from the bus, all seriously injured, before discovering the nine bodies, the agency said in a statement.
Fire officer Kim Seok-sun said in a televised briefing from the site that all workers at the building site had evacuated before its collapse. He said some of the workers told investigators that they had closed a pedestrian walkway near the building before the collapse.
China announces three-child policy, in major policy shift
Baylor University’s Peter Hotez adds his voice to a chorus that includes prominent Democrats and Republicans,
“There’s going to be COVID-26 and COVID-32 unless we fully understand the origins of COVID-19. This is absolutely critical,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Hotez said that he believes the US needs to do more than launch an intelligence investigation into theories that the virus emerged naturally from animals or escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
“I’m personally of the opinion that we’ve pushed intelligence as far as we can,” Hotez said, saying that the US needs to send experts to the original epicenter of the pandemic in Wuhan.
“We need a team of scientists, genealogists, biologists, bat ecologists in the Hubei province for six months to a year-long period and fully unravel the origins of COVID-19.”
On Friday, Customs and Border Protection issued a withhold release order for any goods that come from Dalian Ocean Fishing Company Limited, due to their use of forced labor.
Last year, the Straits Times ran a story detailing the tragic conditions crewmen faced aboard one of Dalian’s boats. It further detailed their experiences with wage withholding and abuse, which resulted in international scrutiny. While CBP has issued WRO’s for individual vessels before, officials said the scope of the allegations mandated larger action.
The 62-mile mountain race in Gansu Province left athletes in shorts and T-shirts facing freezing rain, hail and high winds.
A magnitude 7.3 quake shook northern Qinghai, China on Friday morning.
American Airlines flight 60 from Tokyo-Narita to Dallas-Fort Worth diverted Wednesday to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) after an incident with “an unruly customer from the flight”, according to an AA statement sent to Q13 News.
An AA spokesperson said the plane diverted to Seattle where a mother and daughter were met by federal officials and vacated the aircraft. The plane departed and continued on to Dallas around 12 p.m. PCT. A spokesperson with SEA also confirmed the report with Q13 News. No arrests were made or injures reported, the SEA spokesperson said. Onboard the Boeing 787-9 were 63 passengers and 13 crew members were onboard the plane. The aircraft stopped in Seattle for about an hour before continuing on to Dallas where it safely landed Wednesday evening.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics in protest of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority. During a House hearing on Tuesday, the Democrat said, “we cannot proceed as if nothing is wrong about the Olympics going to China.”
She went on to cite a number of countries that have called for action to move or boycott the Games because of human rights abuses. However, Pelosi’s strategy for combating China’s violations of human rights is preventing lawmakers from attending, but allowing athletes to continue to participate.
A busy passenger train carrying 490 people has derailed in a tunnel in eastern Taiwan, killing at least 51 and injuring dozens more, authorities said.
Biden condemned the testing in a move that Ri said was the wrong step towards North Korea.“
I think that the new U.S. administration obviously took its first step wrong,” Ri said.
The comments from Biden were an “undisguised encroachment on our state’s right to self-defence and provocation,” Ri said, Reuters reported.
A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling near-real time death tolls put the total as darkness fell at 89, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns.
As Burma’s military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade Saturday in the country’s capital, soldiers and police elsewhere reportedly killed dozens of people as they suppressed protests against last month’s coup.
A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling near-real time death tolls put the total killed by late Saturday afternoon at 74, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns. That would make it equal to the deadliest day since the coup.
Pentagon, Washington (CNN)North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Thursday, a senior US official told CNN citing an intelligence assessment — the second such launch in less than a week.It is not known yet whether the missiles were short, medium or long range, such as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The US military and intelligence community is still analyzing data from the test launch to determine what kind of missile was fired and how far it went.The US tracks all North Korean weapons tests through radar and satellites, which are able to detect heat signatures of a missile launch almost immediately.South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters North Korea had launched unidentified projectiles into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, adding it had stepped up surveillance and was “maintaining readiness in close cooperation with the US.”
China’s capital city woke up to yellow skies Monday as the biggest sandstorm the country has seen in a decade swept through it, sparking new health fears.
The thick brown dust shrouded Beijing‘s iconic landmarks, including the Forbidden City, and downtown skyscrapers at times disappeared from view, enveloped by clouds of sand.
The visibility in the capital was reduced to less than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), China’s English-language news agency CGTN reported, forcing residents who dared venture outside to wear improvised headgear to protect their faces.
Traffic was snarled and more than 400 flights out of the capital’s two main airports were canceled, The Associated Press reported.
Washington (CNN)Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea‘s leader, warned the Biden administration against “causing a stink at its first step” on Monday, hours after the White House said it had not received a response to its outreach to Pyongyang.“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” she said in a statement, according to the country’s state news agency.“If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she said. The warning comes as the US and South Korea conduct scaled-down, simulated military exercises and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have touched down in the region for meetings with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday at a high-level press conference that the U.S. needs to remove “unreasonable restrictions” and stop interfering in what Beijing considers its domestic affairs.
- U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained a tough position on China and raised concerns about Beijing’s stance around Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
- Wang did not specify what the restrictions were, and pointed to a phone call between the two countries’ leaders in February as a positive basis for rebuilding the bilateral relationship.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which had meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago, was checking to see whether there were any problems following Saturday night’s magnitude 7.1 quake. There were no immediate reports of irregularities from other nuclear plants in the area, such as Onagawa or Fukushima Dai-ni, government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
There were no immediate reports of injuries. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that some 860,000 homes were without power as a result of the quake, according to Kato.
BEIJING — Chinese state TV included dancers in blackface portraying Africans during a national broadcast as Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Ox Friday with subdued festivities amid travel curbs to contain renewed coronavirus outbreaks.
The “African Song and Dance” performance came at the start of the Spring Festival Gala, or “Chunwan,” one of the world’s most-watched TV programs. It included Chinese dancers in African-style costumes and dark face makeup beating drums.
The five-hour annual program, which state TV has said in the past is viewed by as many as 800 million people, also included tributes to nurses, doctors and others who fought the coronavirus pandemic that began in central China in late 2019.
China’s ruling Communist Party tries to promote an image of unity with African nations as fellow developing economies. But state broadcaster China Central Television has faced criticism over using blackface to depict African people in previous New Year broadcasts.
On Twitter, Black Livity China, a group for people of African descent who work in or with China, called the broadcast “extremely disappointing.” It noted CCTV’s 2018 Spring Festival Gala, which featured performers in blackface with a monkey.
“We cannot stress enough the impact scenes such as these have on African and Afro-diasporic communities living in China,” the group said.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Large crowds demonstrating against the military takeover in Myanmar again defied a ban on protests Wednesday, even after security forces ratcheted up the use of force against them and raided the headquarters of the political party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Witnesses estimated that tens of thousands of protesters, if not more, turned out in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s biggest cities. Rallies also took place in the capital Naypyitaw and elsewhere.
The protesters are demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi’s deposed civilian government. They are also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members since the military detained them after blocking the new session of Parliament on Feb. 1.
Sinovac Biotech said on Saturday that its unit’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use by the general public by China’s medical products regulator.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Hundreds of students and teachers took to Myanmar’s streets on Friday to demand the military hand power back to elected politicians, as resistance to a coup swelled with demonstrations in several parts of the country, even in the tightly controlled capital.
In the largest rallies since the takeover, protesters at two universities in Yangon flashed a three-fingered salute, a sign of resistance borrowed from “The Hunger Games” movies, that they adopted from anti-government protesters in neighboring Thailand. They chanted “Long live Mother Suu” — a reference to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained — and “We don’t want military dictatorship.”
“We will never be together with them,” lecturer Dr. Nwe Thazin said of the military at a protest at the Yangon University of Education. “We want that kind of government to collapse as soon as possible.”
Resistance has been gathering steam since the military declared Monday that it would take power for one year — a shocking setback for the Southeast Asian country that had been making significant, if uneven progress, toward democracy after decades of military rule. The opposition began with people banging pots and pans outside their windows in Yangon, the country’s largest city — under the cover of darkness each evening to avoid being targeted. But now people are beginning to take to the streets, including students and medical workers, some of whom are refusing to work.
Students have been central to previous protest movements against military dictatorship.
Eleven miners have been rescued in China after a harrowing two weeks trapped some 2,000 feet below ground.
The rescue marked a moment of celebration and relief in what has been an arduous and complex effort to bring the men to safety. One miner has already died and another 10 remain missing.
The first miner was rescued shortly after 11 a.m. local time on Sunday. Television footage showed rescuers clapping and cheering as the miner was brought to the surface wearing a blindfold to protect his eyes from the light. He was brought to the hospital for treatment, with his condition described as “extremely weak.” Several other miners were seen walking on their own with the help of rescuers before being taken to the hospital.