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Trump: China “broke the deal” in U.S.-China trade talks

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (May 8) that he would be happy to keep tariffs on Chinese imports as the two countries prepare for new talks to try to rescue a faltering trade deal amid a sharp increase in U.S. duties as he charged China with “breaking the deal.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. ET (0401) GMT on Friday (May 10), right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.

Beijing announced it would retaliate if tariffs rise.

“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures,” China’s Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating.

The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over the U.S. demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.

Expectations were recently riding high that a deal could be reached but a deep rift over the language of the proposed agreement opened up last weekend.

Reuters, citing U.S. government and private-sector sources, reported on Wednesday that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft trade agreement, threatening to blow up the negotiations and prompting Trump to order the tariff increase.

Trump, who has embraced largely protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, warned China on Wednesday that it was mistaken if it hoped to delay a trade deal until a Democrat controlled the White House.

The United States is demanding that Beijing make sweeping changes to its trade and regulatory practices, including protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft and forced transfers to Chinese firms, curbs on Chinese government subsidies and increased American access to China’s markets.

Trump also has sought massive hikes in Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy, and manufactured products to shrink a gaping U.S. trade deficit with China.

Sources familiar with the talks said China’s latest demands for changes to a 150-page document that had been drafted over several months would make it hard to avoid the U.S. tariff hike on Friday.

That increase would affect Chinese imports from computer modems and routers to vacuum cleaners, furniture, lighting, and building materials. (REUTERS)

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Official count gives Widodo election victory in Indonesia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Indonesian president Joko Widodo speaking during a field visit, interview with Widodo’s supporters | Courtesy: (c) 2019 Thomson Reuters

Incumbent President Joko Widodo won last month’s Indonesian election with 55.5 percent of votes against 44.5 percent for his challenger, retired General Prabowo Subianto, the election commission’s official count announced early on Tuesday (May 21).

“The valid ballots voted for presidential candidate number one, Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, is 68,650,239 or 44.5 percent of the total national votes,” said Commissioner Evi Novida Ginting of Indonesia’s National Election Commission.

The official result released by the General Election Commission (KPU) confirms unofficial counts by private pollsters of the April 17 election, giving Widodo a comfortable victory, though it could trigger a legal challenge and potential street protests after Prabowo claimed widespread cheating.

Widodo won with over 85 million of the total 154 million votes cast in the world’s third-largest democracy.

“The valid ballots voted for presidential candidate number one, Joko Widodo and Maruf Amin, is 85,607,362 or 55.5 percent of the total national votes,” Ginting said.

An election supervisory agency earlier on Monday (May 20) dismissed claims of systematic cheating because of a lack of evidence and independent observers and analysts have said the poll was free and fair.

The losing party can lodge a legal challenge at the constitutional court. Otherwise, the commission will officially declare the winner by May 28. (REUTERS)

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Gov’t checks on security concerns amid Huawei woes

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang assured the public that the government is acting on the issue involving Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Millions of smartphone users across the globe went into a frenzy after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. companies to ban supplying their technology to Huawei amid the ongoing US-China trade war.

The ban was followed by Google’s decision to cut off Huawei’s Android license which dazed Huawei users with the thought that they would lose access to Google’s proprietary services and be deprived of future upgrades on their phones.

The U.S. accused Huawei of posing an international security threat saying the Chinese telecom company is being used by China for surveillance and to “spy” on Americans.

In line with this, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made certain that President Rodrigo Duterte will do his part once he receives the recommendation from the concerned agencies.

“I supposed the Department of National Defense, as well as the national security adviser, is studying that matter and the President is waiting for whatever recommendation they have on that,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they do not see any threat to the country’s security so far with the public’s patronage of Huawei products.

“Magmula ng lumabas ang issue na iyan ay nagsagawa ng validation ang PNP at sa araw na ito ay natunghayan natin na wala pong sapat na katibayan o ebidensya na mag uugnay sa kumpanya ng Huawei sa alegasyon na umanoy pang-eespiya,” said Police Colonel Bernard Banac, the PNP Spokesperson.

(Ever since that issue surfaced, the PNP has begun conducting validation on it. And up to this day, we have no proof or evidence linking Huawei to alleged espionage.) – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Blast hits tourist bus, injuring over 10 in Cairo

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

An explosion hit a tourist bus near Cairo, Egypt that left 10 people injured. | Image grabbed from Reuters footage

An explosion hit a tourist bus near the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Sunday, injuring at least 10 people.

The blast occurred in the afternoon when the bus carrying 25 foreign tourists was hit by an explosive device near the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Some witnesses heard a huge sound at that time and state-run Nile TV said the blast shattered the glass windows of the bus and other nearby vehicles.

According to Egypt’s security department, the blast was caused by unknown explosive put outside the fence of the museum. Preliminary investigation shows that the blast was triggered by a remote-controlled device.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said the blast didn’t cause damage to the museum, which is under repair and scheduled to open to the public next year.

As of now, no individual or organization has claimed responsibility for the blast. (REUTERS)

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