Yuan rises 0.5 percent after US drops currency manipulation charges

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2020   •   561

Chinese 100 yuan or renminbi (RMB) notes and coins in Beijing, China, 5 August 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/ROMAN PILIPEY

Beijing – The renminbi (the official name of the Chinese currency, commonly known as ‘yuan’) rose by 6.8954 units per dollar or 0.45 percent – its highest level since August – hours after the United States government decided to drop China from its currency manipulator list.

The daily trading rate set by the country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, was 0.0309 yuan higher on Tuesday, compared to the previous day.

The PBOC does not allow the yuan to fluctuate by more than two percent from the reference rate marked each day.

Washington included Beijing in its “currency manipulators” list on Aug. 5 after the yuan dropped below the psychological barrier of 7 units per dollar for the first time in more than a decade.

The significant drop in the yuan was seen as a response to new tariffs on Chinese products announced by Washington four days earlier.

However, the US Department of the Treasury on Monday announced the withdrawal of China from the list as a gesture of goodwill before the signing of the “first phase” of an agreement to resolve the bilateral trade war in the US capital later this week.

“China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

However, the US has not completely written off its suspicions over China and moved China to the so-called “Monitoring List,” in which it classifies those trade partners that merit “close attention” because of their monetary policies.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua acknowledged that the strengthening of the yuan against the dollar came just after the gesture made by the US.

The agency quoted an analyst who attributed the appreciation in the national currency to the improvement in the country’s economic inertia and the counter-cyclical adjustments carried out by the government.

After 22 months of trade war and the ensuing exchange of tariffs, Trump announced mid-December that the first phase of a pact with China had been finalized.

According to the agreement, the US will keep its 25-percent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, along with reduced charges of 7.5 percent on additional imports worth $120 billion.

Ever since the announcement of a possible agreement in October, negotiations between the Asian and American superpowers have seen several upheavals, including the spread of contradictory information and mutually-lobbed veiled criticism.

Trade tensions between the two world economies – which began in March 2018 – go beyond bilateral relations and have had global consequences.

The International Monetary Fund, in its latest forecasts in October, downgraded global growth projections for the year to 3 percent, 0.2 percent less than that in July, weighed down by doubts about a possible resolution of the trade dispute. EFE-EPA

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Three cured coronavirus patients donate plasma in Guangdong

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Three cured coronavirus patients in south China’s Guangdong Province expressed their appreciation of beating the virus by being the first in their province to donate plasma as a treatment option for other infected patients on February 14.

Initial results have indicated the effectiveness of convalescent plasma-derived therapeutic products in curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions.

One of the donors is 48-year-old and was once in critical condition. After being cured, he found a way to give back.

“My country saved me, so I want to save more people,” said one of the donors.

The only female donor found this to be a great way to show her thanks to the medical staff that assisted in her recovery.

“People helped us a lot, so I want to give back to society. This is an important reason I donated my plasma,” said a female donor.

Based on the high demand of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the third donor saw a way to help his country fight against the epidemic.

“I think this is a way to contribute to society during the coronavirus outbreak,” said another young male donor.

CGTN via Reuters Connect

Blinds down, empty streets: virus-stricken Wuhan becomes ghost town

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Streets in China’s Wuhan were deserted on Thursday (February 20) after nearly a month in lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak that has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.

Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been suspended and citizens are required to stay at home.

After the city’s borders were closed on January 23 and all incoming and outgoing flights canceled, other nearby cities in Hubei province also implemented their own policies restricting the movement of people.

The lockdown now means residents cannot leave Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou and other cities in Hubei province. In other areas of China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, restrictions are in place for smaller communities, such as building blocks or neighborhoods.

Many cities across China have reduced public transport lines and routes, while few have closed inner-city public transport entirely.

Some communities have instituted curfews or only allow people to exit and enter at particular times. In other areas, restrictions mean only a certain number of people from a household can leave their residence at any one time.

China, where the virus emerged in December, reported a sharp drop in new cases but the data was partly attributable to a change in how it diagnoses the virus and the figures could not quell growing alarm about its spread.

China’s National Health Commission reported 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, the lowest daily rise since January 29, while Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak – reported the lowest number of new infections since February 11.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases in China to over 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three-quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.

(Production: Thomas Suen, Fang Nanlin, Iona Serrapica)

US, PH soldiers build two classrooms in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Two new classrooms jointly built by United States and Philippine troops have been opened in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The new classrooms were inaugurated on February 19, at the Malatgao National Elementary School, the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

US Navy Lt. Joshua Moore said the new learning facilities, built by American and Filipino soldiers under arrangements through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), will be used by over 100 students residing in the community.

“This project provides a much-needed schoolhouse for the Malatgao National Elementary School in Palawan, which will be utilized by over 120 students,” Moore was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We are proud to assist this community working hand-in-hand with our Filipino counterparts,” he added.

Under the VFA, US and Philippine troops participate in war and disaster response drills and assist in humanitarian projects like erecting multi-purpose buildings or helping repair schools.

The deal, which came into force in 1999, was terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. The notice of termination will take effect after 180 days.

The US Embassy said that in the last four years, its Navy engineers, known as Seabees, have completed 24 humanitarian projects across the Philippines.  

These projects include single- and double-room classrooms, water catchment systems, multipurpose school huts, and multipurpose communal buildings.

Joint construction operations such as these between the Philippine Navy Seabees, U.S. Navy Seabees, Philippine Marines, and local Barangays serve to strengthen the U.S.-Philippine partnership.

“I think working with U.S. troops will make our alliance stronger and continue to increase our bonds for years to come,” said Apprentice Fireman Construction Electrician Joel Nioda from Zamboanga City.

“This will help unify and grow our bilateral relationship,” he added.

Since October 2016, the U.S. Navy Seabees construction projects for Philippine communities are valued at more than PHP100,000,000 ($1.9 Million).

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