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China to send negotiator to US for trade talks this month

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China

Beijing | China will send a top negotiator to the United States in late August to resume trade talks, the commerce ministry said today, the first public meeting on the subject in weeks as the trade conflict intensifies.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, the deputy representative on international trade negotiations, will meet with a senior US treasury official, David Malpass, at the invitation of the United States, the ministry said in a statement.

“The Chinese side reiterates that it opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism practices and does not accept any unilateral trade restriction measures,” the ministry said.

“China welcomes dialogue and communication on the basis of reciprocity, equality and integrity.” US Commerce Minister Wilbur Ross held talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing in June.

But the discussions failed to reduce tensions as the United States slapped tariffs on 34 billion worth of Chinese goods in early July, triggering an immediate dollar-for-dollar retaliation from Beijing. The two countries plan to launch a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs on 16 billion worth of goods from each country on August 23.

Washington has also lined up an additional 200 billion in Chinese imports and US President Donald Trump said he could raise tariffs on those products to 25 percent instead of the previously touted 10 percent.

“It is hard to tell how the talks will go but it’s a positive signal that the two countries are looking for some compromise plan,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. “If they were determined to fight it out, they wouldn’t meet,” he told AFP.

Chinese officials say the tariffs have yet to make an impact on the country’s economy, with its exports even beating forecasts in July. But analysts warned that China could feel the full effect of tariffs in August.

Trump has boasted that trade wars are “easy to win” and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its 335 billion surplus with the US.

China does not import enough from the United States to match Washington dollar-for-dollar, but it has warned that it could fire back with other measures.

The yuan has declined in recent weeks, helping Chinese exporters as it makes their products cheaper, but it could fuel tensions with Trump, who has accused Beijing of manipulating its currency.

International

China blasts US ‘bullying’ with Huawei CFO extradition bid

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US; China

Beijing | China on Wednesday accused the United States of “bullying behaviour” after US authorities confirmed plans to seek the extradition of a top Chinese telecom executive detained in Canada.

The United States faces a January 30 deadline to file an extradition request for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest last month sparked diplomatic tensions.

“We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the US/Canada Extradition Treaty,” said US Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested at Vancouver airport on December 1 at the request of the United States, which says she violated American sanctions on Iran.

She has since been freed on Can 10 million (US 7.5 million) bail and is awaiting a hearing on her extradition.

According to the agreement between the two countries, the United States has 60 days after an arrest made at its request in Canada to formalise an extradition request.

Once a request has been submitted, the Canadian justice ministry has 30 days to begin official extradition proceedings, though the process can take months or years.

China, which has defended both Huawei and Meng since the CFO’s arrest, criticised the US extradition request as without “legitimate reason” and “not in conformity with international law”.

“This is a type of technological bullying behaviour and everyone can clearly see the real purpose,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

The US “will stop at nothing to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and restrain China’s legitimate development rights”, she added.

Meng’s arrest has sparked an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

Two Canadians have since been detained in China on national security grounds, in what is thought to be retaliation for the arrest.

A Chinese court also this month sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking following a retrial, a drastic increase of his previous 15-year prison sentence.

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India International

Indian couple who fell to their deaths from cliff in US were intoxicated: Autopsy report

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New York | An Indian couple, who fell to their deaths in October reportedly while taking a selfie at a steep cliff in California’s Yosemite National Park, were intoxicated at the time of the tragic fall, according to an autopsy report.

Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife, Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, were “intoxicated with ethyl alcohol” prior to falling 800 feet from Taft Point on October 25, but no drugs were present in their bodies, according to the autopsy report. Ethyl alcohol is found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and hard liquor.

Due to the condition of the bodies after the extreme fall, investigators were unable to accurately discern a specific level of intoxication, Andrea Stewart, assistant Mariposa County coroner said.

“All we can conclude is that they had been drinking and that they had alcohol in their systems. We don’t know how much,” Stewart was quoted as saying by Mercury News.

The couple from Kerala died “of multiple injuries to the head, neck, chest and abdomen, sustained by a fall from a mountain”, the report said.

The couple had been married since 2014. Both graduated in 2010 from the College of Engineering, Chengannur, in Kerala. Viswanath was a software engineer with Cisco India at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Moorthy and Viswanath who showcased their adventure-seeking travels on Instagram had set up a tripod at Taft Point before they fell 800 feet down the side of a steep cliff.

The tripod was later discovered on the edge of the overlook. Viswanath’s brother, Jishnu Viswanath said it appeared the couple died trying to take a photo.

Viswanath and his wife Moorthy, travelled the world documenting their trips to locales like the Grand Canyon, Paris, New York City, Niagara Falls, London, Big Sur and other scenic destinations.

Just months before her tragic death, Moorthy had warned in an Instagram post the dangers of taking photographs on the edge of cliffs and atop skyscrapers.

She posted a picture of herself at the Grand Canyon, saying in the caption that A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs. But did you know that wind gusts can be fatal? Is our life worth one photo?

In an eerie coincidence, Moorthy appears in the selfie of another tourist couple at Taft Point, just minutes before she plummeted to her death.

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International

US lawmakers reintroduce legislation enforcing fair trade with China

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US; China

Washington | Two US lawmakers — one each from the Republican and the Democratic party — on Wednesday reintroduced a legislation in the House of Representatives to safeguard American assets from Chinese influence and possession, as well as protect American businesses from China’s tools of economic aggression.

Reintroduced by Congressman Tim Ryan and Mike Conaway, the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act is the companion legislation to a similar legislation introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio in the Senate.

“Our imbalanced trade relationship with China poses profound national and economic security risks to the United States. The bipartisan Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act would help correct our trade imbalances with China and give American workers a level playing field to compete and succeed,” said Ryan.

This legislation would further strengthen the American position by safeguarding our assets from Chinese influence and possession, and blunting China’s tools of economic aggression, he added.

“While the United States is operating on a 24-hour news cycle, China has a long-term plan reaching 50 to 100 years. We need to get ahead of the game and strengthen our economy, and this legislation will put us on that path forward,” Ryan said.

Conaway said Beijing’s ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative has made it clear that the Chinese government’s objective is to drive American companies out of business and move their technology and jobs to China at any cost, including the use of illegal trade practices.

This legislation takes the important step of barring the sale of national security sensitive US intellectual property and technology to China, as well as ensuring that China is paying its fair share in taxes, the lawmaker said.

“This bill also keeps the focus on the national security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE , as China frequently uses commercial technology as a vessel to spy on the US government. Allowing them access to our networks would be an enormous security risk and a massive mistake,” Conaway said.

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