News, July 1st

After US, UK mulls tougher action on Huawei

In a U-turn, the UK government that earlier allowed Huawei to sell its 5G technology in the country has signaled a tougher stand against the Chinese telecom giant, a day after the US designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks.

The UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden told reporters that he “wanted Samsung and NEC to become 5G network kit providers”, and a review is under way into how forthcoming US sanctions on Huawei would affect the UK’s use of its products.

“Given that these sanctions… are extensive, it is likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider for the 5G network,” Dowden was quoted as saying.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday designated Chinese telecom companies, Huawei and ZTE, as national security risks to America’s communications networks.

“With today’s orders, and based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the Bureau has designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks to America’s communications networks – and to our 5G future,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

“Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services,” he added.

The UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that the US sanctions would force the country into a rethink over Huawei and its products.

The sanctions forbid Huawei and the third parties that manufacture its chips from using “US technology and software to design and manufacture” its products.

In November 2019, the US FCC unanimously adopted a ban on the use of universal service support to purchase, obtain, or maintain any equipment or services produced or provided by companies posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain.

In May, bowing to pressure from his own party members, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked officials to draw up plans to reduce Huawei’s involvement in the nation’s 5G networks to zero by 2023.

The UK’s original plans, as recently as in January, was to allow considerable involvement of Huawei in the country’s 5G network as Britain’s intelligence agencies suggested that any possible misuse of the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment for mass surveillance could be contained, according to both The Guardian and The Telegraph.

The British PM wanted to cap Huawei’s share in the country’s telecommunications infrastructure market at 35 per cent.

Carolyn Turk, new World Bank Country Director for Vietnam

Ms. Carolyn (Carrie) Turk will assume the position of World Bank Country Director for Vietnam on July 1st, 2020. She will be based in Hanoi.

Ms. Turk, a United Kingdom national, joined the World Bank in 1998. She has since held various positions, including Senior Poverty Specialist based in Vietnam, Senior Social Development Specialist and Lead Social Development Specialist in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region, and Country Manager for Rwanda. Her most recent assignment was as the World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Eritrea.

Prior to joining the World Bank, Ms. Turk worked with the UK Department for International Development. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and has authored numerous publications on poverty and inequality, including a book based on research into gender inequality in 20 countries.

Ms. Turk will provide the leadership needed to further strengthen World Bank’s financing and knowledge engagements with Vietnam, including at the sub-national level, so that Vietnam can achieve the ambitious yet achievable goal of being a high-income country by 2045.

As of June 30, 2020, the World Bank provided US$24.86 billion in grants, credits, and loans to Vietnam to support the country’s development agenda, with an active portfolio of 38 projects valued at US$7.4 billion.

Over the past six months, the World Bank has committed US$516.67 million for Vietnam’s development through projects covering transport, urban development, higher education, and climate change and green growth. The World Bank’s strong analytic and advisory program in Vietnam has provided strategic, cutting edge and timely knowledge and advice to support the country’s development agenda, ranging from the most recent series of COVID-19 response policy notes, to inputs into the country’s upcoming 10-year development strategy and 5-year development plan.

Closing the door to talent will cost jobs and hurt competitiveness: US expert

Closing the door to talent will cost jobs and hurt US competitiveness, Sean Randolph, Senior Director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said on Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online west USA, Randolph warned that the Trump administration’s plan to suspend the issuance of H-1B and other temporary visas through the end of 2020 is a direct challenge to the business model that has made Silicon Valley and other U.S. technology centers successful, a model that underpins America’s economic and technological leadership.

Randolph said that Silicon Valley is built on talent, much of it coming from around the world. The ability to attract the best trained and most creative people is a large part of the explanation for why its economy has excelled. While the short-term impacts of this new policy will be limited (the executive order does not apply to visa holders already in the country), restricting flows of talent to the U.S. will come at significant long term cost to competitiveness and to Americans whether or not they work in tech.

The National Foundation for American Policy, after examining data for 91 unicorns (new companies valued at $1 billion or more), found that 50 of them have at least one immigrant founder (the many Bay Area examples include Tesla, Slack and Uber). Their collective value at the time the research was conducted was $248 billion, and on average they had created 1,200 jobs per company, the vast majority in the U.S. Tellingly, 33 of those companies are headquartered in California.

The contributions of innovative immigrants extend beyond founders: 75 of the 91 companies surveyed (82%) had at least one immigrant filling key management or product development roles, the most common being CEO, CTO of Vice President for Engineering.

Other research carried out by the Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation finds that immigrants are twice as likely as native born citizens to become entrepreneurs. “We see this in the Bay Area every day, where 40-45% of startups are led by entrepreneurs who came from other countries,” said Randolph.

“The implication is clear,” Randolph said, pointing out that fewer immigrants mean fewer startups, and losing those startups means fewer new companies and fewer jobs.

According to Randolph, H-1Bs are used by both tech and non-tech companies to fill jobs where the needed skills are unique or not available locally. The numbers aren’t large but are strategic, he stressed, adding that in many cases, visa holders go on to win green cards or permanent residency, which enables them to contribute to the U.S. economy in the long term.

“So, this isn’t just about temporary workers – it’s about innovation and long-term talent flows.”

Randolph listed several other implications for shutting the door: educated immigrants who are denied entry to the U.S. are welcomed by countries with which we compete and may choose to go there instead, or they may choose to stay home to start their own companies. If Silicon Valley or other companies can’t find the skills they need when they need them, he said, the odds increase that more high-skilled jobs and functions will leave the U.S. for other countries such as Canada, which welcomes immigrants and where educated workers with advanced skills are readily available.

Universities that rely heavily on foreign students to fill their graduate departments in fields such as engineering, and computer science are also vulnerable if potential applicants believe they have no opportunity to work in the U.S. following graduation.

It has been reported that other visas will also be suspended – H-2Bs for seasonal workers (for example at summer resorts where local workers are in short supply), L visas that apply to intra-company transfers, and J visas that enable work-study summer programs for students. All are forms of legal immigration that fill unmet needs and create opportunity.

“Using the coronavirus as an excuse to pull up the drawbridge will not fill critical needs or create new jobs. It will, on the other hand, undercut the flow of talent that has made America truly great. Businesses and citizens groups should push back,” Randolph noted.

Hundreds arrested in Hong Kong after China imposes new national security law

More than 300 people have been arrested in Hong Kong protests Wednesday, including nine accused of violating a new national security law that Western powers argue takes away the territory’s semi-autonomous status and gives China unprecedented power over the city.

Thousands gathered in Hong Kong’s Times Square on Wednesday to protest against the national security law, raising their hands in the air, chanting, and displaying signage in favor of Hong Kong independence.

“More than 300 people have been arrested in #HongKong so far for [offenses] like unlawful assemblies, disorderly conduct in public places, furious driving, and breach of the #NationalSecurityLaw, which accounted for 9 arrests (5 males & 4 females),” the Hong Kong Police Force said in an update.

“Arrest action is underway. Stop breaking the law,” the agency tweeted in an earlier message.

Police shared photos of supposed contraband – including flyers and large signs that voiced support for Hong Kong’s independence – which were seized from protesters specifically charged with violating the national security law that criminalizes anti-government movements.

“Three females were arrested respectively for showing materials with #HKIndependence slogans in #CausewayBay, violating #NSL,” the agency wrote, sharing photos of pro-democracy leaflets and fliers. “Anyone who [organizes], plans, commits or participates in committing secession or undermining national unification shall be guilty of an [offense].”

Another female was arrested in Hong Kong’s upscale retail district known as Causeway Bay for showing material with a Hong Kong independence slogan. Hong Kong Police said it will take “resolute enforcement action” in accordance with the national security law.

Earlier on Wednesday, the agency announced its first arrest since the national security law came into force after a man was seen in Causeway Bay with a large Hong Kong Independence flag.

Protesters attempted to march toward the Wan Chai neighborhood but were intercepted by swarms of riot police. A video posted by a Bloomberg Asia showed a man who was down on the crowd being dragged by riot police before officers sealed off Jaffe Road in Wan Chai.

Hong Kong Police also shared bloody photos of a man’s shoulder and announced “an officer was stabbed in the arm by rioters holding sharp objects when he was taking arrest action. While the bystanders offered no helping hand, suspects fled. #HKPolice express the strongest condemnation against such violent act.”

The agency raised a “purple warning flag” to notify protesters that chanting Hong Kong Independence slogans might be a breach in the new national security law. Officers were also seen firing a water cannon and deploying tear gas into the crowds, according to Reuters.

Beijing waited until after the national security law was passed Tuesday to release details.

The law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

It also establishes a national security committee in Hong Kong under Beijing’s control and allows for those accused of offenses to be sent to the mainland for trial. Those who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong may be charged under the national security law as well, according to Chinese state media.

China’s ceremonial legislature known as the National People’s Congress (NPC) first endorsed the national security bill at the end of May, reigniting pro-democracy protests quelled for months during the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature deliberated for about a month before passing the national security bill into law on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday extended his offer to some 350,000 people with a British overseas passport, as well as 2.5 million people who are eligible to apply for one, to come live in the United Kingdom, which could put them on course for British citizenship, the BBC reported.

The British Foreign Secretary is expected to announce details later in the day.

“The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitute a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and it’s in direct conflict with Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” Johnson said Wednesday in a speech before Parliament.

The 1997 agreement handed over Hong Kong, previously a British colony, to Beijing as long as Hong Kong’s people were allowed to retain some liberties not afforded to Chinese citizens.

“The law also threatens freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration,” Johnson continued. “We made clear, Mr. Speaker, that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the U.K. granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the U.K. and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now.”

Taiwan has also opened an office Wednesday dedicated to those fleeing the new national security law in Hong Kong in an effort to attract professionals and capital from Asia’s financial hub, Reuters reported.

Japan and Britain aim for trade deal by end-July, Tokyo negotiator says

Japan and Britain aim to clinch a trade deal by the end of July and Tokyo wants to secure at least the same automobile tariffs as it has in its existing European Union trade pact, Tokyo’s chief negotiator said.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and British trade minister Liz Truss agreed last month on a swift deal on an economic partnership to secure business continuity.

Britain’s relationship with the EU is in a status-quo transition period until the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Tokyo wants to conclude trade talks with Britain by the end of July as Japan needs any agreement to go through legal checks before submitting it to parliament, which is expected to be held this autumn.

“It is our highest priority to achieve an agreement within the time frame… We need to adjust ambitions to a realistic level,” Hiroshi Matsuura, who is chief negotiator for trade talks with Britain told Reuters on June 30.

He said negotiations would be based on the EU-Japan trade pact and Japan is seeking a higher commitment if possible, adding that digital trade would be an area where both countries could agree on a higher level of deal.

The issue of automobiles is among Japan’s major interests.

“The auto industry is an important industry for Japan, we want to seek higher level of trade deal,” Matsuura said.

“We want at least the same level of tariff condition on autos with Britain as we have under the trade pact with the EU,” Matsuura said.

The EU-Japan trade pact which entered into force in 2019 included removing EU tariffs of 10% on Japanese cars in eight years and scrapping them on most auto parts immediately.

Palestinians rally as global opposition to Israeli annexation grows

Thousands of Palestinians protested Wednesday in Gaza against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans, as premier Benjamin Netanyahu held off an announcement on the controversial project and international opposition stiffened.

Netanyahu’s center-right coalition government had set July 1 as the date from which it could begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.

With no announcement currently scheduled on Israel’s self-imposed kick-off date, opponents of the plan — notably Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — were mobilizing.

Several thousand brandished Palestinian flags and placards condemning Trump at a rally in Gaza City, while demonstrations were building in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jericho.

“The resistance must be revived,” Gaza protester Rafeeq Inaiah told AFP. “Israel is afraid of force.”

The Trump plan, unveiled in January, offered a path for Israel to annex territory and Jewish West Bank settlements, communities considered illegal under international law.

Netanyahu has voiced enthusiastic support for the Trump plan — which has been roundly rejected by the Palestinians — but the right-wing premier has not revealed his intentions for enacting the US proposals.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, launched some 20 test rockets from the coastal Palestinian enclave into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, a move aimed at dissuading Israel from moving forward, Hamas sources told AFP.

Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, says that Israeli annexations in the West Bank, which borders Jordan, would be a “declaration of war”.

The Ramallah-based Palestinians Authority has said it is willing to renew long-stalled talks with Israel — but not on terms outlined by Trump.

While the US has offered tacit support for immediate annexation, most of the international community is vocally opposed to the project.

Writing in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that although he was a “passionate defender of Israel,” he viewed annexation as “contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

“Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” he said.

In a rare criticism of Israel by Australia, the latter’s foreign ministry issued a statement Wednesday warning against “unilateral annexation or change in status of territory on the West Bank”.

France, Germany along with several other European states and the United Nations all oppose annexation, as do Gulf Arab states, with which Israel has increasingly sought warmer ties.

Jordan, one of only two Arab nations that has diplomatic ties with Israel, has warned that annexation could trigger a “massive conflict” and has not ruled out reviewing its 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state.

Israel’s defense minister and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz has said annexation must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained, amid a sharp spike in new Israeli and Palestinian cases.

Gantz is due to take over as prime minister in November 2021 under the terms of a coalition deal.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War and then the Golan Heights on the Syrian border in 1981, in moves never recognized by most of the international community.

While some settlers have urged Netanyahu to take similar action in the West Bank, other settlers oppose the Trump plan, as it envisions the creation of a Palestinian state across roughly 70 percent of the West Bank.

“Trump’s plan is to establish a Palestinian state in the land of Israel while leaving the Jews with little crumbs,” Daniela Weiss, a settler movement leader, told AFP.

“This thing will not happen. We will not eat this bait. We will not fall into this trap.”

Despite mounting headwinds against implementing the Trump plan, experts have stressed that Netanyahu may still move forward in the coming days, noting that he is keenly watching the US presidential election and may be eager to act if he fears the president will not win a second term.

Presumptive US Democratic party nominee Joe Biden is opposed to any unilateral annexations by Israel.

Regional economy faces pandemic’s impact

Member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) approved an Economic Contingency Plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, following the 20th Political Council meeting and the 10th Economic Council of the regional bloc in virtual format.

The strategy for recovery from the effects of sars-cov-2 is designed to promote a new model of socio-economic development, based on regional self-sufficiency and complementarity between economies of ALBA countries.

In this regard, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla – who was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz – noted, “In the face of these challenges, ALBA-TCP countries have the instruments that will allow us to confront them effectively and emerge victorious.”

During the meeting, agreement was reached to reactivate PetroCaribe, 15 years after its creation, and to re-launch the ALBA Bank, considered the two fundamental pillars of the Alliance, according to Tareck El Aissami, Venezuelan Economic Vice President and Minister of People’s Power for Industries, National Production, and Oil.

With respect to PetroCaribe, a new operational and cooperation regimen was conceived to allow for regional energy sovereignty, while the ALBA Bank will have new mechanisms for compensation, financing, and technical support. In this regard, one proposal is directed toward use of crypto currency.

Agreements reached include the reactivation of important programs addressing health and food; the creation of an alba-tcp humanitarian fund for support in any dangerous situation that may arise, such as health emergencies and natural disasters; the technical office for economic complementation; and the alba-tcp health observatory to monitor the evolution of the new coronavirus and its impact on health systems.

Other noteworthy initiatives include the establishment of a reserve supply of vaccines, medicines, equipment and supplies to deal with the pandemic and the holding of cooperation forums with other international actors including Russia, China, and the African Union.

While in other parts of the world self-interest is prevailing, in our region the complementary economic zone alba-PetroCaribe is to be promoted as a true model of productive and technological development based on the values of solidarity and complementarity.

Taiwan opens Hong Kong migration office in rebuke to Beijing

Taiwan on Wednesday opened an office to facilitate migration from Hong Kong following China’s passage of a national security law for the former British colony seen as sharply restricting political opposition and freedom of speech.

Taiwan is a self-governing democracy claimed by China as its own territory and has firmly rejected Beijing’s demand that it unifies with the mainland under the “one country, two systems” framework in place in Hong Kong.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council minister, Chen Ming-tong, said the office would assist Hong Kong professionals seeking to move to the island for a range of purposes, including education and business.

Under Hong Kong’s national security law enacted Tuesday, those found guilty of inciting activities deemed to be of a secessionist, subversive or terrorist nature or of colluding with foreign forces could face up to life imprisonment.

The establishment of the office is “not only a statement on Taiwan’s support to Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom, but also highlights our determination to care for Hong Kong people,” Chen told reporters.

Chen said the law’s implementation effectively terminates China’s promise to allow Hong Kong to retain its separate legal, economic, and civil rights promised to it for 50 years beginning from the 1997 return to Chinese rule.

Taiwan’s high-tech economy and falling birthrate have prompted the government to entice Taiwanese professionals to return from abroad, as well as to attract new capital and investment from other countries and territories.

China has cut ties with Taiwan’s government and stepped up its efforts to isolate the island diplomatically and has said it will bring Taiwan under its control by military force if necessary.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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