China warns against travel to Australia, citing discrimination

(Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Friday advised the public to avoid traveling to Austrlia, citing racial discrimination and violence against the Chinese in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There has been an alarming increase recently in acts of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement. It did not give any specific examples of such discrimination or violence.

Asians of various backgrounds have said they have been harassed since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, including in the United States. China issued a warning to tourists traveling there earlier this year after some said they were mistreated in connection with the outbreak.

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U.S. will allow Chinese passenger carriers two flights per week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday it will allow Chinese passenger air carriers to operate two flights per week after Beijing said it would ease coronavirus restrictions to allow in more foreign carriers.

On Wednesday, Washington said it planned to bar all Chinese passenger airlines from flying to the United States by June 16, due to Beijing’s curbs on U.S. carriers. The revised Transportation Department order cuts in half the four weekly round trip flights Chinese passenger carriers have been flying to the United States and take effect immediately.

The department said if China takes further steps for U.S. carriers it is “fully prepared to once again revisit the action.” The notice added that the department is “troubled by China’s continued unilateral dictation of the terms of the U.S.-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of U.S. carriers.”

The announcement defuses a potential new flashpoint in the U.S.-China relationship. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.

China’s announcement should allow U.S. carriers to resume once-a-week flights into a city of their choice starting on June 8, a fraction of what the U.S.-China aviation agreement allows.

The U.S. limit affects U.S. roundtrip flights by Air China (601111.SS), China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co (600029.SS) and Xiamen Airlines Co. It is not immediately known which flights will be allowed to continue.

It is also unclear if U.S. carriers will agree to fly just once a week to China when they have sought approval for two or three daily flights.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and United Airlines (UAL.O) asked to resume flights to China this month. Both said they were studying China’s action.

China said all airlines can increase the number of international flights involving China to two per week if none of their passengers test positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks.

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White House, on Tiananmen anniversary, urges China to respect human rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House, in a statement on the 31st anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown, urged Beijing on Thursday to respect human rights, fulfill its commitments on Hong Kong and end persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s slaughter of unarmed Chinese civilians was a tragedy that will not be forgotten,” the White House said.

It urged the Chinese government to fulfill its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sino-British Joint Declaration governing Hong Kong’s status, and to “uphold the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Chinese citizens under China’s constitution, and to end the systematic persecution of millions of ethnic and religious minorities.”

The anniversary of China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists coincides with widespread protests across the United States against racism and police brutality touched off by the killing of a black man while in custody of white Minneapolis police officers.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to militarize the response to the mass demonstrations, saying he could deploy the military in states that fail to crack down on the sometimes violent protests.

“The American people stand together with all Chinese citizens in their pursuit of fundamental rights, including the right to accountable and representative governance and freedom of speech, assembly, and religious belief,” the White House said.

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Coronavirus: China would welcome ‘international review’ into COVID-19 pandemic, says ambassador to UK

China would welcome an “international review” into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing’s ambassador to the UK has told Sky News.

Speaking on Monday’s edition of After The Pandemic, a Sky News series of special programmes looking at what life will be like after COVID-19, Liu Xiaoming said the purpose of such an investigation should not be to “label any country”.

“This review should be independent, free from politicisation, it should be based on science, the scientists should take the lead,” he said.

“The WHO [World Health Organisation] should lead this independent review.

Mr Liu rejected criticism of China’s response to the virus, claiming Beijing had “wasted no time in sharing information” with the international community.

“China’s record is clean [and] it can stand the test of time and history,” he declared.

However, a YouGov poll for Sky News found that 76% of respondents thought the outbreak had damaged China’s global standing.

A total of 68% thought the same of the United States, while 43% also thought the UK’s global standing had been hit.

Mr Liu also claimed that the pandemic will “make the world more united” and countries who had “rejected World Heath Organisation advice have paid a high price”.

The COVID-19 outbreak began in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province.

It has since spread around the world.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 6.2 million cases of the coronavirus around the globe, with more than 370,000 deaths recorded.

Ambassador Liu was joined on Monday’s programme by David Miliband, former foreign secretary and now chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, historian Niall Ferguson and Mary Robinson, former UN human rights commissioner and former president of Ireland.

Ahead of the start of After The Pandemic, Sky News commissioned polling on the post-COVID-19 world.

One of the question asked was what the biggest issue facing the world will be.

Top of the pile was climate change (33%), followed by future pandemics (15%), poverty (14%), China (11%) and terrorism (3%).

Ms Robinson said nations around the world needed to emerge from the pandemic with a clear and unified plan to tackle climate change, but added she was “distressed” by what she was hearing at the moment.

She said a number of lessons could be gleaned from the “sudden, dramatic downturn”, including that government matters.

Ms Robinson noted that a number of countries with female leaders have fared particularly well, citing the likes of New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Iceland and Finland.

Mr Miliband said the coronavirus outbreak was “not a short term crisis, it’s a medium to long-term change in the way we run the planet” that shows “our connected world suffers from disconnected government”.

Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting “After the Pandemic: Our New World” every night until Thursday. It’s a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

Tuesday’s theme is Economy and Work. He’ll be joined by the Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Stephanie Kelton, whose forthcoming book explores how best to deal with issues ranging from poverty to building resilient infrastructure. Alongside them both is Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP. Plus Senior economic adviser to Donald Trump Stephen Moore.

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Chinese vaccine could be ready by year-end, government body says

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine could be ready for market as early as the end of this year, China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said in a social media post.

In trials, more than 2,000 people have received vaccines developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. A vaccine could be ready for the market as early as the end of this year or early 2021, according to the May 29 post on Chinese social media platform WeChat.

Vaccines from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products had entered Phase II clinical trials. Both groups are affiliated with state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, whose management is overseen by SASAC.

The Beijing Institute of Biological Products’ production line will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 100 million to 120 million doses, according to the article.

China has five coronavirus vaccines in human trials. Neither company could be reached for comment on Saturday evening.

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Trump escalates US-China conflict with new sanctions, measures

US president plans to eliminate special treatment for Hong Kong after Beijing announces new security legislation.

United States President Donald Trump on Friday said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong in response to China’s plans to impose new security legislation in the territory.

Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong’s autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a “tragedy” for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world.

More:

  • US, UK, Canada, Australia condemn China over national security legislation 

  • ‘A blow to autonomy’: China’s planned Hong Kong security law

  • Pompeo declares Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous’ from China

“We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment,” he said, adding that the US would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls.

He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks – a move believed to be aimed at Chinese graduate students studying in the US.

The moves come after China forged ahead with plans to impose new national security legislation and after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under US law that has enabled it to remain a global financial centre.

Diplomats said Russia and China responded during the council discussion by criticising the US over the Minneapolis killing of an unarmed black man – who was seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck – and its handling of growing unrest.

“Why US denies China’s right to restore peace & order in Hong Kong while brutally dispersing crowds at home?” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter after the council discussion.

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement after the meeting that the US and UK should “mind their own business,” adding that: “Any attempt to use Hong Kong to interfere in China’s internal matters is doomed to fail.”

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US and allies condemn China over Hong Kong national security law

Law a direct violation of China’s international obligations, says a joint statement by the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

China’s plan to impose a new security law on Hong Kong puts it in direct violation of its international commitments, the United States and its allies – the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia – have said.

“China’s decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” a joint statement released by the four countries said on Thursday.

More:

  • Tensions boil in Hong Kong as China national security law looms

  • ‘A blow to autonomy’: China’s planned Hong Kong security law

  • Pompeo declares Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous’ from China

The proposed Chinese law would undermine the “one country, two systems” framework, the four allies said in the statement, referring to the arrangement under which Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997.

“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom,” the US and allies said, adding their “deep concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong”.

The condemnation was issued after China’s parliament earlier on Thursday rubber-stamped a law initially proposed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) after huge pro-democracy protests rocked the financial hub for nearly 11 months.

The vote was 2,878-1 with six abstentions, in line with the high-profile but largely ceremonial body’s custom of near-unanimous support for all legal changes decided by the ruling Communist Party.

The law will alter Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require the territory to enforce measures to be decided by the NPC’s standing committee, a small body controlled by the governing party that handles most legislative work.

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, “terrorism” and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

US-China tensions

The US and allies said they were “extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society”.

“The law does nothing to build mutual understanding and foster reconciliation within Hong Kong,” they said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the US Congress on Wednesday that the White House no longer regards Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China, further deteriorating relations between the two nations.

Pompeo’s notice to the US Congress added Hong Kong to the Trump administration’s increasing conflicts with China over trade, technology, religious freedom, Chinese handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the status of Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its territory.

More than 1,300 US companies have offices in Hong Kong, providing about 100,000 jobs.

“Several countries have expressed deep concern over this law, but the United States has been the loudest and strongest in its rebuke,” Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu reported from Beijing.

Yu said the US-China relationship has hit an all-time low, one of the “lowest points it has been in decades”.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also defended the autonomy of Hong Kong, asserting that “freedom of expression and assembly and also democratic debate in Hong Kong must continue to be respected in the future”.

China, meanwhile, said it would take necessary countermeasures to any foreign interference into what it insists are its internal affairs.

Premier Li Keqiang, in a news conference on Thursday, called for mutual respect and Sino-US cooperation to promote “extensive common interests” in resolving global problems and promoting trade, science and other fields.

“Both countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Li said.


NewsFeed

Trump: ‘Don’t ask me. Ask China.’

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Trump 'miffed' with China, trade deal now less important: adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is so “miffed” with Beijing over the novel coronavirus and other matters that the U.S.-China trade deal is not as important to him as it once was.

Speaking on Fox News Channel, Kudlow also called Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong very disturbing.

He said the U.S.-China “Phase 1” trade deal reached in January was intact for the moment, but that the Trump administration was watching to see whether Beijing meets the commitments it made.

Losing patience after Hong Kong did not adopt national security legislation on its own, China announced on Thursday that it would directly enact laws to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city.

“I think China is making a big mistake, frankly,” Kudlow told Fox Business Network in a subsequent interview.

He said the Trump administration would welcome back any American company in Hong Kong or on the Chinese mainland that wanted to return to the United States. “We will do what we can for full expensing and pay the cost of moving if they return their supply chains and their production to the United States,” Kudlow said.

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Biden says U.S. should lead world in condemning China over Hong Kong actions

DETROIT (Reuters) – The United States must lead the world in condemning China if it imposes new national security rules on Hong Kong, likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Friday after Beijing unveiled a law that could undermine the territory’s autonomy.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also rebuked this week’s move by China’s Communist Party-controlled parliament, calling it arbitrary and disastrous. On Thursday, Republican President Donald Trump warned that Washington would react “very strongly” against any attempt by Beijing to gain more control over the former British colony.

On CNBC, Biden said, “We should be calling the rest of the world to condemn their actions, criticizing Trump for a “silence” on human rights issues the former vice president said was “devastating for people around the world.”

“All it does is encourage thugs and dictators, which, in fact, I think the president has some kind of affinity for,” Biden said.

China has quickly become a focus in the U.S. presidential race, with both Trump and Biden spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns before Nov. 3’s election targeting each other’s record in dealing with the country.

Trump’s campaign, which has seized on Americans’ growing animosity toward China over the coronavirus outbreak to underpin his re-election pitch, contends Biden will not be as tough on Beijing as the president is.

But Biden argues Trump is helping China by undermining U.S. relations with allies and reducing the United States’ role and influence in international institutions.

China’s action could spark fresh protests in Hong Kong, which enjoys many freedoms not allowed on the mainland, after often-violent demonstrations last year plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since its return to Beijing’s rule in 1997.

Pro-democracy demonstrators have for years opposed the idea of national security laws, arguing they could erode the city’s high degree of autonomy, guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula in place for two decades.

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Trump rips into China over coronavirus, 'very disappointed'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the novel coronavirus, saying the worldwide pandemic cast a pall over his U.S.-China trade deal.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, in December and was spreading silently as Washington and Beijing signed a Phase 1 trade deal hailed by the Republican president as a major achievement.

“I’m very disappointed in China,” the Republican president said in an interview broadcast Thursday on Fox Business Network.

“They should have never let this happen. So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me,” Trump said.

Under the Phase 1 deal signed in January, Beijing pledged to buy at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs in stages on Chinese goods.

A Chinese state-run newspaper has reported that some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement.

Trump said again he was not interested in renegotiating.

While U.S. intelligence agencies said the virus did not appear to be manmade or genetically modified, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said early in May there is “a significant amount of evidence” the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan.

His comments followed Trump’s assertion on April 30 that he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab.

In the Fox Business interview, which was taped on Wednesday, Trump focused more on China’s response to the outbreak than on its origin.

“We have a lot of information, and it’s not good. Whether it came from the lab or came from the bats, it all came from China, and they should have stopped it. They could have stopped it, at the source,” he said.

“It got out of control.”

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