The Premier League announced on Thursday that it had agreed to a new broadcast deal in China for the rest of the season with Tencent Sports.
The previous agreement with PPTV was terminated after a dispute over a missed payment.
Viewers in China will have access to all the remaining 372 matches of England’s top-flight football league from this weekend, the league said.
“We are excited to have agreed this partnership with Tencent ensuring our supporters in China can enjoy following Premier League action throughout this season,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.
Tencent Sports general manager Ewell Zhao said: “The Premier League is one of the world’s most popular sports competitions and has many fans in China.
“In collaboration with the Premier League, Tencent Sports hopes to leverage its platforms and technology to bring the drama of Premier League matches to fans and share with them the passion and excitement of football.”
A top US diplomat will arrive in Taiwan on Thursday, the highest-ranking State Department official to visit in 40 years, in a further sign of Washington’s willingness to defy China and its campaign to isolate the self-ruled island.
Keith Krach, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, was heading to Taipei to attend a memorial service for late president Lee Teng-hui on Saturday, the US State Department said.
The trip, the second high-ranking US visit in as many months, sparked an immediate rebuke from China, which baulks at any recognition of Taiwan and has mounted a decades-long policy of marginalising the democratic island.
“China strongly opposes this,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday, saying the trip “encourages the arrogant attitude of Taiwan independence separatist forces”.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory, to be absorbed into the mainland — by force if necessary.
Relations between the United States and China are at their lowest point in decades, with the two sides clashing over a range of trade, military and security issues, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Washington’s increased outreach to Taiwan under US President Donald Trump has become yet another flashpoint between the two powers.
“The United States honours President Lee’s legacy by continuing our strong bonds with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy through shared political and economic values,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement announcing Krach’s trip.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Krach, accompanied by assistant secretary Robert Destro, would also discuss “how to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation” during his three-day visit.
It described him as the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will host a dinner for the US delegation on Friday.
“We look forward to more exchanges and discussions between Taiwan and the US to solidify the foundation for further collaborations, including economic cooperation, through undersecretary Krach’s visit,” her office said in a statement.
– Ambassador meeting in New York –
Beijing discourages any official exchanges with Taiwan but in recent months Washington has dramatically increased its outreach.
Last month, US cabinet member and health chief Alex Azar visited to highlight Taiwan’s widely praised efforts to stop Covid-19.
On Thursday Taiwan’s foreign ministry also confirmed a rare meeting took place the day before between James Lee, its top official in New York, and Washington’s ambassador to the UN Kelly Clark.
Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of Tsai, who rejects its view that the island is part of “one China”.
In recent weeks, Taiwan has reported a sharp increase in incursions by Chinese jets into its air defence identification zone.
On Thursday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said two Chinese anti-submarine planes crossed the boundary a day earlier and were warned to leave.
Washington remains the leading arms supplier to the island but has historically been cautious in holding official contact with it.
Trump has embraced Taiwan more closely as a way to hit back at authoritarian Beijing, especially as he seeks re-election in November.
He has also approved some major arms sales, something his recent predecessors were more reluctant to do.
But the United States has so far not strayed from the unwritten red line on Taiwan, as it has not sent senior officials whose primary responsibilities are foreign affairs or defence.
Lee, who died in July at the age of 97, was a towering figure in Taiwan’s history, helping the once authoritarian island transition to a vibrant democracy and later angering China by pushing for it to be recognised as a sovereign country.
When news of his death broke, Chinese state media called him “the godfather of Taiwan secessionism”.
Krach, with his economic focus, will be visiting as Taiwan seeks a trade deal with the United States.
Taiwan removed a major hurdle last month by easing safety restrictions on US beef and pork — welcome news for farmers, a key constituency for Trump, as the election approaches.
Actor John Boyega has announced he is stepping down as brand ambassador Jo Malone after the perfume brand dropped him for the re-shoot of its advert in China.
The “Star Wars” star wrote on Twitter Tuesday that the brand’s decision to “replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong.”
Jo Malone, an upscale British perfume brand owned by Estée Lauder, admitted replacing Boyega with Chinese actor Liu Haoran is “a faux-pas.” The British perfume and scented candle company issued an apology to the actor for taking a personal video he made for them and reshooting for the Chinese market.
“I have decided to step down as Jo Malone’s global ambassador,” the actor of Nigerian heritage tweeted on Monday. “When I joined the brand as their first male global ambassador last year, I created the short film we used to launch the campaign. It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign.”
“The film celebrated my personal story– showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” Boyega wrote.
The remade film kept out many elements of the ad such as Boyega’s family members and his childhood neighborhood, Peckham, in London. It also did not feature any black persons.
Boyega said he knew about it on Twitter.
In a statement Monday, Jo Malone said, “We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
The company said it also apologized to Chinese actor Haoran, who was not involved in the conceptualization of the campaign but got caught in the crossfire.
“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused,” it added. “We respect John and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”
The original short — released last year and titled London Gent — showed Boyega on the streets of his home district of Peckham in London, hanging out and dancing with his friends and spending time with his family, who also appear wearing traditional Yoruba attires.
US ambassador to China Terry Branstad is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday, at a time of increasingly strained ties between the world’s two biggest economies.
Thanking Branstad for his service, Pompeo said in a tweet that he had “contributed to rebalancing U.S.-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair.”
In a statement, the US embassy in Beijing confirmed the departure, saying Branstad was retiring and would leave Beijing next month. It added that he had confirmed his decision to President Donald Trump by phone last week.
The 73-year-old had been in his post since May 2017.
“I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home,” the statement quoted him as saying.
It noted his work pushing Beijing to class the powerful opioid fentanyl as a controlled substance, making its sale to the United States subject to China’s maximum legal penalty.
It did not give any details on who would take over at the embassy.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — while acknowledging Pompeo’s tweet — said it had not received notice of his resignation.
Branstad — who previously served as governor of Iowa for more than 20 years across two spells — has represented Washington in Beijing during a period when tensions with China were heightened over trade, regional territorial claims, the coronavirus pandemic, and unrest in Hong Kong.
In June, he was summoned by Beijing after President Trump signed a law that paved the way for sanctions over Hong Kong, an action the foreign ministry slammed as “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Last year, he called on Beijing to open a “substantive dialogue” with the Dalai Lama during a rare visit to Tibet, a region where the central government is accused of widespread repression.
An early supporter of Trump’s run for the White House in 2016, Branstad was appointed soon after the election.
At the time, Trump’s transition team praised his “tremendous understanding of China and Chinese people.”
He was reported to have a long-standing relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he first met in the 1980s.
China’s leaders held a triumphant ceremony to celebrate beating the coronavirus on Tuesday, as billions of people around the world still suffer the fallout from the pandemic and the global death toll nears 900,000.
The upbeat mood in Beijing comes as concerns grow about a resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe, with France tightening restrictions, cases in Britain spiking and schools resuming around the region in recent days.
Worldwide infections to date now stand at more than 27 million and over 890,000 people have died from the disease, with the pandemic showing no sign of peaking.
But in China the virus has been all but banished through a combination of lockdowns and travel restrictions earlier in the year that have officials touting the nation as a coronavirus success story.
President Xi Jinping said China had passed “an extraordinary and historic test” during an awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.
“We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus,” Xi said.
“We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.”
The nation’s propaganda machine has been attempting to seize the narrative surrounding the pandemic, reframing the episode as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.
Xi had stern words for China’s doubters, saying “selfish moves, any buck-passing and deeds that confuse right and wrong” risked inflicting damage across the world.
Beijing is also touting progress on its vaccines as a sign of global leadership and resilience.
China put its homegrown Covid-19 vaccines on display for the first time at a Beijing trade fair this week and authorities hope the jabs will be approved for use by year-end.
The vaccines are among nearly 10 worldwide to enter phase 3 trials, typically the last step ahead of regulatory approval, as countries race to stub out an illness that continues to ravage large parts of the globe.
– ‘We have to get out of our homes’ –
Spain on Monday became the first country in Western Europe to pass half a million infections. The nation had largely gained control over its outbreak but cases have surged since restrictions were removed at the end of June.
In neighbouring Morocco, the government shut all schools and imposed a lockdown on Casablanca on the day classes were supposed to resume after cases surged in the city.
Officials said the virus risked overwhelming the North African country if it was not controlled, but some parents were left fuming.
“They were on cloud nine over returning to school tomorrow,” one father wrote of his children on Twitter.
“How do you explain this to a six-year-old and an eight-year-old?”
Restrictions have also been reimposed in France where seven more regions were placed on a red list after successively recording daily infection rates of between 7,000 and 9,000.
And in England, officials fiddled with overseas quarantine rules again, imposing curbs on travellers from seven Greek islands popular with holidaymakers, after Britain at the weekend registered a level of infection not seen since late May.
In Asia, India pressed ahead with reopening its battered economy even as it surpassed Brazil on Monday as the second-most infected nation in the world with 4.2 million cases.
Trains began running again in the capital New Delhi after a five-month shutdown and 12 other cities also restarted subway services.
“For our lives to move on, we have to get out of our homes… so this is a good move by the government,” commuter Deepak Kumar told AFP in Delhi.
– Barty to skip French Open –
French footballer Kylian Mbappe became the latest sports star to test positive for the virus after his club teammate Brazilian forward Neymar was confirmed to have Covid-19 last week.
Mbappe has been ruled out of France’s Nations League game against Croatia on Tuesday and is the seventh Paris Saint-Germain player to contract the illness.
A number of tennis players have also been infected, and on Tuesday, world number one Ashleigh Barty announced she will not defend her French Open crown due to virus fears.
The Australian star said it was a “difficult” decision but the health of her family and team came first.
China said Tuesday that it had detained a high-profile Australian journalist working for its state media on “national security grounds”.
Cheng Lei’s detention was a new blow to deteriorating relations between the two countries that have seen China warn its citizens of travelling to Australia and vice versa.
In the first comments on CGTN anchor Cheng Lei, held since August 14, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said authorities took “compulsory measures” against her on suspicion “of criminal activity endangering China’s national security”.
“The case is still in the process of investigation in accordance with the law,” Zhao said, adding that her “legal rights and interests are all receiving full legal protection”.
He did not give further details of the allegations against her.
Cheng — who conducted interviews with international CEOs for CGTN’s Global Business and BizTalk shows — has not been seen in public since being held, although Australian diplomats in Beijing were able to speak to her on August 27.
Two other Australian reporters Bill Birtles and Michael Smith fled China overnight, saying they also feared arrest.
“As long as foreign journalists obey the law… they have no reason to worry,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said after stating authorities had investigated the Australian pair as part of an unspecified case.
The Australian Financial Review, Smith’s employer, reported that both journalists had been told that “they were persons of interest in an investigation into Ms Cheng”.
Cheng is the second high-profile Australian citizen to be detained in Beijing after writer Yang Hengjun was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of espionage.
Earlier this year, Australia warned its citizens they faced the risk of arbitrary detention if they travelled to China.
China has put its homegrown coronavirus vaccines on display for the first time, as the country where the contagion was discovered looks to shape the narrative surrounding the pandemic.
High hopes hang on the small vials of liquid on show at a Beijing trade fair this week — vaccine candidates produced by Chinese companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm.
Neither has hit the market yet but the makers hope they will be approved after all-important phase 3 trials as early as year-end.
A Sinovac representative told AFP his firm has already “completed the construction of a vaccine factory” able to produce 300 million doses a year.
On Monday, people at the trade fair crowded around booths showing the potential game-changing vaccines.
China, which is facing a storm of foreign criticism over its early handling of the pandemic, has been trying to repurpose the story of Covid-19.
State media and officials are now emphasising the revival of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the deadly pathogen surfaced, as a success story in the fight against the virus.
They are also touting progress on domestic vaccines as a sign of Chinese leadership and resilience in the face of an unprecedented health threat that has pummelled the global economy.
In May, President Xi Jinping pledged to make any potential vaccine developed by China a “global public good”.
The potential vaccines on display are among nearly 10 worldwide to enter phase 3 trials, typically the last step ahead of regulatory approval, as countries race to stub out the virus and reboot battered economies.
Sinopharm said it anticipates the antibodies from its jab to last between one and three years — although the final result will only be known after the trials.
China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times reported last month that “the price of the vaccines will not be high”.
Every two doses should cost below 1,000 yuan ($146), the report said, citing Sinopharm’s chairman, who told media he has already been injected with one of the candidate vaccines.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Monday that another vaccine candidate, developed by Chinese military scientists, can deal with mutations in the coronavirus.
As of last month, at least 5.7 billion doses of the vaccines under development around the world had been pre-ordered.
But the World Health Organization has warned that widespread immunisation against Covid-19 may not be on the cards until the middle of next year.
Amazon has banned sales of imported seeds in the United States after thousands of Americans said they had received packets of seeds they had not ordered, mostly from China.
“Moving forward, we are only permitting the sale of seeds by sellers who are based in the US,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement Saturday.
In late July the Department of Agriculture reported that packages of seeds had been sent to Americans and warned not to plant them, in case they posed a danger to US agriculture.
Examination of the mystery packages revealed at least 14 different kinds of seeds, including mint, mustard, rosemary, lavender, hibiscus and roses.
“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” the Department of Agriculture said in a statement on August 12.
China issued a fierce rebuke Friday to UN experts who said a draconian national security law imposed upon Hong Kong poses a serious risk to the city’s freedoms and breaches international legal obligations.
Beijing has faced a barrage of criticism over the legislation, imposed late June after pro-democracy protests rocked the semi-autonomous city last year.
The law, which criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces, carries a maximum life sentence and has intimidated many protesters into silence.
In a letter made public Friday, the UN special rapporteurs on human rights warned parts of the legislation “appear to criminalise freedom of expression or any form of criticism” of China.
In customarily strong language, China’s foreign ministry was swift to strike down the allegations, saying the law “punishes an extremely small number and protects the absolute majority” in the financial hub.
“Some people disregard the facts and maliciously slander China’s human rights situation… and crudely interfere in China’s internal affairs,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
“Stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s affairs in any way.”
Hong Kong lurched into chaos last year as pro-democracy protesters — furious at perceived encroachment by China on the city’s freedoms — clashed with police.
Unrest has simmered down thanks to coronavirus restrictions and the chilling effect of the security law — under which more than 20 people have been arrested, including a prominent media tycoon.
The letter by the UN advisers — the first issued since the law blanketed the southern Chinese city — gave a vigorous dissection of the damage being inflicted upon the freedoms once enjoyed in Hong Kong, enshrined in an agreement made before the 1997 handover from British colonial rule back to China.
The security law “poses a serious risk that those fundamental freedoms and due process protections may be infringed upon”, the rapporteurs said.
The letter warned the legislation could “impinge impermissibly on the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and of peaceful assembly”.
The rapporteurs urged China’s “reconsideration” of the legislation and for a fully independent reviewer to be appointed to ensure it complies with China’s international human rights obligations.
They also expressed concern over one of the most controversial points of the law — which allows cases to be transferred from the jurisdiction of Hong Kong to mainland China — and warned it could undermine the right to a fair trial.
The broadly worded law criminalised certain political speech overnight, such as advocating sanctions against China or greater autonomy or independence for Hong Kong.
Lawyers for some of the more than 20 people arrested under the law so far say police are trawling historical actions of pro-democracy activists to beef up their cases.
The UN experts also raised concerns over the definition of terrorism under the national security law.
They warned it extends to damage of physical property such as transport facilities — which goes well beyond the UN Security Council’s definition of terrorist conduct as aiming to cause death or serious bodily harm.
The first international flight in more than five months landed in China’s capital Thursday with passengers greeted by airport staff in full hazmat suits as a ban on foreign arrivals in Beijing eased.
Chinese aviation authorities are allowing arrivals in Beijing under intense Covid-19 safety rules from Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Canada — countries deemed low-risk for cross-border infections.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed an Air China plane taxiing at the Beijing Capital International Airport after landing from the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
Passengers disembarked wearing masks and dragging luggage — some appeared to be in full protective suits — before going past customs officials and police wearing visors and protective gear.
Travellers arriving in China need to show a negative coronavirus test before boarding, and are subject to centralised quarantine on arrival for 14 days, along with two more tests, officials said this week.
The number of passengers on direct international flights to Beijing is capped at 500 per day during a trial period, CCTV said.
Since late March, Beijing-bound international flights have been diverted to other Chinese cities, where passengers are screened for the coronavirus and quarantine.
Eleven cases were reported Thursday in China, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year. Health officials said they were all imported.
China remains wary of the risk of an influx of cases from other countries now that its local outbreaks have been largely brought under control.
Most foreigners are still forbidden entry into the country.
The demand for goods and services from China is still on the high as the Asian country tops the list of import trading partners by 31.41% in the second quarter of 2020, the latest data from Nigeria’s statistics agency shows.
This is despite the sharp fall in the value of the country’s total trade to N6.24 billion, representing 27.30% in Q2, against the 27.46% level recorded in the corresponding quarter, and 27.46% year-on-year.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics released on Wednesday, the value of total imports dropped by 10.69% in the quarter in review, against the level recorded in Q1, but increased by 0.39% year-on-year.
The report however stated that imported goods in agriculture, raw material, solid minerals, manufacturing, and energy all increased by 59.01%, 85.69%, 35.51%, 4.69%, and 591.47% respectively, with other oil products imports recording a decrease by 82.32% in Q2.
It is a different tale for export items as the total goods which left the shores of the country dropped by 45.64% in Q2, lower than the 51.73% recorded in the corresponding year.
Unlike their performances in the import segment, export in agricultural goods, raw material, solid minerals, manufactured goods, crude oil, and energy goods all decreased significantly.
“Total exports were 45.64% lower in Q2, 2020 than Q1, 2020 and 51.73% lower than Q2, 2019.
“Agricultural goods export dropped 38.2% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020 but rose 6.3% year-on-year. Raw material goods export recorded a decrease of 56.2% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020, and 52.4% compared with the same quarter in 2019.
“Solid minerals exports registered a decrease of 2.3% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020 and 79.4% compared to Q2, 2019. Manufactured goods export decreased in value by 42.8% in Q2, 2020 against the level recorded in Q1, 2020 but increased 139.6% compared with the corresponding quarter in 2019.
However, despite the decrease on a quarterly basis, “crude oil exports decreased in value by 47.2% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1. Energy goods decreased by 13.7% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020. Other oil products decreased by 40.7% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020, and failed to increase year-on-year.
Meanwhile, Spain topped the export trading countries by 14.00%, followed by Netherlands, China India, and South Africa.
China, United States, India. Netherlands and Germany made the top five list of major import trading partners in Q2, 2020.