Trump Says Good Things Happening At US/China Trade Talk Meeting

US President Donald Trump speaks during an executive order signing regarding federal regulations in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 9, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP


President Donald Trump on Friday said Chinese and American officials were working toward meaningful progress in trade talks, boosting hopes for a detente in the two sides’ damaging trade war.

Trump’s tweet fed a stock rally, with Wall Street erasing the week’s losses as investors bet a partial pact would see the United States postpone next week’s scheduled tariff increases on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports.

“Good things are happening at China Trade Talk Meeting. Warmer feelings than in recent past, more like the Old Days,” Trump said on Twitter shortly after officials resumed negotiations for a second day.

“All would like to see something significant happen!”

Trump is due later Friday to meet with Beijing’s top trade envoy Liu He in a sign the two sides expect to make a positive announcement.

With the White House engulfed in turmoil, Trump could do with even a partial win.

He faces an intensifying impeachment probe by Democrats, which polls show is gaining in public acceptance and stinging bipartisan criticism for allowing a Turkish assault on Washington’s Kurdish partners to go forward by pulling American special forces away from the border in northeast Syria.

Since the trade war began last year, however, moments of comity and cheer have more than once been shattered, giving way to jolting deteriorations in relations between the two sides.

In the spring, officials said a deal was more or less at hand, only to have Washington resume tariff increases in May after accusing Beijing of reneging on core commitments already put down in writing.

Overnight, meanwhile, China’s securities regulators set a timetable for removing foreign ownership limits in finance companies in 2020 — helping attract foreign investment as China’s economy slows but also removing constraints on foreign capital.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang told also reporters that China hoped “to promote positive progress” in the talks.

Media reports this week have drawn the contours of a partial deal that, while not addressing Trump’s core grievances about China’s trade practices, would offer something for both sides.

China will continue to increase purchases of US farm exports and pledge to refrain from currency manipulation while Washington will suspend a tariff increase, Bloomberg reported.

Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, told reporters on Thursday he had spoken with both sides and that an agreement on currency could emerge this week.

Not Just Tariffs

“I think that could lead to a decision by the US administration not to put forward a tariff rate hike on October 15,” he said.

The US Treasury in August branded China a currency manipulator, accusing Beijing of deliberately weakening the RMB to gain unfair trade advantages, making good on a Trump campaign pledge.

Where matters go from there remains to be seen, however.

China has so far balked at Trump’s demands for profound changes in the way Beijing manages its economy, something analysts say could politically undermine the Communist Party.

In an editorial on Friday, the party-owned China Daily said a partial deal “is a more feasible objective and one that would be in the common interests of both sides.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued to examine ways in which it could exert more pressure on Beijing beyond simply taxing Chinese imports.

Washington accuses China of attempting to dominate global industry through massive state intervention in markets, theft of intellectual property, hacking and subsidies, accusations shared by Europe and Japan.

Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic aide, said this week this could include heightened regulatory scrutiny of Chinese companies operating in the United States.

Elsewhere, Trump has is already raising the temperature for Beijing through non-tariff means.

Just since Monday, Washington has imposed visa restrictions on senior Chinese officials and blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese firms, accusing them of persecuting ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region.

Court Convicts Chinese Nationals For Ivory Trafficking


A Malawi court on Tuesday convicted two Chinese nationals, two Malawians and a Zambian over a huge cache of ivory and rhino horns.

Li Hao Yuan, 28, and Zhang Hua Qin,42, were found guilty along with Malawians Paul Mangwe and Tsogolani Samson and Zambian Frackson Kayoli Banda, a court document said, adding that the sentencing would take place on October 21.

They could get up to 30 years in jail. The Zambian defendant had already pleaded guilty and has received a four-year prison sentence.

The five men were arrested in December 2017 after being found in possession of more than 21 kilograms (46 pounds) of ivory and $42,000 worth of rhino horns.

Poaching has decimated the world elephant population, which slumped in Africa from several million at the turn of the 19th century to around 400,000 in 2015.

According to conservation group WWF, as much as 60 percent of all elephant deaths can be blamed on poaching.

There is a huge demand in Asia for tusks and rhino horns for its purported medicinal properties.

Malawi’s director of parks and wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa called hailed it as a “very good development because these are the Chinese that have been causing havoc in the country.

“They have been accused of killing elephants and rhinos and, in the process, rendering Malawi being named as a country of primary concern for wildlife,” he said.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency echoed him.

“I am delighted to see the government of Malawi making such progress in its fight against organised wildlife crime. Malawi was recently identified as southern Africa’s principle transit and distribution hub for wildlife traffickers, and subsequent successes such as this are attracting positive interest and praise from the international community,” the agency’s executive director Mary Rice told AFP.

The conviction comes ahead of a three-day visit to Malawi by Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan from Sunday. The pair are due to visit the Liwonde National Park in the south of the country.

Lagos Partners Chinese Govt To Train Youths On Technology, Manufacturing

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (right), presenting a plaque to the Consul General of China in Lagos, Mr. Chu Maoming during a courtesy visit by the Consul General at the Lagos House,


Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said his administration’s development agenda was aimed at leveraging the population of the State for sustainable socio-economic development.

The Governor said although the State was facing the challenges of a growing population, his administration was prepared to turn the burden to opportunities by training people and equipping them with life skills.

Sanwo-Olu disclosed this on Monday while hosting the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Chu Maoming, in Alausa on a courtesy visit.

The Governor said his administration would be expanding the state government’s relationship with the Chinese government to build human capital by exposing young population in the State to training opportunities in diverse areas, including technology, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and cultural exchange.

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“Lagos and China can learn from each other because we share similarities in several areas. Both entities are both hugely populated, with Lagos being the most populous city in Africa. China has a huge population not only in Asia but also in the world. Based on these similarities, we can promote value exchange that would lead to improved human capital development on both sides, Sanwo-Olu said.

“Lagos is growing by the day and we are faced with the challenges of catering for this population. We initiated a development agenda that is aimed at harnessing the potential of residents. We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with China, which would explore the opportunity of technology transfer to build the skills of our young people.

Also, there are many exchange opportunities in Chinese manufacturing sector, agriculture, construction and culture. Our people need to take advantage of this opportunity for employment generation.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu observed that Lagos and China shared a long history of collaborations, but added that his government would deepen the relationship.

Maoming said the Chinese private sector investors had concluded to increase the volume of trade with Lagos to the tune of billions of dollars, stressing that the investment would result in job creation and knowledge transfer.

He said: “I arrived in Nigeria in May and I have visited a lot of Chinese businesses operating across the country, including Lagos. Today, there is good news. Chinese business community has concluded the plan to increase their size of investments in Lagos. The presence of Vice Chairperson of the China’s biggest oil company, National Offshore Oil Corporation, here today is an indication of the readiness of the Chinese business community to inject billions of dollars in the Lagos economy. We are exploring other areas of opportunity in which China and Lagos can cooperate to sustain our bilateral partnership.”

Signs Of Hope In Trade War As US Delays New Tariffs On Chinese Electronics


US retailers and global financial markets got an early Christmas present Tuesday as President Donald Trump’s administration announced it is delaying tariffs on key consumer electronic goods imported from China.

And news that top US and Chinese trade officials spoke by telephone early Tuesday offered further signs of a possible letup in the trade war that had been escalating in recent weeks.

Trump said that conversation was “very productive,” and said he agreed to delay imposing tariffs on some goods to protect consumers going into the holiday shopping season — even while continuing to insist that Americans are not paying for the tariffs.

The news sent global stock markets surging higher, relieved there might be an agreement that would forestall the feared hit to a world economy already showing signs of strain.

The latest round of tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods, due to take effect on September 1, meant all Chinese imports into the United States would be subject to additional duties.

Trump’s August 1 tariff announcement prompted an immediate outcry from retailers as they prepare for the holiday shopping season.

But the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said Tuesday it is delaying until December 15 imposition of new 10 per cent tariffs on Chinese-made cell phones, laptops, computer monitors, video game consoles and some toys, footwear and clothing.

“We’re doing this for Christmas season just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on US customers but so far they have had really none,” Trump told reporters Tuesday in New Jersey.

An odd assortment of goods will benefit from the reprieve, including baby furniture, diapers and men’s suits, as well as frozen fish, cigar holders, sugar beets, pesticides, bedding and school supplies.

In addition, USTR said, “certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 per cent.”

Products exempted from any new tariffs include car seats, shipping containers and cranes for ports, as well as Bibles and other religious literature.

“We are certainly relieved that a lot of the items won’t see an impact for this holiday season,” said Rebecca Mond of The Toy Association.

“We would like to see the threat of tariffs completely removed from over our heads,” but the toy industry was “largely spared” by this delay, she told AFP.

Talks by phone 

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He early Tuesday and has another call planned in two weeks, a USTR official told AFP. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also participated in the call, officials said.

US and Chinese negotiators met in Shanghai in late July for the first time since talks collapsed in May, and the sides were due to hold another round of meetings in Washington in September.

However, the deterioration in relations in the past two weeks cast doubt on whether the negotiations would take place, and on Friday Trump indicated that the next meeting might not happen, saying Washington was “not ready to make a deal.”

Trump accused Beijing of continuing to renege on its commitment to buy US agricultural goods.

“They said they are going to buy farm products. So far they have disappointed me,” Trump said. “They haven’t been truthful or let’s say they certainly delayed the decision.”

He acknowledged that Beijing may be aiming to wait until after he leaves the office to reach a deal.

Trump has continued to publicly pursue hardline tactics against China, repeatedly excoriating Beijing for backing out of conditions he says were agreed and manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage over American firms.

He has justified the harsh measures, saying US consumers are not being affected by the higher tariffs, despite complaints from industry and retailers about rising costs.

But economists say the impact is showing up in data, including in the latest consumer inflation report.

The United States is demanding that China make changes to reduce the US trade deficit. It wants Beijing to open China’s economy to more foreign products and foreign companies, reduce subsidies and stop the theft of American technology.


Four Chinese Indicted In US For Aiding North Korea’s Weapons Programme


Four Chinese nationals have been indicted for financial dealings with sanctioned North Korean companies involved in producing weapons of mass destruction, the US Justice Department said Tuesday.

Ma Xiaohong, the head of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co. Ltd (DHID) and three top executives of the Chinese company were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey, the department said in a statement.

The other three DHID executives indicted were identified as general manager Zhou Jianshu, deputy general manager Hong Jinhua and financial manager Luo Chuanxu.

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“Through the use of more than 20 front companies, the defendants are alleged to have sought to obscure illicit financial dealings on behalf of sanctioned North Korean entities that were involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” assistant attorney general John Demers said.

“Ma, her company, and her employees tried to defraud the United States by evading sanctions restrictions and doing business with proliferators of weapons of mass destruction,” said US Attorney Craig Carpenito.

A Justice Department spokesman said the four DHID executives are not in US custody and are believed to reside in China.

DHID, according to the indictment, was based in the Chinese city of Dandong in Liaoning Province along the border with North Korea and its primary business was import and export trade with North Korea.

DHID allegedly set up front companies to work with North Korea-based Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. (KKBC), which has ties to two other sanctioned North Korean entities — Tanchon Commercial Bank (Tanchon) and Korea Hyoksin Trading Corporation (Hyoksin).

Tanchon and Hyoksin are subject to US sanctions because of their links with the Korea Mining Development Trading Co. (KOMID), which the United States considers North Korea’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

Ma, Zhou, Hong and Luo face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

They face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to violate IEEPA and a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to a resumption of their dialogue at an impromptu meeting in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas on June 30.


Chinese, Six Others Charged Over Cambodia Building Collapse

A survivor is carried out of the rubble from a collapsed building in Sihanoukville on June 24, 2019. 


Seven people, including five Chinese nationals, have been charged with manslaughter or as accomplices to manslaughter in connection with a building collapse in Cambodia that killed 28 people and sparked anger over shoddy construction regulations.

The collapse of a seven-storey, under-construction Chinese building in the resort town of Sihanoukville on Saturday is the deadliest industrial accident in recent memory in Cambodia.

A close Beijing ally, Cambodia has seen an influx of investments from Chinese developers, including in the booming gambling hub of Sihanoukville.

But the building frenzy has raised concerns about sub-standard safety regulations in a country where most construction workers are informal day-labourers.

READ ALSO: Two Survivors, Three Bodies Pulled From Collapsed Cambodia Building

On Tuesday, Chinese building owner Cheng Kun was charged with involuntary manslaughter, causing bodily harm and causing destruction of property, according to a court warrant seen by AFP.

Three other Chinese citizens — contractor Deng Xin Gui, site manager Xie Ya Ping and engineer Gao Yu — were accused as accomplices on all three offences.

“Now they are in jail provisionally,” Lim Bun Heng, a court spokesman in Preah Sihanouk province, told AFP.

Another Chinese citizen, a Vietnamese man and a Cambodian landowner have also been charged as accomplices to manslaughter but remain on the run.

According to Cambodian law, all seven could face a three-year maximum sentence for manslaughter.

Cambodian authorities have launched an investigation into the fatal accident, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has blamed on “carelessness”.

Recriminations have been swift, with Preah Sihanouk’s governor Yun Min resigning Monday over managerial errors.

Another top disaster management official has been fired for not being “quick enough to respond”, said Hun Sen, warning others “to be more responsible”.

There are an estimated 200,000 construction workers in Cambodia, mostly unskilled, reliant on day wages and not protected by union rules, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

At least 26 people were injured in the building collapse, which prompted a desperate, days-long search for survivors in the mound of rubble.

On Monday afternoon, two people were pulled from the wreckage alive — bruised and weak but spared of serious injuries — more than two days after the building went down.

Sihanoukville was once a sleepy fishing town turned backpacker-favourite, but today is a hotspot for throngs of Chinese tourists.

There are more than 50 Chinese-owned casinos around the beachfront and dozens more under construction, including around the site of Saturday’s building collapse.


Huawei Founder Says US Underestimates Company

US Charges Huawei In Technology Theft, Sanctions Violations
FILE PHOTO: A woman uses her smartphone while walking past advertising outside a Huawei store in Beijing on January 29, 2019. WANG ZHAO / AFP


Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on Tuesday shrugged off US attempts to block his company’s global ambitions, saying the United States underestimates the telecom giant’s strength.

Ren spoke to Chinese media days after President Donald Trump issued orders aimed at thwarting Huawei’s business in the United States, the latest salvo in a months-long effort to stop the company’s charge to the top of the leaderboard in next-generation 5G technology.

“The current practice of US politicians underestimates our strength,” Ren said, according to transcripts from state-run media.

“Huawei’s 5G will absolutely not be affected. In terms of 5G technologies, others won’t be able to catch up with Huawei in two or three years,” he said.

Last week, Trump declared a “national emergency” empowering him to blacklist companies seen as “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States” — a move analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei.

At the same time, the US Commerce Department announced an effective ban on American companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei.

‘Can’t be isolated’

US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said this week it was beginning to cut ties with Huawei in light of the ban.

The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the telecoms giant will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services — which include the Gmail and Google Maps apps — a source close to the matter told AFP.

But the Commerce Department on Monday issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban on the transfer of technology by allowing temporary licences.

“The US 90-day temporary licence does not have much impact on us, we are ready,” Ren said.

Huawei has sought to ease customers’ concerns over the Google announcement.

Ren said Huawei and Google are discussing how to respond to the ban, calling the US firm a “highly responsible company”.

A company spokesman in Australia said the US actions “will not impact consumers” with a Huawei tablet or smartphone in the country, or those planning to buy a device in the future.

As for Huawei’s access to key components, Ren said half of chips used in the company’s equipment come from the United States and the other half it makes itself.

“We cannot be isolated from the world,” Ren said.

“We can also make the same chips as the US chips, but it doesn’t mean we won’t buy them,” he said.

He denied reports that German chipmaker Infineon has halted shipments to Huawei.

But analysts say the ban threatens the company’s very survival as it heavily relies on US components.

“If the ban continues, Huawei will be damaged for sure, particularly in smartphones but also in the datacenter and networking markets,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

Ask Trump, not me

The Huawei confrontation has been building for years, as the company has raced to a huge advantage over rivals in next-generation 5G mobile technology.

US intelligence believes Huawei is backed by the Chinese military and that its equipment could provide Beijing’s intelligence services with a backdoor into the communications networks of rival countries.

For that reason, Washington has pushed its closest allies to reject Huawei technology, a significant challenge given the few alternatives for 5G.

While Australia has also banned Huawei from its 5G plans, the US has struggled to sway some countries, with Britain having reportedly approved a limited role for the Chinese company to help build a 5G network in the country.

Canada has been dragged into the battle. Its arrest of Ren’s daughter, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, in December on a US extradition bid linked to Iran sanctions violations was followed by the arrest in China of two Canadians, including a former diplomat.

“We sacrificed ourselves and families because we have a goal. In order to stand on the world’s summit, for this goal, there will be conflicts with the US sooner or later,” Ren said.

The battle over Huawei has added to tensions in a trade war that has escalated between the world’s top two economies, with both sides exchanging steep increases in tariffs as negotiations have faltered.

China’s envoy to the European Union, Zhang Ming, called the move against Huawei “wrong behaviour”, adding “there will be a necessary response”.

Asked how long Huawei may face difficult times, Ren said: “You may need to ask Trump about this question, not me.”


Two Pilots Die In Chinese Fighter Jet Crash


A Chinese navy fighter jet crashed during training on the southern island province of Hainan on Tuesday, killing two pilots, the defence ministry said.

There were “no casualties on the ground,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the cause of the accident was under investigation.

China’s military, which is undergoing a well-funded modernisation drive, has had other accidents in recent years.

An air force plane crashed in Guizhou province during a training exercise in January 2018, killing crew members onboard, the air force said, without revealing the number.

State media reported the crash of an aircraft carrier-based J-15 fighter in April 2018 during training, resulting in the death of the pilot.

In 2015, two pilots died during a training session when their plane engine caught fire shortly after takeoff, state media reported at the time.

Beijing announced last week a 7.5 percent increase in military spending to 1.19 trillion yuan ($177.6 billion) in 2019, lower rise than last year as the country faces an economic slowdown.

China is working to provide the two million-strong People’s Liberation Army with state-of-the-art hardware, spending heavily on stealth warplanes, aircraft carriers, and other weaponry.


Pellegrini Insists On Keeping Arnautovic Despite Chinese Interest

West Ham United’s Austrian midfielder Marko Arnautovic chases the ball during the English FA Cup third round football match between West Ham United and Birmingham City at The London Stadium, in east London on January 5, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP


West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he wants to keep Marko Arnautovic amid reports of a bid from a Chinese Super League team.

Arnautovic was the subject of a reported £35 million ($44 million) offer from an unnamed Chinese club this week.

It was suggested that Shanghai SIPG are the side interested in the Austrian striker, who was said to have been offered wages of £200,000 per week over a four-year deal.

But Arnautovic is West Ham’s joint-top scorer this season with eight goals in all competitions and Pellegrini is keen to hold on to the 29-year-old.

“Those are all rumours. We know that we have a very good player in Marko, a lot of clubs may want him to play for them. At the moment we have no news about him,” Pellegrini told reporters on Thursday.

“I don’t want to talk about things that might happen. Marko in this moment is a player of our team.

“Players of his quality and other players like Declan Rice, Felipe Anderson, other clubs will want them but that is one thing. I don’t think they will go.”

Arnautovic, who was signed from Stoke in 2017, had already been linked with Manchester United last year and recently said he could be tempted to join a club in the Champions League.

He could also use the interest from China to convince West Ham to hand him an improved contract during the January transfer window.

Hammers boss Pellegrini admitted he could not predict whether his Premier League side would be able to convince Arnautovic to stay for the long-term.

“I want to keep him, of course, but you never know what might happen in the future,” he said.

West Ham host Arsenal on Saturday and Pellegrini has no qualms about picking Arnautovic despite the speculation.

“Marko and all the other players involved in rumours have their heads here,” he said.

“They want to continue playing the way they have been so far and I am sure that he will have his head in the game against Arsenal.”


Man Executed For Kindergarten Knife Attack In China


A court in southern China has put a man to death after he injured 12 children in a knife attack at a kindergarten, the state broadcaster said on Monday.

Violent crime is rare in China but there has been a series of knife and axe attacks in recent years, many targeting children.

China Central Television said that in January 2017 Qin Pengan stabbed the children with a vegetable knife in order to extract revenge for his life not going as he wanted and a dispute with a neighbour.

None of the children died from their injuries.

A local court in Pingxiang city in south China’s Guangxi province sentenced Qin to death, and the sentence was carried out on Friday after being approved by China’s Supreme People’s Court, the broadcaster said.

Despite efforts to reduce the number of people executed every year, China still puts more people to death every year than any other country, according to estimates from rights groups.

A Supreme People’s Court judge in December made a rare defense of the death penalty, saying that China could not abolish the system for fear of angering a public that overwhelmingly supports its use.

Why Chinese Shoppers Are Straying From Apple Products



Shanghai student Xu Yechuyi wanted to buy a new iPhone last year but couldn’t afford one at Apple Inc’s flagship store, so she opted for a used, three-year-old iPhone 6S at less than a third of the sticker price.

The purchase made Xu, 22, one of many consumers priced out of stores and resorting to China’s rapidly growing second-hand handset market, bartering via text-messaging apps and spending money on Apple products that never reaches Apple.

“I think there is a real demand for this sort of second-hand market from less affluent consumers like me,” said Xu.

The second-hand trend adds to challenges Apple faces in the world’s biggest smartphone market, where it has long been losing ground to domestic makers of high-end yet lower-priced handsets such as market leader Huawei Technologies Co Ltd

The first iPhones in China in 2009 brought Apple record profit. But the launch last year of its most expensive handset ever – priced 9,599 yuan ($1,397) – coincided with an economic downturn and a slowing smartphone market, while deteriorating Sino-U.S. trade relations stoked support for local rivals.

Poor iPhone sales in China prompted Apple on Wednesday to lower its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in over a decade, hammering its shares and those of its suppliers. Chief Executive Tim Cook blamed the trade war and the economy.

Several leading Chinese technology companies also lowered forecasts in the past year, including e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and search engine provider Baidu Inc, with both citing the impact of the trade war.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence has tumbled since the middle of last year, with its impact rippling through the economy, from overall retail numbers to box office receipts and car sales.

As confidence falls and the economy continues to slow, analysts said the market for used smartphones can only expand. China’s iiMedia Research forecast 144 million users of second-hand smartphones in 2019, up to a third versus last year.

“The macro environment is just not in Apple’s favour,” said Singapore-based IDC senior research manager Kiranjeet Kaur. “People’s spending power is coming down.”

In west Beijing’s tech district, one worker surnamed Zhou at a phone refurbishing firm said she had seen a rise in users looking to upgrade old iPhones instead of purchasing new ones.

Four Killed In Chinese Consulate Attack

Pakistani rangers gather in front of the gate of the Chinese consulate after an attack in Karachi on November 23, 2018. At least two policemen were killed when unidentified gunmen stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on November 23, officials said.

Four people were killed on Friday when gunmen armed with hand grenades and a suicide vest stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi, officials said, with the attack claimed by a separatist group which branded Beijing “an oppressor”.

Pakistani authorities said that security forces had secured the area after the attack, the latest assault on Chinese nationals in the country, where Beijing has poured billions of dollars into one of the largest projects in its massive Belt and Road programme.

China “strongly condemned” the attack and asked Pakistan to take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in the country, as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega-project.

Three gunmen tried to enter the consulate in the southern port city but were intercepted by guards at a checkpoint, Karachi police chief Ameer Sheikh told AFP.

“They were holding Kalashnikovs. First, they hurled a small (grenade) and then started firing,” said Allah Bakhsh, a guard at a nearby house who witnessed the attack.

Police officials said two of their personnel were killed, along with a father and son from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, who were seeking Chinese visas and were caught in the crossfire.

At least one of the attackers was wearing a suicide vest which did not detonate, another senior police official said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad that “all the terrorists have been eliminated”, and that all 21 staff at the consulate during the attack had been taken to a safe location.

 China is an ‘oppressor’ 

The attack was claimed by a separatist militant group from Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, which is at the center of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the major Chinese project in the country.

“We have been seeing the Chinese as an oppressor, along with Pakistani forces,” the spokesman for the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Geand Baloch, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location, adding they were “destroying the future of Balochistan”.

The BLA later emailed a statement to the media in which it said the attack was “aimed at making it clear that China’s military expansionism on the Baloch soil will not be tolerated”.

It warned the Chinese to leave or “be prepared for continued attacks”.

The group is just one of the militant outfits operating in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, which is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

Many are active on social media. After Friday’s attack, Twitter suspended an account that the BLA had also used to issue its claim.

Residents of the resource-rich province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, have long complained that it does not receive a fair share of the profits made from its mineral wealth.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Friday’s attack would not undermine the Pakistan-China relationship, which he described as “mightier than the Himalayas and deeper than the Arabian Sea”.

Also on Friday, a bomb hidden in a carton of vegetables killed at least 31 people at a marketplace in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region. Dozens of more people were wounded, with fears the toll could rise.

 Chinese investment 

China, one of Pakistan’s closest allies, has poured billions into the South Asian country in recent years as part of CPEC, a massive infrastructure project that seeks to connect its western province Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

The project is one of the largest in Beijing’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, comprising a network of roads and sea routes involving 65 countries.

Pakistan sees the project as a “gamechanger”, but it presents an enormous challenge in a country plagued by weak institutions, endemic corruption and a range of insurgencies in areas slated to host the corridor.

The subject of economic dividends from CPEC is extremely sensitive in some of those areas –, particularly in Balochistan.

Since the beginning of the project, militants have repeatedly attacked construction sites, blowing up numerous gas pipelines and trains, and targeted Chinese workers.

In August this year, three Chinese nationals were among six wounded in a suicide attack on a bus transporting Chinese engineers working in Balochistan, in an attack that was also claimed by the BLA.

The Pakistani military has been targeting insurgencies in the province since 2004 and has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there.

Islamabad regularly accuses its eastern neighbor India of funding and arming Baloch separatists, and of targeting development projects in the province, particularly CPEC.

Delhi, which has denied the claims, swiftly condemned Friday’s attack.