China Calls For De-Escalation As Ukraine Talks Begin

People gather in front of a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where a military shell allegedly hit, on February 25, 2022. Daniel LEAL / AFP

 

Beijing on Monday called for de-escalation and “restraint” over the Ukraine crisis as Russia and Ukraine prepared to meet for their first talks since Moscow’s invasion of its western neighbour.

Russia invaded on Thursday and quickly announced it had neutralised key Ukrainian military facilities, with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordering his country’s nuclear forces onto high alert.

Representatives from Moscow and Kyiv are set to meet on the border with Belarus on Monday after Western allies hit Russia with a slew of sanctions and pledged arms for Ukraine.

China has trod a cautious diplomatic tightrope on the crisis as it tries to balance its core foreign policy line — that a country’s sovereignty is sacrosanct and others should not interfere — with its support for close ally Moscow.

READ ALSO: Ukraine Forms ‘International Brigade’ To Fight Russia

Instead, it has called for Russia’s “reasonable” security demands to be heard, repeatedly refusing to condemn Putin’s actions or use the term “invasion”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday urged both sides to “remain calm and exercise restraint to prevent further escalation of the situation.”

“China pays close attention to changes in the Ukraine situation and supports all efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve it politically,” Wang said at a regular press briefing.

Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence square in central Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Daniel LEAL / AFP

 

Among a range of sanctions imposed on Moscow over its aggression towards Ukraine, the West has said it would remove some Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system and freeze central bank assets.

China does not support the use of sanctions, Wang added, saying Beijing is “even more opposed to unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law.”

Sanctions against Russia could “interfere with the process of political settlement,” and China will continue normal trade relations with Moscow, he said.

Beijing voted to abstain from a Friday UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which was vetoed by Russia.

China’s President Xi Jinping told Putin in a call last week that he hoped the crisis could be resolved with a “balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiations.”

But as Beijing tries to stick to a neutral position, Chinese nationals in Ukraine have claimed to face rising hostility as public perceptions of the Asian country sour given China’s position on the invasion.

The Chinese embassy in Kyiv on Sunday warned citizens not to “provoke” locals and to refrain from revealing their nationality, just days after telling those leaving Kyiv to display a Chinese flag on their vehicles.

The embassy had announced Thursday that it would prepare charter flights to evacuate its citizens — but later said it was still too unsafe to do so.

AFP

Putin, Jinping Hail Relations Amid Tensions With West

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on December 15, 2021. AFP

 

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed Russia’s “model” relations with China in a call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and confirmed he would attend Beijing’s Olympics, as both countries face increasing criticism from the West.

The video call came days after G7 foreign ministers discussed Moscow’s sabre-rattling against Ukraine and Beijing’s crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

“In February we will finally be able to meet in person in Beijing,” Putin said in a national television broadcast of the conversation after he said he would attend the Games, calling Xi his “dear friend”.

“China-Russia relations have withstood all kinds of stern tests, and are showing new dynamism and vitality,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported Xi as saying.

The United States, Britain, Canada and Australia are not sending political representatives to the Olympics over China’s abuse of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Beijing and Moscow denounced the diplomatic boycott and Putin on Wednesday said both leaders opposed “any attempt to politicise sport and the Olympic movement”, a criticism Russia has repeatedly levelled at the West.

Russia was found to have used a state-backed doping programme at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and was banned from international competitions afterwards.

Russian athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals — without the Russian flag or anthem — if they can prove their doping record is clean.

Russian officials including Putin are banned from attending international competitions unless invited by the head of state of the host country. Xi has invited Putin to attend.

Both China and Russia have seen their relationship with Western nations deteriorate in recent years and have sought to project a more unified front.

On Wednesday, Putin told Xi that “a new model of cooperation has been formed between our countries” that includes a “determination to turn our common border into a belt of eternal peace and good-neighbourliness”.

“I consider these relations to be a real model for inter-state cooperation in the 21st century,” the Russian leader said.

‘Unprecedented’ relations

After the call, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov said that the conversation between “two great friendly states” had lasted 90 minutes and was “very positive”.

“Both stated that the relationship had reached an unprecedented high level,” he told reporters.

The talks came after both Russia and China were pointedly left out of US President Joe Biden’s democracy summit last week.

The US and its allies have for weeks accused Russia of planning an invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine, warning of massive coordinated sanctions should Putin launch an attack.

Tens of thousands of Russian troops are stationed near Ukraine, where the West has accused the Kremlin of backing pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

Russia rejects the allegations and blames the West for stoking tensions.

In calls on Tuesday with the leaders of France and Finland, Putin said he wanted security talks with the United States and NATO to begin without delay.

Russia’s demands included stopping NATO from expanding east and the deployment of weapons in neighbouring states, including Ukraine.

China’s relationships with multiple Western allies, meanwhile, have cratered in recent years over a host of issues — from trade and security to Beijing’s human rights record and vows to seize Taiwan, which it claims.

China, an authoritarian one-party state, responded with fury to being left out of the Biden summit, branding US democracy a “weapon of mass destruction”.

Beijing’s diplomats overseas and its state-controlled media ramped up a propaganda blitz criticising Western democracy as corrupt and a failure.

Instead, they touted “whole-process people’s democracy”, aiming to shore up legitimacy for the ruling Communist Party, which has swung increasingly authoritarian under Xi.

AFP

COVID-19: China Leader Promises Africa One Billion Vaccine Doses

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 3, 2014 shows Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (top) walking past China’s President Xi Jinping as they arrive for the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Photo by AFP)

 

China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged to offer one billion Covid vaccine doses to Africa, in a speech made via videolink to a China-Africa summit near Senegal’s capital Dakar.

The Chinese leader said that his country would donate 600 million doses directly. A further 400 million doses would come from other sources, such as investments in production sites.

READ ALSOFG ‘Monitoring’ New COVID-19 Variant Omicron, Advises Nigerians To Get Vaccinated

Xi’s promise comes as part of a forum between China and African states with an emphasis on trade and security, held in the city of Diamniadio near Senegal’s seaside capital.

China invests heavily in Africa, and is the continent’s largest trading partner with direct trade worth over $200 billion in 2019, according to the Chinese embassy in Dakar.

Vaccination rates in Africa are low compared to the rest of the world, with many states at the mercy of foreign donations due to the lack of local production facilities and prohibitive costs of mass purchases.

“We must continue to fight together against Covid,” Xi told the summit. “We must prioritise the protection of our people and close the vaccination gap”.

AFP

China Ruling Party Leaders Pass Historic Xi Resolution

This file photo taken on September 30, 2021 shows China's President Xi Jinping (C) arriving with Premier Li Keqiang (L) for a reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the eve of China's National Day. GREG BAKER / AFP
This file photo taken on September 30, 2021 shows China’s President Xi Jinping (C) arriving with Premier Li Keqiang (L) for a reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the eve of China’s National Day. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

Top Communist Party leaders wrapped up a key meeting in Beijing by passing an important resolution on the country’s past, state media said Thursday, which is expected to cement President Xi Jinping’s grip on power.

Xi, the uncontested leader of the world’s most populous nation, has been heading a pivotal plenary of the ruling party’s top figures since Monday in the Chinese capital.

Some 350 members of the powerful Central Committee passed China’s resolution on “Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party’s Centennial Struggle” — only the third of its kind in its 100-year history.

The previous two resolutions were issued under former leaders Mao Zedong, in 1945, and Deng Xiaoping, in 1981.

READ ALSO: China Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal Faster Than Anticipated – Pentagon

The lengthy declaration called for upholding “the correct view of party history”, said official news agency Xinhua, adding that the party has “written the most magnificent epic in the history of the Chinese nation for thousands of years”.

“The Party Central Committee called on the entire party, the entire army and people of all ethnic groups to unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, to fully implement Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the Xinhua readout stated.

This year’s closed-door plenum paves the way for the 20th party congress next autumn, at which Xi is widely expected to be handed a third term in office, securing his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

‘Rewriting the past’

Analysts say the resolution will help Xi shore up his grip on power by setting in stone his vision for China and diminishing the role of previous leaders.

The “thought” of Xi “is the epitome of Chinese culture and soul,” the text reads, saying that his presence at the “heart” of the ruling party “is of decisive importance… to promote the historic process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan of the Baptist University of Hong Kong said the party is “rewriting its past in order to shape the future around Xi Jinping”.

He predicted that there would be an “even greater form of taboo” on the dark days of Chinese history as a result.

Xi’s tenure has been marked by a sprawling anti-corruption crackdown, repressive policies in regions like Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and an increasingly assertive approach to foreign relations.

He has also created a leadership cult that has quashed criticism, stamped out rivals and dissent and introduced his own political theory — dubbed “Xi Jinping Thought” — to school students.

State TV showed footage of Xi addressing delegates in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square, in front of red flags and the communist hammer and sickle.

Its evening news broadcast said Xi’s communique was of “wide-ranging historical significance”, and teased a forthcoming commentary titled “Winning even greater victory and glory in the new journey of the New Era” in the party’s flagship newspaper.

The People’s Daily commentary calls the resolution a “glorious Marxist programmatic document” and a “political manifesto” for Chinese communists, CCTV said.

The newspaper has published numerous front-page tributes to Xi’s achievements in recent weeks.

The first resolution on the party’s history, passed under Mao, helped him cement his authority over the Communist Party four years before it seized power.

Under Deng Xiaoping, the second resolution saw the regime adopt sizeable economic reforms and recognise the “mistakes” of Mao’s ways.

‘Charting the course of history’

Unlike the 1981 declaration, Thursday’s communique appears to gloss over the violence of the Cultural Revolution, a devastating period of upheaval in the last decade of Mao’s rule that scarred the country’s psyche.

Instead, it refers to the period as one of “socialist revolution and construction”.

Xi has recently overseen his own clampdown on many aspects of Chinese society, including pop culture, education, the country’s tech sector business and wealthy tycoons.

Chairman Mao is mentioned seven times in the communique, and Deng only five times.

In comparison, Xi Jinping — who Xinhua this week said was “undoubtedly the core figure in charting the course of history” — is mentioned 17 times.

But some suggested the resolution might not go as far as Xi might have liked.

“As we expected even though they haven’t used the three words ‘leader for life,’ they have devoted almost half of the communique to Xi Jinping’s achievements,” said Willy Lam, a Hong Kong-based political analyst.

“I think it is now widely taken for granted that he will remain leader for life, but putting down those three words or four words… could arouse opposition.”

Lam said Xi ruling for life after he made sweeping constitution changes in 2018 is still “a controversial issue in the party”.

AFP

COP26: China Slams Biden For Criticising President Xi’s No-Show

A photo combination of US President Joe Biden and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, created on November 3, 2021.

 

China hit back Wednesday against criticism by US President Joe Biden, who had accused Beijing of not showing leadership after President Xi Jinping skipped the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.

Xi — who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change — has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined world leaders for COP26.

Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded Wednesday.

“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”

READ ALSO: Biden Says China, Russia Failed To Lead At Climate Summit

He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.

Biden has apologised for Trump’s decision.

COP26 has been billed as vital for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement under which nations promised to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2C and to work for a safer 1.5C cap.

At the summit on Tuesday, nearly one hundred nations joined the US and European Union initiative to cut emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by at least 30 percent this decade, with China among notable absentees.

Experts say the initiative could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating.

“It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?” Biden told journalists before flying out of Glasgow.

“It’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said: ‘What value are they providing?'”

Chinese President Xi Writes Buhari, Seeks Deeper Relations With Nigeria

File photo: China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 2, 2019. 
Mark Schiefelbein / POOL / AFP

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his country will use the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Nigeria to promote a strategic partnership to new heights.

This is according to a statement by Femi Adesina, the special media adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Adesina, President Xi disclosed his intentions in a letter addressed to the Nigerian leader on Friday.

“Nigeria is an important strategic partner of China in Africa. China-Nigeria cooperation has been the pacesetter of China-Africa cooperation,’’ the Chinese President is said to have written in his piece to President Buhari.

Read Also: Borno Govt Announces Return Of Naval Base To Baga

President Xi’s letter is said to be an appreciation of Buhari’s congratulatory letter on the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which came up on October 1.

The Chinese leader said he attached great importance to the development of China-Nigeria relations and assured President Buhari that his country would spare no effort in strengthening existing relations.

China Pledges $233 Million To Global Biodiversity Fund

File Photo: This video grab taken on May 18, 2020 from the website of the World Health Organization shows Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech via video link at the opening of the World Health Assembly virtual meeting. World Health Organization / AFP.

 

China on Tuesday pledged to inject $233 million into a new fund to protect biodiversity in developing countries during a key UN conservation summit, despite disagreements among major donors on the initiative.

Beijing — the world’s biggest polluter — has sought to play a more prominent role internationally on biodiversity conservation in recent years.

Its pledge came as delegates from about 195 countries gathered in the southern Chinese city of Kunming for the first of a two-part summit on safeguarding plants, animals and ecosystems.

The summit aims to establish a new accord setting out targets for 2050 and 2030.

“China will take the lead in establishing the Kunming biodiversity fund with a capital contribution of 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) to support the cause of biodiversity conservation in developing countries,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a speech at the COP15 conference on Tuesday.

“China calls on… all parties to contribute to the fund.”

A key proposal being debated at the conference is the “30 by 30” agenda that would afford 30 percent of the Earth’s land and oceans protected status by 2030.

READ ALSO: G20 Leaders To Discuss Afghanistan In Virtual Summit

Global spending to protect and restore nature needs to triple this decade to about $350 billion annually by 2030 and $536 billion by 2050 to meet this target, a UN report said in May.

But some rich country donors say a new fund for conservation is unnecessary because the United Nations’ Global Environment Facility already helps developing nations finance green projects.

The funding issue will be taken up at negotiations in Geneva in January 2022 and then later at the second part of the summit in April and May next year.

Xi also took a swipe at the United States in his speech on Tuesday, saying: “We should practise genuine multilateralism and abide by international rules which are not to be exploited or discarded at one’s own will.”

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has been ratified by 195 countries and the European Union — although not the United States, the world’s biggest polluter historically — with the parties meeting every two years.

The biodiversity discussions at COP15 are separate from the weightier COP26 summit set to begin next month in Glasgow, where world leaders are under pressure to act on the climate crisis.

AFP

China Says WHO Plan To Audit Labs In COVID-19 Origins Probe ‘Arrogant’

Medical workers collect information from passports of foreign journalists waiting to be inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine, at a makeshift clinic set up to vaccinate foreign journalists working in the capital, at the Chaoyang Museum of Urban Planning in Beijing on March 23, 2021. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)

 

 

China on Thursday said a WHO proposal to audit Chinese labs as part of further investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic showed “disrespect” and “arrogance towards science”.

Last week, the World Health Organization said a second stage of the international probe should include audits of Chinese labs, amid increasing pressure from the United States for an investigation into a biotech lab in Wuhan.

The proposal outlined by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus included “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019” — referring to the Chinese city of Wuhan.

But China’s vice health minister Zeng Yixin told reporters Thursday that he was “extremely surprised” by the plan, which he said showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science”.

Long derided as a right-wing conspiracy theory and vehemently rejected by Beijing, the idea that Covid-19 may have emerged from a lab leak has been gaining momentum.

Beijing has repeatedly insisted that a leak would have been “extremely unlikely”, citing the conclusion reached by a joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan in January.

At the same time, Chinese officials and state media have pushed an alternate theory that the virus could have escaped from the US military research lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Nationalist tabloid Global Times said it had collected five million signatures from Chinese web users on a petition to investigate the US lab.

Top officials have also amplified theories that the virus may have been imported with frozen food.

– ‘No accidents’ –
Yuan Zhiming, director of the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, told Thursday’s press conference “no pathogen leakage or staff infection accidents have occurred” since the lab opened in 2018.

Zeng hit back at what he called “rumours” about the lab, insisting that it had “never carried out gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, nor is there a so-called manmade virus”.

His comments were in reference to the type of research that has featured heavily in theories about a possible lab leak.

China has in recent days faced accusations from the WHO that it had not shared the necessary raw data during the first phase of the investigation, with Tedros urging Beijing to “be transparent, to be open and cooperate” on a second phase.

Tedros on Friday also called for more studies of animal markets in and around Wuhan.

The UN health agency has been under intensifying pressure for a new, more in-depth investigation of how the disease that has killed more than four million people around the world first emerged.

The WHO was only able to send a team of independent, international experts to Wuhan in January, more than a year after Covid-19 first surfaced there, to help Chinese counterparts probe the pandemic’s origins.

Thursday’s comments come ahead of a weekend trip to China by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to address deteriorating ties between the two countries.

It is the highest-level visit under President Joe Biden and comes amid tensions between the two powers over issues including the pandemic’s origins, human rights and cybersecurity.

Xi Urges Europe To ‘Make Positive Efforts With China’ In Merkel Call

File photo: China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 2, 2019. Taiwan’s unification with the mainland is “inevitable”, President Xi Jinping said on January 2, warning against any effort to promote the island’s independence and saying China would not renounce the option of military force to bring it into the fold.
Mark Schiefelbein / POOL / AFP

 

 

President Xi Jinping told German leader Angela Merkel during a phone call Wednesday that he hoped Europe would “make positive efforts with China”, Chinese state media reported, following an international row over the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.

The call was Xi’s first with a European leader since last month’s tit-for-tat sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, which drastically soured relations between China and the EU.

“China-EU relations are facing a new development juncture, as well as various challenges,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency, which added he urged the EU to make a “correct judgment independently”.

China is worried by US efforts to shore up its allies across the globe — including Europe — as President Joe Biden seeks to counter Beijing’s rising influence and defend a democratic liberal order that waned under the haphazard leadership of the previous Trump administration.

“It is crucial to firmly grasp the overall direction of China-EU relations’ development… from a strategic perspective, mutually respect each other and eliminate interference,” Xi was quoted as telling Chancellor Merkel.

The president added that China wishes to “put multilateralism into practice” with the EU, and cooperate with the bloc on issues including climate change.

“Strengthening China-Germany and China-EU cooperation can achieve meaningful great deeds. I hope that Germany and the EU can make positive efforts with China to add even more certainty and stability to this ever-changing world,” he was quoted as saying.

China and the EU completed negotiations for a landmark trade deal in December, which has yet to be ratified by the EU Parliament.

However, the deal’s future is uncertain after the EU imposed its first sanctions on China in three decades over Xinjiang, where up to one million Uyghur Muslim minorities are estimated to have been detained in internment camps by rights groups.

China hit back with wide-ranging sanctions on various European parliamentarians, academics and the German think tank MERICS — Europe’s largest.

Then, the EU, US, Canada and Britain imposed co-ordinated sanctions on Chinese officials allegedly involved in Xinjiang rights abuses, and China sanctioned further individuals and organisations from these countries.

Shortly afterwards, Swedish fashion giant H&M became the target of a nationalistic consumer boycott, after it vowed last year to avoid using Xinjiang cotton due to its alleged links with Uyghur forced labour.

China’s Xi Congratulates Biden On US Election Win


Mark Schiefelbein / POOL / AFP

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday congratulated Joe Biden on his US election victory, state media reported.

In his telegram, Xi said both countries should “stick to no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, (and) the spirit of win-win cooperation” in order to promote the “noble cause” of world peace and development.

Xi’s message came more than two weeks after several other major countries had congratulated Biden.

US-China relations have hit historic lows in recent months, as the two superpowers have traded barbs over a variety of issues including the trade war, espionage allegations, human rights, media freedoms and tech rivalry.

Both countries have repeatedly attacked each other’s handling of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, with Washington blaming China’s lack of transparency during the initial outbreak in Wuhan late last year.

Xi added that the “healthy and stable development of US-China relations accords with the fundamental interests of both peoples”.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan also sent a congratulatory message to Kamala Harris on her election as US vice president, Xinhua news agency reported.

Beijing had previously offered low-key congratulations to Biden and Harris on November 13, well after several major countries had congratulated the president-elect on his victory after days of turmoil and anticipation as votes in key states were finalised.

“We understand the US election results will be confirmed based on US law and procedure,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin during a routine briefing at the time.

Chinese media’s response to Biden’s victory since the result was confirmed earlier this month has been similarly muted.

AFP

 

Trump To Address APEC Summit As He Contends Election Loss At Home

silhouette of Donald Trump
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 21, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

US President Donald Trump will take part Friday in an Asia-Pacific summit as he continues to reject his election loss, a day after Xi Jinping used the forum to hail China’s growing economic clout.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering, held online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries, accounting for about 60 percent of global GDP.

Beijing has become the main driving force behind the trade grouping after the United States began withdrawing from multilateral bodies during Trump’s presidency.

Xi, boosted by the signing last week of the world’s biggest trade pact, gave a keynote address to the forum Thursday, hailing China as a pivot point for global commerce and vowing to keep its “super-sized” economy open.

Washington broke with its usual practice and did not send a representative to deliver a public speech at the two days of meetings, but a senior US official confirmed Trump would take part in the official summit on Friday evening.

He will deliver a speech to fellow leaders but the event is mostly closed to the media, according to officials in host country Malaysia.

It will be only the second time that Trump, who is pursuing legal challenges after his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, has participated in APEC, the other occasion being in 2017.

Oh Ei Sun, an analyst from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Trump would be aiming to “present himself as ‘presidential’ on the global stage”.

“Trump would, of course, take this opportunity to present himself as a sitting president for domestic political advantage,” he told AFP.

The president would also “like to reiterate his administration’s hallmark emphasis on protectionism and in the process forestall China from claiming leadership in the global free-trade agenda”, he added.

– ‘Don’t repeat past mistakes’ –
Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the voting and counts in the November 3 election were fraudulent, with his campaign launching various lawsuits.

Trump has taken a hard line on China during his tenure, hitting the world’s number-two economy with a barrage of tariffs and tech restrictions, and a Biden administration is expected to see a more nuanced extension of Washington’s current China policy.

This year’s APEC gathering comes a week after China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest free-trade pact.

The deal, which excludes the US, is viewed as a major coup for China and further evidence that Beijing is setting the agenda for global commerce as Washington retreats.

Signatories hope the pact will help their virus-hit economies on the road to recovery, and many leaders at the APEC forum warned against turning inwards in response to the pandemic.

“Trade has been the engine of growth and prosperity in APEC since it was founded 30 years ago,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“As we confront the region’s biggest economic challenge, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protectionism.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that “making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important”, at a time there was a risk of turning inward during the global economic slump.

APEC gatherings have in recent years been overshadowed by trade tensions between the US and China — leaders could not agree on a joint declaration at their previous summit in 2018 — but there are hopes for a more constructive American approach under Biden.

China Sentences Canadian To Death Over Drug Charge

A file photo of Chinese President, Xi Jinping
A file photo of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping

 

A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian national to death on Thursday in a ruling that could further inflame tensions between China and Canada.

The Guangzhou Intermediate Court said in a statement it had handed Xu Weihong a death sentence for manufacturing drugs, and said all his personal property would be confiscated.

According to China’s state-run Global Times, Xu had bought raw materials and tools for drug production in October 2016 and worked with an accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, to make ketamine.

The drugs were made in Wen’s home and stored in Xu’s residence in Guangzhou, with public security officers seizing over 120 kilogrammes of ketamine from the pair, the report added.

The ruling comes after China sentenced two other Canadians to death on drug trafficking charges last year, and as tensions soar between the two countries on a number of fronts including the arrest of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Beijing has also detained two Canadian nationals, including a former diplomat, on spying charges, in a move widely considered retaliation for Meng’s arrest in Canada.

The United States wants Meng extradited to face trial on charges related to the Chinese telecom equipment maker’s alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

On Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing that “Chinese judicial organs handle all criminals of different nationalities according to law”.

Referring to the latest case involving Xu, Wang added: “I don’t think this should have any impact on China-Canada relations.”

Diplomatic tensions

Diplomatic relations between Canada and China have deteriorated over China’s arrests and Meng’s case, damaging trade between both countries.

Canadian pleas for clemency for its citizens previously sentenced on drug charges, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg and Fan Wei, have so far not been successful.

In this file photo taken on May 8, 2019, Turnisa Matsedik-Qira, of the Vancouver Uyghur Association, demonstrates against China's treatment of Uighurs while holding a photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig outside a court appearance for Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver. Jason Redmond / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 8, 2019, Turnisa Matsedik-Qira, of the Vancouver Uyghur Association, demonstrates against China’s treatment of Uighurs while holding a photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig outside a court appearance for Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver. Jason Redmond / AFP

 

Meanwhile, in June Beijing formally charged the other pair of detained Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — for spying, in a move that came just weeks after a key ruling in the Meng case.

A Canadian judge had ruled that proceedings to extradite her to the United States will go ahead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment with the formal charges in June, renewing calls for their release.

Monthly consular visits for Kovrig and Spavor have been suspended since the coronavirus outbreak started in China as well, sparking concerns over their health.

Although China’s foreign ministry insisted the pair were in good health, people familiar with the matter have told AFP they endured hours of interrogation and in the first six months of detention were forced to sleep with the lights on.

China keeps data secret about the number of death sentences it carries out every year.

But according to Amnesty International, China is the world’s top executioner, with thousands believed to be killed each year.

 

AFP