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China warns US against trade deal with Taiwan | China News

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Move comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signalled a possible resumption of economic talks with Taiwan.

China has warned the United States against pursuing a trade deal with Taiwan after Washington signalled a possible resumption of economic talks with the self-ruled island.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, urged Washington on Tuesday to “stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan, handle the Taiwan issue cautiously, and refrain from sending any wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces”.

China claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, to be taken by force if necessary. In recent months, Beijing has increased the pressure on Taiwan, including sending fighter jets into the island’s air defence zone.

The US has meanwhile stepped up support for Taiwan, approving new arms sales, sending high-level delegations and most recently pledging to donate 750,000 doses of vaccines to bolster its fight against COVID-19 – all moves that have drawn Beijing’s ire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added fuel to the fire on Monday when he told a congressional hearing in Washington, DC, that discussions would soon begin on a trade deal.

“I know we are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be, on some kind of framework agreement,” Blinken said when he was asked about the position of President Joe Biden’s administration on a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan.

The diplomat also said the US was “committed to the proposition that Taiwan must have the means to defend itself”.

“We’ve continued to provide significant equipment and sales to Taiwan for that purpose,” he added. “We have real concerns about the increased aggression that the government in Beijing has shown toward Taiwan.”

Asked about Blinken’s comment, a spokesperson for the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said it has “no meetings to announce at this time. It added, however, that “the United States believes it is important to continue strengthening our bilateral trade relationship with Taiwan”.

A spokesman for Taiwan’s representative office in Washington said they were “working to engage in discussions with USTR, which will hopefully lead to progress in our bilateral trade relationship”.

Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Blinken’s comment was a signal Washington was likely to move forward with a resumption of Trade Investment Framework Talks (TIFA) with Taiwan that have not been held since the administration of former President Barack Obama.

However, she said the Biden administration had probably not made a decision on whether to take the much larger step of pursuing a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan.

“Senior Biden administration officials have been encouraging USTR to hold a round of the TIFA talks, and Taipei is eager to do this as soon as possible,” Glaser said, adding that China was likely to oppose a TIFA resumption out of concern that the talks could eventually lead to a free trade agreement and embolden other countries, such as the United Kingdom, to launch trade negotiations with Taiwan.

“China also will see such talks as part of a Biden strategy to strengthen ties with Taiwan and what they see as a diminishing US commitment to One China,” she said, referring to the longstanding US policy of recognizing Beijing rather than Taipei.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News

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Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title

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Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson

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Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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