World Newsletter

6 August 2020



President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday over explosions in the country's capital, Beirut, that killed more than 110 people.


In the message, Xi said he was shocked to learn about the explosions, which caused heavy casualties and property losses.


"On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in my own name, I would like to express my sorrow for the loss of life and extend my deep condolences to the families of the victims as well as the injured," Xi said.


Two explosions rocked Beirut on Tuesday, leaving more than 110 people dead and 4,000 injured, according to multiple media reports.


The blasts hit the Port of Beirut at around 6:10 pm local time, shaking buildings all over the city. The number of casualties is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts and medical treatment of the injured continue.


The cause of the blasts remained unknown on Wednesday, but reports point to ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in Beirut's port for six years as a possible cause of the explosions.


Lebanon's Cabinet on Wednesday declared a two-week state of emergency in Beirut, and handed control of security there to the military, Reuters reported.


The Lebanese government also said it was putting an unspecified number of Beirut port officials under house arrest pending an investigation, according to AFP.


Following the explosions, Aoun had called for an emergency meeting of the country's Supreme Defense Council, according to the presidency's Twitter account.


Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a national day of mourning on Wednesday for the victims of the explosions.


The Chinese embassy in Lebanon told reporters that one Chinese person was slightly injured and no Chinese had been killed in the explosion so far.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Wednesday's news briefing that China expresses deep sympathy and condolences over the incident and is willing to provide assistance within its capacity for Lebanon in handling the incident.





China's Foreign Ministry urged the United States on Wednesday to stop all forms of official contact with Taiwan to avoid seriously endangering China-US relations as well as the peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits.


Speaking at a regular news briefing, ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China firmly opposes official links between Taiwan and the US, and that position has been clear and consistent.


Wang's remarks came as US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar was reported to visit Taiwan in the coming days. The planned visit would take place amid growing tensions between China and the US.


China has lodged "solemn complaints" over the visit with US officials in both Beijing and Washington, Wang said.


He said the Taiwan question is the "most important and sensitive" in China-US relations and the one-China principle constitutes the political foundation of bilateral ties.


Wang urged the US to abide by the one-China principle, properly deal with the Taiwan question, and stop sending any wrong messages toward the Taiwan-independence forces.


The one-China principle is well recognized by the international community, he added, and any attempt to disregard, deny or challenge the principle will be doomed to fail.


The Taiwan question is China's domestic affair and brooks no external interference, said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.


Ma said in a statement on Wednesday that in a bid to seek political interests, the Democratic Progressive Party authorities colluded with the US, willingly to be a "chess piece" that Washington can play to solicit foreign support, which harmed the common interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.


Such action is dangerous and will never succeed, he said.


In another development, Wang said at the news briefing that the Philippines' decision not to participate in joint military exercises in the South China Sea has shown that attempts of countries outside the region to stir up trouble and create tensions in the area go against the willingness of regional nations.


Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said that the Philippines would not join the navies of other countries, like the United States, in maritime drills in the South China Sea for fear of raising tension in the area, Philippine media reported.


Such remarks again reflected the independent diplomacy pursued by the Philippines, and also reflected the common aspirations of regional countries to seek peace and promote development, Wang said.





June marked the third consecutive month of an increase in Chinese stocks and bonds among both overseas institutes and private holders, the Securities Daily reported on Thursday, sourcing data from the People's Bank of China, the central bank.


As of late June, overseas institutes and private holders had held 2.46 trillion yuan ($354.16 billion) worth of Chinese shares, up remarkably from last month, according to the central bank.


Experts said that China's attraction for investment from global institutions and private investors involves multiple reasons, including economic recovery, development momentum and intensified reform. They expected overseas investors will continue to increase renminbi assets.


Pang Ming, chief economist at Huaxing Securities, said that due to uncertainties outside China, such as the pandemic prevention and control, feeble global economic recovery and geopolitical risks, it's little wonder that the solid-growth prospects for and vitality of the Chinese economy, the safety of RMB assets, and the stable finance market are all positive and major reasons behind the rise in foreign investment.


Wu Chaoming, deputy dean of the Chasing Institute under the aegis of Chasing Securities, said China is in a leading position in pandemic prevention and control as well as economic recovery. It contributed to a strong expectation in RMB appreciation that prompted investors to increase their holdings in Chinese bonds and other Chinese assets.


Another reason for the foreign investment growth is the acceleration of the reform and opening-up of the Chinese financial market. Pang Ming said, with the advancement of the country's reform and opening-up, further refinement in the financial market system, and better connections with international financial market rules, overseas investors have increasingly recognized the rising degree of openness in the Chinese capital market.


The optimized business environment is another reason for the growth. Pang said the foreign investment law put into effect this year clarifies the investment scope, and cancels the "one case, one approval" mechanism for the convenience of investing in China. "As it were, foreign investors and enterprises cast their vote of confidence for China's economic growth and social development with real money."





China does not seek global dominance, nor does it want tensions with the United States to escalate further, Beijing's top envoy to Washington said.


"To be fair, I think over the last few decades, we have learned many things from the United States. Of course, they are still saying we have not learned from the US," Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday at a virtual Aspen Security Forum.


"I think (something) we should never learn from the United States (is) obsession with global dominance," he said at the annual event, which concludes Thursday.


Discussions of China-US ties, which have sunk to the lowest point since the two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1979, have been featured remarkably at the three-day forum, which also had a panel discussion on their relations moderated by Joseph Nye of Harvard University on Wednesday.


Cui's remarks came nearly two weeks after a policy speech that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered at the family home of Richard Nixon — the 37th US president whose 1972 China visit ushered in a historic thaw in relations.


The secretary used what US media called "dramatic Cold War language" to blast decades of formal relations with China and accused Beijing of seeking global dominance.


"I don't think a new Cold War will serve anybody's interest, will give us any solution to the problems," said Cui, the longest-serving Chinese ambassador to the US. "Why should we allow history to repeat ... when we are faced with so many new challenges?"



Nye, the distinguished service professor emeritus of Harvard, on Wednesday cautioned that the historical metaphors regarding a new Cold War could be misleading, because unlike the rivalry with the Soviet Union, the US has a lot of trade and social contact with China.


Nye described the relationship as a cooperative rivalry, "in which you have to pay attention to both sides".


"Therefore, it's a very different type of arrangement. In addition to that, you have some issues like climate change and pandemics where we can't do anything unless we do cooperate with China," Nye said.


Cui noted at the forum that there is "such a degree" of political intervention, government intervention into the market and discrimination against Chinese private companies.


"I think it's not fair to make such allegations without giving evidence and to accuse China of not giving American companies a level playing field, while at the same time they themselves are denying Chinese companies such a level playing field," Cui said. "This is extremely unfair."


Cui said allegations that China hacked vaccine information were also made without giving any hard evidence.


The ambassador revealed that in March, representatives of some of the American companies even came to see him. "They asked for cooperation with a Chinese counterpart to develop drugs or vaccines," he said.


The international community should really cooperate with each other to develop as soon as possible an effective vaccine, which should be shared by the entire world, Cui said.





China is the largest source of international students in the world, with 662,100 leaving the country to study overseas in 2018. Almost half chose to study in the US.


Since 2009, China has been the biggest source of international students for US schools. According to the US-based Institute of International Education, one in three of the more than 1 million overseas students in the US came from China in the 2018-19 academic year.


However, implementation of a string of US government policies seen as unfriendly and its blaming of China for the pandemic, as well as protests over racial issues, have made many Chinese students reconsider plans to study in the US.


The UK has beaten out the US for the first time to become the preferred overseas study destination for Chinese students, according to a new report by New Oriental Education and Technology Group, an overseas study agency based in Beijing.


In a survey of 6,673 Chinese students by the company, 42 percent hoped to study in the UK, compared with 37 percent who preferred the US. That is a significant turnaround from four years ago, when 30 percent of respondents hoped to study in the UK and 46 percent planned to go to the US.


Xu Weiqing always hoped her 13-year-old daughter, who has just completed seventh grade at a Beijing middle school, would eventually study at a top US university. But she said that country's unfriendly policies, out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest have given her second thoughts.


To boost their daughter's chances of attending a university in the United States, home to more of the world's top universities than any other country, Xu and her husband had planned to send her to an international high school in the Chinese capital or possibly to a US high school.


"However, from a policy and security perspective, the US is no longer the top choice, and we're considering sending our daughter to other countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia," Xu said.





The latest list of 500 most valuable brands in China was released on Wednesday, with the total value of top 500 brands reaching 24.69 trillion yuan ($3.86 trillion) in 2020, a 12.9 percent increase year-on-year, according to consulting and research firm World Brand Lab.


Robert Mundell, chairman of the World Brand Lab and Nobel Prize laureate in economics in 1999, said China's manufacturing output value ($4 trillion) is nearly equal to the US ($2.3 trillion), Japan ($1 trillion) and Germany ($800 billion). Although the growth of Chinese brands has not kept pace with Chinese manufacturing, the success of Chinese brands has been widely recognized.


The value of Chinese brands saw a robust growth since the first list released 17 years ago, with threshold of the top 500 rising from 500 million yuan in 2004 to 2.72 billion yuan in 2020 as well as the average value surging from 4.94 billion yuan to 49.38 billion yuan, a 899.07 percent jump.


World Brand Lab said 55 of the top 500 Chinese brands have global influence, accounting for 11 percent of the total brands.


Beijing has 93 brands among the top 500, taking the first spot, followed by Guangdong and Shandong provinces with 90 and 44, respectively.


State Grid Corporation of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Haier are the top three Chinese brands with highest value, at 503.69 billion yuan, 450.58 billion yuan and 428.65 billion yuan, respectively.


Moreover, 53 Chinese brands' value surpassed 100 billion yuan this year.





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