World Newsletter

14th Aug 2019

President Donald Trump onTuesdayunexpectedly put off new tariffs on many Chinese goods, including cellphones, laptop computers and toys, until after the start of the Christmas shopping season, acknowledging the effect that his protracted trade war with Beijing could have on Americans. Trump pushed a 10% tariff on some imports toDec. 15, and excluded others from it entirely, while facing mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the trade conflict is doing. The stock market soared after the announcement, following weeks of volatility driven by fears that the standoff between the world's two largest economies could hamper global economic growth. The decision was the latest twist in a dispute during which China and the United States have alternately escalated tensions with tit-for-tat tariffs and softened their positions as they sought a deal. Trump continued to insist onTuesdaythat the trade war was hurting only China. But he also admitted that there was potential for the new tariffs to inflict economic pain closer to home. Trump, frustrated that negotiations had failed to yield an agreement, said on Aug. 1 that the United States would impose the 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports onSept. 1. That would be in addition to a 25% tariff already imposed on $250 billion of Chinese goods. But on Tuesday, the United States trade representative's office said that while a substantial amount of Chinese imports would be subject to the Sept. 1 levy as planned, various consumer electronics, shoes and other items would be spared until mid-December. HONG KONG AIRPORT HALTS CHECK-INS Flights leaving Hong Kong were disrupted for a second day on Tuesday, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil as its stockmarket fell to a seven-month low, and its leader said it had been pushed into a state of "panic and chaos". The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of its forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under international law. Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub as thousands of residents chafe at a perceived erosion of freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule. China this week condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, calling the clashes "sprouts of terrorism". They present President Xi Jinping with one of his biggest challenges since he came to power in 2012. Hong Kong legal experts say Beijing might be paving the way to use anti-terror laws to try to quell the demonstrations. Check-in operations were suspended on Tuesday, a day after an unprecedented airport shutdown, as thousands of black-clad protesters jammed the terminal, chanting, singing and waving banners. "Take a minute to look at our city, our home," Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, her voice cracking, at a news conference in the government headquarters complex, which is fortified behind 6-foot-high water-filled barricades. "Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?" Trump voices hope that 'nobody gets killed' in Hong Kong unrest US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he hoped no one would be killed in Hong Kong amid new protests capping 10 weeks of unrest in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese financial hub. The crisis, which has seen millions of anti-government activists take to Hong Kong's streets, was a "very tricky situation," the president told reporters in New Jersey. "I hope it works out peacefully, nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed," he said. US LEARNING 'MUCH' FROM RUSSIA MISSILE TEST BLAST, SAYS TRUMP President Donald Trump on Monday said the United States is learning "much" from a deadly blast during a Russian missile test that caused elevated radiation levels. "The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology," Trump wrote on Twitter. "The Russian 'Skyfall' explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!" the President tweeted. Experts have linked the blast--which killed at least five people--to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall and touted by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year. Trump's assertion that the US had similar technology was quickly challenged by American expert Joe Cirincione. "This is bizarre. We do not have a nuclear-powered cruise missile programme," Cirincione tweeted. "We tried to build one, in the 1960s, but it was too crazy, too unworkable, too cruel even for those nuclear nuts Cold War years," he wrote. The accident took place at an Arctic military facility on the coast of the White Sea on Thursday, but Russian authorities only admitted its nuclear nature on Saturday. The missile was being tested on a platform at sea when its fuel caught fire and caused an explosion, Russian nuclear agency Rosatom said. Several staff members were blown into the sea by the blast. PAKISTAN SEEKS EMERGENCY MEETING OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL OVER KASHMIR Pakistan has formally called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to discuss India's move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday. In video message, Mr. Qureshi said that he sent a formal letter to the president of the UNSC through Permanent Representative Maleha Lodhi to convene the meeting. Mr. Qureshi said that the letter will also be shared with all members of the UNSC. "I have requested in the letter that a special meeting of the Security Council should be called to discuss those actions of India which we consider as illegal and against the UN resolutions," he said. India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to "accept the reality". Mr. Qureshi said that the decision to call for the UNSC meeting was taken in the meeting of high-profile National Security Committee meeting held last week. Mr. Qureshi said Pakistan considered India's actions in Kashmir as a threat to the regional peace. "It is a mistake on the part of India if it thought that it could crush the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir," he said. Mr. Qureshi said whole of Pakistan will express solidary with Kashmiris on Wednesday. Mr. Qureshi said that Kashmiris must remember that Pakistan stands with them and is ready to go to any extent for them. BREXIT: HAMMOND SAYS PM'S DEMANDS 'WRECK' CHANCE OF NEW DEAL Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has accused the PM of trying to wreck the chance of a new Brexit deal, by making demands the EU could never accept. In a Times article, Mr Hammond said a no-deal Brexit would be "a betrayal" of the 2016 referendum result. He said Parliament would "make its voice heard", adding that a no deal "must not happen". A No 10 source said the UK would leave on 31 October despite Mr Hammond's "best efforts to the contrary". The source added that Mr Hammond, as chancellor, "did everything he could" to block preparations for leaving and had "undermined negotiations". The former chancellor rejected this suggestion in a tweet, saying he wanted to deliver Brexit "and voted to do so three times". Mr Hammond, in his first comments since stepping down last month, said the early signs that Mr Johnson could take the UK out of the EU with a deal in place were "not encouraging". He wrote: "The pivot from demanding changes to the backstop to demanding its total removal is a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one. "The unelected people who pull the strings of this government know that this is a demand the EU cannot, and will not, accede to." SOUTH KOREA TO DROP JAPAN'S TRADE STATUS IN TIT-FOR-TAT MOVE South Korea's Trade Ministry said Monday that from September it will remove Japan from its list of countries receiving preferential treatment in trade. The move deepens an ongoing trade rift between the countries. The decision to shift Tokyo to a new trade group comes after Japan imposed export restrictions on South Korea. Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said that Japan would be put in a newly created trade category of countries that have not run their export control systems in line with "international export control principles." Park Tae-sung, a senior South Korean Trade Ministry official, said that Japan had been designated the first country in the new group because of inappropriate trade practices, but did not provide details. The tighter trade regulations, which include potential lengthy permit application processes, will apply to South Korean exports to Japan. Japan announced earlier this month that it was removing South Korea from its own "white list" of countries that enjoy minimum trade restrictions, saying there had been a loss of trust. Relations between Japan and South Korea have deteriorated following a ruling by South Korea's Supreme Court last year that Japanese companies should compensate South Koreans who were conscripted as forced laborers during World War II. The Japanese government has not yet issued a public response to Monday's announcement, but a senior Foreign Ministry official told broadcaster NHK that a response would come after more analysis of the details of South Korea's decision. UN PROBING 35 NORTH KOREAN CYBER ATTACKS IN 17 COUNTRIES UN experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyber attacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programmes-and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country. Last week, the Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as USD 2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and crypto-currency exchanges. The lengthier version of the report, recently seen by the AP, reveals that neighbouring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyber attacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each. Thirteen countries suffered one attack-Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam, it said. The experts said they are investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of UN sanctions, which the panel monitors. The report cites three main ways that North Korean cyber hackers operate. One is attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, "with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence". The other two are, theft of crypto-currency "through attacks on both exchanges and users", and "mining of crypto-currency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military".

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