Survey: US Tariffs Hurting American Businesses in China


BEIJING, (BILL IDE-VOANEWS).-Even before U.S.-China trade tensions began escalating dramatically, foreign businesses who operate in China were warning about the impact tariffs could have. And now, according to a newly released joint survey from the American Chamber of Commerce in China and AmCham Shanghai, many are already feeling the pinch.

More than 60 percent say the initial $50 billion in tariffs rolled out by the United States and China are having a negative impact on business, increasing the demand of manufacturing and slowing demand for products.

That number is expected to rise to nearly 75 percent if a second round of tariffs, an additional $200 billion in tariffs from Washington and another $60 billion from Beijing, goes ahead.

The administration of President Donald Trump has threatened it could go ahead with $200 billion in tariffs and, if needed, $267 billion more after that.

Unexpected consequences

William Zarit, chairman of AmCham China said while there are expectations in Washington that an additional onslaught of tariffs could force Beijing to wave the white flag, it risks underestimating China’s capability to continue to meet fire with fire, he said.

“It seems that American companies will be more harmed by the American tariffs than they will by the Chinese tariffs. I don’t think that this necessarily is a result that was expected,” Zarit said.

President Trump argues that China is stealing jobs from the United States and not doing enough to address the huge trade deficit between the two economies. The tariffs are seen by proponents as a way of pressuring China to move away from its state-led economy and policies that force technology transfers.

Zaritt said it remains to be seen whether some of the Trump administration’s tactics and tariffs will address big problems, such as Chinese protectionism, state capitalism and other things such as preferential loans and subsidies. He said one key approach that could go a long way to help ease tensions is for the focus to shift toward equal and reciprocal treatment.

“The Chinese have acknowledged that as their economy is evolving away from an export driven/investment driven to a more consumption/domestic demand driven economy, that they really need to open their market. And so, the big question is why would you not do that if it is in your interest?” Zarit said.

Private vs public economy

In Beijing, some have framed the trade tensions as an attempt by the United States to thwart China’s rise. Others, however, have suggested that instead of opening up markets and giving private enterprises more space, the opposite should happen. An article written by Wu Xiaoping, a veteran financier and columnist argues it is time for private enterprises to think about exiting the market.

In the article, he argued China should move toward a large scale centralized private-public mixed economy. He also said the private economy shouldn’t expand blindly.

“The private economy has accomplished its mission to help the public economy develop and it should gradually step aside,” he wrote in the article.

The article has sparked a backlash online and even state media reports have criticized Wu’s views. The fact that the idea was able to circulate so widely before being heavily censored on Thursday is a signal that the government might be sending out a trial balloon.

Others analysts argue the publication of the article could have been motivated by a fear for some that Beijing was preparing to make major concessions.

Zhang Yifan, an associate economics’ professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said despite the widespread criticism, the idea was worrisome.

“President Xi’s government, they believe [in a] strong government,” Zhang said. “So, there is a trend that they strengthen the power of the government and I am worried that market forces will play a smaller and smaller role.”

More trade talks

On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that both Washington and Beijing are preparing for another possible round of talks and trade negotiations.

A spokesman from the Foreign Ministry welcomed the invitation from Washington and the two were discussing details about the proposed talks. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin invited his counterparts in China along with Vice Premier Liu He to attend the talks, which could happen in the coming weeks.

The fact that higher ranking officials would attend the talks is being seen as a positive sign. The last round of talks were carried by lower-ranking officials.

Joyce Huang contributed to this report

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Tags: The United Sates,

MAC warns against China's residence permits for Taiwanese


TAIPEI, (CNA).-  The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Wednesday accused Beijing of trying to weaken Taiwan's state sovereignty by issuing new residence permits for Taiwanese living, working and studying in China.

In a statement, the MAC said the initiative is aimed at undermining Taiwan's state sovereignty and altering cross-strait relations, and it urged Taiwanese who have applied for the cards not to enable Chinese authorities in their united-front tactics against Taiwan.

The council also warned Taiwanese of other downsides to China's new residence permits, such as increased taxes and social insurance and compromised privacy protection.

The MAC issued the statement in response to remarks earlier in the day by An Fengshan (安峰山), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who said that more than 22,000 Taiwanese had applied for the Chinese residency permits since it was launched on Sept. 1.

The MAC, however, disputed the figure, saying it has been collecting relevant information via different channels, which will serve as reference for drafting future policies.

The new residence permits for Taiwanese are different from China's resident identity cards, according to An.

He said the permits will serve as "identity cards" to allow greater convenience for Taiwanese living, working and studying in China and are not linked to any political agenda.

(By Miao Zong-han and Romulo Huang)


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WASHINGTON, (OEA).- The Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (SRESCER) and the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have received information of recurring threats and possible violations of social rights as a result of monitoring the serious human rights crisis that have occurred in Nicaragua since April 18th.

In particular, during the last weeks there have been reports of arbitrary dismissals and acts of harassment against students and staff in the health and education sectors, as well as negative effects on the health of patients who are not being treated due to a lack of medical specialists.

According to public information, as of July 27, layoffs of health professionals were carried out in different hospitals throughout the country, including the Oscar Danilo Rosales Argüello Hospital in León, the Santiago Regional Hospital in Jinotepe, the Humberto Alvarado Hospital in Masaya, the Monimbó Health Center and the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Estelí.

According to reports received, these dismissals were allegedly carried out in retaliation for having treated injured people who were protesting against the government or for having manifested a critical position in that regards, considering the crisis that has been occurring in the country.

In this context, on August 15th, a letter was sent to the Nicaraguan State, in accordance with article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights, by which it requested information about these complaints presented. Mainly, the State was asked to submit, within 10 days, a detailed list of all the dismissed personnel, the length of their employment and the positions which they held.

The letter also requested specific and individualized information about the reasons for the dismissals and the guarantees granted to protect their labor rights, if similar situations have been registered in other hospitals or health centers in the country since the beginning of the protests as well as information on the guarantee of the right to health of the population in the absence of the dismissed medical personnel.

The IACHR and its SRESCER regret that, to date, the Nicaraguan State has not given any response to this request, which weakens compliance with the principles of transparency and good faith that must guide the behaviour of the State in regards to its human rights obligations.

Access to such information is not only an indispensable conventional guarantee for the monitoring work of the IACHR and its Special Rapporteurs, it also serves to assist the respective authorities in identifying abuses of public officials, promoting accountability and preventing the abuse of power. Hence, the importance of the State providing timely and complete answers and accessible information.

According to public information, the dismissals have reached 300 health professionals. Such dismissals, allegedly, have already negative consequences on the protection of the rights to health, personal integrity and life of the population due to a lack of health specialists to provide care and treatment, as well as the cancellation of initially planned medical procedures.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur also views with concern the continuing harassment, threats, stigmatization and, in some cases, arbitrary detentions of medical personnel and people who provided humanitarian assistance in the context of the protests.

In this regard, Soledad García Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on ESCER of the IACHR, highlighted the fundamental role of persons providing emergency health services to those who are injured in the context of protests, as well as the obligation of the State to protect them and guarantee the work that they do. Additionally, she indicated that "the State cannot interfere through any mechanism in the protection of health and life that health professionals are in charge of.

That is, no action by the State should be aimed at dissuading or punishing health personnel for fulfilling their duties, either through threats, arbitrary sanctions or inducing them to make distinctions contrary to the principles of equality and non-discrimination of the people they serve. The right to health and labor rights should in no case be used to neutralize those who protest or are considered political opposition".

This Office of the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR has also been following up on the situation of the university community that declared itself in "student disobedience" and is not willing to resume classes because of a lack of guarantees for the exercise of university autonomy and security conditions.

There are complaints of arbitrary dismissals against university professors and administrative workers of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) in Managua, as well as the expulsion of more than 80 students for having occupied the facilities of the university in the context of the social protests.

Allegations of arbitrary detentions, persecution of student leaders and pressure from university authorities were also presented. In this regard, the SRESCER recalls that the IACHR has indicated that in higher education, the academic freedom of teachers and students, as well as the university autonomy are fundamental pillars which strengthen democratic structures and which avoid pressure or interventions of a political nature in such spaces.

The IACHR has also stressed that the State should facilitate and guarantee, as soon as possible, an environment for recuperating classes, which prioritizes the safety and protection of students.
Finally, the IACHR and its SRESCEC urge the Nicaraguan authorities to protect students and medical or educational workers against any undue intervention and to provide, as soon as possible, complete information regarding the guarantee of these rights, requested in its letter of August 15th.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights is an office created by the IACHR to guide, develop and deepen its work to promote and protect economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in the Americas, taking into account the interdependent and indivisible nature of all human rights.



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Tags: Nicaragua, CIDH OEA

US Charges N. Korean Man in Sony Hack, Other Attacks


WASHINGTON, (MASOOD FARIVAR-VOANEWS)- U.S. prosecutors on Thursday announced criminal charges against a North Korean hacker they said was involved in a string of brazen cyberattacks in recent years, including the 2014 invasion on Sony Pictures and a 2016 heist at the central bank of Bangladesh.

Prosecutors identified the hacker as Park Jin Hyok, a computer programmer and member of a North Korean regime-sponsored hacking team known as the Lazarus Group. The group is accused of engaging in a multiyear conspiracy to conduct "multiple destructive cyberattacks" on banks and other institutions around the world.

The charges against Park were filed in federal court in Los Angeles, where Sony Pictures is headquartered, on June 8, four days before U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a historic summit in Singapore. The allegations come as the Trump administration is seeking to break a stalemate in denuclearization talks with the North Korean government.

Park, who faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer-related fraud, remains at large. The FBI released a wanted poster that seeks information about him.
The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Park and Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a North Korean government front company that employed him.

"Today's announcement demonstrates the FBI's unceasing commitment to unmasking and stopping the malicious actors and countries behind the world's cyberattacks," FBI Director Christopher Wray said. "We stand with our partners to name the North Korean government as the force behind this destructive global cybercampaign."

Accused of numerous attacks

The hacking group is accused of carrying out numerous other attacks on financial institutions, entertainment companies, defense contractors, virtual currency industries, academia and electric facilities in the United States, as well as on entities in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers called the scale of the cyberattacks "staggering."

The attack on Sony Pictures crippled the company's networks and was widely believed to have been carried out in retaliation for the release of The Interview, an action comedy film that depicted a fictional assassination plot against Kim.

The complaint alleges that the North Korean hackers stole movies and other confidential information during the invasion and rendered thousands of the company's computers inoperable. The administration of former President Barack Obama sanctioned three North Korean organizations and 10 individuals for the attack.

In the 2016 attack on Bangladesh Bank, the country's central bank, Lazarus Group hackers attempted to transfer out as much as $1 billion but ended up with $81 million. The heist is seen as the largest cybertheft from a financial institution.


The group was also behind the 2017 global ransomware attack known as WannaCry 2.0. The complaint alleges that the Lazarus Group hackers wrote the malware used in the attack, which infected computer networks in more than 150 countries.

The criminal complaint alleges that Park worked as a computer programmer for Chosun Expo for over a decade.

The company is affiliated with Lab 110, a component of the North Korean military intelligence service, according to the complaint. In addition to performing legitimate programming work for paying clients, the Lazarus

Group is accused of engaging in malicious cyberattacks.

Officials said the investigation into the group was ongoing.

Growing cyberthreats to US

In recent years, U.S. officials have singled out North Korea among the countries that pose growing cyberthreats to the U.S. In its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report, released in February, the Office of the

Director of National Intelligence said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea "will pose the greatest cyberthreats to the United States during the next year."

Lazarus is one of several North Korean hacking groups. Another is known as Reaper, a group that started off focusing on South Korea but has expanded to targets throughout East and South Asia over the past year, said Benjamin Reed, senior manager for cyber espionage analysis at cybersecurity firm FireEye.

"So there is definitely more than one hacking group out of North Korea," Reed said.

He said north Korean hackers engage in two types of activities: traditional espionage aimed at its neighbors, Asian countries and the United States, and financially motivated cyberattacks carried out in countries with vulnerable computer networks.

Reed said that Lazarus was active as recently as a few months ago and that it remained to be seen how it would react to the publicity surrounding the criminal charges announced Thursday.
Deterrent effect

The group had been previously tied to the Sony, Bangladesh Bank and WannaCry attacks, and the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert about it in June. But the scrutiny hasn't fazed the group, Reed said.

Jeanette Manfra, the homeland security department's top cybersecurity official, said the charges against Park could have a deterrent effect.
"It's important to hold people accountable for their actions and use the tools that the government has available," Manfra said. "It changes a country's calculus."

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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Tags: The United Sates, North Korea Sony

Galileo’s ground control segment contracted for upgrade


ESA.- With Europe’s Galileo constellation in space now expanded to 26 navigation satellites – and Galileo Initial Services available to users worldwide – the infrastructure on the ground that controls them is undergoing a corresponding expansion.

ESA has awarded a new work order for the Galileo Control Segment – that part of the Galileo system responsible for the monitoring and control of all the satellites in orbit – to GMV Aerospace and Defence, Spain.

The contract was signed today by ESA Director of Navigation Paul Verhoef and Jesús B. Serrano Martínez, CEO of GMV, in a ceremony hosted at Spain’s Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in Madrid, in the presence of Spanish Science Minister and former ESA astronaut Pedro Duque.

Galileo’s Control Segment is hosted at the Oberpfaffenhofen Control Centre in Germany, with a ‘hot backup’ in place at Galileo’s second Control Centre, at Fucino in Italy. It also extends to a network of Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) ground stations placed around the globe to stay linked with all satellites in the constellation.

Galileo control contract signed
The combination of these Control Centres plus TT&C stations are vital to keep Galileo running at its highest possible performance level. They monitor the overall status of the constellation, gather telemetry and uplink telecommands to each satellite, while also performing two-way radio and Doppler ranging to keep precise track of their position in space, identifying any orbital drift that might degrade the system’s accuracy.

The Galileo Control Segment has been designed to allow the automatic execution of routine operations. It also includes elements supporting flight dynamics analyses, constellation operations short-term planning as well as operations preparation.

This first work order for the ‘Galileo Control Segment Exploitation Phase’ contracts GMV Aerospace and Defence as prime contractor to undertake all necessary activities to upgrade the Galileo Control Segment as part of Galileo’s Exploitation phase.

Galileo's global ground segment
This work includes upgrading the system architecture to manage a constellation of up to 41 Galileo satellites, updating obsolescent elements in the current system, improving operability linked to the provision of services and the addition of a new, second TT&C station to be based in Kourou, French Guiana.

The integration, qualification, deployment and migration into operational service of the various segments of the upgraded Galileo Control Segment will be undertaken over the next three years.

Sensor and Uplink stations
This process is to undertaken while maintaining coherence with the other segments of the overall Galileo system – such as the Galileo Mission Segment which oversees Galileo services, the external control centres that carry out initial satellite switch-ons and in-orbit testing and the satellite platform and payload manufacturers, OHB System AG in Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK.

ESA has issued this work order in its role overseeing Galileo’s deployment, the design and development of future upgrades and the technical development of infrastructure on behalf of the European Commission, Galileo’s owner.

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Tags: ESA Galileo