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Xinhua: Over 270 U.S. Commerce Organizations Called for Restricting Presidential Tariff Power

Xinhua rapidly reported on the same day when over 270 U.S. commerce organizations, national and local, issued a joint letter to the U.S. Congress asking that new laws be established to restrict the presidential power to determine tariffs. According to Article 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the President has the power to start an investigation on imports to prevent damage to national security. President Trump ordered tariff increases based on the authorization of Article 232 and received widespread opposition both domestically and internationally. The commerce organizations were deeply concerned about the limitless potential of this tariff power, which may cause serious damage to the U.S. economy. The joint letter emphasized that the U.S. Constitution gave the Congress the right to administer imports and exports as well as tariffs. The congress should act now to ask the President to propose tariff plans for Congressional approval first, before their execution.

Source: Xinhua, June 26, 2018
http://www.xinhuanet.com/world/2018-06/27/c_129901925.htm

Ministry of Defense: Renting Taiping Island to the U.S. Is a Dangerous Idea

Global Times recently reported that the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Wu Qian, commented at a press conference that the idea that the Taiwanese military could rent Taiping Island to the U.S. military was a very dangerous one. The comment was based on some media reports indicating such a possibility. Taiping Island is the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Taiwan currently controls the island. However, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam all have claimed sovereignty. Earlier reports suggested that some Taiwanese military think-tank provided the idea. The rental to the U.S. military would be under the name of humanitarian rescue missions. Wu Qian said the Chinese government is strongly against this idea and has the determination as well as the capability to defend China’s sovereignty. Taiping Island is the size of 70 soccer fields and is 860 nautical miles from Southern Taiwan. Currently Taiwan has around 200 troops guarding the island. The Taiwanese government later clarified that there was no such official plan.

Source: Global Times, June 28, 2018
http://world.huanqiu.com/exclusive/2018-06/12368593.html

RFA: Chinese Internet Surveillance Technology Can Reach Overseas

RFA reported that China has expanded its Internet surveillance technology overseas. Zhongkedianji Beijing Technology (http://www.zkdj.com), a big data firm in Beijing disclosed that a software it developed called “junquanyuqun” (http://junquan.com.cn) is capable of detecting more than 8,000 “sensitive” websites in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. In addition, it has established 18,000 information outlets in China which can monitor news, forums, blogs, microblogs, pictures, and videos. It can even collect information in 53 languages including English, French, Spanish, and the languages of ethnic minorities in China. According to the company’s website, the surveillance system can carry out public opinion analyses, information warnings, and hot spot analyses. It can collect negative public opinion, public opinion trends, briefings, analyses, forwarded information, and do statistical analyses for the government. It can monitor news, forums, blogs, Weibo, pictures, videos, QQ groups and it has search and documentation capabilities. According to YicaiGlobal.com, Zhongkedianji Beijing Technology was founded in 2007. Its customers include a wide range of industries such as state-owned enterprises, governments, military organizations, and private companies. Recently, in November 2017, it secured US$15.15 million in financing. The company is worth US$150 million.

The RFA article also reported that, during the recent 2018 Procuratorial Technologies and Equipment Exhibit held on May 15 in Beijing, a scanner that Beijing HiSign Technology Company developed could recover Facebook and Twitter messages that had been deleted from a mobile phone. Meiya Pico from Xiamen City claimed that their handheld scanner could break into a mobile phone within seconds to retrieve customer data. The RFA article reported that, because of the latest technological developments, overseas Chinese have become very concerned that they could be subjected to retaliation if they publish any opinions that criticize the Chinese government.

Sources:
1. Radio Free Asia, June 28, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/meiti/ql2-06282018100614.html
2. Yicai Global.com, November 24, 2017
https://www.yicaiglobal.com/news/big-data-firm-zhongkedianji-bags-usd15-million-round-financing-valued-usd150-million

Global Times: The U.S. Asked the World not to Buy Iranian Oil. How should China Respond?

Global Times recently published a commentary offering some strategic suggestions on how to respond to the U.S. position of asking the world to ban Iranian oil. The commentary started with the fact that most EU companies decided to stop doing business with Iran. However, China and India are the largest buyers of Iranian oil. The U.S. exit from the Iranian Nuclear Deal was in itself a betrayal to the promise the U.S. made as a government – or should people call it bullying. However just like other nations, China faces the choice of losing the profitable business with Iran or losing more business with the U.S. Global Times suggested: First, the U.S. position has no basis in international law – and China should not just agree. Second, China should not stick its head out to lead the opposition against the U.S. since China does not have the power to lead in such a case. Third, China should strengthen coordination with other large Iranian oil buyers to negotiate with the U.S. jointly. In a case of not touching China’s core strategic interests, China should avoid being recognized as “the leader of the united front-line against the United States.”

Source: Global Times, June 28, 2018
http://opinion.huanqiu.com/editorial/2018-06/12370186.html

Duowei News: Australian Parliament Passed New Laws Aimed at Preventing Foreign Interference

Duowei News quoted a news article that the BBC had published. On June 28, the Australian Parliament passed new laws aimed at preventing foreign interference in Australia. According to the BBC report, the laws were first passed in the Senate on the 28th. They target espionage, as well as foreign interference in politics and other domestic affairs. The laws specified that industrial espionage for a foreign country will be categorized as a criminal offense. They also require that lobbyists for foreign governments must register their identity. In December 2017, Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia, first announced his plan to introduce a new foreign espionage law while he criticized China for interfering in Australia’s politics. The Duowei article stated that, even though Turnbull denied that the new laws target China, the timing of the laws has intensified the foreign relations between the two. An ABC report suggested that the laws are the explanation for the development of the recent diplomatic conflict between Australia and China.

Sources:

1. Duowei News, June 28, 2018
http://news.dwnews.com/global/news/2018-06-28/60067420.html
2. BBC, June 28, 2018
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-44624270

Taiwan CNA: Official Think Tank Report Warns of Possible Financial Panic in China

Taiwan Central News Agency reported that the National Institute for Finance Development, a senior think tank in China, recently published an internal report on China’s economy. The report was circulating on the Internet on June 24, and was carried by online websites, including Sohu. The report stated that China’s defaulting on bonds, tightening liquidity, and the fall in the exchange rates and stock markets have occurred one after another this year. Meanwhile the increase in the interest rate in the U.S. and the threat of a US-China trade conflict all suggest that the Chinese people are very likely to experience a financial panic very soon. The report concluded that, in the next several years, “preventing the occurrence and spread of financial panic” is the most important task for financial institutions to undertake. The report relied on the official May economic data which showed that the economy is getting weaker: industry added value came in below expectations, capital investment was the lowest since 2000, consumer spending continued to decline, and the increase in the total Retail Sales of Consumer Goods was only at 8.5 percent, the lowest since July 2003. The report also mentioned that the financial environment is alarming with a lack of growth in credit, tightened financing for companies, increases in credit defaults, and increased risks in the financial stock market. It further suggested that the Central Administration should come up with a crisis management plan to deal with the panic. All financial institutions and the Public Security Bureau should have plans so they do not repeat the same mistake when many institutions did not take action during the stock market turbulence in China in 2015 and the financial crisis in the U.S. in 2008. At the same time, the report recommended that China should take measures to minimize the impact of any foreign currency like the U.S. dollar. The report also indicated that financial panic is different from a financial crisis, but it will lead to a financial crisis if the investors feel lost and start to panic. According to the report, China must not ignore the fact that, in 2008, the financial crisis in the U.S. turned out to be a financial crisis globally.

Source: Central News Agency, June 27, 2018
http://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201806270203-1.aspx

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