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WASHINGTON, Aug 20, 2018 (News Wires) - A broad cross-section of US businesses has a message for the Trump administration: new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports will force Americans to pay more for items they use throughout their daily lives, from cradles to coffins.

Six days of public hearings on the proposed duties of up to 25 per cent will start on Monday in Washington as part of President Donald Trump’s and the US Trade Representative’s efforts to pressure Beijing for sweeping changes to its trade and economic policies.

Unlike previous rounds of US tariffs, which sought to shield consumers by targeting Chinese industrial machinery, electronic components and other intermediate goods, thousands of consumer products could be directly hit with tariffs by late September.

The $200 billion list targets Chinese seafood, furniture and lighting products, tires, chemicals, plastics, bicycles and car seats for babies.

“USTR’s proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports dramatically expands the harm to American consumers, workers, businesses, and the economy,” the US Chamber of Commerce said in written testimony for the hearing.

The top US business lobbying group said the Trump administration lacks a “coherent strategy” to address China’s theft of intellectual property and other harmful trade practices and called for “serious discussions” with Beijing.

Mid-level Trump administration officials and their Chinese counterparts are expected to meet later this week in Washington to discuss their trade dispute. But it is unclear whether the talks will have any effect on the implementation of US tariffs and retaliation by China.

In more than 1,400 written comments submitted to USTR that will be echoed in the hearings, most businesses argued that the tariffs will cause harm and higher costs for products ranging from Halloween costumes and Christmas lights to nuclear fuel inputs, while a small number praised them or asked that they be extended to other products.

BEIJING, Aug 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple said on Monday it had removed many gambling-related apps from its Chinese app store as the US giant comes under scrutiny amid trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Apple removed 25,000 apps suspected of facilitating gambling and illegal lotteries, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday, emphasising there was still work to be done.

"Reporters have discovered even after the Apple company's large-scale repairs, loopholes still exist," said CCTV anchor Chang Xiao.

A CCTV report last month accused the company of allowing illegal gambling apps to proliferate.

"We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store," the company said in a statement.

With the rhetoric between Washington and Beijing heating up, China's state media has probed for deficiencies in Apple's China operations.

Another state media report last month tore into Apple for what it claimed was inadequate filtering of messages sent through its iMessage service.

The app store clearance did little to abate the criticism from CCTV.

"With the help of the Apple platform, the (gambling app operators) can directly profit," a law professor was quoted as saying in the latest CCTV segment, adding it was Apple's responsibility not only to remove the apps from the store but to cut off access from phones to which they have been downloaded.

China is one of Apple's largest markets, accounting for roughly 20 per cent of its revenue last year. CEO Tim Cook has spent much time in recent years courting authorities.

But Apple's major market presence as the trade battle rages has placed its products front and centre for criticism.

PALEMBANG, August 20, 2018 (News Wires) - China’s sharpshooters reigned supreme in the 10m air rifle at the Asian Games Monday, shrugging off strong challenges from India and Korea to claim both the men’s and women’s titles.

Yang Haoran, 22, and Zhao Ruozhu, 20, bagged gold in the men’s and women’s events respectively, securing their second medal in two days after winning silver in the mixed team event Sunday.

Yang, the 2014 world champion, notched up a Games record total of 249.1 in Palembang, ahead of India’s Deepak Kumar at 247.7, while Taiwan’s Lu Shao-chuan took bronze with 226.8.

Not to be outdone by her partner, Zhao also pulled off a Games record of 250.9.

That put Zhao, who was runner-up in last year’s Asian championships, narrowly in front of Korea’s Jung Eun-hea on 248.6. Mongolia’s Nandinzaya Gankhuyag secured bronze with 227.4.

Their victories came after compatriots Ji Xiaojing and Wu Jiayu scooped gold in the 10m mixed air pistol Sunday.

India’s fortunes have been more mixed on the shooting range. Kumar’s silver followed a bronze for India’s Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar in the team category, after a disappointing early exit for 16-year-old Manu Bhaker and her partner Abhishek Verma.

Bhaker brought home World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medals this year to be regarded as one of India’s hottest prospects.


BEIJING, August 20, 2018 (MENA) - Chinese Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan said on Monday that media reports about the alleged Chinese military involvement in the Syrian conflict are speculations that provide false interpretation of the Chinese political course.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Xia said "Recently, some media speculations that China is going to involve in the Syrian conflict emerged. That is a false picture of the Chinese policy. The Arab media, which issued the relevant material, later explained
that China had no military presence in Syria. China is strongly advocating settlement of the conflict only by peaceful means … China has never sent its troops to Syria."

Xie stressed that China was strongly opposing any form of terrorism and calling for the boost of the international anti-terror cooperation.

In early August, Syrian media reported that the Chinese servicemen were ready to fight terrorists in the province of Idlib and other parts of the country together with the Syrian troops.

However, reconstruction of Syria is impossible without ensuring security in the war-torn Arab republic, Chinese Special Envoy for Syria said.

"We hope that the international community will put much attention to the post-war reconstruction of Syria and take part in this process as it is not an issue of one or two states. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure basic security to start the reconstruction works," Xie told reporters.

He said that the key goal at the moment was to restore peace and stability in the country. "All the parties must take efforts in order to launch the relevant work," Xie added.


BEIJING, Aug 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday he believed China would sympathise with his country’s “internal fiscal problems” as he seeks to renegotiate, or possibly cancel, more than $20 billion in Chinese-funded projects.

Mahathir said after meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing he did not believe in confrontation with any country and stressed the benefits Malaysia stood to gain from increased exposure to Chinese trade, technology and entrepreneurship.

“We hope also to get China to understand the problems being faced by Malaysia today,” Mahathir told a joint news conference with Li.

“I believe that China will look sympathetically toward the problems that we have to resolve and perhaps helping us to resolve some of our internal fiscal problems,” he said.

Mahathir did not mention the projects in question but he vowed repeatedly before his China visit to discuss what he called “unfair” Chinese infrastructure deals authorised by former premier Najib Razak.

Najib courted Chinese investment and was a cheerleader for President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia during his decade-long rule, but Mahathir has questioned the value of the deals and the risk that they would leave Malaysia “indebted” to China.

Mahathir made no mention of Low Taek Jho, the Malaysian financier wanted for his role in the multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Malaysia believed Low was being harboured in China and that a request to extradite him would be high on Mahathir’s agenda during his five-day trip.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was not familiar with Low’s case.

“But on principle, China is willing to, on the basis of mutual consultations, start normal legal cooperation with other countries,” he told a regular news briefing.

Li said China hoped that a further expansion in trade ties with Malaysia would result in greater balance in two-way trade and that China was ready to increase “to a fairly large extent” imports of palm oil and other agricultural produce to meet the needs of Chinese consumers.

China is Malaysia’s third-largest export market after India and the European Union.

He said consensus reached during talks and a raft of memorandum of understandings signed during Mahathir’s visit, including on a bilateral currency swap, palm oil, rubber and durian imports, sent a message that the two countries would “remain friendly to each other in the long term”.

However, Mahathir, who turned 93 last month, offered only a qualified endorsement when Li, addressing him directly, asked whether he believed they had consensus on upholding free trade.

“I agree with you that free trade should be the way to go but of course free trade should also be fair trade,” Mahathir said.

“We do not want a situation where there is a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries,” he said.

The centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure push in Malaysia is the ambitious $20-billion East Coast Rail Link project, work on which has been suspended pending discussions over pricing.

Mahathir has also halted work on two projects worth more than $2.3 billion awarded to the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau that have been linked to graft at 1MDB.

JAKARTA, August 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Chinese giant Sun Yang has all the tools to be the perfect swimmer - the predatory instinct and a two-metre physique that can intimidate before a race has even started.

But the triple Olympic champion and nine-time world title holder is also one of the most divisive competitors in the pool, a magnet for controversy who seems to upset officials and rivals wherever he goes.

He’s been labelled a drug cheat after serving a three-month suspension in 2014 for using a prescribed medication to treat a heart condition, saying he was unaware it had been added to the banned list.

Sun triggered a diplomatic row with Japan at the last Asian Games four years ago when he petulantly branded their national anthem “ugly”.

He has also irked Chinese officials with his sponsorship deals and once spent a week in a detention centre for a driving offence.

But Sun carries on, unfazed by all the kerfuffle and seemingly revelling in his reputation as swimming’s bad boy.

To those who know him best, nothing could be further from the truth. Sun’s part-time coach believes the Chinese superstar is a gentle giant.

“He’s actually a very sensitive guy,” said Denis Cotterell. “He’s very emotional and he gets upset by a lot of the things that are said and written about him because a lot of it just isn’t true.”

Australian Cotterell has worked with Sun for years and describes him not only as the most dedicated swimmer he’s trained, but also one of the most respectful.

As China’s greatest swimmer, Sun is under constant pressure to win every time he dives into the pool.

“I get cheesed off when people bring up cheap shots because they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Cotterell said.

“He’s got a really nice, sensitive side and he respects people in the sport much better that the picture that is painted of him.”

Sun considered quitting swimming after the Rio Olympics when he was taunted by some of his rivals over the doping ban, which he insists was nothing more than an innocent mistake.

After winning the 400m and 1,500m freestyle golds at London in 2012, he showed his incredible versatility by taking out the 200m in Brazil.

With nothing to prove and a long list of sponsors ensuring his financial security, he could have walked away from the sport.

But the 26-year-old decided to refocus his efforts on long-distance events despite finding success in sprints, meaning a lot of extra hours churning through the laps.

At the Asian Games, he has entered the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m as well as the 4x200m relay - part of a process building towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“He was under so much pressure at Rio but he doesn’t want to let anyone down,” said Cotterell.

“He’s a very proud man and he treats his position of being the number one sports star in a country that size very seriously.”

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