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SINGAPORE, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Google will invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce powerhouse JD.com, part of the US internet giant’s efforts to expand its presence in fast-growing Asian markets and battle rivals including Amazon.com.

The two companies described the investment as one piece of a broader partnership that will include the promotion of JD.com products on Google’s shopping service. This could help JD.com expand beyond its base in China and Southeast Asia and establish a meaningful presence in US and European markets.

Company officials said the agreement initially would not involve any major new Google initiatives in China, where the company’s main services are blocked over its refusal to censor search results in line with local laws.

JD.com’s investors include Chinese social media powerhouse Tencent Holdings Ltd, the arch-rival of Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and Walmart Inc.

Google is stepping up its investments across Asia, where a rapidly growing middle class and a lack of infrastructure in retail, finance and other areas have made it a battleground for US and Chinese internet giants. Google recently took a stake in Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek, and sources have told Reuters that it may also invest in Indian e-commerce upstart Flipkart.

Google declined to comment on the rumored Flipkart deal. The JD.com investment is being made by the operating unit of Google rather than one of parent company Alphabet’s investment vehicles.

Google will get 27.1 million newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares as part of the deal. This will give them less than a 1 percent stake in JD, a spokesman for JD said.

For JD.com, the Google deal shows its determination to build a set of global alliances as it seeks to counter Alibaba, which has been more focused on forging domestic retail tie-ups. Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which is making big internet investments around the globe, is a major investor in Alibaba.

“This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world,” said Jianwen Liao, JD.com’s chief strategy officer, in a statement.

 

BEIJING, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Chinese social media users are scratching their heads over a "Chinese proverb" US President Donald Trump's daughter and advisor Ivanka posted to Twitter as her father prepared for his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

"'Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.' -Chinese Proverb," Ivanka posted on Monday, the night before her father and Kim came together to seek an end to a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.

China's internet quickly lit up, puzzled rather than flattered by the reference.

"Our editor really can't think of exactly which proverb this is. Please help!" the news channel for Sina -- the company behind Weibo, China's largest Twitter-like platform -- wrote on its official social media account.

In thousands of comments on Weibo, users proferred scores of different suggestions without arriving at a consensus.

Some suggested the proverb "the foolish old man removed mountains" -- a common phrase used to signify perseverance. It refers to a fable about a man who persisted in his attempt to level a mountain he found inconvenient by dogged digging.

Ivanka Trump's family has a lot of fans in China. Her six-year-old daughter, Arabella Kushner, became an online sensation by singing ballads in Mandarin and reciting Chinese poetry in a video that was shown to President Xi Jinping during Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last year.

But her mysterious proverb was panned on Weibo.

"She saw it in a fortune cookie at Panda Express," one user wrote.

Another said: "It makes sense, but I still don't know which proverb it is."

"One proverb from Ivanka has exhausted the brain cells of all Chinese internet users," a commenter admitted.

Bill Kristol, editor of the US political magazine the Weekly Standard, tweeted a guess that the phrase "seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th century - which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism".

"But why are Trump WH (White House) aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?" he quipped.

HANOI, Vietnam, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - China has warned its citizens in Vietnam after protesters clashed with police over a government plan to create new economic zones for foreign investment that has fuelled anti-Chinese sentiment in the country.

More than 100 protesters were arrested and dozens of police injured at a protest in central Vietnam on Sunday, one of several demonstrations nationwide against the special economic zones opponents fear will be dominated by Chinese investors.

The Chinese embassy in Hanoi posted a notice on its website referring to the protests as “illegal gatherings” that had included some “anti-China content”.

“The Chinese embassy in Vietnam is paying close attention to the relevant developments and reminds Chinese citizens in Vietnam to pay attention to security when travelling,” the notice said.

Vietnam’s National Assembly agreed on Monday to delay a vote on the draft bill, which would allow foreign investors to lease land for up to 99 years and provide greater incentives and fewer restrictions than at present in the country.

Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairwoman of the Assembly, said the protesters might have misunderstood the nature of the bill.

“People should stay calm, believe in the decisions of the party and the state, especially in the fact that the National Assembly is always listening to the people’s opinions when discussing the bills,” Ngan said.

Public protests are not rare in Vietnam and are often quickly quelled by the police.

On Sunday, protesters in the central province of Binh Thuan threw petrol bombs and bricks at police and damaged local government offices and vehicles, state media reported.

Police arrested 102 protesters, the online newspaper VnExpress reported on Monday, citing local police. The report said dozens of policemen were injured in the incident.

In the capital Hanoi, police detained more than a dozen protesters who marched down a busy street, some carrying anti-Chinese banners including one that said “No leasing land to China even for one day”.

Activists said several protesters were also detained in the country’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City.

The government has said the bill aims to boost development in three provinces in northern, central and southern Vietnam and provide “room for institutional experiments”.

The initial draft law said land in the zones could be leased for up to 99 years, but Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told local media last week the term would be reduced, although he did not say by how much.

The protests come at a time of rising tensions over the disputed South China Sea, nearly all of which is claimed by China.

Vietnam is among several countries in the region that have claims in the South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in trade passes each year.

Some of the protesters at Sunday’s demonstrations were also protesting against another draft bill on cybersecurity amid widespread concern the law would cause economic harm and stifle online dissent in the communist-ruled country.

The United States and Canada urged Vietnam on Friday to delay the vote on the proposed cybersecurity law. The National Assembly is scheduled to vote on it on Tuesday.

BEIJING, June 10, 2018 (News Wires) -- The leaders of China and Russia Sunday praised the expansion of their regional security bloc at a summit which put on a show of unity contrasting with the acrimonious G7 meeting.

President Xi Jinping gave the leaders of Pakistan and India a "special welcome" to their first summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, since their countries joined the group last year.

Founded in 2001, the SCO also includes the former Central Asian Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, whose country is an observer member, also attended the meeting as he seeks Chinese and Russian support following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran.

Warning that "unilateralism, trade protectionism and a backlash against globalisation are taking new forms", Xi spoke up for the "pursuit of cooperation for mutual benefit".

While never mentioning the United States by name, he added: "We should reject the Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocs, and oppose the practice of seeking absolute security of oneself at the expense of others, so as to obtain security of all."

Xi, whose government is locked in tough negotiations with the United States to avoid a trade war, said World Trade Organisation rules and the multilateral trading system should be upheld to build an open world economy.

"We should reject self-centred, shortsighted and closed-door policies," said Xi, whose own country has been accused of restricting broad access for foreign firms to its huge market.

Addressing the SCO leaders seated, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the addition of Pakistan and India means that the organisation "has become even stronger".

While Xi feted his peers with fireworks, SCO members have their own disagreements, with India concerned about China's trade infrastructure project in disputed territory in arch-rival Pakistan. China and India had their own heated border dispute in the Himalayas last year.

But no disharmony was evident during the two-day summit in Qingdao.

The show of unity was in stark contrast to the calamitous end to the Group of Seven meeting in Quebec City, after US President Donald Trump disowned a joint summit statement and lambasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "dishonest" and "weak".

In Qingdao, Xi touted security cooperation -- the original raison d'etre of the SCO -- and announced that China would open a 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) special lending facility within the bloc's interbank consortium.

Putin said trade and investment among SCO countries was growing and Russia and China would propose a Eurasian economic partnership for all member states.

With the president of aspiring full member Iran looking on, Putin said Moscow still supports the Iran nuclear deal that Trump recently abandoned.

The US withdrawal, he said, "can further destabilise the situation" but Russia is in favour of the "unconditional implementation" of the pact.

Putin, however, voiced his support for Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday.

For his part, Rouhani said the "US effort to impose its policies on others is an expanding danger".

Rouhani said the US was monitoring the global reaction to its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and a weak response would encourage it to carry on acting unilaterally.

"This will have many harmful consequences for the global community," he said.

The Iranian president said his country was ready to cooperate with the SCO against terrorism, extremism and separatism

NEW DELHI, June 9, 2018 (News Wires) - China and India on Saturday settled a dispute over the flood-prone Brahmaputra river that flows from Tibet to Bangladesh in a sign of growing cooperation between them.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the agreement as they began the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

“Our talks will add further vigour to the India-China friendship,” Modi said on Twitter, as the two countries try to reset troubled ties months after a border standoff.

The SCO, launched in 2001 mainly to combat radical Islam and other security concerns across Central Asia, added traditional rivals India and Pakistan as members last year.

Under two deals signed on the sidelines of the SCO summit today, China will share hydrological data on the Brahmaputra river and amend certain requirements on Indian exports of rice other than the premium Basmati variety to China, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, said on Twitter.

India said last year that China had not stuck to an agreement to share hydrological data, or scientific information on the movement, distribution and quality of water for the Brahmaputra river. China had cited “technological” reasons.

New Delhi has also been concerned about the rising trade deficit with China, and has sought greater access to the world’s second-largest economy for products such as rice, rapeseed, soybeans and sugar.

India’s trade gap with China has widened to $51 billion, a nine-fold increase over the past decade.

The rice deal should help India finally crack the market in China, the world’s biggest buyer of the commodity, traders said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that China will buy 6.4 million tonnes of rice in 2018, while India will export a total of 11.9 million tonnes.

“Despite competitive prices, India was unable to export rice to China due to their phytosanitary norms,” said a New Delhi based dealer with a global trading firm, referring to food standards as well as animal and plant hygiene.

“As the norms are going to change, India can easily export more than 1 million tonnes rice every year to China.”

QINGDAO, China, June 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday opened a regional security summit attended by Russia and Iran with boasts of the bloc's "unity", just as a fractious G7 gathering was mired in divisions between Europe and the US.

On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao, Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and expressed his support for Tehran joining the SCO.

Rouhani, for his part, denounced the "illegal" US withdrawal from the international nuclear deal with Tehran.

Russia also underlined its common vision with China to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through peaceful dialogue as US President Donald Trump prepares for a historic summit Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Iran, currently an observer member of the SCO, has sought since 2008 to become a full member of the China- and Russia-led security group.

SCO states also include four ex-Soviet central Asian republics and new members Pakistan and India.

Xi spoke at an opening banquet in the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center before taking in a fireworks display.

Standing before a serene seascape painting, he hailed the bloc's guiding "Shanghai spirit", which "focuses on seeking common ground while setting aside differences and pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation."

He noted that it was the first meeting since India and Pakistan joined as member states, and stated that this year they would "draw up a blueprint for (the SCO's) future growth".

The SCO gathering comes as Trump meets America's closest allies in Canada for a two-day G7 summit, which concludes Saturday.

 

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