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BEIJING, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - China announced it filed a World Trade Organization challenge Monday to President Donald Trump's latest tariff threat, stepping up its diplomatic efforts to counter US pressure in a spiraling technology dispute.

The Trump administration has criticized the WTO as unable to deal with the problems posed by China, suggesting a challenge there might have little impact in Washington. But it might help Beijing rally support from governments that criticized Trump for going outside the WTO to impose tariffs on Chinese and other imports.

The move is unusually swift, coming less than one week after the US Trade Representative proposed 10 per cent tariffs on a $200 list of Chinese goods. Those wouldn't take effect until at least September.

China's lopsided trade balance means it will run out of US imports for penalty tariffs before Washington does. Beijing is trying to recruit support, so far in vain, from Europe, South Korea and other governments.

"We are unable to fight equally," said Tu Xingquan, director of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Monday's move "indicates that we value the role of the WTO rules," said Tu.

Washington imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Beijing responded immediately by imposing identical penalties on a similar amount of American imports.

It has criticized the latest tariff threat but has only about $80 billion of annual imports left for penalties.

As for why Beijing hasn't retaliated, "there might be some adjustment in China's approach to countermeasures," said Tu.

Economists and business groups have suggested Beijing might try to disrupt operations of American companies, especially service industries, in which the United States runs a surplus. But Chinese officials have tried to appeal to American companies as allies.

A Commerce Ministry spokesman said last week Beijing hoped they would lobby Washington to protect their own interests.

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2018 (News Wires) - The US Department of Commerce lifted a ban on US companies selling goods to ZTE Corp, allowing China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker to resume business.

The Commerce Department removed the ban shortly after ZTE deposited $400 million in a US bank escrow account as part of a settlement reached last month. The settlement also included a $1 billion penalty that ZTE paid to the US Treasury in June.

“The department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE’s actions to ensure compliance with all US laws and regulations,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that described the terms of the deal as the strictest ever imposed in such a case.

The terms will allow the department to protect US national security, Ross said.

The administration has clashed with lawmakers from its own party over issues related to China, and this was no different. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, criticised the lifting of the ban.

“ZTE should be put out of business. There is no ‘deal’ with a state-directed company that the Chinese government and Communist Party uses to spy and steal from us where Americans come out winning,” Rubio said in a statement.

A photograph circulating among employees around midnight showed ZTE’s new chief executive and 10 other managers each giving a thumbs-up to the news, which was flashed on a screen at the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The reprieve follows threats by the Trump administration this week to impose 10 per cent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods in a trade war.

 

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States and China have fired the next shots in their escalating trade war, with Washington threatening to impose fresh tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing vowing to retaliate.

The latest moves in the ballooning trade conflict between the world's top two economies came just days after tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion in goods came into effect.

Analysts have warned that spiralling trade tensions between the two powerhouses could have a damaging impact on the global economy and far-reaching consequences across the planet.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late Tuesday accused China of retaliating to its tariffs "without any international legal basis or justification."

President Donald Trump has therefore ordered the trade department to "begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports," Lighthizer said in a statement.

Officials will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalise, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the levies.

The eventual goal is to impose tariffs on 40 per cent of Chinese imports, the same proportion of US goods hit by Beijing's retaliation, an official told reporters.

If the measures are imposed, it would mean new taxes on thousands of products from fish to chemicals, metals and tyres.

Reacting to the "totally unacceptable" Washington list, the commerce ministry in Beijing said it would be forced to take "countermeasures."

"The behaviour of the US is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself," the ministry said in a statement, saying it was "shocked" by the US actions.

"In order to safeguard the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people, the Chinese government as always will have no choice but to take the necessary countermeasures," it added.

Beijing said it would "immediately" tack on the case to its suit against Washington's "unilateralist" behaviour at the World Trade Organisation.

At a forum in Beijing, a senior official accused the US of "damaging the world economic order" and said tit-for-tat tariffs would "destroy" trade between the rival powers.

"The outburst of large-scale mutual levying of tariffs between China and the United States will inevitably destroy Sino-US trade," said assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang.

The dispute comes on top of Washington's confrontation with other allies and major trading partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, after it imposed steep tariffs on their steel and aluminium. Those nations have also retaliated.

The new trade frictions sent investors running for cover, with equity markets across Asia tumbling more than one per cent.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index led the declines, dropping 1.76 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 1.29 per cent while Tokyo's Nikkei was off 1.19 per cent.

"The market didn't expect the second round of tariffs would come so quickly and it has impacted investor sentiment," said Zhang Gang, analyst with Central China Securities.

By the Gazette Editorial Board

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged a package of $20 billion in loans, and about $106 million in financial aid, to Middle East nations, as part of what he called an "oil and gas plus" model to revive economic growth in the region.

 

During the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Co-operation Forum (CASCF) held in Beijing yesterday, President Xi announced the creation of a consortium of banks from China and the Arab countries with a dedicated fund of $3 billion.

 

The $3 billion in loans are part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative suggested by President Xi in 2013 with the aim of reviving the Chinese trade routes linking China with Central Asia and the Arab world. These loans will fund many of the development projects in these countries to help them become part of the Belt and Road project. 

 

Apart from this large amount of money being offered to promote industrial and economic development in various Arab countries, China has decided to offer aid worth $15 million to the Palestinian Authority, to support its economic development and $91 million in financial aid to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

 

With this generous offer of aid, China seems to be presenting its credentials as the newly-emerging political power that is ready to help settle many of the political disputes in which some countries of the Middle East are embroiled. It is true that China has chosen not to interfere in any of these conflicts outside the UN Security Council umbrella, but by offering aid to these countries, China means to help minimise the causes and consequences of the political and military dilemmas affecting our region today, especially the Palestinian Cause.

 

Addressing the Arab-Chinese meeting, President Xi urged all parties to respect the international consensus on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, to ensure it would be handled in a just manner.

 

China has announced a policy of supporting all the UN resolutions that preserve Palestinians rights, and it has also presented a peace initiative to settle the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict based on the two-state solution. The Chinese initiative could be seen as a great alternative to the US "Ultimate Plan" that has been rejected by the Palestinians and various Arab parties.

 

Since Trump's announced recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the subsequent moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians have been looking for an alternative to the US as peace mediator.

 

Trump has proved his blind bias in favour of Israel, not only by deciding to remove Jerusalem from the negotiating table, but also by being silent about the measures taken by Netanyahu’s government, to kill any chance of the Palestinians building their state on the territories occupied in 1967.

 

Herein emerges the significant role China and other powers such as Europe could play, in standing up for Palestinian rights and confronting the US-Israeli plot to liquidate the cause.

 

China's growing influence in the region and other parts of the world could be the start of the end of the present unipolar world system that is dominated by the US. Taking advantage of its special capabilities, China could have a positive effect on the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and many of the disputes that have left many Arab countries in disarray.

 

BEIJING, July 10, 2018 (MENA) - Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri on Tuesday said that Egypt and the other Arab countries are willing to cooperate with China for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.

In his speech at the 8th session of the ministerial meeting of the Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum, he added that Arab-Chinese relations have remarkably advanced since 2004.

Also, China has always been supporting national liberation movements in Arab countries, he added.

Furthering economic relations between both sides is very important for joint cooperation as China ranks second on the Arab World's list of trade partners, he pointed out.

Also, the Arab countries are the major oil exporter to China, he said, adding that the Belt and Road Initiative will help increase trade exchange between both sides.

BEIJING, July 10, 2018 (MENA) - China and the Arab world are convinced that their relationship needs to be further elevated, especially that Beijing is an effective international partner to Arab countries, the Arab League (AL) secretary general has said.

Ahmed Abul Gheit, in a speech during the inauguration of the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) here Tuesday, said both sides have since 2004 established about 15 mechanisms of cooperation as part of the CASCF.

Many memorandums of understanding have also been signed to activate cooperation in a number of fields, Abul Gheit added.

Today, a Sino-Arab digital library will be launched, he told the meeting, adding that a final communique will be released later.

A joint executive declaration on the "Belt and Road" initiative will as well be issued, Abul Gheit noted.

Today's meeting coincides with what Abul Gheit called growing challenges and pressures facing the Arab world, atop of which comes the Palestinian problem, especially after the US recognition of Al Quds as capital of Israel.

He stressed the importance of a comprehensive and permanent peace in the Middle East, noting that it is a strategic Arab choice embodied by relevant international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab peace initiative.

Abul Gheit said he is looking forward to furthering Chinese support for the just Palestinian cause and the struggle to establish an independent Palestinian state on the pre-l967 borders.

He reiterated the need to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis in line with UN Security Council resolution No. 2254.

The AL chief also called for support for the legitimate institutions in Libya for it to maintain its unity and sovereignty.

Abul Gheit said the pan-Arab body is also committed to Yemen's unity, sovereignty and independence. The Yemeni problem, he stressed, should be solved in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative.

He also talked about terrorism as a grave threat to world peace and security.

The world community should unite its efforts to fight terrorism and address its political and economic roots, Abul Gheit said.

The AL chief put the volume of trade exchange between China and the Arab world in 2017 at 191 billion dollars.

According to him, the "Belt and Road" initiative is a promising chance for cooperation that would serve interests of both China and the Arab world.

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