RMB; Hong Kong warnings; US farmers suffering; China unhappy about Kashmir

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The RMB rumble continued overnight as the US declared China a currency manipulator, a move that is several years too late, not in accord with current reality and generally just looks weak and desperate. The fact is that China has been manipulating the RMB to keep it artificially strong, as the US has wanted, so the message from the Treasury announcement is basically we only get mad when you stop manipulating in the direction the US wants.

The RMB closed with a 7 handle again Tuesday but Beijing appears to be taking steps to prevent a more significant drop, and so far it is certainly nothing like the mishandled devaluation in August 2015. They learned a lot of lessons from that mess.

The impact of the recent RMB depreciation may be significant psychologically but fairly minimal financially, and Beijing knows that it can not let the RMB drop much more without triggering increasing stress over external debt repayment and raising pressure even more for capital outflows.

The signal from Beijing that the RMB can be used in the trade war with the US is clear, but the bark here may be much worse than the bite as if Beijing allows it to depreciate significantly it may trigger a whole host of other problems for China’s economy and companies.

That said, it is another sign that US-China relations are in a rapidly descending spiral with few near-term prospects for stabilization, and no likely meetings between President Trump and General Secretary Xi until November at the earliest. The prospects for a near-term deal seem even fainter now and Monday evening Goldman Sachs told clients in a note that “we no longer expect a trade deal before the 2020 election.” US tech firms hoping for export licenses to sell to Huawei will probably get nothing now that China has made it official that big agricultural purchases are on hold.

The propaganda organs issued several more angry, anti-US editorials and commentaries Tuesday. The CCP has shown propaganda works, and the increasingly shrill anti-American invective since May will have a lasting effect on the US-China relationship, even in the very unlikely event there is a happy trade deal in the foreseeable future. And I think Xi will be pleased with that change, as he likely believes Chinese have been too willing to admire America and sees an opportunity in the current trade war to reset views towards America.

The central government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office held a press conference Tuesday. The warnings from Beijing are growing stronger but they are still holding back direct threats of PLA/People’s Armed Police intervention while continuing to affirm confidence in Carrie Lam and the Hong Kong police. Beijing may have decided the best way to diffuse the current situation is to demonstrate to most Hong Kong citizens the economic costs of continued protests, while aggressively following the CCP playbook and arresting a “small group of radicals” they blame for fomenting the protests, and hoping things will calm down in the next few weeks as students return to school. Do not be surprised to see cancellations of mainland tour travel to Hong Kong.

Will such an approach work? I do not know, it certainly will not address the underlying causes of the protests and may even inflame them further, but Beijing I believe/hope understands that sending in the PLA or the PAP would be a disaster on so many levels and therefore will try many things before resorting to that awful option, especially between now and the October 1 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Hong Kong

Beijing again gives ‘unflagging support’ to Carrie Lam, warns Hong Kong is entering ‘most dangerous phase’ | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong must put a stop to the violent and continued social unrest in the city as “no place can survive such turmoil”, said a commentary to be published on Tuesday in Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Read out on state broadcaster CCTV on Monday, it said the central government would give “unflagging support” to Hong Kong’s chief executive and her administration to take lawful action to restore order.

The page 1 commentary: 人民日报评论员:坚定支持行政长官带领香港特区政府依法施政

HK people urged to stop violence and chaos, bring back order - Xinhua

"We hope that the people of Hong Kong understand the nature of the current situation, and firmly support Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam in leading the HKSAR government's law-based governance, the Hong Kong police in enforcing laws rigorously, and departments of the HKSAR government and the judiciary body in punishing violent criminals in accordance with the law," Yang said.

He then made it clear to "the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them" that those who play with fire will perish by it, and that whoever participates in violent and criminal activities would be held accountable according to the law.

Radical protests dragging Hong Kong into danger: spokesperson - Xinhua

The radical protests in Hong Kong, which have continued for nearly two months, have severely impacted the region's prosperity and stability and are pushing it into a "dangerous abyss," a central government spokesperson said Tuesday.

The protests over the past two months have gone beyond the freedom of assembly, demonstration or protest and have escalated into extremely violent acts, said Yang Guang, spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, at a press conference.

"With upgraded means, escalating intensity and aggravating destructiveness, these acts are shocking," Yang said...

Yang told the press conference that the protests have seriously affected Hong Kong's economy and people's livelihoods, citing that the region's gross domestic product in the second quarter increased by only 0.6 percent in real terms year on year, and 18 countries and regions have issued travel safety reminders against Hong Kong.

A small number of violent radicals are at the front with some kind-hearted citizens misguided and coerced in the middle, but the masterminds behind the scenes are the anti-China forces in and out of Hong Kong which have been trying to mess up Hong Kong, the spokesperson said.

解放军是否会介入香港局势?港澳办发言人用三句话回应

When asked whether China will deploy troops to suppress the protests, the spokesman for the HK affairs of office again wouldn’t give a clear answer. On the one hand it said the PLA is a force to protect China’s territorial integrity, on the other it said it is confident the Hong Kong police is capable in handling the situation.

香港现在该怎么办?驻港部队会出手吗?一揽子全说明白了!

From the official Wechat account of the Central Politics and Law Commission:

Behind this political storm are some forces hostile to China's development. Their fundamental purpose is to turn Hong Kong into a battlefield for international games and a base against the central government as a pawn to contain China.

这次政治风暴幕后黑手是一些敌视中国发展的势力,其根本目的就是要令香港变成国际博弈的战场,令香港变成反抗中央的基地,作为牵制中国的棋子。

外交部驻港公署正告外国干预势力停止与特区违法暴力分子狼狈为奸

The foreign ministry office in HK lambasted “US politicians such as Pelosi” for inciting violence and smearing the police in Hong Kong under the name of democracy and freedom. The statement used extreme language in attacking the Americans for their “evil purpose in opposing China and creating chaos in HK”, and urging them to stop colluding with the opposition and intervening in China’s domestic affairs.

Celebrities, businesses and school take patriotic stand after Chinese flag protest in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post

On microblogging site Weibo, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong celebrities were among those forwarding pictures of the flag or salutes to it, adding the hashtag “the Chinese national flag has 1.4 billion flag bearers”, a topic started by China Central Television (CCTV) on Sunday.

As of Monday night, the trending topic had been read more than 2 billion times, with more than 8 million posts and support from Hong Kong actors Jackie Chan, Jordan Chan Siu-chun and Hawick Lau Hoi-Wai.

In a commentary published online on Sunday, CCTV said the topic had attracted a strong response because patriotism ran deep among the Chinese people.

‘Prepared to Die’: Hong Kong Protesters Embrace Hard-Core Tactics, Challenge Beijing - WSJ $$

Hard-core current protesters have largely rejected the strategies of veteran leaders, whose approach is seen to have failed. Actions are mostly organized by anonymous leaders of small groups. In 2014, named student leaders became well known figures...

“There’s a feeling among many that there’s no other option, that some physical confrontation is the only way for the regime to listen to the voices of Hong Kongers,” said Jeffrey Ngo, chief researcher at pro-democracy group Demosisto. Mr. Ngo said he doesn’t use violence himself in the current protests, but understands why some have resorted to it.

Chinese police mass 12,000 anti-riot officers in Shenzhen for drill | South China Morning Post

The drill was part of security preparations for the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, Shenzhen police said on the force’s Weibo newsfeed...

In live videos of the police drills shown on the Yizhibo network, officers in body armour, helmets and shields confronted groups of people in black shirts and red or yellow construction safety helmets – similar to those worn by Hong Kong protesters – who were holding flags, banners, batons and wooden boards.


2. Rumble over the RMB

Treasury Dept. designates China a ‘currency manipulator,’ a major escalation of the trade war - The Washington Post

In Washington, Trump accused the Chinese government of “currency manipulation” and said incorrectly that the yuan was near a “historic low.”..

Trump thinks that continuing to punish China will spur Beijing to negotiate. But some aides fear that his hard-line stance will backfire, said one senior adviser, describing confidential discussions on the condition of anonymity.

Aides have brought Trump charts to convince him that the currency charge is untrue, but the president remains firm in his beliefs, the official said.

Comment: On Tuesday the relevant authorities moved to strengthen the RMB:

PBOC to Sell 30 Billion Yuan in Renminbi Central Bank Bills on 14 August in Hong Kong - China Banking News

PBOC has traditionally used central bank bill sales in Hong Kong as a means of propping up the offshore exchange rate by absorbing liquidity.

Commentary: Labeling China currency manipulator represents typical U.S. bullying - Xinhua

The U.S. move is harmful to others and itself, and China firmly opposes this. This will not only seriously undermine the international financial order and lead to financial market turbulence, but will also greatly hinder international trade and global economic recovery, and ultimately will suffer from its own misdeeds. This unilateralist action has also undermined the global multilateral consensus on exchange rate issues and will have a serious negative impact on the stable operation of the international monetary system.

The U.S. side has intensified shots on China in many arenas. But the Chinese people, who have cast aside their illusions and stand ready to fight a protracted trade war with the United States, will not be intimidated...

The U.S. side should stop its ugly farce and bullying, and deal with China with a little more rationality and objectivity before the situation goes too far.

China says U.S. currency manipulator labeling could cause chaos in financial markets - Reuters

China “has not used and will not use the exchange rate as a tool to deal with trade disputes,” the PBOC said in a statement on its website.

“China advised the United States to rein in its horse before the precipice, and be aware of its errors, and turn back from the wrong path,” it said.

余永定:美国说中国“操纵汇率”,完全是胡扯!

Prominent economist Yu Yongding said in an interview that the US accusation of China as currency manipulator is “total nonsense!”. He said by now China should prepare for the worst such as possible sanctions of Chinese companies and seizure of assets. He said China should focus on fixing its economy at home and it is of not much use to fear what Americans would do.

以平常心看待人民币对美元汇率“双破7”

The state-run Economic Daily said people should see the RMB breaking 7 “with a normal heart”, that it is just normal fluctuation will not have much impact on the economy and people’s lives.

人民日报金社平文章:乱贴“汇率操纵国”标签终将自食其果

The Tuesday CCTV Evening News read out tomorrow People’s Daily’s commentary saying the US will “reap what it has sown” as the decision would trigger fluctuation in the market and obstruct world trade and economic recovery. The commentary is by Jin She Ping, pseudonym for People’s Daily’s “important commentaries for economic and social affairs”.


3. US-China

Kudlow: Trump flexible on China tariffs, depending on trade talks - CNBC

Despite the intensification of the trade and currency fights between the U.S. and China, President Donald Trump remains open to a deal that would lead to flexibility on tariffs, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Tuesday.

“The reality is we would like to negotiate,” Kudlow told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street ” during a live interview. “We’re planning for the Chinese team to come here in September. Things could change with respect to the tariffs.”

China halts new purchase of U.S. farm products - CGTN

China said it would temporarily not rule out the possibility of levying additional tariffs on imported U.S. farm produce with deals made after August 3, and related Chinese companies have halted purchases of U.S. farm produce, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Monday.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a similar statement on Tuesday.

Chinese Farmers Are Growing Soybeans in Russia as China Substitutes U.S. Suppliers - Caixin

The farmers’ foray into Russia reflects how China is broadening its soybean supply to feed its mammoth appetite now that it has curtailed imports from the U.S., one of its top sources of the oilseed. China, the world’s top soybean importer, consumes an average of 110 million tons of soybeans a year, but only produces around 16 million tons domestically, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

U.S. breaking promises is setting new obstacles for trade talks with China - Zhong Sheng

The tragedy of the present American agriculture is exactly an outcome of the wrong decisions made by the U.S., and has nothing to do with other countries.

The situation was totally different before the China-U.S. trade frictions broke out. The market was free from destructive interference, and both sides enjoyed common benefits from the supply chain on which the U.S. generated huge production and China saw huge demand.

Unfortunately, it will not be easy to restore this supply chain after it had been severely impacted

China Trade Standstill More Bad News for Farmers - American Farm Bureau Federation

China’s announcement that it will not buy any agricultural products from the United States is a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by...

“Farm Bureau economists tell us exports to China were down by $1.3 billion during the first half of the year. Now, we stand to lose all of what was a $9.1 billion market in 2018, which was down sharply from the $19.5 billion U.S. farmers exported to China in 2017.

President Trump effectively promised more bailouts for farmers this morning:

[视频]人民日报署名文章:不能没有的公平

CCTV evening news broadcast Wuyuehe’s commentary in Tuesday’s People’s Daily 不能没有的公平(国际论坛)page 3 saying China stops further ag purchases because it is necessary to punish the mercurial Trump administration for no honoring its own promises. It again said China will not compromise for pressure and the US needs to return to the correct path of negotiating in good faith.

大国岂能不负责任(钟声)——评美国一些人的背信弃义③

Third in series of People's Daily Zhong Sheng “commentaries on the lack of credibility of some people in the US”. Without naming Trump, the commentary again lambasted the US for reneging on its trade promise, pulling out from the Paris agreement and UNICEF, saying “people find it hard to understand how could a major power so influential in the world be so irresponsible”.

CCTV Evening News - August 6

5 items on the Tuesday CCTV Evening News condemning the currency manipulator designation

China can withstand a long-lasting trade war, say experts - CGTN

The trade war between China and the United States could go on for another decade and hurt Americans more, experts warned on Monday during a seminar at the Renmin University of China, where 10 Chinese academics gave their analyses on the ongoing dispute. They believe that with strategic thinking and staying power, China can use the situation as an opportunity to upgrade its economy.

The seminar titled "Responding to Bad Faith with Strategic Resistance" came after the 12th round of bilateral trade talks last week in Shanghai.

Air China to suspend Beijing-Hawaii route starting August 27 - Reuters

Air China will suspend its flights on the Beijing-Hawaii route from Aug. 27 after a review of its network, China's flagship carrier said on Tuesday, as travel demand remains weak amid an escalating U.S.-China trade war.


4. Huawei

The beginning of the end for a China trade deal - POLITICO

What’s next for Huawei? China’s decision to halt U.S. agriculture purchases likely zapped any positive movement by the U.S. to grant export licenses for blacklisted company Huawei. U.S. chipmakers that badly wanted to resume sales to the Chinese telecommunications company had been told those licenses would be coming soon, according to industry sources. One source close to the process says they’re now on hold indefinitely.

Huawei smartphone with HongMeng OS goes on sale in Q4, priced at 2,000 yuan: sources - Global Times

Huawei is busy testing its smartphone armed with self-developed HongMeng operating system (OS), and the phone could be put into the market at the end of this year, targeting low- and medium-end markets and priced at around 2,000 yuan ($288.24) to attract software developers and users to join the ecosystem, sources said.

Huawei is set to release the much-anticipated HongMeng OS, an alternative to Google's Android OS, at Huawei's Developer Conference on August 9 in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province.

Chinese scholars establish own academic evaluation system following IEEE’s Huawei ban - Global Times

Chinese researchers realized the importance of raising their voices in the global academic field after the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - the world's largest technical professional organization - temporarily banned Huawei employees from being peer reviewers or editors in late May.

In order to bolster the confidence of Chinese researchers to participate in the peer review process for international journals, China Academy of Social Sciences Evaluation Studies (CASSES) organized a Beijing-based training workshop for Chinese researchers on Friday together with International academic publisher Taylor & Francis Group. 

"I don't think 'IEEE cases' will stop. It may happen again, probably with another institution in the near future… In the context of global competition, it is inevitable that China's academia will get a raw deal, even vicious encirclement and suppression, if it wants to have a say and occupy a particular position on the global stage," Jing Linbo, dean of CASSES, told the Global Times.

China warns India of "reverse sanctions" if Huawei is blocked - Reuters

China has told India not to block its Huawei Technologies from doing business in the country, warning there could be consequences for Indian firms operating in China, sources with knowledge of the matter said.


5. Expansion for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Comment: Not a good sign they are still trying to ring-fence things inside FTZs, and hard to get too excited about this one given the progress of the much-hyped original Shanghai FTZ

Coastal hub upgraded in trade zone expansion - SHINE News

Shanghai’s free trade zone is being expanded to include Lingang on the city’s southeast coast, where Tesla is building its first overseas factory and the world’s largest planetarium is under construction.

The Ministry of Commerce and city officials on Tuesday formally announced that the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone will expand from 120 square kilometers to 240 square kilometers. It is the second expansion since the zone was created in September 2013.

Lingang will be given greater access to and control over autonomous development, autonomous reform and autonomous innovation, Wang Shouwen, vice commerce minister, told a press conference in Beijing...

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the inclusion of Lingang will promote high quality development and continue the process of market reform and trade innovation.

“Unlike the existing pilot free trade zones, the new area of Shanghai FTZ is not simply the expansion of the space or the translation of the policies of the pilot free trade zones, but to implement institutional innovation in a broader field, at a higher level and with greater efforts to promote reform and opening-up,” he said.

China issues overall plan for new area of Shanghai FTZ - Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the inclusion of Lingang will promote high quality development and continue the process of market reform and trade innovation.

“Unlike the existing pilot free trade zones, the new area of Shanghai FTZ is not simply the expansion of the space or the translation of the policies of the pilot free trade zones, but to implement institutional innovation in a broader field, at a higher level and with greater efforts to promote reform and opening-up,” he said.


6. Xinjiang

Pence signals openness to human rights sanctions over China's detention of Uighur Muslims - Axios

Vice President Mike Pence has signaled that the Trump administration is open to using the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction top officials in Xinjiang, China, where more than 1 million Uighur Muslims are being held in internment camps, according to a Chinese religious freedom advocate who met with Pence at the White House Monday.

Driving the news: Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, said that Pence also told him that he planned to give a second speech about China in the fall to address religious freedom issues. Beijing has been paying close attention to Pence's plans for a second speech, as the vice president has been at the forefront of the administration's confrontation with China. So hawkish was a speech Pence gave in October that the New York Times framed it as a portent of a "New Cold War."

Behind the scenes: Fu told Axios he sat next to Pence at the meeting and handed him a list of 9 officials, including Chen Quanguo — the Chinese Communist Party's secretary of Xinjiang who has been dubbed the brains behind the detention camps. Fu said Pence made no commitments but told him he would personally follow up about the recommendation to sanction the individuals. Pence's office did not respond to requests for comment.

A Uighur Muslim Man Is Stuck In Qatar's Airport To Avoid Being Deported To China

The man, Ablikim Yusuf, 53, is stuck at the airport in Doha and was originally set to be put on a flight to Beijing on Saturday. Instead, according to a lawyer and activists who have been in touch with him, authorities in Qatar have granted him 24 hours to find another country willing to accept him.

The US has taken him in:


7. Anger over Kashmir moves

China calls UT status for Ladakh ‘unacceptable’, triggers India’s sharp response | india news | Hindustan Times

China on Tuesday said India should avoid “unilateral actions” in Jammu and Kashmir that could spark tensions in the region even as it described New Delhi’s decision to reorganise Ladakh as a union territory as “unacceptable”.

In a swift response, India’s external affairs ministry rejected the Chinese criticism and said the proposal to form a new union territory of Ladkah was an “internal matter”. It also pointed out the two sides had agreed to maintain peace along their disputed border until a mutually acceptable solution is found to the issue.

Beijing’s strong response came a day after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and proposed splitting the state into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

India's Ladakh Buddhist enclave jubilant at new status but China angered - Reuters

The Buddhist enclave of Ladakh cheered India’s move to hive it off from Jammu and Kashmir state, a change that could spur tourism and help New Delhi counter China’s influence in the contested western Himalayas...

“The fact that India took this move ... can be seen as one way that India is trying to counter growing Chinese influence in the region,” said Sameer Patil, a Mumbai-based fellow in international security studies at the Gateway House think-tank.


8. Who knew He Jiankui was gene-editing babies?

The untold story of the ‘circle of trust’ behind the world’s first gene-edited babies | Science | AAAS

Because the Chinese government has revealed little and He is not talking, key questions about his actions are hard to answer. Many of his colleagues and confidants also ignored Science's requests for interviews. But Ryan Ferrell, a public relations specialist He hired, has cataloged five dozen people who were not part of the study but knew or suspected what He was doing before it became public. Ferrell calls it He's circle of trust.

That circle included leading scientists—among them a Nobel laureate—in China and the United States, business executives, an entrepreneur connected to venture capitalists, authors of the NASEM report, a controversial U.S. IVF specialist who discussed opening a gene-editing clinic with He, and at least one Chinese politician. "He had an awful lot of company to be called a ‘rogue,’" says geneticist George Church, a CRISPR pioneer at Harvard University who was not in the circle of trust and is one of the few scientists to defend at least some aspects of He's experiment.

Some people sharply criticized He when he brought them into the circle; others appear to have welcomed his plans or did nothing


Business, Economy and Trade

中国经济在走上坡路(评论员观察)Another commentary in People’s Daily saying Chinese economy is heading uphill, and even if on paper it may seems that growth is slowing, but the economy is still “full of resilience and power”.

China Host to 4588 Banks, Big Five State-owned Lenders Account for 37% of Assets - China Banking News As of the end of 2018 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB) and Bank of Communications (BOCOM) had total assets of 105 trillion yuan, jointly accounting for 37% of Chinese banking sector assets according to data on the domestic financial sector released by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) on 5 August. Their collective deposit balance was 76 trillion yuan, accounting 44% of the sector-wide total, while their collective loan balance was 58 trillion yuan, for a 38% sector-wide total.

Completion of tunnels in Tibet rail line within reach - China Daily The 9,240-meter Bukamu Tunnel is located in Manling county of the region's eastern Nyingchi city. According to the China Railway 17th Bureau Group, and it is also the 37th tunnel to be completed for this section, leaving 10 other tunnels to be finished by the end of the year.

Politics and Law

Xi encourages villagers to vitalize rural areas - Xinhua President Xi Jinping has encouraged villagers living deep in the mountains in east China's Fujian Province to continuously forge ahead and vitalize the rural areas. Xi,...made the remarks on Sunday when replying to a letter from residents of Xiadang Township, Shouning County of Fujian Province. In the letter to Xi, the villagers said that they had shaken off poverty, and expressed their gratitude to the CPC Central Committee and the general secretary. 习近平回信勉励福建寿宁县下党乡的乡亲们 继续发扬滴水穿石的精神 努力走出一条具有闽东特色的乡村振兴之路

习近平:当年“三进下党”的场景,我至今还历历在目 The state-run Study Xi Group wechat account published an article about the days of Xi working in Fujian as a municipal party boss in 1980s. Interesting to know from here that in the summer of 1989, when Beijing is full of student protesters, Xi was meeting farmers to discuss their livelihoods.

Chinese Policymaker Probed Over Dual Citizenship - SixthTone Sun Xiang, a National People’s Congress delegate from the northern Hebei province, has been a citizen of the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis since 2011, according to an anonymous post Sunday on microblogging platform Weibo. The post further alleged that Sun never forfeited his Chinese citizenship: Under national law, China does not recognize dual nationality.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China keeps expanding global network of partnerships - People's Daily "Ren Huanyu" China is embarking on a new path of state-to-state relations where dialogue and partnership prevail over confrontation and alliance, which further highlights the value of the global partnership network. The country steadfastly upholds rules-based multilateralism and the UN-centered international system, and promotes a global governance system of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It is also safeguarding international justice and promoting the building of a new type of international relations.

China vows to counter US deployment of midrange arms in Asia - AP China said Tuesday that it “will not stand idly by” and will take countermeasures if the U.S. deploys intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, which Washington has said it plans to do within months. The statement from the director of the foreign ministry’s Arms Control Department, Fu Cong, follows the U.S.’s withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

With China, Russia in Mind, Pentagon Adding Stealthy Cruise Missiles - Defense One The demand for the weapon — called the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM (pronounced jazz-’em) — is so high that it has prompted manufacturer Lockheed Martin to break ground in May on a new 225,000-square-foot production factory in Alabama.

China might escort ships in Gulf under U.S. proposal: envoy - Reuters China might escort Chinese commercial vessels in Gulf waters under a U.S. proposal for a maritime coalition to secure oil shipping lanes following attacks on tankers

Duterte allows stamping of China passports with 9-dash line image - Rappler President Rodrigo Duterte agrees to end the implementation of a 7-year-old Philippine government policy that served as a form of protest against China's inclusion of its 9-dash line in its e-passports

Another sea trial for China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier ‘suggests technical problems’ | South China Morning Post Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, said the back-to-back sea trials indicated there could be technical issues with the warship. “The fact the aircraft carrier needed to be tested again within two days suggests that the navy may have found some technical problems in last week’s sea trial that needed to be fixed immediately,” he said. “It’s fairly typical before an aircraft carrier is officially commissioned – we can expect to see more intensive sea trials in the future.”

Taiwan

Popular Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je offers ‘another choice’ with launch of new political party | South China Morning Post Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, 60, said he wanted to change Taiwan’s political culture and offer people “another choice” beside the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Harry Potter website changes listing from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China” following online uproar – Shanghaiist By Sunday, the sign-up page for the Wizarding World website had changed yet again. “Country” had become “Country/Region” and “Taiwan” had become “Taiwan, China” with Hong Kong and Macau listed in the same way.

Tech and Media

Vivendi turns to Tencent to gain Universal foothold in China - Reuters Vivendi (VIV.PA) is in talks to sell up to 20% of Universal Music Group (UMG) to Tencent (0700.HK), valuing its prized asset at around 30 billion euros ($34 billion)

Tencent aims to challenge Douyin with $1.5 billion investment in Kuaishou · TechNode 

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

The Bride, the Groom and the Greek Sunset: A Perfect Wedding Picture - The New York Times To profit off the Chinese market, Greek photographers have developed websites with galleries of stunning brides-to-be stretching languorously or leading white horses on the beach...

Rapper cuts finger off in livestream over sex scandal - Global Times 

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