Posts Tagged ‘China’

Global stock markets gain as investors predict cautious Federal Reserve – as it happened

Central banks in spotlight amid Brexit uncertainty and growth concerns

A placid day on global stock markets has been enlivened by a series of big-money corporate announcements.

Shares in Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have both risen after they finally confirmed that merger talks are going on. There is still a long way to go politically and financially before any deal is finalised, but the German government will be hoping that it can spur the creation of national champion after a decade of malaise for the country’s banking sector.

Related: No 10 says it won't call Brexit vote this week unless it has 'prospect of success' - Politics live

Sterling has come under some more pressure this afternoon, with little sign of the breakthrough needed in the Brexit vote to get a deal through parliament.

The pound is now down by 0.6% against the euro and 0.4% against the US dollar (see chart).

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News review – 18 March 2019

News review – 18 March 2019

Withdrawal Agreement

Theresa May will cancel plans to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal this week if she does not believe she can win it, ministers revealed on Sunday. Instead, Downing Street is understood to be discussing an alternative strategy of holding the vote the week after, cranking up the pressure on MPs to back the deal or accept the blame for a lengthy delay. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said there would be “no point” in holding the vote “if we had no chance of winning”.

Theresa May could pull this week’s planned Brexit vote if it looks like she is going to lose a third time, Cabinet Ministers warned. The Prime Minister wants to try for third time lucky this week before flying to a crunch Brussels summit on Thursday. Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted it was now “physically impossible” for the UK to Leave on March 29 as promised. Mrs May will ask EU chiefs to delay our departure until June, if MPs back her deal.

BBC News
Theresa May’s Brexit deal will not return to the Commons this week unless it has support from the DUP and Tory MPs, the chancellor says. The PM’s plan is expected to be voted on for a third time in the coming days. But Philip Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that it would only be put to MPs if “enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it”. He did not rule out a financial settlement for Northern Ireland if the DUP backed the deal.

Boris Johnson has urged Eurosceptic MPs to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time if it is put to the vote this week as he warns it gives the EU “an indefinite means of blackmail” against the UK. In a major blow to the Prime Minister’s hopes of getting her deal through Parliament before Thursday’s EU summit, the former foreign secretary paints the Government as collaborators in “the final sabotage of Brexit” just 11 days before Britain is due to leave the EU.

BORIS JOHNSON has warned the EU will use the Irish backstop arrangement as a means of blackmail throughout Brexit negotiations. The former Foreign Secretary who openly opposes Theresa’s May’s Brexit deal said it would be “detrimental” to the UK and risks the country becoming an “economic colony of Brussels”. He added the UK will be in a “weak” position if the Prime Minister’s deal is voted through. The Conservative MP highlighted taxpayers’ would hand over huge sums of money to the EU for “nothing in return”.

In yet another blow for the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has urged Theresa May to postpone the Brexit deal vote. Mr Johnson last night urged MPs to vote down Mrs May’s deal for a third time if it is put to a vote this week. But the under-pressure PM, also received a string of major endorsements that will give her fresh hope the deal could pass within days. Mr Johnson warned in his Daily Telegraph column that it gives the EU an ‘indefinite means of blackmail’ against the UK.

Theresa May secured the backing of some staunch Brexiteers for her deal after personally lobbying MPs but last night remained significantly short of the number she needs to win a vote this week. Esther McVey, the former work and pensions secretary who quit over Brexit, confirmed her support yesterday after hinting late last week that she could back the deal. Charlie Elphicke, a member of the European Research Group and former whip, also suggested that he could vote for the deal but linked his support to Mrs May standing down before the next stage of EU negotiations.

The British government does not yet have the support of enough lawmakers to win a parliamentary vote on its Brexit deal but a “significant number” of colleagues are coming around to back the plan, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to bring her deal back to parliament for a third vote this week, but Hammond said it would only go ahead if the government thought it could win.

Conservative Party

Tory leadership hopefuls have “stepped up a gear” in making their pitches to replace Theresa May as pressure mounts on the prime minister to set a date for leaving Downing Street. Rivals have undertaken a flurry of activity both behind the scenes and in the media as speculation grows that Ms May will announce her departure in the coming weeks. The expectation has been fuelled by signals that Conservative MPs whose votes the prime minister desperately needs to pass her Brexit deal would back her plan if she sets out her departure schedule.

HARDLINE Brexiteers could join forces with Labour MPs to try to topple Theresa May this week. Jeremy Corbyn yesterday revealed he will table another confidence motion in the PM if her Brexit deal is defeated again this week. Tory Brexiteers desperate to see her go could break ranks and back the explosive move. Mr Corbyn told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The government is apparently going to bring its proposals once again to Parliament this week. “I suspect they’ll be defeated again.

Theresa May should make a “dignified departure,” says former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey, who confirmed she was prepared to stand for the leadership. The former Work and Pensions Secretary said the collapse in Cabinet discipline had made the Prime Minister’s position “very dubious” and she should consider setting out a timetable for her departure by the Summer in order to get her Brexit deal through Parliament

Moves to topple Theresa May are gaining momentum with a string of Tories signalling her resignation could be the only way to “move the dial” and ensure her Brexit deal is passed. Several backbenchers openly said it was time for the prime minister to quit after recent votes exposed irreconcilable divisions in the Conservative Party from the cabinet down. Others reported that the PM’s lieutenants have engaged with the idea, sounding out MPs over whether they would vote for Ms May’s Brexit plan if she gave a clearer schedule for her departure.

DOWNING Street officials have ordered Conservative MEPs to begin preparations for the upcoming European elections amid growing concerns that Brexit will be delayed, sources revealed today. The Conservative delegation in Brussels have been asked to reflect on whether they wish to stand again as a British MEP. has obtained a note from Ashley Fox, the leader of Tory MEPs, sent to his 17 colleagues after close consultation with Downing Street officials.


Theresa May will embark on a final desperate scramble to win the Democratic Unionist party’s backing for her Brexit deal on Monday, in the hope that it could unlock parliament’s support at the third time of asking.  With several prominent Brexiters, including the former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, now willing to switch their vote and support the deal, government sources said they hoped DUP backing could create “a sense of momentum”.

The DUP’s potentially critical support for Theresa May’s deal is going to be reliant on them having a big role in the negotiations moving forward. May needs the support of the 10 DUP MPs to have any chance of getting her deal through, especially as it would likely reassure Tory Brexiteer MPs on the backstop sufficiently, allowing them to back the deal as well. Jacob Rees-Mogg is one example of an influential figure who reportedly would back the deal if the DUP did so.

Philip Hammond has said he will review cash granted to Northern Ireland in the coming months, amid claims the government is trying to buy the support of DUP MPs for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The chancellor said that current discussions with the DUP are not about money but “political assurances”, but highlighted funding for Northern Ireland would be looked at soon as part of a scheduled spending review.

ULSTER unionist MPs were yesterday given a St Patrick’s Day gift — the prospect of extra cash for Northern Ireland if they back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Cabinet Ministers are locked in crunch talks with the DUP’s ten MPs. If they switch it would pave the way for Tory Brexiteers to finally support it too. In a dramatic intervention last night two architects of the Good Friday Agreement — Lord Trimble and Lord Bew — signalled they were ready to back the deal.

Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he could launch a fresh bid to oust Theresa May if her Brexit deal is rejected by MPs for a third time. The Labour leader said it would be ‘appropriate’ to table another confidence motion in the Government at that point. Mr Corbyn also indicated that his party could back an amendment calling for a referendum on a Brexit deal, although he would not set out which side he would be on in another public vote.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that his party will be supporting an amendment by MPs for a truly dire referendum: Theresa May’s deal vs. not leaving the European Union at all. What an absolute disgrace. Corbyn told Ridge on Sunday that his party backs a “credible choice referendum” and will back an amendment put forward to put the bad deal against remaining in the EU in a second referendum.

Morning Star
JEREMY CORBYN is poised to launch a motion of no confidence in the government if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected by MPs for a third time this week. The Labour leader said today that it would be “appropriate” to table another confidence motion in the government with the view to trigger a general election. A third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement could take place as soon as tomorrow evening. Last week the deal was rejected by a majority of 149 MPs. In January it was rejected by a majority of 230.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he could vote to leave the EU if there is another Brexit referendum. Mr Corbyn said how he voted in any future referendum giving the British public a Final Say on Brexit would depend on the withdrawal deal which is on offer at the time. He gave a heavily caveated answer when asked if he was “enthusiastic” about the idea of a new referendum, and said that his party might back an amendment calling for one depending on its wording.

Local democracy

Plans to use citizens’ assemblies and local polls to get voters more engaged with politics have been dismantled after the deadlock over Brexit prompted ministers to have second thoughts. The government came close to abandoning the scheme but instead dropped all proposals to put controversial issues to people and approved three schemes. The change of plan has caused dismay in Whitehall and angered campaigners who say that people should be given more opportunities to get involved in local decision-making.


Italy is selling itself lock, stock, and barrel to the Chinese Communist Party, flouting the EU’s tough new line on Beijing and openly taunting the Franco-German axis. The techno-utopian Five Star Movement is chiefly responsible for this effusive embrace of Xi Jinping’s authoritarian model. Its leaders suppose there to be a pot of gold in the Middle Kingdom, available to buy Italy’s bonds and to pay for Rome’s unaffordable spending plans.   It is a way to take revenge against the EU policy elites for years of enforced austerity and their failure to deliver on ‘New Deal’ promises of an investment blitz.

President Macron has faced criticism after a rampage of arson and looting at a yellow-vest protest in Paris took place while he was on a skiing break. Political opponents on both sides accused Mr Macron of weakness, the right accusing him of allowing rioting in order to strengthen his own hand after several hundred ultra-violent “wreckers” laid waste to a stretch of the Champs Elysées and hundreds of yellow-vest demonstrators smashed shops, cafés and banks.

Anti-government protesters hurled rocks and paving slabs at police, looted boutiques, smashed up a luxury restaurant on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysées and set a bank on fire on Saturday. A mother and her baby trapped on the second floor of the building, as flames surged up from the bank branch on the ground floor, were rescued by firefighters. The bank offices were gutted and 11 people were slightly injured, including two police officers. Smoke and tear gas shrouded the Champs-Elysées and at least 109 people were arrested in the worst outbreak of violence on the fringes of a “yellow vest” demonstration in Paris for several weeks.

Fox News
Paris is cleaning up one of the world’s most glamorous avenues after resurgent rioting by yellow vest protesters stunned the nation. Luxury stores, restaurants and banks on the Champs-Elysees assessed damage Sunday after they were ransacked or blackened by life-threatening fires.  Tourists took pictures as shop owners tried to repair broken windows and city workers scrubbed away graffiti.

Germany is a prime target for Russian meddling in the European parliamentary elections in May, a spy agency has warned. The Kremlin is stirring up support for Eurosceptic parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the French National Rally in an effort to build a right-wing populist international bloc that would project its interests in Brussels, the Estonian foreign intelligence service (Efis) said.

EUROSTAR passengers face days more chaos as the firm warned passengers not to travel to Paris. Crowds queued for hours as four London-bound train were axed today – and another three will not run on Monday with more cancellations throughout the week. The cross-Channel chaos has now stretched into a third week as French customs officers demanding a Brexit pay rise are “working to rule” and imposing extra checks on passengers. Eurostar said on its website today: “We recommend not to travel unless absolutely necessary.”


Plans to scrap tariffs on the bulk of UK imports would reduce the short-term damage of a disorderly no-deal Brexit by up to £10 billion, according to economists. Official estimates of the hit to GDP from leaving the EU without a deal or a transition have been calculated on the assumption that Britain mirrors the EU’s external tariff schedule. However, the government said last week that tariffs would be made zero on all but 5 per cent of imports.


Language used on NHS websites is being made more understandable for patients. The word nausea has been replaced by feeling sick, while a haemorrhage is to be referred to as a very heavy bleed. The move is part of a drive to make NHS literature more user-friendly by September 2020. The writing guide was created based on feedback from more than 10,000 people who were polled on word use. In a blog post on the NHS Digital website, content designer Sara Wilcox argued that using simpler language could save lives.

POO will replace the words “stools” and “faeces” on NHS websites to stop patients getting confused. Other words deemed too technical and set to be axed from health service material include “urinate” and “nausea”. As part of a plain English drive, NHS literature will instead refer to “pee” and “feeling sick”. And the word “oral” will be replaced with “mouth” for easier understanding. Research by NHS.UK Standards – the team behind the official website – found words like poo were preferred by all patients, no matter their educational level.

NHS bodies are risking babies’ health by accepting money from milk formula companies in breach of World Health Organization rules, an investigation has found. Nearly a third of local commissioners responsible for allocating NHS cash have breached guidelines such as by accepting payments or sponsorship over the last five years, the survey revealed. The international code of practice is intended to protect breastfeeding and regulate the often aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes.

A third of NHS health boards have broken guidelines by accepting payments or sponsorship from baby formula companies, an investigation has revealed. The marketing of infant formula is strictly regulated to try to halt plummeting rates of breastfeeding. Companies are not allowed to advertise or promote formula designed for infants under the age of six months, and the World Health Organisation code of practice says no medical organisation or doctor should accept payments from formula firms.

Air travel

Airline passengers have been banned from drinking duty-free wine and spirits on flights because of growing concerns over alcohol-fuelled air rage, The Times has learnt. Rules have been introduced that require all duty-free alcohol to be placed in sealed bags to stop travellers opening bottles until well after their aircraft has landed. The system is being employed by World Duty Free, the sole provider of duty-free shops at most large airports in Britain, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

Air passengers buying duty-free alcohol at Britain’s biggest airports will have it put in sealed bags to cut drink-fuelled violence. Beers, wine and spirits will be kept in carriers marked ‘do not open’ until holidaymakers have landed’, the Times reported. Opening bottles on flights is already against most airlines’ rules. The policy will be introduced by World Duty Free, which runs 22 stores in airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

FLIGHT prices to EU countries are plummeting with the uncertainty over Brexit. So your Daily Star scoured the web for the best deal and discovered canny Brits can jet off to the French city of Toulouse for less than a tenner. Ryanair is offering the £9.99 deal, and a return trip stretches to just £35 on March 29 – the day Britain is due to leave the EU. Toulouse is in south-west France, a two hour flight from the UK, and has plenty to attract the thrifty Brit.

Tax scam

The conmen behind a scam robbing taxpayers of millions of pounds can be exposed by the Daily Mail today. Working from a ramshackle office in India, they pose as HMRC officials to terrorise up to 10,000 Britons a day. Victims are told they owe tax and face arrest and imprisonment if they do not pay up instantly. Some have lost as much as £20,000. HMRC staff dealt with 330 repayment fraud cases a day in the six months to January – 60,000 in all and 360 per cent up on the previous half-year.

The post News review – 18 March 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Analysis: China’s Silk Road Eyes G7 Nations

Russian and Chinese Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping at the Kremlin, Russia on 4 July 2017. The Silk Road runs through parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and aligns with Russia’s strategic interests [PPIO]

Thirteenth Century adventurer and explorer Marco Polo opened Europe to China when he journeyed from his home in Venice to then capital Peking (now Beijing).

He chronicled his trip on the legendary Silk Road in a series of writings which introduced Europeans to the splendor and wealth of China.

The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C. The 6,000-km road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.

Trade conducted along the Silk Road reached much of Arabia and the eastern Africa and allowed for a proliferation of not just tradeable commodities like spices and textiles, but science and technology.

Nearly 750 years after Marco Polo used the Silk Road, Italy is again looking to connect to the trade route through a number of exchange and commercial deals with China.

Italian officials have said they are still in talks with their Chinese counterparts to sign a memorandum of understanding, possibly before President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Rome on March 20-22.

That a central European and Mediterranean economic influencer like Italy could join China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is not to be understimated.

As Europe reels with the prospect of Brexit, Italy would become the first G7 country to join the Initiative. And given Europe’s recent recession – Italy’s central bank forecasts just 0.6 per cent growth in 2019 after two consecutive quarters of contraction in 2018 – Chinese investments could be a saving grace.

In fact, the scenario is pretty much the same throughout most of the eurozone. On March 7, 2019, the European Central Bank slashed its growth forecast for the 19-member economic zone from 1.7 per cent to 1.1 per cent for 2019.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has already admitted, according to Reuters, that the Initiative would be a boon for his country.

“With all the necessary precautions, Italy’s accession to a new silk route represents an opportunity for our country,” Conte told a foreign policy seminar in the northern city of Genoa, as reported by Reuters on March 9.

Media reports have already speculated that the US is not happy with Italy’s decision.

The Initiative is core to Xi’s vision to expand China’s economic prowess westward; it has become all the more crucial in light of Chinese admission that GDP growth has slowed significantly over the past ten years, from double digits to just six per cent projected for 2020.

Xi wants to revive the splendor of the ancient Silk Road to create an Economic Belt – a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to facilitate lucrative trade deals with the West and thereby entrench Chinese influence over an area of several thousand kilometers spanning dozens of countries.

In 2014, the Initiative was originally designed to boost Asia-Pacific connectivity, perhaps as a balance to US efforts to create the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP, which was torpedoed by US President Donald Trump when he withdrew from the effort in his first foreign policy amendment since taking office, had been drawn up to break China’s overwhelming influence in the Asia-Pacific.

It also coincided with growing US naval alarm at China’s efforts to consolidate its hold on most of the South China Sea maritime territory, a large mineral and energy-rich area it claimed as historically its own.

But since then, and getting a kickstart from China’s initial $40-billion investment largely in infrastructure in the Silk Road, Beijing has also looked westward. Its financial commitment to the Initiative has soared to nearly $150 billion, with billions provided to developing countries for critical infrastructure-building.

When Xi became the Chinese leader, the Chinese plans for the Silk Road were designed to traverse through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Since then, Egypt has been added as an important partner.

Both Iran and Russia have been hit by sustained US sanctions, so signing on to China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative is a smart, strategic move. Meanwhile, Turkey continues to move further from NATO partner the US [PPIO]

During EU-Chine trade talks in 2016, Xi announced that Beijing was investing billions of euros in European infrastructure projects. Then European Commissioner for Trade Anna Malmstrom said that China’s growth and investments in Europe were opening a new “economic frontier” for European businesses.

A new frontier built on ancient trade routes. In January 2017, Chinese train service returned the Marco Polo favor and expanded its pan-European railway destinations when a train left Yiwu West station in the eastern Zhejiang province headed for Barking Station in London.

The journey covers an incredible 12,000 kilometers and passes through Kazakhstan into Russia, Poland, and Germany before crossing the Chunnel in France.

At the Davos World Economic Summit in 2017, Xi was seen as a golden child of investment, particularly amid US moves to pull out of multilateral treaties, such as the Paris Climate Accord.

“We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development, establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules and boost the orderly flow of production factors, efficient resources allocation and full market integration,” he said at Davos in 2017.

“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Xi added.

European investments in China account for millions of jobs in the EU. And, according to official Chinese data, Europe exported more than $650 billion in goods to China in 2018. That was up by more than 20 per cent from the year before – a staggering growth cycle.

The same data showed that China had exported its goods and products to Europe to the figure of $774 billion.

So, it’s not really surprising that the Shanghai Belt and Road Brand Expo attracted more than 200 companies from 40 countries in July 2018.

That number is expected to rise.

With investments and agreements to build highways, electric power plants, and other critical projects in over 80 countries, including those hit by sanctions such as Iran and Russia, China knows the iron is hot for it to expand the scope of the Initiative.

This also comes as China is angered at North American moves to hinder access of its most advanced telecom companies to global markets. Case in point is US pressure to ban Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei from selling goods and services in North American markets citing industrial and other forms of espionage as a result of direct involvement with the Chinese military and government.

Beijing has repeatedly denied those allegations and last week the company filed a lawsuit against the US government saying its actions against Huawei were unconstitutional.

This spat comes amid efforts by American and Chinese trade negotiators to reach a deal which would help both countries avoid increasing tariffs on billions of dollars of products.

It is holding another One Belt One Road Summit in Beijing in April.

And yes, Italy has already said it will send a high-level delegation.

By Firas Al-Atraqchi for The BRICS Post

China-Russia ties to enter ‘new stage’

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on 14 May 2017 [PPIO]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has confirmed that President Xi Jinping will visit Russia and meet President Vladimir Putin to take their strategic ties to a “new stage”.

The two leaders and BRICS allies have met several times in the past year and share a very close view of world affairs. Both are strong proponents of multilateralism and both have opposed the US policy of isolationism.

Wang said that the world is a more stable place when China and Russia “stand together”.

“China-Russia cooperation in the spheres of trade and economy, energy, scientific and technical innovation, finance and investment, as well as agriculture and infrastructure construction are moving along a ‘high-speed highway,'” Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui told Russian media.

Chinese-Russian relations were first established in 1949. Both countries will be holding a number of events to commemmorate their 70-year relationship.

In the past few years, and since establishing BRICS in 2008, the two countries have held numerous war exercises together.

Most noticeable, however, is how they boosted economic ties, particularly in the wake of European and US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine and Crimea.

In May 2014, Putin and Xi singed a landmark $400 billion gas deal under which Gazprom will supply the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) 38 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas every year for 30 years.

As of January 2019, the Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline is more than 80 per cent complete and runs over 1,600 kilometers.

Trade between BRICS allies China and Russia has also continued to surge since 2016.

Li said that the trade volume between the two had reached more than $107 billion in 2018, compared to $84 billion in 2016.

In the past few years, multi-sector ties have been strengthened between China and Russia.

Wang did not clarify whether the trip was to St Petersburg to attend the International Economic Forum or another trip scheduled for later in the year.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

No-deal Brexit would plunge UK economy into recession – OECD

Annual growth will fall below 1% for first time in decade even with a deal, says thinktank

A no-deal Brexit would plunge the UK economy into recession and annual growth will slip below 1% this year for this first time since the financial crisis even if a deal is secured, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned.

The thinktank, which advises 34 of the world’s richest countries, said that even with a smooth Brexit, the UK economy would slump to 0.8% growth in 2019 from 1.4% in 2018 as Brexit uncertainty and Donald Trump’s trade war with China harmed the UK’s economic prospects. In November it was forecasting 1.4% growth for the UK this year.

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