Media watch: Trump tariffs, NATO, EU and human rights pressure on China

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(L-R) Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg look on as Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel speaks during a working dinner meeting at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017 during a NATO summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matt Dunham (Photo credit should read MATT DUNHAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump says China tariffs could stay in place for a ‘substantial period of time’ as trade deal develops

Q    On the China trade deal, once you have an agreement with President Xi, will you immediately lift the China tariffs?  Will you remove the tariffs right away?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  We’re not talking about removing them.  We’re talking about leaving them and for a substantial period of time, because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal.  Because they’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals and we have to make sure.

Now, no President has ever done what I’ve done with China.  China had free reign over our country, taking out $500 billion a year for many years.  We actually rebuilt China, in the truest sense of the word.  We rebuilt China.

But we’re getting along with China very well.  President Xi is a friend of mine.  The deal is coming along nicely.  We have our top representatives going there this weekend to further the deal.  But, no, we have — we’re taking in billions and billions of dollars right now in tariff money.  And for a period of time, that will stay.

  • Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure (March 20)

Trump Wants NATO’s Eyes on China

The Trump administration is pushing NATO to address potential threats from China in its day-to-day work in Brussels and at an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers in Washington next month, U.S. and European officials say. The move is part of a shift in American priorities away from fighting Islamist terrorists and toward a so-called era of great power competition.

For months, the administration has been working to persuade Europeans to rebuff Chinese investment in the continent’s critical infrastructure and telecommunications networks. The campaign has received a lukewarm reception in some parts of Europe, where U.S. allies are already troubled by the U.S.-China trade war and President Donald Trump’s hostile jabs at the European Union and NATO.

The Trump administration says countering Beijing’s cyber and commercial power should be a priority for the alliance.

-Foreign Policy

Italy’s plan to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative ruffles feathers

CHINA’S PRESIDENT, Xi Jinping, is due to land in Rome on March 21st. His itinerary will include a state dinner, accompanied by a performance by Andrea Bocelli, an Italian opera star. Even more enjoyable for Mr Xi will be welcoming Italy into his “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), a programme of infrastructure projects that spans Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa. Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, hopes the planned agreement, due to be signed on March 23rd, will boost Italian exports to China. But the accord has caused consternation both within his government and among Italy’s traditional allies.

The BRI is China’s project to create a modern-day Silk Road, the ancient network of trade routes which connected east and west. Billions of dollars have been invested since it was launched in 2013 across more than 60 countries, in disparate infrastructure projects including railways, roads and ports. Some estimates of the total investment over the coming years run to $1trn or more.

-The Economist

Muslim countries urged to press China end crackdown of Uighurs

A group of visiting Uighur Muslim scholars originally from China’s Xinjiang province has urged Muslim-majority countries to press China to end its “cultural war” against their ethnic compatriots.

According to a United Nations panel, more than one million Uighurs and other Muslims are held in what rights groups and activists call mass detention centres in the remote western region – a charge denied by Beijing.

During a visit to Qatar’s capital, Doha, leaders from the Turkey-based Society of the Muslim Scholars of East Turkistan (SMSET) accused Beijing of engaging in systematic human rights violations of Uighurs in a bid to erase their cultural and religious heritage.

  • Aljareeza

China to invite European diplomats to Xinjiang in new diplomatic push

China will invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit its far western region of Xinjiang, the foreign ministry told Reuters, furthering its outreach to fend off criticism about a de-radicalization program.

The visit would be the first by a large group of Western diplomats to the region as China faces growing opprobrium from Western capitals and rights groups for setting up facilities that U.N. experts describe as detention centers holding more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

Several diplomatic sources said the invitation to visit by the end of March had been issued informally, specifically to ambassadors, with one source describing it as a “sounding out” of interest, and the government had not explicitly said who they would meet or where they would go.

It is also not clear if the Europeans would accept the invitation, or how many of their diplomats or ambassadors would go.

Last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

Diplomats say the government never responded to that letter, aside from publicly denouncing it as a violation of diplomatic norms.

-Reuters

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