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By Mo Yelin and He Shujing / Jan 17, 2020 03:25 PM / World

The much-cheered phase-one trade deal touched on a thorny issue that has long been a major complaint by the U.S. government against China – the alleged coerced transfer of technology from its firms in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

However, the text addressing the issue of technology transfer within the deal is not too different to what China had already signed up to when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) back in 2001, according to experts.

“More additional details were laid out in the deal, which could make it more useful for actual implementation in the event of a technology transfer dispute,” said Zhu Huan, a researcher at Washington D.C.-based think tank Cato Institute, “But it is hard to tell what are new in terms of U.S. demands to China,” he said.

The specific part of text in the trade deal addressing the issue said both sides are forbidden to adopt administrative means, such as licensing requirements, to pressure technology transfer from the other side. Such wording is similar to wording in the agreement China signed to join WTO in 2001.

Read the full story today at Caixin Global

Contact: Mo Yelin (yelimo@caixin.com)

Related: Update: U.S. and China Sign Phase One Trade Deal

 


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By Ding Yi / Jan 16, 2020 01:11 PM / World

Huawei has enjoined British developers to participate in the construction of its own app ecosystem as part of the embattled Chinese tech firm’s global efforts to mitigate the effects of its U.S. trade blacklisting.

The Trump administration added Huawei to its so-called Entity List in May, forcing U.S. tech giant Google to block the Chinese company from receiving updates to the licensed version of its Android operating system that runs on many Huawei devices. The move effectively stops Huawei from running Google-developed apps on its smartphones.

That has prompted the Chinese company to court developers worldwide capable of building a replacement system. At a developers’ conference held Wednesday in London, Huawei unveiled a £20 million ($26 million) incentive plan to encourage British and Irish developers to integrate their apps into Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), an alternative to Google Mobile Services, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The company said it had launched 24 “kits” to help developers create apps for Huawei App Gallery, its equivalent to Google Play Store, broadcaster CGTN reported. In return, app developers will be given direct access to Huawei’s newest hardware and artificial intelligence technologies and earn 85% of the revenue generated from apps. Currently, Huawei takes a 30% revenue cut from most developers.

The incentive plan comes three weeks after the Economic Times, an Indian newspaper, reported that Huawei is encouraging developers in the South Asian nation to integrate their apps into HMS under a dedicated $1 billion global fund.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei to Launch Alternative to Google Mobile in India Amid Tensions With U.S.


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By Ding Yi / Jan 14, 2020 05:38 PM / World

Britain’s spy chief has made comments interpreted as being in favor of Huawei being allowed to bid for work on the U.K.’s mobile 5G network. The comments come despite U.S. lobbying to convince its allies to exclude the Chinese tech giant from their 5G wireless networks.

In an interview with the Financial Times, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker expressed confidence that the U.K.’s intelligence-sharing cooperation with the U.S. would not be damaged if Britain used Huawei technology in its next-generation mobile network.

The official also said that security concerns alone should not always “dominate and dictate” a decision especially at a time when there were so few suppliers in the telecoms infrastructure market.

Parker’s rare intervention is being interpreted as a sign that the British government might give the green light to Huawei’s involvement in some non-critical parts of the country’s 5G network. Boris Johnson’s government is expected to make a final call on whether Britain will allow Huawei to play a role in its 5G network later this month.

The U.S. has warned that intelligence sharing could be jeopardized if Huawei technology is adopted by the U.K., and British government officials are still divided on the issue. During a visit to the U.K. on Monday, a U.S. delegation including officials from the National Security Agency claimed that allowing Huawei to enter Britain’s 5G market would be “nothing short of madness,” in a last-ditch attempt to persuade London to issue a ban. They also showed new evidence to their British counterparts indicating that using Huawei equipment would put future phone networks at risk.

Huawei has consistently denied U.S. accusations that it embeds “hidden backdoors” into its equipment that the Chinese government can use for espionage. The company is still on a U.S. trade blacklist imposed in May which bans it from buying components from American firms.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Adds More Self-Made Chips to Smartphones to Cut Reliance on U.S.


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By Ding Yi / Jan 09, 2020 01:13 PM / World

WeChat Pay has launched a new service allowing Chinese students studying at South Korean universities to pay their tuition fees, in the Tencent-owned mobile payment tool’s latest effort to simplify cross-border transactions.

Chinese students at 11 higher education institutions, including the Seoul-based colleges Dongguk University and Chung-Ang University, can now use the service on a central website used by overseas students in South Korea to pay schooling fees, according to a report published Wednesday on Tencent’s news portal. The report did not mention whether the service will eventually be expanded to more universities.

According to the report, the service has shortened the payment time to “several minutes” compared with the more laborious previous process whereby Chinese students had to exchange yuan for South Korean won at local banks and then pass on the cash to their institutions, the report said.

Mobile payment systems are ubiquitous in China, but the industry’s major players have long grappled with how to adapt their services to include cross-border transactions.

Reports in November said Tencent was in talks with five international card issuers about allowing overseas cardholders to use WeChat Pay when traveling in China. Its domestic rival Alipay already has a similar function allowing foreign tourists in China to link overseas bank cards to the app.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: WeChat Pay Eyes Foreign Visitors in Race with Alipay


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By Ding Yi / Jan 06, 2020 06:26 PM / World

The U.S. government has slapped new restrictions on exports of American-made artificial intelligence software, according to Reuters.

Under the new rules, which take effect Monday, U.S. companies will need to apply for a license before exporting AI-powered geospatial imagery software to all countries except Canada, Reuters reported.

Such software could be used by sensors, drones and satellites to automatically identify targets for both military and civilian purposes, the report stated, quoting James Lewis, a tech expert from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The new measures are part of a 2018 law that aims to tighten the U.S. government’s grip on national security-related exports in a bid to prevent sensitive technologies from being used by rival powers, including China.

The U.S. government has previously imposed other trade restrictions on the sale of AI products, including one in October banning several Chinese AI firms from buying components from U.S. companies because of their roles in alleged rights violations in Xinjiang.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese AI Project Is Under Review at MIT After U.S. Blacklists Company


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By Matthew Walsh / Jan 03, 2020 12:51 PM / World

Taiwan’s two main leadership candidates said Thursday they would temporarily suspend their election campaigns after the head of the island’s armed forces and seven other people died in a helicopter crash.

Shen Yi-ming, an air force general and chief of the general staff, perished when a Black Hawk helicopter made an emergency landing on a mountainside southeast of the capital, Taipei, on the way to meet members of the military in the northeastern county of Yilan. The seven other fatalities also included high-ranking defense personnel.

A total of 13 people, comprising 10 military officials and three crew members, were on board the aircraft at the time of the crash. Five were rescued alive, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Taiwan’s military had not confirmed the cause of the crash by the time of publication.

The incident comes as Taiwan prepares to go to the polls on Jan. 11 to decide who will lead the island for the next four years. Incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking a second term, said in the wake of the crash that she would suspend all campaigning through Saturday. Her key challenger, Han Guo-yu of the Kuomintang, said he would cancel all public appearances on Friday.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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By Bloomberg / Jan 02, 2020 09:19 AM / World

David Stern, who transformed the National Basketball Association into a global, multibillion-dollar powerhouse while serving as the longest-tenured commissioner of any professional sport, has died. He was 77.

Stern died Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage approximately three weeks ago, the league said in a statement. His wife, Dianne, and their family were with him at his bedside.

Stern’s most enduring impact on the NBA may be its growth and popularity overseas, particularly in China. Long before every major U.S. sports league prioritized international growth, Stern brokered a deal with state broadcaster CCTV in China -- he mailed videotapes overseas in return for a portion of advertising revenue.

The NBA was the first league to open an office in China, and the first league to play exhibition games there. Today it has offices in a handful of Chinese cities, and 800 million people in China watch NBA programming on an annual basis. The league’s opportunity in the country is likely worth billions.

“I think he is the greatest person in NBA history,” Yao Ming, the former star Houston Rockets center from China, said when Stern retired. “He made everything happen.” Yao was one of the most important international players recruited during Stern’s tenure, helping to boost basketball in the huge Chinese market.


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By Ding Yi / Dec 31, 2019 01:18 PM / World

Embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei may be grappling with a U.S. sales ban, but the company has reportedly been approved to take part in upcoming trials of India’s 5G network.

The South Asian nation has issued all wireless operators in the country with in-principle permits to conduct 5G spectrum trials, the timing of which will be confirmed Dec. 31 when operators meet with the country’s telecoms regulators, Indian news channel CNBC-TV18 reported Monday, citing an unnamed senior official. The trials are expected to be held in January.

The news comes more than two months after Huawei agreed to sign a “no backdoor” agreement with India in an effort to reassure authorities the Chinese government will not use Huawei gear for espionage. The country expects to hold an auction for the airwaves space for its 5G services before March.

The inclusion of Huawei in India’s 5G plan may provide a valuable revenue source for Huawei, which has been on a U.S. trade blacklist since May. This year, Huawei’s posted lower-than-expected revenue of just over 850 billion yuan ($122 billion), up 18% from a year ago, the company’s rotating chairman Xu Zhijun said in a New Year’s address, adding that “survival” would be the company’s “first priority” in 2020.

Earlier this month, Huawei sued the U.S. Federal Communications Commission over the directive that bans American telecoms carriers from using a government fund to purchase products and services from Huawei, saying that it violates the nation’s constitution.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei to Launch Alternative to Google Mobile in India Amid Tensions With U.S.


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By Bloomberg / Dec 30, 2019 10:20 AM / World

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A newly approved Chinese drug for Alzheimer’s will start clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe next year as the country’s first novel therapy for the incurable disease seeks global legitimacy.

Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical plans to recruit around 2,046 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s for trials at 200 sites across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific for 18 months, the company’s Vice President Li Jinhe said on Sunday.

The drug, called Oligomannate, was granted conditional approval in China last month. It comes in a 150mg capsule and went on sale in the country on Dec. 29. Patients will need take three capsules twice a day, according to the drug’s package insert. A week’s treatment costs 895 yuan ($128).

In Chinese trials, the drug had statistically improved cognitive function in patients suffering from mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s as early as week four, Green Valley said in a November statement. Its success, however, has been met with skepticism from Alzheimer’s researchers, who say that details are scant on its clinical trials in China.

“It’s totally understandable for our drug to be questioned,” said Green Valley Chairman Lyu Songtao. “We are confident because we see clear benefits from patients in the clinical trials.”

The conditional approval requires the drugmaker to conduct further studies on how the drug works and its long-term safety and efficacy. The company also said it plans to invest $3 billion in the next 10 years for such investigations -- including on global trials -- to understand its working mechanism and expand its use in treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and vascular dementia.

Related: Questions Swirl Around China’s New Alzheimer’s Drug


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By Ding Yi / Dec 18, 2019 05:50 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

With a record-high global market share of 27%, or 12.2 million units shipped, Chinese tech company Xiaomi retained its position as the world’s largest seller of smart wearable bands in the third quarter of 2019, according to a new report by market research firm Canalys.

The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 74%, which Canalys attributed to Xiaomi’s strong domestic performance and robust overseas expansion.

The Beijing-based company has adopted a low-price strategy to win consumers, and relies heavily on overseas markets as an important pillar of its growth. It recently entered the Japanese market with the launch of a series of smart products including the wearable Mi Smart Band 4.

Xiaomi’s Chinese peer, Huawei, claimed the third spot with 5.9 million units shipped in the quarter. This was helped by sales in the home market. Huawei managed to surpass Fitbit, which came in fourth with its global market share shrinking to 8%, according to the report.

Apple ranked second with a 15% global market share. Approximately 60% of its third-quarter shipments were down to sales of Apple Watch Series 5 which launched in September, Canalys said.

During the third quarter, the Greater China region accounted for about 40% of total wearable smart device shipments of 45.5 million units, representing an increase of 65% from last year, according to the report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xiaomi to Enter Japan on Dec. 9


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By Ding Yi / Dec 18, 2019 02:01 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Despite facing political headwinds in the U.S., TikTok has still won the hearts, and downloads, of global mobile consumers.

The short-video app, developed by China’s fast-growing unicorn Bytedance, made it onto App Annie’s list of the world’s top 10 apps by downloads in 2019. It came in as the 4th most downloaded non-game app, surpassing Facebook-owned photo-sharing app Instagram.

The rankings were released as TikTok, known in China as Douyin, looks to diversify its global growth by attracting users outside the U.S., its strongest market, according to a November Reuters report. The company faces increased scrutiny there due to national security concerns.

TikTok was not the only Chinese app to make the App Annie’s list this year. Another short-video app, Likee, came 7th on the list despite being a new entrant, performing better than the likes of Snapchat, Netflix, and Spotify.

Facebook sustained its dominance over the list, with its Messenger app claiming the top spot, followed by Facebook and WhatsApp Messenger respectively.

Mobile consumers around the world are expected to download a record 120 billion apps via Apple’s App Store and Google Play in 2019, representing an increase of 5% from a year ago. Meanwhile, global consumers are poised to spend an estimated $90 billion on apps, up 15% from last year, according to App Annie.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Bytedance Ties Up With State Media Firm for Short Video Digital Rights


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By Ding Yi / Dec 16, 2019 04:25 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Norwegian mobile operator Telenor will reportedly allow both China’s Huawei Technologies and Sweden’s Ericsson to supply equipment for its 5G network.

In addition to its ongoing role in maintaining Telenor’s existing 4G networks, Huawei will play a role equal to Ericsson’s in building its next-generation networks in some parts of Norway over a 4-5 year modernization period, Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said at a Friday press conference, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Telenor’s announcement echoes that of Telefonica’s German unit, which picked Huawei and Finland’s Nokia Oyj to take equal roles in supplying its network upgrade. The deal is subject to approval by German authorities. The German unit operates the country’s second-largest wireless network.

At Friday’s press conference, Brekke also denied previous media reports that Telenor would phase out Huawei components in its rollout of its 5G networks, saying that his company is very satisfied with its collaboration with the Chinese company, Xinhua reported.

According to Reuters, Huawei has worked with Telenor for more than a decade on 4G. The Chinese telecom equipment maker is facing tightened scrutiny in Europe amid U.S. allegation that it poses security threat.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Wins Telefonica Deal to Help Build German 5G Network


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By Yang Ge / Dec 13, 2019 02:22 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

It was all smiles in China’s financial markets on Friday as investors applauded reports that the country has reached the first phase of a trade deal with the U.S. that could see de-escalation in tensions from their prolonged trade war. Bloomberg reported that Trump had signed off on such a deal, which would see the roll-back of some of the tit-for-tat tariffs from a clash that began well over a year ago.

No official announcement was forthcoming from either side, but that didn’t stop investors from buying into stocks on both the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong, and boosting the Chinese currency the yuan to highs not seen for months.

Midway through the trading day, the main composite indexes in Shenzhen and Shanghai were up more than 1.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which tracks sentiment towards China by international investors, was up by an even stronger 2%.

Meantime, the yuan also rallied to its strongest levels in four months on optimism about the potential for trade to improve between the world’s two largest economies with the removal of some previously imposed punitive tariffs. The onshore rate advanced as much as 1% to 6.9570 per dollar Friday, the strongest since Aug. 2 on an intraday basis.

Oil also took part, rising to its highest level in almost three months. Oil futures in New York rose by as much as 0.7% Friday after a similar climb the previous day.

Last but far from least was the modest soybean, which has been one of the biggest victims of the trade war as Chinese buying of the commodity from the U.S. plummeted at the height of tensions. November soybean futures jumped 1.4% to a three-month high of $9.36 a bushel in Chicago, while December corn futures rose an even stronger 4.6%.

“On U.S.-China trade, the news is certainly a positive for markets,” said UBS’ chief investment officer of wealth management. “But to make a full assessment we need more clarity on the timing, substance, and a confirmation.”

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com; twitter: @youngchinabiz https://twitter.com/youngchinabiz)

Related: Trump Says Deal With China Is Getting ‘Very Close’


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By Ding Yi / Dec 04, 2019 05:43 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The Trump administration is likely to revive a shelved plan to kick Huawei out of the American financial system, in a move that would deal a crushing blow to the embattled Chinese company’s overseas businesses, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a source close to the matter.

The plan, which was considered by the White House National Security Council earlier this year as part of sanctions against Huawei, aimed to add the telecom equipment maker to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Being added to the SDN not only bars targeted companies from completing transactions in U.S. dollars but also forbids U.S. companies and individuals from trading with them. The U.S is able to monitor and enforce this policy as nearly all dollar-denominated payments clear through the U.S. banking system.

Reuters also cited another source as saying that U.S. government officials drafted a memo and held interagency meetings on the issue.

Other entities placed on the SDN list include Russia’s Rusal, the world’s second-largest aluminum company, Russian oligarchs and Iranian politicians.

Facing escalating U.S. sanctions, Huawei has figured out some ways to lessen its dependence on the U.S. such as developing its own core technologies so it does not need to rely on American systems. The company has plans to move its research and development center from the U.S. to Canada.

Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to prohibit the country’s telecoms carriers from using the $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) to buy products and services from Huawei, citing national security concerns. The ban came just days after the Trump administration agreed to extend a reprieve allowing some American suppliers to restart component sales to Huawei.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Moves Key Personnel From U.S. to Canada: The Globe and Mail


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By Wang Liwei and Matthew Walsh / Dec 04, 2019 12:26 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

More than a year after trade tensions began in earnest, the will-they-or-won’t-they story of a “phase-one” deal between the United States and China remains unresolved. For Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the global private equity group Blackstone, deeper cultural ties between the two sides may hold the key to positive future relations.

Schwarzman seemingly understands the intricacies of trade negotiations better than most. According to the 72-year-old’s new book “What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence,” he helped broker part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed last year. Now, the controversial businessman-turned-philanthropist’s strong connections in both Beijing and Washington — including his personal friendship with U.S. President Donald Trump — make him a much-coveted voice on the trade talks.

Schwarzman, who in 2013 pledged $100 million to found a highly selective scholarship for young leaders at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, attributes much of his success in the country to his willingness to engage with China’s complexity. “China’s business environment, political structure, history, and culture are full of intricacies that many in the U.S. and elsewhere do not fully understand,” he told Caixin in an email interview in November.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Official Urges Beijing and Washington to Tackle WTO Reform Along With Trade

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By Lu Yutong / Dec 03, 2019 03:57 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A new pipeline connecting the gas fields of Siberia to northeast China will carry 5 billion cubic meters of the fossil fuel in its first year of operation, rising to 38 billion annually by 2024, according to China’s National Energy Administration.

The 8111 km (5040 mile) pipeline, called the Sino-Russia East Route in China and the Power of Siberia in Russia, began operating on Monday as part of a $400 billion deal signed between China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and Gazprom in Shanghai in 2014.

It comes as Russia ups its energy exports to the world’s largest gas importer amid Western financial sanctions, and as Chinese central planners continue to aggressively promote a switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas to help ease some of the nation’s air pollution.

The 30-year contract had originally promised Russia would start pumping gas to China through the pipeline last year.

Read the full story later today on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Lu Yutong (yutonglu@caixin.com)

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By Ding Yi / Nov 25, 2019 02:53 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to prohibit the country’s telecoms carriers from using a government fund to buy products and services from Huawei and ZTE on the grounds that the two Chinese companies pose a national security threat, it said in a statement Friday.

The FCC also proposed asking carriers that receive funds from the $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE equipment from their existing wireless networks.

The U.S. order deems Huawei and ZTE threats due to their “close ties to the Chinese government and military apparatus” and because they “are subject to Chinese laws requiring them to assist with espionage.”

In response, Huawei slammed the designation as “unlawful” and urged the FCC to rethink its decision. “The FCC’s process for labeling Huawei a security threat violates bedrock principles of due process and is based on nothing more than irrational speculation and innuendo,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

ZTE did not immediately respond to the decision.

Huawei and ZTE will have 30 days to appeal the designation and an order compelling removal of equipment will not be finalized until next year at the earliest, Reuters reported.

The U.S. ban came days after the Trump administration agreed to extend a reprieve allowing some American companies, including Microsoft, to resume component sales to Huawei.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: U.S. Allows Some Firms to Restart Sales to Huawei, Including Microsoft

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By Dave Yin / Nov 07, 2019 05:09 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The Chinese government has again asked for the release of detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in some of its first comments on the matter since Canada’s federal election last month.

“We urge the new Canadian government to face up to China’s solemn position and concerns, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou at once, ensure her safe return to China and take concrete actions to move our relations back onto the right track,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular press conference.

Geng was responding to a question on whether China’s resumption of meat imports from Canada this week signaled a thawing of relations that chilled when Meng was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 on U.S. charges of bank fraud. The Huawei executive is also accused of misleading HSBC Holdings about her company’s dealings with Iran, which the U.S. has sanctioned. She is fighting possible extradition to the United States.

Following Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, in what was widely seen as retaliation. The two men were accused in March of harming China’s national security. China also stopped accepting Canadian canola shipments that month and banned Canadian meat imports in June.

“The current difficulties were not caused by the Chinese side,” Geng said, referring to the strained ties with Canada.

Incumbent Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was reelected in the country’s federal election Oct. 21 but lost its majority in parliament.

Canadian officials previously said they would wait until after the election to make a decision on whether to ban Huawei, accused by Washington of being a national security threat, from its rollout of 5G networks.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: TSMC Denies U.S. Pressure to Cut Huawei Chip Sales

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By Matthew Walsh / Oct 25, 2019 04:07 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, on Thursday awarded China the right to host the first edition of an expanded Club World Cup in 2021, in a move that experts say could pave the way for the country to host world soccer’s showpiece international tournament in the coming years.

The tournament, which currently features seven club teams drawn from six continental confederations in a straight knockout format, will be revamped to include 24 teams in a yet-to-be-decided participation model.

The decision has been construed in sports circles as a trial run for a potential China-hosted FIFA World Cup — the soccer world’s showpiece international event — sometime in the 2030s.

“The new FIFA World Cup for clubs will be a competition which every person who loves football looks forward to,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in an announcement of the decision. “It is the first real and true world cup for the best teams and clubs in the world.”

However, certain rights groups condemned the decision to award the competition to a country suspected of multiple rights violations, including against some of its ethnic minorities, something the Chinese government has consistently denied.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: What China’s Naturalized Athletes Reveal About Its Immigration Policy

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By Qing Ying and Ren Qiuyu / Oct 25, 2019 01:45 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The 39 people found dead Wednesday in the container of a refrigeration truck in Essex, southeastern England, are not confirmed to be Chinese nationals, according to information from the Chinese Embassy to the U.K., disputing a statement from local British police, state-run CCTV reported on Friday.

Essex police said Thursday that the people were “believed to be Chinese nationals.” China’s foreign ministry said that embassy staff stationed in the U.K. were en route to verify “relevant information.”

“We read with heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex, England. We are in close contact with the British police to seek clarification and confirmation of the relevant reports,” said Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the U.K., in an embassy statement posted on Twitter.

Essex police said in a statement that of the 39 people on the truck, 38 “are believed to be adults, and one is a young adult woman.” Eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men, the statement confirmed. The police also said that the first 11 victims had been transported to a nearby hospital for identification and post-mortem examinations.

The truck’s contained had traveled from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet, Essex, where it was collected at around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday. At 1:40 a.m., local paramedics informed the police of the bodies of 38 adults and one minor in a truck container in a nearby industrial park.

The driver of the truck, a 25-year-old citizen of Northern Ireland, was arrested and is in questioning.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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