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TRADE WARS
US says must have more 'fair, reciprocal' trade with China
By Heather SCOTT
Washington (AFP) July 19, 2017


Bieber not welcome thanks to 'bad behaviour': Beijing authorities
Beijing (AFP) July 21, 2017 - Justin Bieber is not welcome to perform in China because of his "bad behaviour", Beijing authorities have said, after the pop idol angered many Chinese in 2014 by visiting a controversial Japanese war shrine

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture revealed it was not a "Belieber" when it said the 23-year-old Canadian, who last played in the country in 2013, had a lot of growing up to do if he wanted to return.

The statement came after Chinese fans posted comments on the agency's website demanding to know when their heart-throb would be allowed to perform in China again.

It is "inappropriate to introduce bad behaviour into the performing arts" it said, calling the performer out for his antics and urging him to turn over a new leaf.

"We hope Justin Bieber can improve his words and deeds in the process of growing up and become a singer people really like."

The singer recently helped hit single "Despacito", originally released by Luis Fonsi in January before Bieber came out with a remix two months later, achieve 4.6 billion streams, according to the Universal Music Group.

The Beijing cultural bureau did not specifically mention Bieber's 2014 visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honours millions of mostly Japanese war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.

The shrine is seen across Asia as a symbol of Japan's perceived lack of penitence for its past imperialist aggression, under which China in particular suffered heavily.

Shortly after his trip, the singer behind the hit song "Sorry" issued an apology to scandalised Chinese fans, saying he was "mislead to think the shrines were only a place of prayer".

But some have never forgiven him.

"Anyone who knows and then visits the Yasukuni Shrine is annoying," a user called Qiao Ating wrote on China's Twitter-like Weibo website on Friday.

Another Weibo post agreed: "It's good he's not coming. He is a bad boy."

Fan Jiayi, a jewellery designer in Shanghai, told AFP she supported the authorities' stance, saying: "I do not think the government would reject him unless there was a big problem."

Bieber is due to perform in Hong Kong in September as part of his "Purpose Tour".

Big-name Western acts have in the past been banned from performing in mainland China over political gestures.

Maroon 5 cancelled a concert in 2015 after authorities refused permission because a band member had met the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing views as a separatist threat.

Later the same year American rock group Bon Jovi -- who have included imagery of the Dalai Lama in a show -- abruptly scrapped two dates in Beijing and Shanghai.

Chinese officials have been especially sensitive about live concerts since Icelandic singer Bjork chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" during a performance of her song "Declare Independence" in Shanghai in 2008.

China says its troops "liberated" Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse Beijing of religious repression and eroding their culture.

The US launched its first round of trade talks with China since Donald Trump took office in an unusually blunt manner Wednesday, demanding a more "fair, equitable and reciprocal" relationship, with more access for American-made goods and services.

The US side blamed the unbalanced relationship -- marked by a US trade deficit with China of $309 billion last year -- on Beijing's policies that impede access to their market, while China says Washington's own rules restricting US high-tech exports are partially to blame.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted change was necessary given the more than 200 percent surge in Chinese exports to the United States in the last 15 years.

"If this were just the natural product of free market forces, we could understand it, but it's not," Ross said in the opening ceremony of the one-day meeting between senior officials from the world's top two economies.

"So it is time to rebalance our trade and investment relationship in a more fair, equitable and reciprocal manner."

The talks are a continuation of the process undertaken by the previous two administrations, which the Trump administration has rebranded as the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED).

Government officials usually open such meetings with very diplomatic statements and only sidelong references to thorny issues, but in this case the US officials pulled no punches.

- Mutually beneficial trade -

Ross said China accounts for half of the US goods trade deficit and Trump insists the two sides address "the fundamental asymmetry in trade," and increase exports to China of "made in America goods."

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Beijing must address "the imbalances caused by the Chinese intervention in its economy."

He said the talks with the Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang would focus on concrete steps to provide greater access and a "level playing field" for US companies in the world's second largest market.

That in turn "will create prosperity for our two countries and the world," he said.

"We need to work together to maximize the benefit for both sides. But this is only possible if there is a more fair and balanced economic relationship between the US and China," Mnuchin added.

During his campaign, Trump attacked Beijing for unfair trade practices, but his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort in April prompted a change of rhetoric and the launch of a 100-day economic cooperation plan.

That led to specific but narrow achievements, including opening the Chinese market to US beef exports, and pledges to remove barriers to US credit card transactions, credit ratings, and other financial services, including bond underwriting, that were to be concluded prior to Wednesday's talks.

- Dialogue over confrontation -

Wang said the key point about the meeting is the two countries are "having dialogue, not confrontation."

"We don't need to defeat each other in handling differences," he cautioned, stressing that "confrontation will immediately damage the interests of both" countries.

Wang quoted a passage from Trump's 2009 business advice book "Think Like a Champion" -- which in turn was quoting industry pioneer Henry Ford -- saying, "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."

"China is ready to work together."

However, in a speech to a business group the day before the talks, Wang said US policies were partly to blame for the high trade deficit.

He said "there is huge market potential to tap for US exports of advanced technologies, key equipment and critical parts to China. Unfortunately, American businesses have not had their fair share of the 'cake' due to outdated US regulations on export control."

US rules restrict export of certain high-tech goods to China and other countries when there is a potential for military uses as well as commercial applications.

TRADE WARS
Things to know about Bitcoin
Tokyo (AFP) July 11, 2017
Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of collapsed Bitcoin exchange MtGox, went on trial in Tokyo on charges stemming from the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency from its digital vaults. Here are some key facts about the world's most widely used crypto currency: What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code. Unlike a r ... read more

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