No new test flight plus a glum Goldman equaled further losses for Virgin Galactic shareholders early today.
The Ministry of Health confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Wednesday (25 November), taking the country’s total case count to 58,190.
HDB's last BTO launch for 2020 saw 5,795 new BTO units spread over 5 locations across Singapore. HDB has just concluded its last BTO launch for 2020. Earlier in November, HDB launched 7 projects at 5 locations, namely Sun Sails at Sembawang (Non-Mature Estate), Garden […]The post HDB BTO Launches In 2020 (Sembawang, Tengah, Bishan, Tampines, Toa Payoh – Bidadari) appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
Meghan Markle has revealed she suffered a miscarriage in July this year, writing in The New York Times on Wednesday of the deep grief and loss she endured with her husband Prince Harry.
Pro-establishment Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the cases of two opposition activists, Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow Ting, would determine whether more laws need to be passed to close loopholes in the national security law that Beijing imposed this year.Wong, 24, and Chow, 23, were remanded in custody at West Kowloon Court on Monday after pleading guilty over their roles in a 15-hour siege of Hong Kong’s police headquarters during the anti-government protests last year.But they may not serve time after court proceedings are finalised, Ip said in an online debate with former US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs Daniel Russel.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.The exchange was part of a series organised by the Washington-based think tank Center for Security and International Studies (CSIS) and moderated by Bonnie Glaser, director of its China Power Project.“Both of them have pleaded guilty to public order … and they continue to make political speeches, after they pleaded guilty, before and even after they were remanded they still spoke to the media about ‘Hong Kong people add oil, don’t give up,’ and that sort of thing,” she added, saying it was evidence that freedoms guaranteed by the city’s Basic Law remain intact.Ip said it may take “two to three years” before the Hong Kong court renders final decisions on Wong and Chow because of the appeal process.“That’s why our government said recently – in fact, the secretary for security John Lee said recently, when people asked him, ‘Are you going to reactivate Article 23 and introduce local legislation to fill the other loopholes?” Ip said, referring to the part of the Basic Law that requires Hong Kong to enact national security legislation on its own.An attempt to do so in 2003 saw the bill shelved after an estimated half a million people took to the streets to oppose it. Fresh sanctions, criticism, charges mark Hong Kong security law’s fourth monthLee “said that we have to wait and see how the new national security law operates before we know whether there are other loose ends to tie up”, Ip added. “So the answer is, I don‘t know, these are early days.”Ip also asserted that Hong Kong’s courts remain independent from political interference and characterised the city’s “one country, two systems” framework after the imposition of the national security law as “a challenging enterprise” and “a work in progress”.Critics have said that the law – which gives authorities sweeping powers to target acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – could fundamentally reshape the international financial hub, though the central and local governments have repeatedly pledged that the law would target only a minority of people.“One country, two systems is not easy … and what we see happening is a coming together of the two systems,” Ip said.“Although freedom has been restricted in some areas, and this is happening around the world, whenever you have terrorism threats or separatism threats, you have to introduce new legislation to restrict freedom, somewhat, but [to a degree that is] permissible” under the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.Ip’s position was in line with that of Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who said last week that anti-China activism will no longer be allowed among legislators and officials by law, as a key step to ensuring the patriotism that must underpin the city’s political system.“People who love the country and Hong Kong will govern Hong Kong, and people who are anti-China and cause trouble in Hong Kong are out,” Zhang told the Basic Law 30th Anniversary Legal Summit. “This is a political rule under ‘one country, two systems’, and has become a legal requirement now.” Man ordered to foot government bill for challenging detention under security lawRussel rejected Ip’s contention that Wong’s and Chow’s continued ability to address the public proves that freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law remain intact.“What that means is that the crackdown is not yet complete,” he said.“The national security law supersedes Hong Kong’s courts. It’s exempt from judicial review. It creates an office with unchecked authority. And it‘s introduced mainland secret police, it’s taken a page out of the East German Stasi handbook by soliciting informers and encouraging anonymous accusations.”The new multi-platform tip line referenced by Russel received more than 10,000 messages in its first week in existence. The hotline allows the public to send information, photos, and audio and video clips to a designated email address. They can also send messages via SMS or WeChat, though officers do not pick up incoming calls.More from South China Morning Post: * ‘I’m ready for jail’: the Hong Kong dissidents who chose to stay and fight * Hong Kong opposition trio Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam, and Agnes Chow face jail after pleading guilty to charges over police headquarters siegeThis article Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip says Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow cases may determine if more national security legislation is needed first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
An English and Literature teacher invited a student for a car ride and later sexually assaulted her.
Indulge in leisurely high tea buffets in Singapore with these credit card deals that make time with loved ones — or yourself — even sweeter. We're more than midway through the year and whether it’s been full of good stuff — resolutions going as planned — […]The post High Tea Promotions In Singapore appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
China’s top diplomat to Germany has dismissed concerns that Beijing will rely less on the European Union as a result of focusing more on its internal market after signs of rapprochement between the EU and US since the American electionAn assurance on Tuesday from Beijing’s ambassador Wu Ken that the bloc will still be a key partner of China – along with a telephone call between the nations’ leaders Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping – came as China and Germany face difficult bilateral challenges, including completing a major EU investment deal and facing falling public opinion of China in Germany.Addressing German and Chinese business leaders and politicians during the Belt and Road Economic Dialogue, held online on Tuesday, Wu sought to explain Beijing’s economic strategy after concerns that it would lead to China turning inward and relying less on imports.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Germany and Europe will gain more momentum from China’s new ‘dual circulation’ development pattern,” Wu said, referencing a phrase used in Chinese policy circles since September.Dual circulation, or developing “internal circulation” and “external circulation” in tandem, has been billed as a means to boost China’s internal market growth.Wu said the policy would not mean decoupling from the global economy.“The internal circulation is not to be developed behind closed doors, but to further revitalise and release China’s market potential, promote a higher level of opening up, and make better use of both domestic and international markets,” he said. “China will continue to expand and open up. This is China’s basic national policy.”Following the US election, EU leaders are looking to US president-elect Joe Biden to work with Europe to counter Beijing, with Germany and France calling for unity in opposing countries such as China, Russia and Iran.In a rare joint opinion piece, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart Heiko Maas outlined their call in The Washington Post in mid-November, saying the US and the EU should “consult each other” to coordinate their approach to China on human rights, digital infrastructure and fair trade.China has been one of the largest buyers of goods from the export-dependent German economy. Last year, China was Germany’s third-largest export market, and second-largest source of imports, according to official Chinese statistics.Wu added that China and the EU were both increasing the pace of negotiations for a long-awaited bilateral investment treaty, scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.The pressure is on for both sides to produce concrete results with the political leadership about to change in both the US and Europe, according to Ding Chun, an expert in China-Germany relations at Fudan University in Shanghai.“There’s a very short window,” he said. “Merkel will probably be leaving soon, and Germany is drawing near to the end of its rotating term in the EU presidency. There’s enormous pressure for both sides to make good on their promise to complete the investment agreement.”Thomas Gnocchi, head of the EU’s office in Hong Kong and Macau, said both the EU and China maintained their objective of concluding negotiations by the end of the year. China must deliver on opening up promises ahead of ‘last chance’ EU summit“These ongoing negotiations, we believe it’s very important to finalise them,” Gnocchi said at an event at Hong Kong’s Baptist University on Wednesday.The deal was mentioned in Tuesday’s phone call between Xi and Merkel, according to a brief statement from Germany’s foreign ministry. Along with progress on the deal, the two also discussed vaccine development and joint efforts to combat climate change, the statement said.There are unfavourable opinions of China in Germany, according to new polling data in a study of 13 nations released last week by Sinophone Borderlands, a research organisation in the Czech Republic. It found that more than 60 per cent of Germans viewed China either negatively or very negatively.More detailed data from the German polling in the report was released this week, and showed that close to half of Germans felt their perception of China had got worse over the past three years.Additional reporting by Kristin HuangMore from South China Morning Post: * China reminds EU to chart its own course as European leaders reach out to Biden * China must strike a balance between opening up and protecting its markets, EU diplomat saysThis article EU will not be snubbed by Beijing, Chinese ambassador assures Germany first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
The fourth course of a feast of high-ranking US official visits to the self-ruled island of Taiwan has been ruled off the menu, with the indefinite postponement of US environmental chief Andrew Wheeler’s planned visit for three days in early December.He would have been the fourth senior Washington official to travel to Taipei in as many months, as the Trump administration has stepped up its ties with the island, which Beijing regards as part of its territory, to be returned by force if necessary.Speaking on Monday in anticipation of Wheeler’s arrival, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said the visits represented an ever-closer relationship between Taipei and Washington. “It is like a full banquet with one new dish coming after another.”Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. US-China-Taiwan: how will Biden change the balance?The following day, Su’s dinner plans were disrupted when US Environmental Protection Agency spokesman James Hewitt said Wheeler’s visit had been postponed “due to pressing priorities at home”. The announcement followed a report in The New York Times last week which put the cost of the trip at US$45,000.The report questioned the justification for the visit – during a government transition and with Wheeler soon to leave office – as well as the cost to taxpayers which included US$25,000 in chartered flights, according to The Times.Hewitt criticised the premature exposure of Wheeler’s planned visit to Taiwan, saying “it is disturbing that a government official would leak deliberative schedules … that could jeopardise both international diplomacy and personal security, and we are referring the matter to the inspector general.”He also said there was no plan for Wheeler to make separate trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic in January, as reported by The Times.Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said there was no relation between the postponement and the hush-hush visit by an unidentified US official – believed to be Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence at Indo-Pacific Command – who arrived on Sunday for a three-day stay. Taiwan starts building submarine fleet amid military threats from BeijingBoth Washington and Taipei have been tight-lipped about the visit but neither denied reports that it was Studeman. The unannounced trip prompted an angry protest from Beijing, with China’s foreign ministry reiterating its opposition to any form of exchange between the US and Taiwanese officials or military.“The Chinese side will, according to how the situation develops, make a legitimate and necessary response,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said, without elaborating.Beijing reacted with similar fury to visits to Taipei by US health secretary Alex Azar in August and undersecretary of state Keith Krach in September, each time sending fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait close to the island.The mainland has been ramping up the pressure on Taiwan, staging war games close to the island and sending military planes into its air defence identification zone – with more than 1,760 sorties so far this year.On Wednesday, Taiwanese Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Cheng expressed regret over the postponement of Wheeler’s visit, and said Taipei respected the EPA administrator’s decision.“But Taiwan and the US will continue to deepen their long-time cooperation in environmental protection and it remains a goal for our two sides to seek to expand their exchanges in all levels and areas,” he said.More from South China Morning Post: * First of four accused Taiwanese spies sentenced to prison in China * Furious Beijing files formal protest over US environment chief’s Taiwan visit * Taiwan visit by admiral ‘suggests two months of provocation by Donald Trump’This article US leaves Taiwan wanting more with latest official visit off the menu first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
A man who illegally loaned money to 19 Filipino maids over nearly two years was jailed for two years, six weeks and fined $240,000 on 25 November.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s fourth policy address was her most overtly political yet – and the lengthiest, tying Leung Chun-ying’s record for longest policy blueprint ever.Over some two hours and 15 minutes, Lam drove home what she characterised as the need to save Hong Kong’s constitutional order from “chaos”, while also laying out a long list of economic and social measures – more typical fodder for a policy address – that will rely heavily on the assistance and coordination of Beijing if they are to help the city pull out of the economic downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.Here are the five key takeaways from Tuesday’s speech.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. As it happened: Carrie Lam’s policy address hails Beijing’s staunch support1\. Restoring the constitutional orderHong Kong represented a “gaping hole” in China’s national security, and restoring constitutional order and protecting the political system from “chaos” would be “urgent” priorities, Lam said.While peace had been “restored” in Hong Kong since the imposition of the Beijing-drafted national security law on June 30, she added, efforts should be made to ensure national security was “comprehensively” protected.The government would make better use of the annual National Constitutional Day and National Security Education Day to conduct public education on a large scale, Lam continued, while two pieces of legislation would be amended to strengthen procedures surrounding lawmakers, judges and civil servants’ pledges of allegiance to the city and to the Basic Law.Meanwhile, Lam appeared to take a somewhat softer stance on young protesters facing prosecution over last year’s unrest. Police were prepared to consider handling cases concerning arrestees under 18 who were not involved in serious offences with measures conducive to their rehabilitation, such as through caution and bind-over orders, she said. But the prerequisite was that the minors must admit their wrongdoing, she added.2\. Greater Bay Area integrationAs expected, a key focus of Lam’s policy address concerned integration into the Greater Bay Area, a plan to turn a cluster of cities in Guangdong, along with Hong Kong and Macau, into an economic powerhouse.The Stock Connect trading schemes between Hong Kong and the cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen would be enhanced, Lam said, by opening up the cross-border investment programme to loss-making biotechnology firms listed in Hong Kong, and stocks listed on the mainland’s sci-tech innovation board.The Airport Authority Hong Kong, which runs the city’s airport, will acquire more shares in Zhuhai Airport, a smaller airport in the bay area for domestic travel, to “deepen cooperation” in the aviation sector and build a “world-class aviation cluster”.Meanwhile, a youth employment scheme will be launched to encourage enterprises with operations in both Hong Kong and the bay area cities to recruit and deploy local university graduates to work on the mainland. The scheme will provide 2,000 places.3\. Bolstering the economyOne of the most immediate measures Lam vowed to take to help out local businesses hit hard by the pandemic-related downturn was the abolition of the doubled ad valorem stamp duty (DSD) on commercial properties from Thursday. Scrapping the tax would lower transaction costs on commercial real estate deals, and could trigger investment, analysts have said.Noting that Hong Kong’s GDP was expected to shrink by 6.1 per cent this year – the worst decline on record – Lam said the city would evolve in its role as a middleman between the mainland and the rest of the world. With Beijing following a new “dual circulation” economic strategy prioritising what it calls internal circulation – or fostering self-sustaining domestic demand over exports – “Hong Kong can further strengthen its intermediary role” when it comes to so-called external circulation, or engagement with outside markets, Lam said. Lam’s postponement of address ratcheted up anticipation, potential for disappointment4\. Beating back the Covid-19 pandemicSuccessfully battling the coronavirus pandemic relied on mainland help, including the central government’s pledge to reserve a certain amount of vaccines developed or produced on the mainland for use by Hong Kong people when necessary, Lam said.An important aspect of the city’s recovery is the resumption of cross-border travel, a point Lam floated to central government officials during her recent meetings on the mainland, only to be rebuffed and sternly reminded to prioritise virus control measures at home.In light of this, Lam said, a universal community testing scheme – similar to the one seen in September – might have to be brought back to achieve the target of zero local infections necessary to reopen the border with the mainland, though she offered few other details as to how this might be accomplished.5\. Increasing housing supplyUnlike with Lam’s past policy speeches, housing and land took a back seat this year. She said the government had identified 330 hectares of land on which to build 316,000 public housing units over the next 10 years.The decision to expedite the Northern Link railway project was new, and would make 90 hectares of land available to deliver over 70,000 housing units.Meanwhile, some quick relief will be provided for about 90,000 people in the long queue for public housing, including a cash allowance for low-income applicants and turning hotels and guest houses with low occupancy rates into transitional housing.Lam’s signature policy, the controversial, and gigantic, Lantau Tomorrow Vision land-reclamation scheme, will also be effectively expedited, with the government retracting from the legislature several funding requests for civil service posts that were slated to be reviewed prior to the one for Lantau. A HK$550 million (US$71 million) funding push for a preliminary study into the Lantau plan will be the next item on the agenda for the Legislative Council, now dominated by the pro-establishment camp, to vet.As part of SCMP’s commitment to providing our readers with expert coverage of the policy address, this article is free to all. Please support us on our mission to bring you quality journalismMore from South China Morning Post: * As it happened: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s policy address hails Beijing’s staunch support, doubles down on national security and vows to ‘relaunch city, rebuild trust’ * Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s postponement of policy address has ratcheted up anticipation – and the potential for disappointmentThis article Hong Kong policy address key takeaways: cutting through Carrie Lam’s 30,000-word blueprint to put city ‘back on track’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
A man who imported a stun gun resembling a flashlight was jailed for five days and fined $3,000 after an ICA officer found the item in the mail.
John Kerry’s appointment as US climate envoy and Washington’s expected pivot on climate change policy could help find common ground with Beijing under president-elect Joe Biden, Chinese foreign policy observers said.The return of former secretary of state Kerry to a cabinet-level role was an early sign of the Biden administration setting a more predictable course for its dealings with China, some argued. However, one said renewed engagement by a more multilateral Washington could bring it into conflict with Beijing over who should lead on certain issues globally.Even if US-China tensions were to remain over economic, technological and other issues, having familiar faces from past administrations could stabilise relations after four tumultuous years under President Donald Trump, they said.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Kerry’s appointment was one of six National Security Council positions filled on Monday. They also included Antony Blinken being picked for secretary of state when Biden takes office in January.“Kerry is seen as a very experienced official, with a good knowledge of China, and having him as climate ambassador brings new opportunities for Sino-US cooperation,” Tao Wenzhao, a US-China relations expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.Both Kerry and Blinken served under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Kerry made annual trips to China as secretary of state between 2013 and 2017.In 2015, Kerry said China and the US had “cooperated quite extraordinarily” on climate change during his meetings with China’s then foreign minister Yang Jiechi in Washington, despite disagreements over security issues including Beijing’s island-building in the South China Sea.And in the autumn of 2018, after Trump had initiated a trade war with Beijing, Kerry said China “[does] not react well to bludgeoning”.It was Kerry who signed on behalf of the United States as 171 nations sealed 2016’s historic Paris climate accord – from which Trump announced his country’s withdrawal the following year. Biden has vowed to rejoin the accord on the first day of his presidency.“The Trump administration has done a lot to undo what Kerry did as secretary of state on climate change and other multilateral issues of agreement like the Iran nuclear deal – which will give Kerry and Blinken a lot of work to do,” Tao said.“I don’t believe the Kerry appointment will bring the US back to the way things were before. The US will have room to renegotiate on any number of things it may rejoin, from climate change to the Iran nuclear deal to the World Health Organization.” China’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2060 to cost US$15 trillion, report saysChinese President Xi Jinping pledged in September his country would be carbon-neutral by 2060. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the pledge would be a “game-changer” if China turned words into actions.“The Kerry appointment demonstrates a typical liberal priority from the Democrats on climate issues, highlighted by placing such a high-level diplomat in the job,” Yu Wanli, a Beijing-based international security analyst, said.Bringing back Washington policy veterans would aid interactions between the two countries, Yu predicted.“The appointment of Kerry and other familiar faces definitely makes things much more predictable for China, but also the whole world,” he said.Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, warned that the US-China relationship might still be overshadowed by deepening competition regardless of who occupied senior positions in Washington.“While some economic and diplomatic issues may be mitigated by bringing in more predictable politicians, I expect that technological and general strategic and ideological rivalry will continue,” he said.“Even though the Democratic administration and China may agree on climate change, both countries will want to take global leadership roles on the issue, and may easily fall into ideological competition.”More from South China Morning Post: * Joe Biden cabinet: US Treasury Secretary pick Janet Yellen faces huge challenge to reconcile China trade policy, support American economy * US-China-Taiwan: how will Joe Biden change the balance?This article Joe Biden cabinet: John Kerry as climate tsar ‘may cool US-China tensions’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
European regulators on Tuesday took a step closer to letting the Boeing 737 Max fly again, publishing a proposed airworthiness directive that could see the aircraft cleared within weeks after being grounded for nearly two years over deadly crashes. The publication of the directive by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency opens a 28-day public consultation period after which the agency will review the input and then approve the aircraft for flight. Regulators around the world grounded the Max in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet.
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Canadians can expect the first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in early 2021, likely later than those countries that can produce it themselves, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
Your favourite international buffet haunts may be closed during Phase 2 of post-Circuit Breaker, but a la carte buffet restaurants have reopened (yay!). Like most self-professed foodies in Singapore, the one thing that made everything feel better during Circuit Breaker was the fact that you […]The post 7 A La Carte Buffets To Enjoy During Phase 2 appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
The Dow surged past 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday as receding US political uncertainty and hopes for coronavirus vaccines offset worries over spiking Covid-19 cases.
A pair of burnt-out tanks now signals the entrance to the Tigray town of Humera, where the streets are lined with rubble and residents remain in shock after an Ethiopian army assault earlier this month.
Beijing said it was keen to build a good working relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, even as Japan’s leader challenged China’s assertive behaviour in the East China Sea.Suga on Wednesday raised concern with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi over what Tokyo sees as moves by Beijing to undermine Japan’s control of the contested Senkaku Islands, calling for China to take “positive action” on the maritime dispute. The uninhabited islands, known as the Diaoyus in China, are also claimed by Beijing and Taipei.During a 20-minute meeting with Wang at his office in Tokyo, Suga also expressed concern over the situation in Hong Kong, where Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in June that critics say undermines freedom in the city, Kyodo News reported, citing the Japanese government.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“A stable relationship between the two countries is important not only for Japan and China but also for the region and the international community,” Suga reportedly told Wang during the meeting.Wang told reporters afterwards that he had relayed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s message that he wanted to build “good working relations” with Suga, and that the East China Sea dispute should not stand in the way of this.The meeting was the first high-level exchange between Beijing and Tokyo since the new Japanese leader took office in September, and marked the end of Wang’s two-day visit to Japan.His trip came as Beijing is seeking to reaffirm diplomatic ties with the new Japanese administration and to gauge Tokyo’s attitude on the China-Japan-US triangle amid a leadership transition in Washington.During talks between Wang and his counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday, the two sides agreed to resume coronavirus-hit business travel this month and to set up a hotline for managing their maritime disputes in the East China Sea by the end of the year.They also agreed to hold an economic ministers’ meeting next year to strengthen cooperation on environmental protection, health care, e-commerce and innovation, Kyodo reported.Wang, who will travel to South Korea next, on Tuesday said China and Japan had also agreed to move forward negotiations on a free-trade deal between the three countries, after a mega trade deal was signed with 12 other Asia-Pacific economies this month. Explained: Diaoyu/Senkaku islands disputeThe Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the first multilateral trade pact China has signed. Last week, Xi also signalled Beijing’s interest in joining the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).Analysts say these developments suggest efforts to build on improving relations between the two East Asian rivals following decades of animosity over territorial and historical disputes, and at a time when China’s ties with the US have rapidly deteriorated.But a key barometer will be whether Japan will still welcome a planned visit by Xi that has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic – it is not known if the plan was discussed during Wang’s trip.Xi was due to visit Japan in spring. But negative public opinion towards China has been rising in the country over the pandemic, Beijing’s aggressive posturing near the Diaoyus and its handling of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, leading to questions over whether Tokyo should roll out the red carpet for the Chinese leader.As Tokyo waits for indications of future policy direction from the incoming administration of US president-elect Joe Biden, Chinese analysts say Xi’s visit could be further delayed.“Japan’s policy towards China has always depended on the US’ China policy … so the possibility of improved ties between China and the US under a Biden administration could mean more momentum for Sino-Japanese ties to improve,” said Pang Zhongying, an international relations expert at the Ocean University of China.During their meeting, Wang and Motegi discussed issues surrounding US-China relations for a “considerable time”, according to Kyodo, quoting a Japanese foreign ministry official who did not give further details.Suga was among the first world leaders to speak by phone with the US president-elect, a conversation in which Biden reportedly provided assurance that Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty would be applied to the Diaoyus, meaning Washington would defend Tokyo if a conflict broke out over the islands.“Biden’s assurance has put Japan in an advantageous position in countering China, but their common interest in economic cooperation will bring Japan closer to China,” according to Liu Jiangyong, a specialist in China-Japan relations at Tsinghua University.“We are continuing to see the dissonance in Sino-Japanese relations in which our economic ties have become much warmer than our political ties,” he said. “How far we can go with Japan depends on the future direction of China-US relations under Biden.”More from South China Morning Post: * China’s Wang Yi heads to Tokyo to ‘test the waters’ with Japan PM Yoshihide Suga * Chinese foreign minister likely to push free-trade deal when he visits Japan, South Korea * China and Japan race to dominate future of high-speed rail * China, Japan to resume two-way business travel by month’s endThis article Japan calls on China to take ‘positive action’ on Diaoyu maritime dispute in talks as Wang Yi meets Yoshihide Suga first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
A Canadian police officer involved in the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has denied telling border officers to keep the warrant secret from her, to prevent Meng from obtaining legal advice until after an immigration examination and the seizure of her electronic devices.Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal was in charge of evidence seized by the border officers from Meng – including her two phones, iPad, Apple laptop and a memory stick – before she was arrested on a US warrant at Vancouver’s airport on December 1, 2018.Meng’s lawyer Scott Fenton contended in a hearing at the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Tuesday that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was told by the RCMP not to tell Meng she was going to be arrested “because that could have triggered an interest by Ms Meng in speaking to counsel”.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Instead she was only told after the CBSA examination, which lasted almost three hours, during which border officers asked her about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, seized her devices and obtained the passwords to them.“My proposition is that’s because the RCMP asked the CBSA … to keep it discreet, to keep it secret,” Fenton said.“I did not do anything of that sort,” Dhaliwal responded.Dhaliwal is testifying for a third day in the extradition hearing for Meng, the chief financial officer for Huawei Technologies, who is accused by the US of defrauding HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, which exposed the bank to the risk of violating sanctions against Iran. She denies the charges, and is fighting US attempts to have her extradited to face trial in New York.Her lawyers say that Meng is the victim of a covert operation by the RCMP and the CBSA – orchestrated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation – to obtain evidence against her without her first being told of the warrant.They contend that this violated her rights and was an abuse of process, and that she should be freed as a result.Dhaliwal agreed with Fenton that the RCMP could have “easily” arrested Meng as she stepped off her flight from Hong Kong, instead of after the immigration exam. This would have resulted in Meng being read her rights on the spot, Dhaliwal agreed, and she could have been taken to the CBSA inspection afterwards.Constable Winston Yep, Dhaliwal’s partner who arrested Meng after the immigration exam, testified last month that there were safety reasons not to arrest Meng on the jetway or on the plane.But Fenton suggested to Dhaliwal that no “realistic” safety concerns were involved in arresting Meng on the jetway. “You have no idea how people are going to react,” Dhaliwal answered.“There were no indications Ms Meng would be violent, for instance,” Fenton said, and Meng had already been subject to an airport security check before getting on her flight in Hong Kong.Nor was there any indication Meng was carrying a weapon, Fenton added. Dhaliwal agreed.Fenton said that the events at the airport involved “a number of FBI-directed searches”. He cited the seizure of Meng’s phones and their placement into special bags designed to prevent them from being wiped remotely. Canadian MPs join campaign to release Meng Wanzhou, citing SinophobiaHe suggested to Dhaliwal that the RCMP knew the FBI would need the passwords for Meng’s devices, and for that reason asked the CBSA to obtain them and write them down.Dhaliwal said he thought the FBI could probably gain access to phones without passwords, and he denied ever making such a request.Fenton then turned to events after the arrest. According to an email read aloud in court, Staff Sergeant Ben Chang of the RCMP’s financial integrity unit asked Dhaliwal on December 4 – three days after Meng’s arrest – to provide the electronic serial numbers of Meng’s devices, at the request of the FBI.Dhaliwal told the court he had no authorisation to search Meng’s devices. But he said he did not consider his subsequent examination of Meng’s devices, during which he found their serial numbers and removed the phones’ SIM cards, to have constituted a search.Fenton then turned to notes by Dhaliwal’s superior, Sergeant Janice Vander Graaf. Van Der Graaf wrote on December 12 that: “Gurv advised Ben Chang had email and provided serial ’s to Legat”, a reference to FBI official John Sgroi.The Canadian government lawyers representing the US say that neither the passwords nor the electronic serial numbers to Meng’s devices were ever given to the FBI.Dhaliwal said he had no recollection of telling Vander Graaf that Chang had provided the serial numbers to the FBI.“This is a complete blank?” asked Fenton, suggesting that Dhaliwal could in fact recall “and that’s exactly what you told your sergeant”.Said Dhaliwal: “I did not recall having any conversation with Staff Sergeant Ben Chang that he had sent this information to the FBI.”Why then would Vander Graff write this, Fenton asked. “I cannot answer for Sergeant Vander Graaf. You’ll have to ask her, sir,” said Dhaliwal.“Fair. And we will,” Fenton said.Chang has retained outside counsel and is refusing to testify in the extradition hearing; he has retired from the RCMP and now works for a casino company in the Chinese territory of Macau. Canadian Mountie denies trying to keep Meng’s warrant secretVander Graaf took the stand next. She told Canadian government lawyer John Gibb-Carsley, representing US interests in the case, that the night before Meng’s arrival, RCMP Inspector Peter Lea had “strongly suggested” arresting Meng on the plane.But although she conveyed this suggestion to Dhaliwal, Vander Graaf said she did not agree with it.“I had concerns, because of the close quarters, because of the safety issues…and because of overstepping authority,” said Vander Graaf. She added: “I didn’t think there was an emergency situation that necessitated the RCMP just going on the plane.”She categorised her discussion with Dhaliwal about Lea’s remarks as a suggestion and not a direction.Before Dhaliwal’s testimony resumed on Tuesday, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes discussed problems posed by the protracted nature of the case, under way now for almost two years. It is currently scheduled to have its final hearings on April 30, 2021, though appeals could drag out the process for years beyond that.But both Meng’s defence and the Canadian government lawyers representing the US say more court time may be needed for the case.Holmes said she worried about “building in an enormous gap” between the witness evidence in the abuse-of-process argument now being presented, and her having to assess submissions about the argument next year.She asked for an aide-memoire – a submission made by counsel to assist a judge recalling complex evidence – to be compiled, saying “it’s simply too long between now and then”.Fenton said that the extended nature of the litigation was neither side’s fault. “Certain uncertainties have arisen, through no one’s fault,” he said.Meng is living under partial house arrest in one of the two houses she owns in Vancouver.Meng’s treatment has infuriated China. Soon after her detention, Beijing arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and accused them of spying. Ottawa considers the arrests retaliatory and both men to be victims of hostage-taking.Holmes adjourned the hearing until 10am Wednesday.More from South China Morning Post: * Canadian officer says US never asked for Meng Wanzhou’s electronic passwords – but he took them ‘without thinking’ * Canada feared for safety of Macau-based witness who refuses to testify in Meng Wanzhou extradition caseThis article Canadian police officer denies trying to keep arrest warrant secret from Meng Wanzhou first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.