Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will join a special ASEAN summit next week, the Thai foreign ministry said Saturday, his first official trip since masterminding a coup which deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be "unjustified", NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow "to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation".
SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 34 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Friday (16 April), taking the country's total case count to 60,769.
Montenegro's finance minister on Friday tried to ease concern over a near $1 billion Chinese-backed road project, insisting the country could afford to repay the debt and did not need EU help.
Like the old school game of "hantam bola", you can enjoy the Champions League by throwing your support behind someone. Someone like Pep Guardiola.
Since 2019, dozens of Chinese officials and companies have been sanctioned or blacklisted by the West over alleged human rights abuses against Uygurs and members of other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. In January, alleged widespread use of forced labour in Xinjiang prompted the United States to ban imports of cotton and tomato products from the region, and Canada and Britain to announce similar bans. The latest sanctions in March from the European Union, the US, Britain and Canada mean that specified Chinese officials will be unable to travel to the sanctioning countries, and their assets there will be seized. They will probably have difficulty maintaining bank accounts, even Chinese ones. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. As international pressure on Beijing increases, it remains to be seen whether blacklisting firms and banning imports of Chinese products connected to Xinjiang will have a substantial economic impact. Some observers see the sanctions as merely symbolic objections to growing claims of repression in the region, which are unlikely to be heeded by Beijing. According to Nick Marro, global trade lead at the Economist Intelligence Unit in Hong Kong, the sanctions would probably not have a discernible macroeconomic impact on China because they were “quite targeted” and carried “more symbolic than economic weight”. The real economic impact also depended on how stringently they would be enforced, he said. “The cotton industry is notoriously complex, and it could be difficult to clearly trace cotton items back to production in Xinjiang – a lot of this could ultimately come down to regulatory discretion by US authorities,” Marro said. Even if broad bans risked more consequences for US consumers rather than the Chinese economy, it would force compliance from companies looking to sell in the US market, he said. “In effect, these companies had little choice but to disavow the use of Xinjiang cotton in their supply chains,” Marro said. “And that doesn’t even touch on the potential ethical and reputational risks that Western firms might face among their home market consumers.” There have been mounting accusations of mass detention of an estimated 1 million Uygurs and members of other mostly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang since reports first emerged in 2018. The US and Canada have labelled China’s policies there genocide. Multiple international media, think tanks and non-governmental organisations have published photographs, documents and analysis showing claimed forced labour in Xinjiang. In December, an analysis of Chinese government documents by the Washington-based Centre for Global Policy found that in 2018 “at least 570,000” people had been forcibly mobilised to pick cotton there. Beijing has dismissed the accusations against it, calling for evidence and repeating its combative rhetoric that Western countries should not intervene in Chinese politics. It has repeatedly accused Western governments of raising concerns about human rights in Xinjiang to destabilise China, and has defended its camps in the region, calling them “re-education” or “vocational training” centres for counterterrorism purposes, whose success it says is proven by an absence of terror attacks in the past four years. During a visit to Xinjiang that coincided with the introduction of the latest sanctions, Minister for Public Security Zhao Kezhi, the country’s police chief, said Beijing would oppose “attempts to use Xinjiang to contain China” and “attempts to use terrorism to contain China” – lines used in Chinese state media to refer to the sanctions. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, who was the EU’s ambassador to China until 2019, said the bloc had a responsibility to respond. Its sanctions on four individuals and one entity accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang were the bloc’s first against China since the bloody Tiananmen crackdown of 1989. “I do not think anybody in Europe was under the illusion that this would change China’s position immediately,” he said. “But the EU could not fail to make its position clear without losing its credibility.” Although unable to quantify the amount of tomato products imported from Xinjiang specifically, US Customs and Border Protection said in January that US$10 million worth of tomato products had been imported from China into the United States in the previous year. About a quarter of the world’s supply of tomato ketchup is sourced from Xinjiang, according to Chinese state media reports. Xinjiang’s cotton industry is more significant, producing a fifth of the world’s cotton and more than 80 per cent of China’s domestic cotton output. Mei Xinyu, an economist and researcher at the Chinese commerce ministry, declined to say how China’s cotton production supply chain would shift if companies abandoned Xinjiang, but insisted China was too strong to be affected. “The price of cotton will depend on supply and demand of the entire market,” Mei said. “Even if there are price fluctuations, we are still very resilient. Last year, even with increasing pressure from the US [previous sanctions over Xinjiang], and the pandemic, there was still growth in Xinjiang cotton exports. Xinjiang: first detailed admission of ‘training and boarding’ centres “All we have to do is keep up the good quality of Xinjiang cotton production. I believe a lot of companies will still want to use Xinjiang cotton. Businesses are very smart; they will find ways to solve this problem,” Mei said, without specifying how. “The ones who suffer will be US companies and consumers.” In recent months, multinational brands have been scrambling to unwind their supply chains from the region. Every year, US companies import about 1.5 billion garments that contain Xinjiang cotton, worth more than US$20 billion, according to Washington-based labour rights organisation Workers Rights Consortium. Major companies such as Swedish retailer H&M and US brand Nike have stated they will not source their products from Xinjiang, putting them in the crosshairs of state-led consumer boycotts in China. US customs authorities already moved last December to block imports of products made anywhere in the world that contained raw cotton harvested by the quasi-military Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which is responsible for a third of China’s cotton production and accounts for 17 per cent of Xinjiang’s economy. ‘Poverty may follow’ as Xinjiang cotton ban dismays regional farmers Chen Daoyin, a political commentator and former professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said he saw little possibility of China changing its approach towards Xinjiang regardless of cost, given the issue has escalated to become an important part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s nationalism campaign. “Relations between China and the world have fundamentally changed, and the Chinese government appears not to take Western democracies’ standards into consideration when it makes moves,” Chen said. “As long as the Communist Party keeps pushing the narrative of achieving the ‘Chinese dream’ … foreign sanctions will have no impact on China’s internal policies.” Achieving what it calls “social stability” in Xinjiang, a region riddled for years by ethnic conflicts and violence, has become central to the party’s ruling legitimacy as China grows in stature on the world stage and its leaders try to present an alternative to Western ideals. Activists and political figures argue there is scope to increase the pressure on China to make meaningful changes to its policies. Zumretay Arkin, advocacy manager at the World Uygur Congress, an international organisation of exiled Uygur groups, said sanctions on Xinjiang were a “step towards accountability”. She said more could be done, including calls to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. “China can no longer hide,” she said. “The international community has been aware now of all the atrocities they’re committing, and I think we’re going to move towards even more concrete action in the coming months. “I think [Beijing is] now focused on combating that narrative with its own propaganda and misinformation. In the eyes of the international community, [China has] become a country that doesn’t accept any sort of legitimate criticism. Retaliatory attacks have proven our point and made it easier to advocate for Uygur human rights, because we don’t really have to prove how China will behave … the world already knows.” China calls Xinjiang camps training centres, but ‘its documents say otherwise’ Although there was room for further sanctions to be placed on China – such as on more agricultural products, on imports and even financial sanctions – François Godement, senior adviser for Asia at think tank Institut Montaigne in Paris, doubted the West was ready to do so. “Naming and shaming might impose a reputational cost – I think it already does – on China’s actions in Xinjiang, but [pressuring China is] a long, drawn-out process,” he said. “It’s very clear that the Chinese leadership is extremely determined not to give in to any form of material or moral pressure.” But Schweisgut, the former EU ambassador to China, said Chinese counter-sanctions on members of the European Parliament had put ratification of the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in doubt. “It is likely to be delayed, and is also linked to China’s commitment to ratify two International Labour Organization conventions on forced labour. This will now come under increased scrutiny,” he said. “Hopefully, the Chinese leadership will eventually accept meaningful access by independent experts to Xinjiang, in particular by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and live up to its own proclaimed standards of openness and transparency.”More from South China Morning Post:Xinjiang cotton ban uncertainties weigh on Chinese farmers, smaller textile firmsXinjiang cotton ban, forced labour claims push China to step up plans for domestic Better Cotton InitiativeEU-China deal on the rocks as sanctions shake support in European ParliamentChina-EU relations: why Beijing may not want to let Xinjiang sanctions undermine investment dealChina says it may eventually phase out ‘vocational training centres’ in Xinjiang where 1 million Uygur Muslims are reportedly held for ‘re-education’This article Xinjiang: will the West’s sanctions on China force the issue or unravel? first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Philippine authorities said Saturday they have seized some 200 tonnes of illegally harvested giant clam shells worth nearly $25 million in one of the biggest known operations of its kind in the country.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 39 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of noon on Saturday (17 April), taking the country's total case count to 60,808.
China's Coronavac vaccine was 67 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and 80 percent at preventing death, according to real-life results unveiled Friday from Chile's inoculation campaign.
Arch-foes Israel and Iran have long fought an undeclared shadow war across the Middle East, landing blows in Lebanon, Syria and inside the Islamic republic itself.
The Israeli military said early Friday it had carried out airstrikes on military targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave hit southern Israel.
Rafael Nadal's bid for a 12th Monte Carlo Masters title was shattered by Russia's Andrey Rublev, who swept to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 quarter-final win on Friday with the great Spaniard admitting his serve was "a disaster".
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has come under fire again in China for removing a statement on its website about forced labour in Xinjiang without explanation. The world’s largest cotton sustainability programme, which covers 14 per cent of global cotton production, said it ceased all field-level activities in Xinjiang in October due to allegations of forced labour and human rights issues and had suspended all licensing for the region since March 2020. However, the statement was removed when foreign clothing retailers, many of them BCI members such as H&M and Nike, faced boycotts in China for avoiding cotton produced in Xinjiang in March.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The Communist Youth League and Chinese state media publicised the removal of the statement this week, and accused the BCI of being hypocritical and ungrateful. “[Your] face must hurt! BCI secretly removed a statement ‘boycotting Xinjiang cotton’,” the Communist Youth League posted on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, on Thursday. China News Service published a column that said the BCI should acknowledge it made a mistake and apologise. Headquartered in Geneva, the BCI said the statement was removed due to a cyberattack on its website and its policy remained unchanged. The Economist’s China affairs editor Gady Epstein said on Twitter on Thursday that he had asked the BCI about the statement’s disappearance and was told “they took down the statement in response to DDoS attacks and would eventually ‘repost relevant information’”. The BCI told the South China Morning Post it had no comment to make on the issue. Industry bodies in China are stepping up plans to launch a Chinese version of the BCI, which would set national standards for cotton production. Xinjiang court to hear defamation case against German researcher Adrian Zenz over forced labour claims The United Nations and human rights groups have alleged that 1 million Turkic-speaking Muslim Uygur people have been interned in re-education centres and subjected to indoctrination, torture and forced labour. Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations and said its policies were designed to fight terrorism, alleviate poverty and raise people’s standard of living through job training. Western countries, including the US and Canada, said the treatment of the Uygurs constituted genocide and levelled sanctions against Chinese officials and entities. The US banned cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang in January. Beijing has retaliated with its sanctions of its own and propaganda campaigns to drive boycotts of international brands that do not follow its stance on Xinjiang.More from South China Morning Post:Xinjiang: will the West’s sanctions on China force the issue or unravel?Better Cotton Initiative’s fall a cautionary tale of trying to be all things to all peopleChinese branch of Better Cotton Initiative challenges headquarters and says it has found no evidence of Xinjiang forced labourXinjiang cotton: Western companies in China are between a rock and a hard placeHit by Xinjiang cotton backlash, H&M aims to ‘regain trust in China’This article Xinjiang cotton: BCI attacked for removing statement on forced labour first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Taiwan prosecutors on Friday charged a truck driver with negligent homicide over his role in the island's worst rail disaster in decades that left 49 dead and more than 200 injured.
The United States and Japan vowed Friday to stand firm together against an assertive China and to step up cooperation on climate change and next-generation technology as President Joe Biden made his first summit a show of alliance unity.
Israelis will no longer have to wear masks outdoors starting from Sunday as the number of virus infections plummets, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said.
Citigroup plans to hire up to 500 people in its wealth management business in Hong Kong as it focuses on “wealth centres” in Asia under new CEO Jane Fraser and significantly revamps its consumer banking business in the region. The expansion will include more than 300 new relationship managers in the city in the next five years, as the bank aims to triple its clients and double its assets under management (AUM) in Hong Kong’s wealth business by 2025. The American bank previously said it was planning to expand its headcount across its businesses in the city by up to 1,700 people, including wealth management, as it seeks to tap increasing capital flow from mainland China and rising affluence in the Greater Bay Area.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “Hong Kong is a key strategic market for Citi and our Hong Kong franchise is one of the largest contributors to Citi’s revenues globally,” said Angel Ng Yin-yee, the chief executive of Citi Hong Kong and Macau. “Citi has a long history in Hong Kong and we are confident in our future here with a strategy to support and grow with our clients.” On Thursday, Citigroup said it would exit the consumer banking business in 13 markets internationally and focus on wealth centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The revamp of its consumer banking business would include exits from mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan and other markets where the bank said it lacks the scale to compete. “We will invest to grow the integrated wealth, payments and consumer lending businesses in our Hong Kong and Singapore hubs, which provide comprehensive solutions for customers with global needs and aspirations,” said Citi’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Babej. “Asia is critical to our firm’s global ambitions, and we will allocate resources to drive profitable growth for our franchise.” Citi’s global consumer banking revenue declined by 14 per cent to US$7 billion in the first quarter, including a 9 per cent drop in revenue in its Asia operations. The revenue decline in Asia was driven by lower cards revenue and lower deposit spreads, partially offset by strong investments revenue and deposit growth, the bank said. Citi’s wealth expansion comes as other banks are bulking up their operations in the region as China further opens its financial markets to foreign money and more funds are expected to flow from the mainland’s wealthy into Hong Kong as part of the upcoming Wealth Connect scheme. In February, HSBC said it plans to invest US$3.5 billion and hire more than 5,000 people in its wealth management business in Asia over the next five years as it targets high net worth and ultra high net worth clients. Credit Suisse, another rival, plans to triple its headcount in China over the next three years. “We are already a market leader in wealth in Hong Kong and taking this business to the next level is a strategic priority,” Lawrence Lam, CEO and consumer business manager for Citibank Hong Kong. More from South China Morning Post:HSBC says four senior bankers to relocate to Hong Kong as it extends pivot to AsiaCitigroup to hire up to 1,700 people as it expands operations in Hong Kong with an eye on Greater Bay Area opportunitiesWellington Management plans Asia expansion targeting growing wealth in China and wider regionFTSE Russell moves forward with inclusion of Chinese government debt in flagship index as world’s second-largest bond market opens to foreignersHSBC to hire 5,000 wealth planners as it increases investment, emphasis on Asia’s richThis article Citigroup to hire up to 500 people for Hong Kong wealth management as it trims consumer banking in 13 Europe, Asia markets first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Prince Philip often grabbed headlines for his outspoken remarks but was portrayed by royalists as the silent stalwart, who shelved his personal ambitions to support Queen Elizabeth II over seven decades.
Hundreds waited in grim silence at a Bangkok stadium to get free Covid-19 tests Saturday as a spiraling infection rate gripped Thailand, on a fourth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases.
China said Friday that the United States needed to take more responsibility on climate change but welcomed greater cooperation after a visit by envoy John Kerry, state media said.